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Posts Tagged ‘Book of the Month’

Contributed by Rhonda Rinehart.

Chances are if you had a question, Little Blue Books had an answer.  Actually, many answers.  On any topic.  For everyone, everywhere.  Little Blue Books were your local library.  They were the 1920s version of Wikipedia.  And they kept the post office in business.  At 5-10 cents a pop, Little Blue Books weren’t free but they were cheap, and they could be shipped to any address in the world for nothing.  Always 3 ½” x 5 ½”, these tiny tomes of paper and staples were easily transportable, whether you were delivering them or reading them.

Emanuel Haldeman-Julius hoped to find a place, even if a small one, in the annals of literary history.  More specifically (and more colorfully), he said this:

At the close of the 20th Century some flea-bitten,

sun-bleached, fly-specked, rat-gnawed,

dandruff- sprinkled professor of literature

is going to write a five-volume history of the books

of our century. In it a chapter will be devoted to

publishers and editors of books, and in that chapter

perhaps a footnote will be given to me.

With apologies to professors of literature, Haldeman-Julius did indeed carve out a place of his own among the publishing world.  What was once an earnest (and successful) endeavor to provide affordable and accessible reading to the entire world population (for real!) has now become a collector’s delight.

Early advertisement for Little Blue Books

 

In the areas of psychology, psychiatry and self-help, Little Blue Books offered a surprisingly large selection of titles that ranged from topics like autosuggestion to testing to animal behavior.  Fairly cutting-edge stuff for the general public of the early 20th century.

Some of the Little Blue Books on psychoanalysis, a gift of Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr.

 

The small collection of 34 Little Blue Books donated to the Center by Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr., contains several titles on psychoanalysis in the ever-popular “know thyself” format.  Courtesy of the Haldeman-Julius publishing company, you can learn how to psychoanalyze yourself, and you can read along as a popular author psychoanalyzes himself and the entire United States.

Psychoanalyzing yourself

Psychoanalyzing yourself

 

But what’s even more fun than psychoanalyzing yourself (at least for this archivist) is making a connection from something as broad and far-reaching as the nearly two thousand Little Blue Books titles to something very specific located right here in the archives at the Cummings Center.

New Experiments in Animal Psychology (Little Blue Book No. 693) features work from all the well-worn and heavy-hitting names of those early pioneers of animal psychology – Thorndike, Yerkes, Watson, Witmer – and then suddenly hits the reader with an illustration on page 19 (something quite rare in Little Blue Books) – a depiction of Ivan Pavlov’s famed drooling dog experiment, demonstrating classical conditioning.

Illustration in Little Blue Book No. 693 of  Pavlov’s Conditioned Reflex Apparatus monitoring animal responses to stimuli

 

Now comes the good part.  The Center’s collection of objects and artifacts has a very small replica of the set-up that Pavlov used in his experiments to measure a dog’s salivary response to certain stimuli like food or later, the sound of a metronome or a buzzer.  Like a miniature laboratory, this cute and portable likeness of the real thing was used for teaching about those conditioned responses without the mess of a drooling dog in the classroom.

Simulated chamber with dog model used to simulate conditioning experiments

 

And that’s what is so fun about working, studying, and researching here at the Center.  There are those moments that happen when a connection is made and you light up and say, “Yes!  I’ve seen that before” or “This was on TV last night!”  Even if you don’t have a background in psychology (I’m raising my hand here), there are so many objects, so much media, and mountains of written and published works that relate to everyday life to be found at the Center – you will not only be able to psychoanalyze yourself, you’ll be able to recognize the science behind a drooling dog.

Search the finding aid for more information.  Please contact us to view these Little Blue Books.

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contributed by Emily Gainer.

This month’s Book of the Month continues “The psychology of…” blog series.

This time of year in the United States, most everyone is very aware of advertisements.  The election has dominated our daily lives through TV commercials, flyers, radio ads, yard signs, and bumper stickers for weeks, if not months.  And just when you think you will find relief after Election Day on November 8th, a new type of advertising takes over – the holidays!

