Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘popular psychology magazines’

 contributed by Tony Pankuch.

Browsing the contents of the Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. Popular Psychology Magazine Collection, one is likely to come across some eyebrow raising titles and headlines from throughout the 20th century. The contents of the collection range from field standard publications like Psychology Today to the long-running Fate magazine, which featured parapsychological phenomena and headlines like “The Severed Head Spoke“. Yet as a queer person interested in the history of psychology and the LGBTQ+ community, the collection provides a fascinating opportunity to explore how LGBTQ+ individuals understood and sought to express their identities in relation to dominant psychological ideologies.

Article headline titled "A Lesbian Speaks Her Mind: An inside account of the feminine side of the female homosexual." Black and white photograph shows a woman placing a hand on another woman's shoulder.
Sexology magazine, Vol. 33, No. 3, October 1966, from the Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. Popular Psychology Magazine Collection

If you’re familiar with the broad strokes of psychology’s historical relationship to the LGBTQ+ community, you likely know that prior to the 1970s there was little opportunity for the open expression of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities within the mental health fields. As explored by works like Henry L. Minton’s Departing From Deviance and the CCHP’s online exhibit A Clockwork Lavender, LGBTQ+ identities were viewed as disorders to be cured rather than legitimate expressions of human diversity.

Yet in popular sexology magazines, articles featuring the firsthand testimony and perspectives of LGBTQ+ individuals were not altogether uncommon prior to the 1970s. In an era when criminalization, medicalization, and inhumane treatment of LGBTQ+ identity was common in the U.S. and abroad, individuals were able to use the space in magazines to advocate (often anonymously) for their own humanity. An early example of this sort of article appeared in the September, 1934 issue of Sex: Sane Sex Standards:

Article excerpt titled “An Interview with An Invert” by Kemit Riedner. Excerpt text included below.
Sex: Sane Sex Standards, Vol. 4, No. 3, September 1934, from the Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. Popular Psychology Magazine Collection

After hearing my case, can you safely say that I have committed any crime by acting in a way that to me is normal? If God created us any different from other people. He must have had a purpose in my view, and I think that the inverts of the world will join me in asking that we be given a chance to live as He sees fit to create us. We do not appreciate the efforts His usurpers have spent in improvising on His handiwork.

In this article, author Kemit Riedner interviewed an “intelligent, educated man” who identified himself as an “invert” (a common sexological term for homosexuality at that time). In the excerpt above, the anonymous man challenges the idea that homosexuality is abnormal or worthy of criminal status. The last portion of this excerpt, in particular, seems targeted at those who sought to “cure” LGBTQ+ identities through conversation therapies.

By the 1960s, articles of this nature had begun to appear regularly in Sexology magazine, which was founded in 1933 and paired sensational headlines and occasionally scandalous imagery with educational articles on a wide variety of topics. Take for instance this 1967 article from the pseudonymous “Rod Chase”:

Article excerpt titled "Inner Thoughts of a Homosexual: Autobiographical notes of a young man's experiences with the "straight" world" by Rod Chase. Excerpt text included below.
Sexology magazine, Vol. 33, No. 11, June 1967, from the Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. Popular Psychology Magazine Collection

I see sad homosexuals in gay bars and the only thing comparable is sad heterosexuals in normal bars. I see many unhappy heterosexuals, many unhappy marriages. Look at the divorce rate! Look at the wretched destructive marriages! But from this I do not conclude that heterosexuality is an illness.

On the other hand, in spite of prejudice, there are many homosexuals who are free human beings and who have capacity for love. They are creative and not sorry for themselves. They are never considered when doctors write about homosexuality.

Sexology provided LGBTQ+ contributors and interview subjects an opportunity to speak out emphatically to an audience that was, by nature of the magazine’s existence, likely to be sympathetic or at least open to the diversity of human sexual experiences. In this way, it followed in the footsteps of early sexology researchers like Havelock Ellis and Richard von Krafft-Ebing. As explained by Henry L. Minton in Departing From Deviance, “for many homosexual research participants, the research process became a proactive vehicle for changing public opinion and constructing more empathic and realistic understandings of homosexuality.” Though this research may have still contributed to pathological understandings of queer identity, research participants were able to exercise agency through their participation and testimony.

