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Let’s Read Psychology Today, December 1970!

Psychology Today was founded in 1967 by a young doctor named Nicholas Charney, seeking to make psychology more accessible to people without Ph. D’s who were curious about how their minds worked. Topics range from neuroscience to psychology to sexuality, parenting, stress management, and culture. An instant hit, the magazine today is one of the few print publications that has actually seen a recent increase in circulation. The magazine, which was briefly owned and operated by the American Psychological Association in the mid 80s, is also a rare publication not owned by a massive media conglomerate, but is published by its own private company.

So, I have a surprise for you – this magazine doesn’t actually have any holiday content in it. I know! Crazy right? I was figuring there would be something about managing holiday stress or the psychological impact of telling children that there’s no Santa Claus, but nope – just this rather unsavory looking Santa on the cover. I was surprised too. And maybe, just maybe, they shouldn’t have put drunkass Santa on the cover with the PORNOGRAPHY headline right above his face. But I figure that by the time this posts, maybe we all could use a break from the constant barrage of the holidays, so onward we go. 

This being a holiday issue after all…there’s still a lot of booze ads. How about that bottle cap tumbler? Tacky masterpiece? I smell DIY Christmas present inspiration!

The hollow eyes of the American child paper doll remind us that it’s time to pick up the kids from the daycare commune.

Some heavy takes on schizophrenia, suicide, and even a mention of the Kent State shooting. Something that caught my eye here was mention of Harold Haley, whom I had not heard of before. That is quite the story.

Let’s use our magic future device to find out what happened to these people!

Dr. June Tapp – worked at the University of Minnesota in Child Development until her death in 1992.
Dr. Ursula Bellugi – is still working at Salk Institute and UC San Diego.
Dr. Jerome Kagan –  is known today as a pioneer of developmental psychology for his lifetime of work.
Phillip Whitten – went on to be a worldwide authority on swimming. Yes, swimming.
Dr. Roger McIntyre – is a leading authority on family relationships. As of 1995, Carol is still helping him write books.
Walter Toman – helped kick off the theory of child development relative to birth order, spent his life…doing that. Not too shabby.

Harold Sanford Kant – was the lawyer for The Grateful Dead for 35 years and is probably the real reason why we have Cherry Garcia ice cream. He won the World Series of Poker in 1987. Seriously.
Michael J. Goldstein – did a lot of important research on schizophrenia and family psychoeducation.

Dr. Zick Rubin is the most Hunter S. Thompson sounding name for a doctor, and the illustration really isn’t convincing me otherwise on that.

 Also that is a pretty messed up experiment.

The Central Premonitions Registry doesn’t seem to be active anymore, probably because everyone who worked on it got blown up when Eleven went all Tetsuo on that episode of Stranger Things.

Creme de Menthe, for people who don’t want dessert to get in the way of their drinking.

Yeah I kind of want that Snoopy poster (in day glow cerise!). What is this doing in a pop psychology magazine again? Also a fan of the “L O V E” parody that assures you it’s too hard to read for people to immediately get offended. Genius.

Boy, don’t those sound…fun. While I’m sure that they did some good to challenge white privilege in 1970, “Black People: The Board Game” seems alarmingly tone deaf. Is there an expansion available which teaches white people that not all black people live in a ghetto?

Call me crazy, but this actually sounds kind of good? And “Athole brose” doubles as something that sounds obscene when you drunkenly shout it across the room, so I’m all for it.

“This is fine.”

Honestly I’m just here for the illustrations. 

Why is this art so unsettling? Was this considered cute in 1970? Let’s give the Asian kids demonic red eyes!

I feel like if you’re going to do a study that compares the attitudes regarding authority between black and white American children, maybe that should be looked at in greater detail as a separate study. 

I like how the Japanese kids are overwhelmingly in favor of rules, while the Danish kids see no benefit to either. I guess they all just shrugged at the question that asked to define the difference between a rule and a law. Indian kids weren’t too excited about the benefits of rules and laws, yet they resigned themselves into saying that all rules were fair. Probably with much grumbling.



