As a graduate student at Duke University, Jessamyn Hatcher began thinking about how the language of psychoanalysis became embedded in American culture. I went to the library and got the top 15 circulating magazines from 1910 through 1935 and paged through them, she tells the Pitch
. And I just lit upon this column in the Ladies Home Journal
, written by Dr. Karl Menninger.
Tonight at 7, Hatcher (whos now a teacher in the General Studies Program at New York University) presents Dear Dr. Menninger
, a free lecture about the impact of Menningers column on psychoanalysis in America, at the Liberty Conference Room in Westin Crown Center (1 East Pershing Road, 816-474-4400). Menninger was once known as the dean of American psychiatry. The Menninger family produced a number of prominent psychiatrists and founded the world-famous
Menninger Clinic in Topeka (now located in Houston). In 1930, Menninger was approached by the Ladies Home Journal to write a column in which he would respond to questions from the magazines readers.
The letters came from a wide cross-section of women. The most interesting part is the really active role the readers of the Ladies Home Journal
ultimately had in spreading not just the language of psychoanalysis but the style of thinking Dr. Menninger wrote about in the magazine. My thesis is that psychoanalytic thought in American culture was spread not by Freud but by the readers of the Ladies Home Journal