Article excerpt titled "Why I became a Lesbian" by "E. N." Excerpt text included below.
Sexology magazine, Vol. 31, No. 8, March 1965, from the Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. Popular Psychology Magazine Collection

What went ‘wrong’ with me? From my point of view, nothing. When I was 19 and a college student, I met a girl nearly my own age with whom I developed an intense friendship. We were happy only when we were together and miserable when we were apart. As soon as we were able to earn our own livings we went to live together and enjoyed our first serious physical contacts. We have loved one another ever since.

It wasn’t just gay and lesbian writers who wrote to Sexology. Transgender contributors were featured, as in the August 1960 issue:

Article excerpt titled "'Sex Change' Operation: The difficult and costly ordeal of surgery is not an 'open sesame' to happiness for the 'female in a male body.'" by Lana. Photo depicts a transgender woman seated in a long flowing dress. Excerpt text included below.
Sexology magazine, Vol. 27, No. 1, August 1960, from the Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. Popular Psychology Magazine Collection

Many of us, who feel that we are ‘females in a male body,’ are willing to pay whatever price is necessary. For many like myself, the surgery offers an opportunity to emerge from a world of shadow in which there is no possibility of happiness.

Although we cannot bear children, we are as much female as any man could wish, physically and emotionally. Doctors declare us to be women, and the law allows us to become so legally.

Let us hope that, in time, an understanding public will also sympathetically accept us as such.

Despite the ominous introduction—”surgery is not an ‘open sesame’ to happiness”—the article focused on physical recuperation and societal prejudice rather than any sort of psychological distress associated with trans identity, and Lana described herself as having “absolutely no regrets” for pursuing life as a transgender woman. This open and positive tone toward transgender identity makes sense for Sexology; for decades the magazine’s Board of Medical and Sexological Consultants included Dr. Harry Benjamin, a pioneer in gender-affirming surgery for transgender people, who wrote the introduction to Christine Jorgensen’s autobiography.

I’ll leave you with one more article, contributed by Lorynca Rome, from November, 1950:

Article excerpt titled "I'm Glad I'm a Homosexual!" Excerpt text included below.
Sexology magazine, Vol. 17, No. 4, November 1950, from the Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. Popular Psychology Magazine Collection

I do not feel as if my mind were ‘sick or diseased.’ I do not feel repressed or frustrated nor emotionally starved, nor that I am any of the terrible things that homosexuals are supposed to be. And yet, things have not always been as perfect in my life as I have longed them to be—perhaps they never will be. But I have no regrets, for I have had some of the happiest of moments—days—years. And I am glad that I was born a homosexual!

Through these articles, LGBTQ+ contributors challenged the dominant narrative that queer life was abnormal and unfulfilling. They expressed themselves as individuals comfortable in their identities and without shame. They were, in a very literal sense, celebrating Pride.

Browse the finding aid to the Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. Popular Psychology Magazine Collection.

Explore more materials on the history of LGBTQ+ psychology from the Cummings Center.


References

Jorgensen, C. (1967). Christine Jorgensen: personal autobiography. P. S. Eriksson.

Minton, H. L. (2010). Departing from deviance. University of Chicago Press.

Read Full Post »

~ contributed by Nicole Orchosky based on her Capstone project for completion of the Museums & Archives Studies certificate. Know Thyself serves as an intro to an online exhibition Nicole has also prepared.

Toward the end of the 1700s, a young Franz Joseph Gall sat in a schoolroom and glanced around at his fellow classmates. Gall caught on to a trend that fascinated him–he noticed that the students with excellent memorization skills often had prominent eyes and large foreheads. This discovery led Gall to hypothesize that the physical structure of one’s head may correspond to one’s personality traits in consistent and predictable ways. As Gall grew older he began to lecture on the subject, he expanded his theory into the science of phrenology, which quickly gained traction in Europe before spreading overseas to America by way of Gall’s own student Johann Kaspar Spurzheim [1]. 