In recognition of this election and holiday season, the November/December book of the month is Walter Dill Scott’s The Psychology of Advertising (1908).

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In his introduction, Scott wrote, “advertising has as its one function the influencing of human minds” (page 2).  We may understand that advertisers are trying influence our buying choices during the holidays.  We may not realize how much our own emotions influence our decisions.  When outlining the feelings and emotions involved in advertising, Scott wrote, “In pleasure our minds expand.  We become extremely suggestible, and are likely to see everything in a favorable light” (page 24).  In this book, Scott further outlined suggestibility based on emotions, sympathy, and instincts.

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Think of your favorite holiday commercial or print advertisement.  Was it the Folger’s waking up commercials, the Coca Cola polar bears, or the Budweiser Clydesdales?  How did it make you feel?  Keep your eyes – and your emotions – ready for this year’s holiday advertising campaigns.

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Contributed by Lizette Royer Barton. This is the second installment of the “Psychology of…” book of the month blog series.

Two years ago I was 38 weeks pregnant and looking for a little parenting advice so I turned to the CCHP Book Collection for help. Fast forward to 2016 and I have a two-year old and a 7-month old and once again I’m desperate for help. I could really, really use some sleep.

The Psychology of Sleep  by Bolton Hall was originally published in 1911 as The Gift of Sleep. The CCHP houses the second edition, published in 1916, exactly 100 years ago. That seemed fitting since it seems like it’s been 100 years since I’ve had a good night’s sleep. But I digress….

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Bolton Hall – this guy looks like he sleeps well, no?

Before I even cracked the book I just knew I was going to see that darn, “sleeping like a baby” hooey. Yep, page 1, there it is, “…the best sleepers…sleep like a child.” Every time I see something like that I think to myself, “Whose child?!” Certainly not mine!

I skimmed through The Psychology of Sleep looking for tips but didn’t find much regarding getting a child to sleep. Though, Chapter XV titled “Opiates” did seem promising.

Since I wasn’t finding anything that really excited me I decided to Google Bolton Hall and see what he was all about. Wow! Now, I was excited!

Bolton Hall (1854-1938) is probably my new favorite person.

Hall was born in Ireland in 1854 and immigrated to the United States with his family in 1868. The son of a Presbyterian minister, he graduated from Princeton in 1875. In 1881 he earned his law degree from the Columbia Law School. He was a founder of the American Longshoremen’s Union (now the ILA) and the New York Tax Reform Association.  He was arrested for distributing birth control information in Union Square in 1916. And best of all, he was the originator of the back-to-the-land movement at the turn of the century.

Bolton Hall was a champion for the poor and the working class and an advocate for returning the land to the people. He established the Vacant Lot Gardening Association in New York City in 1906 that later morphed into The Little Land League which had over 200 members by 1909.  These organizations helped provide farming education and housing for New Yorkers, including several families who lived on 30 acres of land in the Bronx owned by the Astor family. They also helped construct a year-round tent city that housed a half a dozen families in Bronxville.

Wild side note – the president of The Little Land League in 1909 (Hall was treasurer) was  P. Tecumseh Sherman, son of General William Tecumseh Sherman.

Hall established Free Acres, a co-operative/mini-municipality/kinda-sorta Utopian community in 1910 in Berkeley Heights, NJ through the donation of roughly 70 acres of land. And people still live there today! Check out the Flickr site – it’s awesome.

Whew! When I signed up to write a blog about The Psychology of Sleep I did not think I’d end up here. Dear reader, you just witnessed someone tumbling down the researcher rabbit hole!

And the Bolton Hall rabbit hole led me to his book Three Acres and Liberty. 

By thought and courage, we can help ourselves to own a home, surrounded by fruit and vegetables, flowers and poultry….life belongs in the garden (Hall, 1918, p.1 & p.10).