The urge to snark is overpowering, but Carl Whitaker is really well respected for his work in family therapy.  There’s a lot to sneer at in the 70s, but at least there was the exploration of new perspectives on family roles. This ad would probably looked like flaming heresy to my grandparents generation.

I take it that “nice” people is a euphemism for “people who are not prostitutes”.

How long was it before attitudes toward condoms loosened up to the point where they could just advertise them like any other product? The late 80s, early 90s? Because, I tell ya, this is not an ad that I would expect to appeal to teenagers on the whole safe sex thing. This is just your angry and probably drunk dad sternly lecturing you about not riding in cars with boys, and who ever listened to THAT?

“I don’t know, Howard, sending our son through a different dimension for daycare?”

”You were the one who insisted on having a career, Angie.”

The actual article wasn’t that interesting, except for the part where they remind you that communist daycares in Soviet countries turn children into godless groupthinking terrorists.

This is the facing page image that accompanies the pornography study. Your guess is as good as mine.

And then one of the guys who did this study became the lawyer for The Grateful Dead!

I love the styling of the “pornography” heading. Nowadays it’s imitated everywhere as the ultimate 1970s typeface, but in the moment it just looked cool. 

“We studied other groups as well – including homosexuals, lesbians, transsexuals, normal blacks [??] and female pornography users, but will not include them in this report.” Are you kidding me!

This report seems to be focused on trying to definitively prove one way or another that looking at porn makes you A) gay, B) a rapist, C) a child molester, or D) a combination of the three. Surprise! It doesn’t!

“We found that these straight men were really motivated to have sex with women” 

I would really like to know more about “The Nudity Explosion”.

For when tripping out to Jimi Hendrix gets stale, drop some acid and put on those whale songs! Do it for the planet!

Oooh, racy books!

Steiff is a famous German toy manufacturer that makes really nice stuffed animals. Why is it here in this magazine? So that you remember to get your kids something for Christmas when you’re sitting in your therapist’s waiting room? Who knows? 

Regardless of what you actually believe with this study, which one applies to you? I have an equal amount of experience being in both an only child and the youngest of brothers and sisters, because blended families are magical and complicated like that, so I’m just gonna go with the profile for the only child.

“More often than others, singletons tend to be content without having children of their own.” Ok…”They want to remain children themselves.” HEY!

“Please understand that none of this may actually apply to you and it’s entirely possible that I just came up with this while blitzed out of my mind on experimental pharmaceutical drugs in 1922.”

The safe word is “engage”.

Oldest Brother of Brothers: a douchebag MRA who hates big words.
Youngest Brother of Brothers: annoying pain in the ass who may murder his girlfriend if it means getting the approval of an alpha male.

Oldest Brother of Sisters: incel psychopath?
Youngest Brother of Sisters: might actually be one of those lions that eat their own young if the cub takes too much attention away from them.

Oldest Sister of Sisters: the kind of woman has tons of useless decorative shit around her house that proclaims her love for both wine and shoes. Do not be friends on social media with her.
Youngest Sister of Sisters: manic pixie dream hussy who is always using snapchat at work.
Oldest Sister of Brothers: really, really gay.

Youngest Sister of Brothers: has fantasized at one point or another about being married to a Trump.
Anyone Else: is locked in a lifelong identity crisis.

Also: that Spiro Agnew watch.

Who wants a Dudley Do Right watch for Christmas!

Early 70s photography was not kind to pets, was it? These look like mugshots.

My favorite part about this ad is the “textured pages suitable for framing”. Are we talking velvet paintings of cats in this magazine? Because that is something I need.

The back cover. Who’s bringing this to their holiday office party?


That’s it for this week! Thank you so much for reading. This week was made particularly challenging thanks to WordPress 5.0 dropping and basically breaking every setup I have across platforms – so if the images look too big, or the formatting is off in some way, please let me know. I’ve been in an open ticket conversation with the WP tech support guy for so long that I may as well ask him out for coffee. 

Next week’s penultimate holiday issue will be O Magazine, December 2000! Which actually delivers the self-help for the holidays content that I thought this issue of Psychology Today would offer, just 30 years later.