Nursing Voices

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Pulp Psychology

Do you remember the book, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus? Here are the men from mars. Note the antennas on their space helmets. The men use the antennas when they try to read a woman’s mind. Silly men, all they have to do is ask her what’s she thinking about. When will they ever learn?

Pop psychology books have really evolved over the years. My favorite book is Feeling Good by David D. Burn, M.D. It was first published in 1980. Whenever I see a copy at a thrift store, I pick it up so I can have it on hand for my patients. Times have really changed, and here are some books I think you'll find entertaining.

If you want an entertaining look at the bad-old-days, this is the book for you. Plain Facts for Old and Young was written by John Harvey Kellogg, and was published in 1892. It was a very popular book in its day, and told readers how to have a healthy physical and psychological life. It was also the book that first suggested that you would go blind by “doing it.” I’ll write more about that later. What makes this book note worthy isn’t it’s content, but it’s author.

Dr. J.H. Kellogg was a surgeon, and was the director of the Kellogg Sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan. Dr. Kellogg believed that natural foods, along with enemas and hydrotherapy, could cure everything except chronic masturbation, which was the cause of every illness known to mankind. Dr. Kellogg believed that natural foods such as corn could cleanse the body of impurities and cure a variety of nervous disorders. He invented Corn Flakes so his patients at the sanitarium could start their day with a healthy breakfast. Dr. Kellogg’s brother, William K. Kellogg had a sharp business sense and convinced his brother to go into partnership with him in 1906. They formed the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company under William’s management.

Dr. Kellogg was known as a champion of healthy eating, high colonics, and a disdain for sex. I’ll never be able to look at a box of corn flakes the same way again.

Sigmund Freud wasn’t only the father of modern psychoanalytic, he was the father of pop psychology books. In Psychopathology of Everyday Life, published in 1951, Freud is the first to bring modern psychiatry to the masses. This book first introduced the American public to the concepts of the Freudian slip and repression.

The back jacket reads:

“Have you ever forgotten the name of a person you know well, mislaid a familiar object, or used the wrong word in writing or conversation? If, like most of us, you’ve made these everyday mistakes, are you sure they were accidents?

According to Sigmund Freud, the founder of the modern psychoanalytic movement, most common slips of the tongue or annoying errors are reflections of disturbances in our personalities, some of which may be buried so deep that we ourselves are hardly aware of them. In this fascinating and useful volume, he analyzes the unconscious sources of ordinary errors and lapses, and draws frankly on his own experiences, as well as those of his friends and patients, to show that there is nothing accidental in psychic life.” If you ever find this book in good condition at a thrift store or flea market, grab it. This book is a first edition and very hard to find.

When a student asked him why he always had a cigar in his mouth, Freud said, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” I wonder what he was really thinking.

Dr. Phil wasn’t the first guy to tell men how to get along with their wives. All About Men, written by Dr. Joseph H. Peck, is a self help survival manual for men. The book was published in 1958. Dr. Peck said he wrote the book for “ordinary men who are trying to feed their families, raise children, pay taxes, and stay a few steps ahead of the sheriff.”

Dr. Peck didn’t have a fancy Ph.D. from a elite university, but was one of the first physicians in pioneer Utah. His practice covered a section the size of Connecticut, and his patients included a whole tribe of Gosiute Indians. He said he learned about human nature during his days as a country doctor. Tracing his subject from birth to death, Dr. Peck gives men advice on solving everyday life dilemmas. Of course many of these dilemmas involved women. He was very insightful, and admits that his wife trained him well. Here’s one of my favorite passages from the book regarding pregnancy, and the man’s role in caring for his wife.

“A pregnant wife has a whim of iron. In the middle of the night she may insist that you run downtown and get her a bottle of beer and some pastrami. Do as she says. If you pity yourself, go to the zoo and look at the king of beasts crouched in one corner of the cage while his pregnant mate prowls, growling and snapping and, as like is not, making a pass at him now and then. Your troubles aren’t unique.”

Yep, he was one smart cookie.

This book is about recycling your life style the psycho-energetics way. Doesn’t that sound far out? Recycle Your Lifestyle was written by Dr. Paul Mok and was published in 1972. Dr. Mok tells readers that if they are ready for an “exciting lift off,” he will provide the answers to help them find nirvana. He tells readers how to recharge their psychic energy systems and resist and control negative energy forces while “getting it together.” I read this book and had the urge to run out and buy a lava lamp and break out my Jimi Hendrix records and my tie-dye shirts.



Blogger scalpel said...

Freud said, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” I wonder what he was really thinking.

George Carlin answered that question. I don't want to corrupt your blog with the language, but it's pretty funny and easily googlable.

Another one of those books I recall my parents having was "I'm OK, You're OK."

3:30 AM  
Blogger Cyndy said...

Mother Jones, a man would never ask "what are you thinking.."...that's the territory of the perpetually insecure female..

I love your blog; there's always something of;)

6:50 AM  
Blogger The Curmudgeon said...

Of course we'd never ask what a woman's thinking.

Look at what happens when we ask, "What's wrong?"

To which the answer is always "Nothing."

And then we must choose from among the 5,000,000 possible combinations of inflections and tones in the pronunciation of that single word to determine just how much trouble we're in now. And why. And what we're going to have to do to get out of the doghouse....

And as for Dr. Kellogg -- um, you know those commercials they run during every sporting event? You know, for -- well, you know. And they list the possible side effects? One of which is sudden loss of vision? This is really scary stuff.

And, finally, on lava lamps: I think they're back in again. Although they were out at one time. Far out!

2:00 PM  
Blogger Amie Barnett said...

I have a feeling Dr. Melendy and Dr. Kellogg might get along swimmingly.

2:28 PM  
Blogger The Wal-NutzManiac said...

This is scary, I'm actually learning something, Nurse Ratched !!! Keep up the good work, there might be hope for me yet !!!

3:14 PM  
Blogger yunsinku said...

I couldn't agree more with curmudgeon.
I was dull and stupid to interpret the cryptography that my wife used at the first year of marrige. Now ten years later, am I more clever then ? Noway, I am still confused and my wife give up a little bit.

8:50 PM  
Blogger SQT said...

What I'd really like to see is a conversation between Freud and Kellogg. That would be entertaining.

9:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

just love your blogs!!!

8:18 AM  
Blogger RX850 said...

These docs remind me of the days when they ordered haldol and restraints if a patient opened his mouth to protest something!

Your blog is just the BEST!

1:05 PM  
Blogger Mother Jones RN said...

Imagine Dr. Kellogg, Dr. Melendy, and Dr. Freud sitting in a room together discussing mental illness:-)

When I was pregnant with my first child, I went into a state of insanity. One time my husband asked me what was wrong and I answered, "If you don't know, I'm certainly not going to tell you!"

Get it up guys, you'll never figure out what we're thinking.

1:46 PM  
Blogger Jean-Luc Picard said...

They never said that about cornflakes when advertising it.

2:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I prefer I'm OK, You're a Moron. It's less touchy-feely.

8:33 PM  
Blogger Scott Edwards said...

Has anyone seen a book like these called "The story of my psychoanalysis" or something like that? I saw it years ago in a professor's office and always wanted to find it and read it. Back when psychoanalysis was cool!

2:08 AM  

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