Right on, Bolton. That helps me sleep at night.

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Lizette – and the two kids who keep her up all night – tending their turkeys, October 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Contributed by Rhonda Rinehart. This is the first installment of the “Psychology of…” book of the month blog series.

It has been said that we are what we eat.  Can the same be said for clothes?  Are we what we wear, or does what we choose to wear have implications beyond mere style or utilitarianism?  And ultimately, how is our identity defined by what we wear?

Two books at CCHP turn to psychology to answer these sometimes philosophical questions.  Fashion, it turns out, has a checkered past.  Revolutions, tyrannies, martyrs and reformers have all put their respective stamps on the humble act of covering the human body.  But is it really such a humble act?  The Psychology of Dress: an Analysis of Fashion and its Motive, published in 1929, paints a rather tawdry picture of fashion’s history and the mostly ego-driven reasons pushing it forward.  The Psychology of Clothes, published twenty-one years later, focuses on the more clinically-defined psychological factors behind the clothing choices people make.  These factors borrow ideas from Thorndike and Freud but project an equally nefarious history of clothing.

Page from The Psychology of Clothes, emphasizing the relationship between clothing and well-being.

Page from The Psychology of Clothes, emphasizing the relationship between clothing and well-being.

As with anything involving Homo sapiens and our big brains, the mere act of dressing oneself is at once complex and complicated.  People follow fashion, according to author Elizabeth Hurlock in Dress, for fear of ridicule and scorn.  And if you’ve ever experienced either (ask me sometime about my clothing-related experience as a high school sophomore), you know this to be a true assertion. Fear plays a huge role throughout fashion’s narrative as a catalyst for larger historical movements, largely movements in which fear of belonging or fear of rejection play a role.

The price of not following fashion trends – from The Psychology of Clothes.

The price of not following fashion trends – from The Psychology of Clothes.

Historically, women suffered many health problems at the hand of fashion, regulatory laws prevented social “inferiors” from copying clothing of the aristocracy, and clothing marked one’s social status.  These events all ended in rebellion and eventually, reform.

These two popular trends in hair and clothing represented of prosperity and wealth – both images from The Psychology of Dress.

These two popular trends in hair and clothing represented of prosperity and wealth – both images from The Psychology of Dress.

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In Clothes, J.C. Flugel names nine different individual differences, or personality types, that he states control our clothing choices.  Do you find yourself in one of these categories when you get dressed in the morning (or in the afternoon)?

  • The rebellious type.
  • The resigned type.
  • The unemotional type.
  • The prudish type.
  • The duty type.
  • The protected type.
  • The supported type.
  • The sublimated type.
  • The self-satisfied type.
Diagram from The Psychology of Clothes depicting gender choices in clothing.

Diagram from The Psychology of Clothes depicting gender choices in clothing.

So we’ve come full circle.  That same riddle is still perhaps unanswered: Are we what we wear, or do our choices in clothing define us?  Whether we are fashion pioneers or fashion followers has a lot to do with our experiences and our socioeconomic status.  So perhaps that answer lies with the ability to make choices; and it is power that determines whether we get to make those choices or whether they are made for us.

Both titles from the Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. library at the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology.

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Contributed by Breanna Arnold

Among the multitude of volumes that grace the shelves of the CCHP library sit three of the seven notable volumes by renowned British physician, psychologist and pioneering sexologist, Henry Havelock Ellis.  Studies in the Psychology of Sex is the moniker, etched with a golden touch onto each of these works.

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Born in 1859, during the Victorian Era, Ellis challenged Victorian taboos by publicly discussing human sexuality.  He lived an unconventional lifestyle, beginning with his ‘open marriage’ to an English writer, Edith Lees, who was openly lesbian.  With the controversial publication of this series, his friends chuckled at his expertise on sex due to his own impotence and speculation of his never engaging in sexual intercourse.  Ellis caused quite a pandemonium with his alternative approach to human sexuality.

