Psychology and Culture

It‘s very difficult to overestimate the cultural influence of women‘s magazines during the 1950s and early 1960s; their circulation of magazines like Ladies‘ Home Journal or Cosmopolitan sometimes reached as many as 6-8 million copies with several times that many readers. Later on criticized angrily by second wave feminists like Betty Friedan, they were a main venue to elaborate on the psychic condition of their clientele, the white, middle-class, suburban housewife in order to “help” her scrutinize her emotions. Other authors, like for instance Ferdinand Lundberg and Marynia Farnham, articulated similar observations in the form of a self-help book – which later on was despised by a new generation of feminists.

But there were more institutional, publically funded approaches to normalize the private lives of (married) men and women in the United States, as well. Moving pictures might have lost much of their original appeal in the 1950s, still counselors believed in their power, like this short clip, Facing Reality (1954) shows, trying to explain the emotional stresses of adolescents and young adults.