Franz Joseph Gall, credited as the creator of phrenology.
Image credit: Smithsonian Institution Archives, Smithsonian Institution. “Smithsonian Learning Lab Resource: Franz Joseph Gall 1758-1828).” Smithsonian Learning Lab, Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access, 25 Nov. 2016.

Phrenology, now considered pseudoscience, was widely popular in the 19th century among the general public as a way to make sense of human behavior. Middle class Americans were drawn to phrenology as one may be drawn to the predictions of astrological horoscope. They took comfort in the notion that something as unpredictable and subjective as the human psyche could now be quantified by a series of cranial measurements. The skull was divided into regions called “organs,” and the physical measurement of an organ would determine if you exhibited more or less of the personality trait corresponding to that organ. Gall theorized that the more developed the trait, the larger the organ, and the larger a protrusion it formed in the skull [1].

Phrenological bust from Fowler and Wells’ Phrenological Cabinet showing the “organs” of the brain and labelled with corresponding characteristics. Visit the National Museum of Psychology to see a phrenological bust up close.
Image credit: National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution. “Smithsonian Learning Lab Resource: Phrenology, By L. N. Fowler.” Smithsonian Learning Lab. 29 Jan. 2020. Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access. 06 Dec. 2020.

As soon as brothers Orson and Lorenzo Fowler learned of the theory from visiting lecturer Spurzheim, they turned Phrenology into their life’s passion and joined with fellow phrenological enthusiast Samuel R. Wells to establish America’s most prominent phrenological hub, The Phrenological Cabinet in New York City [2]. The storefront functioned as a museum, medical office, and publishing house all in one. Busts, both real and replica skulls, and phrenological diagrams and literature were displayed and sold here. Anyone could walk in and have their own skull measured and examined to gain a better sense of self as well as discover ways in which they could correct their negative behaviors. Magazines like The Phrenological Journal and Life Illustrated were published and distributed here, including writings by the Fowlers themselves, who spent much of their time lecturing about their theories all over the country.

Samuel R. Wells, Charlotte Fowler Wells, and Lorenzo N. Fowler stand in the doorway of S.R. Wells & Co., The Phrenological Cabinet, with two other men.
Image credit: Fowler and Wells families papers, #97. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.

While the Fowlers gallivanted around America on lengthy lecture tours, who was left to take care of the family business? Samuel R. Wells oversaw the publishing side of The Phrenological Cabinet, but it was primarily the three men’s wives who took on the managerial and sometimes medical responsibilities within the office. Phrenology allowed women a sense of autonomy by allowing them a better understanding of their own mind and body, and for many women phrenology was a socially acceptable entry point to begin to seek out scientific knowledge.  Abigail Fowler-Chumos, wife of Orson Fowler, became “Orson’s business manager, property manager, publisher, and phrenologist-in-training” [3]. Charlotte Fowler Wells, wife of Samuel Wells and sister to the Fowlers, “was the firm’s longstanding and highly respected business manager” and was even known as the “Mother of Phrenology” [3]. Lydia Fowler Wells, wife of Lorenzo Fowler, “was the second woman to receive an M.D. in the USA, after [British] Elizabeth Blackwell,” making her the first American woman to receive an M.D. [4]. When it came to the business of phrenology, middle-class American women were not only the number one consumers; they ran the show. 

Lydia Folger Fowler, M. D, was the first American female doctor of medicine. She was also the first female professor at an American medical college.
Image credit: “The Late Mrs. Lydia F. Fowler, M. D.” Wheaton College, c. 1880. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lydia_Folger_Fowler.jpg#metadata

During the Civil War, women stepped up to run their households in their husbands’ absences. Women were not about to let go of their newfound autonomy during the following Gilded Age, and phrenology was one of the earliest scientific fields in which women could practice and participate. You would be surprised to learn how progressive the Fowlers were as they “combined the business of phrenology with the work of reform, linking the science to temperance, dress reform, diet reform, water-cure and women’s rights” [4]. 