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In the first few pages of each work, Ellis includes the titles for each of the six volumes of Studies in the Psychology of Sex.  Shift your gaze to the bottom of the left page: it mentions how these works are the only editions published in English with Ellis’ permission; this is a unique commonality for volumes I, II and IV that are housed here at CCHP.

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The above excerpt is typical for the Victorian era, when menstruation was seen as a medical illness that impaired a woman’s mental and physical abilities.  Because these “monthly discharges” rendered women “unwell or out of order”, feelings of disgust and shame were considered to be common among women.

Ellis placed an additional emphasis on “auto-eroticism”—spontaneous sexual emotion produced in the absence of an external stimulus.  In this excerpt, the reader learns of a Japanese form of autoeroticism. Interestingly enough, this craft originating in Japan has transcended down the line to what are now known as “Ben Wa Balls”—muscles inside of the female vagina hold them in, stimulating movement and/or vibration.

He believed that it was possible for an individual to be in love with themselves; onanism, day-dreaming, self-abuse, orgasm during sleep and masturbation were phenomena he sought to include on the autoerotic spectrum.

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Ellis also discussed the legal implications of sexual acts. In Volume II of the series—Studies in the Psychology of Sex: Sexual Inversionhe describes punishment of homosexual practices within England.  Ellis coined the term “homosexual” although he claimed no responsibilities for it.  I found it to be unique that Volume II of this series was considered by some to be the first medical textbook on homosexuality.  Because this work placed a heavy emphasis on homosexuality, it was deemed “obscene,” leading to its ban from publishing in Britain.  However, an American publisher released this book as the second volume that followed volume I—The Evolution of Modesty.

Ellis’ goal was to demystify human sexuality while remaining transparent with the public about these taboo topics.  Though Victorian views hindered this effort, The Studies in the Psychology of Sex provided a platform for public dialogue about human sexuality.

Breanna Arnold is a student assistant at the CCHP. She is a psychology major at The University of Akron.

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contributed by Nicole Merzweiler.

Eugenics is a controversial word in psychology, but it has a slightly more humble beginning, as seen in Sir Francis Galton’s book, Hereditary Genius: An Inquiry into its Laws and Consequences.

Galton Picture 1

Galton, a mathematician who was interested in individual differences, wrote Hereditary Genius in 1869. It was one of the first attempts to study genius and greatness from a social science perspective. He believed that genius was passed down by parents and was primarily the product of inherited nature rather than environment. He supported this argument by showing that it tends to run in families. Interestingly enough, he was the cousin of Charles Darwin, so his own family may have had an influence on his thinking. Galton who coined the phrase “nature vs. nurture,” would also go on to combine the Greek roots of the words “beautiful” and “heredity” to create the term eugenics. Galton focused on what is sometimes referred to as ‘positive’ eugenics, programs to promote selective breeding to create a healthier and more intelligent population. Despite his focus on positive eugenics, Galton’s ideas were influential in ‘negative’ eugenics in the form of sterilization programs in Europe and the United States

The copy of this book held at the CCHP is especially interesting because it was the personal copy of James McKeen Cattell, and even includes his signature.

Galton Picture 3

Galton Picture 2

In 1886, Cattell became the first American to receive a doctoral degree under Wilhelm Wundt. After this, Cattell briefly worked with Galton at Galton’s laboratory in London. In 1888, Cattell would be offered the first chair in psychology in the United States, at the University of Pennsylvania. There he established his own laboratory and began conducting mental tests on students. Cattell would go on to help legitimize the field of psychology in America, publishing prolifically and founding The Psychological Corporation in 1921 to help promote applied psychology in industry and business. Cattell’s time at Galton’s laboratory studying individual differences may have influenced his direction in psychology, and the way in which psychology became perceived in the United States.

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-contributed by Rhonda Rinehart.

