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Posts Tagged ‘popular psychology magazines’

– contributed by guest blogger Dr. Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr.

The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology has a large collection of some of the most important apparatus and objects related to psychological science and practice covering the past 150 years.  There are brass chronoscopes from the 1800s that measured reaction time in one-thousandths of a second.  There are a variety of rat mazes, tachistoscopes, and Skinner boxes.  The “shock” machine used by Stanley Milgram in his famous obedience studies is in the Center’s collections as are a Bobo doll from Albert Bandura’s research, guard uniforms from Philip Zimbardo’s Stanford prison study, a surrogate monkey head from Harry Harlow’s studies of love in monkeys, and one of B. F. Skinner’s air cribs.  The Center is always looking to add to its collections, including items that were of questionable scientific value.  One such item is the Psycho-Phone pictured below.

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Similar in principle to audio devices today that play messages during a person’s sleep, for example, alleging sleep learning, the Psycho-Phone was the invention of Alois Benjamin Saliger (1880-1969) who patented his machine in 1932 as an “Automatic Time-Controlled Suggestion Machine.”  The device was essentially an Edison-style phonograph with a timer that played the contents from a wax cylinder during the period of sleep.  Saliger believed that the messages delivered during sleep would enter a person’s unconscious and have a powerful influence on the individual’s behavior.

 

The device was first advertised in the June 1927 issue of the popular psychology magazine, “Psychology: Health, Happiness, Success.”

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The machine was quite expensive, selling for $235 in 1929.  That would be the equivalent of $3,250 in 2017.  It came with several wax cylinders, each with messages relating to a different theme; one was labeled “Prosperity”, another “Life Extension,” and a third “Mating.”  Eventually Saliger expanded the record library to more than a dozen titles, even one in Spanish.  According to a story in The New Yorker in 1933, the message on the Mating recording included the following statements: “I desire a mate.  I radiate love.  I have a fascinating and attractive personality.  My conversation is interesting.  My company is delightful.  I have a strong sex appeal.”  Saliger was convinced of the effectiveness of the Psycho-Phone noting that 50 of his customers reported finding a mate.  He did not say how many of the Mating recordings had been sold.

Saliger ran monthly advertisements in the popular psychology magazines of the late 1920s touting the remarkable benefits of his Psycho-Phone.  Here is another of his ads.

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In looking for expert endorsers of his machine, Saliger might have chosen someone other than Dr. Quackenbos, whose name would not conjure up images of a charlatan.

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By 1933, Saliger claimed that he had sold more than 2,500 of the Psycho-Phones.  If such a number is even close to being accurate, a number of these devices should still exist today.  But despite our best efforts, we have not been able to find one to add to our collections at the Center.  If you have one of these or know of the location of a Psycho-Phone we would appreciate your contacting the Center at ahap@uakron.edu.  If you would like to donate one to the Center as a charitable gift, it would be most appreciated.

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contributed by Jodi Kearns

Can a board game save your life?

The Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. Popular Psychology Magazine Collection is a gift that keeps on giving. While digitizing the collection, I noticed order forms with vague descriptions and testimonials for three therapeutic games by the Kimm Company on the back covers of some 1977 and 1978 issues of Human Behavior.

The Ungame (for ages 8 to 108) with its tagline “Tell it like it is” suggests that by playing, you can give your friends a better understanding about who you are. “Can a game save a life? Prevent a bad marriage? Bring a father and son closer together?” Well, the publishers do not promise these results in every case, but claim to have received “cards, letters and even phone calls on a daily basis which prove The Ungame can and has improved the quality of life for thousands of people.” Do favors and give compliments and say what you really feel.

The Ungame Advertisement 1970s

Roll-a-Role (for ages 8 to 108) claims to be “A Life-Changing Experience!” that is entertaining, enlightening, non-competitive, and non-threatening. It’s a game of communication, dramatization, and improvisation by becoming new people and acting out situations rolled by the dice prompts and a talk topic.

Roll-a-Role Advertisement 1970s

Social Security (for ages 6 to 106) is about “getting along with people” by sharing opinions, hopes, humor, and dreams. Its disclaimer indicates no affiliation to a government program, but that playing the game offers a tax-free path to being socially secure. Players can visit places on the board like the Dynamite Solutions Juice Bar and the Feelings Fruitstand. Play this game for a “revelation in expression.”

Social Security Advertisement 1970s

Social Security Advertisement 1970s

People who have recently played these 1970s therapy games rank them between 1½ and 2½ stars out of 10 on boardgamegeek.com. You can’t win ‘em all, (so I guess it’s appropriate that these games of therapy are designed to have no losers.)

The CCHP would be pleased to archive your copies of these Kimm Company games. Kimm Company was a Division of Manson Western Corporation in Los Angeles, California. Please contact us at ahap@uakron.edu to initiate the donation process.

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Contributed by Leah Schmidt.

During Summer 2013, Leah worked at the CHP for her culminating experience to earn her MLIS from Kent State University School of Library and Information Science. She graduates in Fall 2013.

I spent time with the Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. Popular Psychology Magazine Collection, during the summer of 2013, as a Kent State MLIS student completing a Culminating Experience Project. Admittedly, the idea of unpacking, sorting, inventorying, indexing, and re-housing 1,367 magazines was initially a little intimidating. However, once I started to unpack and sort the psychology magazines, I began to really appreciate and enjoy the experience.

Popular Psychology magazine organization and rehousing

Popular Psychology magazine organization and rehousing

After about 100 hours, I finished rehousing the collection, according to archival standards, and the finding aid and collection are now available for use by patrons of the Center for the History of Psychology.

Popular Psychology magazines processed and rehoused

Popular Psychology magazines processed and rehoused

I was and remain amazed at the extensiveness of Dr. Benjamin’s collection. The magazines date from the late nineteenth century through the twenty-first century, and the range of titles is astounding. I was also surprised at who I found among the contributing authors, such as Sherwood Anderson, James S. Coleman, and Jonathan Kozol.

My favorite find, in the collection, is a series of four comic books from 1955, Psychoanalysis.

Psychoanalysis, 1955

Psychoanalysis, 1955

The artwork on the covers of many of the magazines is fascinating. To me, the cover art is not only beautiful, but it is also a reflection of the social, cultural, and economic climate of the period.  As I went through the magazines, I thought that a study of the collection’s cover art would make an outstanding research project.

Why, 1954 Psychology Today, 1978 Personality, 1928 Character Reading, 1936

Why, 1954
Psychology Today, 1978
Personality, 1928
Character Reading, 1936

While working with the collection, I came up with an idea for an assignment for a course I teach for Kent State, Education in a Democratic Society. The complete assignment will be available as part of the online exhibit that I am developing for the Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. Popular Psychology Magazine Collection. My students have already begun to work with articles they selected from a shortlist I provided from this collection, and the feedback has been positive.

Finally, Shelley Blundell, a Kent State Doctoral Student from the College of Communication and Information, approached me about co-presenting at the October 2013 ALAO conference. We met and discussed our ideas, and Shelley put together an outstanding proposal. The proposal was accepted and we will soon be presenting our ideas about archival literacy in the round table discussion “Using Collaborative Strategies to Meet Common Core Primary Resource Requirements.”

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