You can learn more about phrenology and women’s role in the field in the “Know Thyself” virtual exhibition.

Thirteen complete issues of The Phrenological Journal and Life Illustrated are now available as digital editions of the Ludy T. Benjamin, Jr. Popular Psychology Magazine Collection.

Sources Used:

  1. Morse, Minna Scherlinder. “Facing a Bumpy History,” Smithsonian Magazine, 1997 Oct. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/facing-a-bumpy-history-144497373/
  2. “Orson S. Fowler,” The Phrenological Journal and Life Illustrated, Vol. 84-85, pp. 196-198. 
  3. Lilleleht, Erica. “‘Assuming the Privilege’ of Bridging Divides,” History of Psychology, vol. 18, no. 4, 2015, pp. 414-432.
  4. Bittel, Carla. “Woman, Know Thyself: Producing and Using Phrenological Knowledge in 19th-Century America,” Centaurus, 19 April 2014, pp. 104-130.

Read Full Post »

–contributed by Arianna Iliff, graduate student assistant.

By the time you read this, I will be gone…from graduate school! After two and a half years here at the CCHP, I’m hitting the road with a fresh Master’s degree in Counseling/Marriage and Family Therapy in hand. Before I started school, I had a goal to get a job that would help me understand my field better and back up the knowledge I gained in class, and I was so lucky to find the CCHP in the process. I’ve spent the last two and a half years learning by doing, searching through manuscripts and images for our researchers and getting drawn into the stories of psychology’s history. So for my final blog post, I’d like to talk a little bit about two of my favorite therapists in history. Carl Whitaker and Virginia Satir were a pair of iconoclasts: major influences in my own field of family therapy and originators of an experiential model of therapy.

Carl Whitaker, a psychiatrist by trade, was a major advocate for co-therapy, or two therapists working with one family. Whitaker was known for making outrageous statements in therapy sessions, what I like to call his “sick Whitakerisms.” By using this ‘therapy of the absurd,’ he was able to get families out of their comfort zone to promote growth. I was surprised to find him in the James F. T. Bugenthal papers, where there is an entire folder of correspondence with Carl Whitaker. In this correspondence, he discusses the inclusion of his paper “The Therapist as a Prototype” in The Challenge of Humanistic Psychology.

“The important thing is that you stay for breakfast, not whether you sleep with me the night before.” I am entirely unsurprised this quotation stuck with Whitaker. [James F. T. Bugenthal papers, Box M951, Folder 1]

Virginia Satir was a co-founder of the Mental Research Institute, home to several prolific family therapists. The first time I saw a recording of her performing therapy, she was instructing a father and son on the best way to communicate love through touch. Virginia’s entire therapeutic approach centered on communication, and she made it her goal to assist families with saying, whether verbally or nonverbally, exactly what they mean. She appears several times in our Popular Psychology magazine collection, where she is interviewed as a thought leader in the world of family functioning.

Despite being known for her gentle and nurturing style, Satir had a direct streak: “I really have no interest in preserving families that don’t belong together.” [Special Interest, Popular Psychology Magazines, Box 93]

Virginia Satir says in her book ­­The New Peoplemaking, “Without loving and being loved, the human soul and spirit curdle and die” (p. 141). In her own parlance, working at the CCHP has enriched my own soul, allowing me to get to know the humans behind the history through primary sources. My colleagues here have been so kind to me, and so willing to allow me to learn. And of course, I’d like to thank you, readers, for enjoying these trips through the collection with me here on the blog.

Now, I am going forth to be a therapist, and I hope in my own career I can do something important enough to be included in the CCHP archives.

Read Full Post »

– 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.

ben1

 

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.”

ben2

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.

ben3

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.

ben4

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.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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.”

Read Full Post »