Friday, August 19, 2011

Magazines & Depth Psychology

Yes, I realize the above title might be considered an oxymoron given the content of many lifestyle magazines. To be sure, there is much popular psychology in men's and women's magazines these days and that is probably just about right in a world driven by bumps, grinds, and tweets. It was not always the case.

I came across a few pages from "The New Eve: A Magazine of Feminine Charm" from December 1926 and 'Mademoiselle: The Magazine for Smart Young Women" dated September 1943.  Eve focused on society, fashions, sports and theatres.  Mademoiselle seemed to pay most attention to brides and fall fashions, in this instance.

1943 is wartime and the cover shows a sailor with his hat off sitting at the desk of a towering executive woman, perhaps asking for a job or recruiting her, which seems unlikely. Chesterfied supports the war and the cigarette advertisement that has a banner stating America Needs Nurses---Enlist Now, also shows three nurses smoking. And promotes "So Proudly We Hail" a war movie epic about nurses featuring Claudette Colbert, Paulette Goddard, and Veronica Lake.

In tone and spirit these titles contain the elements of contemporary women's magazines. Eve actually contains "An Editorial for Advertisers" that sketches the demographic shifts from the flapper to the new woman, in the kind of breezy language that would please advertisers. But this does not sound like "church vs. state" stuff. It seems more like an early 20th century magazine trying to find its way.

What most struck me about these magazines were the analytical psychology articles written by M. Esther Harding, MD, an influential Jungian psychologist. a student and friend of Carl Jung, and an analyst profoundly important to the adoption of Jungian psychology in the US.  An article "Till You Meet Again" describes war time romances and the dangers of projection, building up illusions, and not establishing psychological boundaries to protect oneself.

In an article in Eve Dr. Harding psychoanalyzes a play 'The Captive."  The editor in her note sets up the analysis by suggesting that the "performance is something akin to an agony of tense silence" and the audience leaves subdued, chastened and wondering. So there must be something more to the play than its objective plot.

Harding explores the archetypal implications of a Mother fixation and a male tendency to want a lover idealized and "harmonious" like the mother but at the same time hungers for the other woman representing the vulgar, of a lower class than his own.

These observations have spawned an industry.

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