The New York Times‘ Overlooked series, which provides obituaries for individuals whose deaths were initially overlooked by the newspaper, has recently turned attention to psychologist Margaret McFarland. McFarland, a consultant to the classic children’s television show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, has come to the fore more than 30 years after her death in a moment where there has been a resurgence of interest in Fred Rogers and his television legacy (including a podcast, documentary, and feature film dedicated to the man and his influence).
As the New York Times writes,
Rogers was ordained as a minister and was invited to appear as Mister Rogers on a show in Canada in the early 1960s. He returned to Pittsburgh in 1966 to start “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” on WQED-TV. The show aired for the first time nationally, on public television stations, in 1968. McFarland became his chief consultant.
She and Rogers met nearly every week to discuss scripts and songs that Rogers had written. Her advice became so valuable to Rogers that he took “extensive handwritten notes” and recorded their meetings on audiocassettes, “which I often overheard him replaying in his office,” recalled Arthur Greenwald, a producer and writer who worked with Rogers.
She would work on the show for 20 years, and spoke regularly with Rogers until around her death in 1988. (Rogers died in 2003.)
The full Overlooked obituary can be read online here.
As reported in the Guardian, numerous papers published by controversial psychologist Hans Eysenck have been ruled unsafe after an investigation by King’s College London. This follows concerns published in the Journal of Health Psychology and an Editorial in the British Medical Journal, as reported by AHP here. Particularly controversial is Eysenck’s work on cancer-prone personalities and his ties to tobacco companies. The full article in the Guardian can be read here.
A new student run journal, Psychology from the Margins, out of the University of Akron has just been launched. The journal focuses on the work at the intersections of history, practice, and social justice issues. It is described as
… a student-run, student-led, peer-reviewed journal. This journal features scholarly work addressing the history of research, practice, and advocacy in psychology, especially in areas related to social justice, social issues, and social change. Its purpose is to help fill gaps in the historical literature by providing an outlet for articles in the history of psychology highlighting stories that have been unrepresented or underrepresented by other historical narratives. The journal will accept and invite graduate and undergraduate students to submit manuscripts.
Articles in the inaugural issue include:
“Stuck in the Present: Gaps in the Theoretical Past and Applied Future of the Psychology of Men and Masculinities,” by Zachary T. Gerdes. Abstract:
Over 30 years of research in the psychology of men and masculinities (PMM) has relied primarily on social constructionist and social learning theoretical perspectives. Social constructionism applied to gender and masculinity is much older than is often claimed in the psychology of men and masculinities literature. By paying a deeper homage to the feminist and social science researchers throughout the 20th century that influenced social constructionist theory applied to gender, PMM theory can grow and more effective clinical and prevention interventions can be designed for men. This is especially important considering the hundreds of problematic outcomes associated with how masculine norms have been defined and measured in the psychology of men and masculinities literature. Strict adherence to problematic masculine norms has been identified as a crisis in the U.S. Progress in the psychology of men and masculinities relies on the deepening of its theoretical past and the broadening of its clinical future. Concrete suggestions for doing so are addressed in this manuscript.
Historian Chris Millard writes in The Atlantic about “The Dangers of Over-Policing Motherhood.” Using the case of Munchausen syndrome by proxy as an example, Millard explores the impact of shifting understandings of the emotional support offered by mothers in the twentieth century. As Millard writes,
Towering over mid-century discussions of motherhood is the figure of John Bowlby, a British psychoanalyst of children whose ideas on “attachment theory” and “maternal deprivation” became exceptionally influential. Bowlby waxed lyrical about the importance of a stable mother figure, arguing from research in foster homes that a life of instability, delinquency and psychological problems follow in the wake of inconsistent mothering. Bowlby followed other U.K.-based psychoanalysts such as Anna Freud and Melanie Klein in arguing that small children’s social relations are incredibly important, and disruption of mothering in the early years has wide-reaching psychic and social consequences.
Note the double-edged sword of motherhood here. Attracting the praise of being a “good mother” was always accompanied by the threat that you might fall from the perch at any moment and cause devastating harm to your child. Hence the amplification of mechanisms of control, censure and punishment that go hand in hand with the valorization and surveillance of parenting. Deep within the medical and psychological frameworks promoting motherhood in this period, there lurks male anxiety over female power and influence.
This concern played out over the question of how much time parents should spend at the hospital with their child…