I’m not a psychologist, I don’t play one on TV, and I certainly don’t make for the best conversationalist on the topic. And yet here I am, attempting to prove how the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology can be connected to an author of a rather obscure piece of literature in the most abstract way.

I go boldly forth only because I do know a little about American literature (English major turned librarian here), and I think I can successfully prove a relationship between a small, unassuming booklet written by an early 20th century novelist and the CCHP, with Banned Book Week and David Shakow thrown in for good measure.

So, first question: What’s the connection? Since most of us like visuals, here’s a chart of this particular Six Degrees theory, which I will explain in the following text.six degrees.jpg

What can you say about America, its neurotic state, its collective sex impulse, and its national character without making a stop for collaborative materials at the CCHP? What can you say about America, its neurotic state, its collective sex impulse, and its national character without consulting more than one source? If your answer is “Not much” (and it should be if you’re playing along), then you’ve come to the right blog.

The author of controversial novels Sister Carrie and An American Tragedy (both of which are college English-class staples) dabbles in some non-fiction with his Neurotic America and the Sex Impulse And Some Aspects of Our National Character, part of a larger work titled Hey Rub-A-Dub Dub: A Book of the Mystery and Terror and Wonder of Life.  Theodore Dreiser had a reputation for penning tales about displaced people getting themselves into bad situations, and the general downfall of early 20th century society.

Dreiser attempts to answer all of the above questions in one short, tiny adapted booklet. Its physical stature is slight – only 5” tall by 3 ½” wide – and 62 pages long, but Dreiser’s commentary is robust as he postulates on the intricacies of sex and the shortcomings of American constitution.

Next question: So what’s this little book doing in the psychology archives?

dreiserbook1

You won’t have to look too closely to see David Shakow’s name printed on the top right of the title page and make the obvious connection:

David Shakow was a clinical psychologist.

The CCHP houses the personal and professional manuscript papers of over 350 psychologists.

The CCHP holds the David Shakow papers.

The book was in the David Shakow papers.

See where I’m going here? Six Degrees theory proven.

Now, we can only surmise why David Shakow owned a copy of this Little Blue Book No. 661. Did he take the sentiments between the pages seriously? It’s doubtful, since Rub-A-Dub-Dub, from whence it was adapted, was severely panned by critics and fellow authors alike for failure to sustain its arguments on a variety of philosophical ideas.

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Though panned, it still seems quite possible that Shakow could have taken an interest in Dreiser’s citing of those quite familiar with schizophrenia in this adapted version. Dreiser references Freud, as did many authors, but he also notes another psychoanalyst of the day, H. W. Frink, in exploring the idea that the “sexual factor [is] dominant in every neurosis.”

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If we explore more of David Shakow’s library of 1,039 books that he donated to the CCHP, we would find many titles that discuss neuroses in some aspect: Abnormal psychology: a clinical approach to psychological deviants; The abnormal personality; The psychology of functional neuroses; The analysis of fantasy; Annual review of the schizophrenic syndrome, Psychopathology of the psychoses, and so on. [Click here to view all of David Shakow’s books at the Cummings Center].

So I’ve made the connection between CCHP and Theodore Dreiser but let’s not forget there’s an entire second part of his little book – Some Aspects of Our National Character – and this is where I think the true controversial nature of this book lies. It’s easy to say neuroses and sex were taboo topics in 1920, and that might be true, but the sexual revolution of the Roaring ‘20s was on its way with Flapper girls at the helm, and it would seem more likely that controversy could very well be in the thoughts and ideas behind any outlook on America that didn’t seem patriotic.   I could easily create a second Six Degrees chart for Banned Book Week and Little Blue Book No. 661; I could even fairly easily create a new twist on the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon parlor game (with CCHP as the subject), but I won’t do that. I will simply leave you with these pages from Dreiser’s book that may have been a difficult and controversial pill to swallow in 1920.

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dreiserbook5[Please add comments to suggest your own version of “Six Degrees of the CCHP” or to contribute a title for Banned Books Week]

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