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-contributed by Emily Gainer.

The Victor D. Sanua papers are open for research! The collections of 135 boxes showcases Sanua’s variety of research interests. Sanua was a clinical psychologist who focused on cross-cultural issues of mental health.  Research topics included in the collection are: cross-cultural studies of mental illness; schizophrenia; autism; Jewish communities and Jews of Egypt; and prescription privileges. Documents in the collection include correspondence, administrative files, research files, written works, and photographs.

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Victor D. Sanua papers, Box M6359, Folder 1

Victor D. Sanua (1920-2009) was born in Egypt and attended American University at Cairo, graduating with two bachelor’s degrees in Social Sciences and Education in 1945 and 1947, respectively. He immigrated to the United States in 1950. Sanua continued his education at Michigan State University where he received his master’s degree in experimental psychology in 1953 and a doctorate in clinical psychology in 1956, with a minor in sociology and anthropology. Throughout his career, Sanua studied Jewish communities, including Egyptian Jews, and worked to preserve his family history as Jews of Egypt.

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Sanua at the International Council of Psychologists meeting, 1994. Box M6490, Folder 32.

Sanua started his career as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University’s Department of Social Relations (1958-1960). He also pursued post-graduate studies at New York’s Bellevue Hospital and New York Hospital-Cornell University Medical School. He also served as Director of Research at the Associated Young Men’s and Young Women’s Hebrew Association of Greater New York from 1960-1965.

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Sanua at a meeting of the Interamerican Society of Psychology (SIP), 1995. Box M6492, Folder 2.

Sanua was an associate professor at Yeshiva University in the School of Social Work and the School of Education (1960-1967). He then served a a professor at the City College of the City University of New York (1967-1976) and the Adelphi University School of Social Work (1976-1980). Finally, he was a professor of psychology at St. John’s University (1980-1990) and a research professor from 1990 until his death in 2009.

 

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Contributed by Jodi Kearns.

Last summer, we digitized the wire recordings from Dr. David P. Boder’s collection and discovered 17 spools of 1951 interviews with a woman named Cynthia.

These records document a 3-month ongoing professional relationship of an often crying Cynthia confiding in Dr. Boder about her family and friends, her desire to be a singer and a writer, and steps she’d taken to becoming a physically and mentally healthier person. Throughout the recordings, Boder reminds Cynthia to eat breakfast and to try to be around people who support her.

Listen to a couple of excerpts from Cynthia and Boder’s nearly 20 hours of recorded conversations. [Note: It is difficult to be certain the speed and pitch of interviews are accurate when we’re reformatting obsolete analog media.]

 

The first selected excerpt, Cynthia is discussing living alone, rather than having a roommate. [Spool 10, March 23, 1951]

In this next clip from the second-last interview, Boder reinforces his early advice for physical and mental health care. [Spool 15, April 21, 1951]

 

Two years after these conversations were recorded, Boder gave a transcript of the first spool to Dr. J. F. T. Bugental with a letter praising Bugental for his “most useful contribution to interview work.” Boder may be referring to a 1953 publication in the Journal of Clinical Psychology where Bugental describes a technique whereby clinicians use recordings and transcripts of sessions with patients to analyse subject matter of both speakers. “You may use it for any scientific purpose you wish,” Boder offers his colleague. In this letter, written two years after his recorded interviews with Cynthia, Boder seems to know only a little information about Cynthia, including that she had received shock treatments and that her prognosis was “rather grave.”

 

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excerpt from a letter to Dr. Bugental from Dr. David P. Boder (March 3, 1953) [David P. Boder papers, M24, Folder “Patient Protocols”]

Cynthia is the pseudonym Boder uses in his transcriptions of the first spool that he gave to Bugental. The transcript includes an index of names and where these names appear within the transcript: “Kim, 20th Page;” “Nancy, 42nd Page.” Cynthia names the editor of the newspaper where she worked and the names of an ex-boyfriend and his new wife. Currently, there are Wikipedia articles that verify these three people existed and were an editor, a musician, and an actor. We were able to locate newspaper articles she wrote while the named editor was her boss. It is satisfying to be able to verify events from Cynthia’s  stories.

The first recording in the series also holds enough personal information that we were able to use census records and old yearbooks available online to connect some dots. We were quick to discover Cynthia was a high school cheerleader and a prolific poet. We also found a living relative. Cynthia’s great niece told us that the diagnosis was schizophrenia, something Boder never says in the recordings and associated papers housed at the Cummings Center. Her family shared with us a childhood photograph and some of Cynthia’s original poetry. We learned that she spent most of the rest of her life after the institutionalization mentioned in Boder’s 1953 letter in specialized hospitals and treatment facilities. Cynthia died in 1995 at around 70 years old.

Sixty five years after the original interviews were recorded on those wire spools, last summer Patrick Kennedy visited the Cummings Center while we were digitizing. He listened for several minutes off the original wire spools. These records remind us, Mr. Kennedy commented, that there are real people behind the patient records and doctors’ reports.

We were so glad to have found Cynthia.

 

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Jon Endres, Media & Technology Specialist, plays Boder’s wire-recording interview with Cynthia for Mr. Kennedy, Dr. David Baker, and me.

 

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