Mental Health in the 1960s

Mental Health in the 1960s - we were becoming more and more complicated as a species.

Mental Health And Psycho-Therapy In The 1960s – Past Daily Reference Room

Mental Health in the 1960s
Mental Health in the 1960s – we were becoming more and more complicated as a species.

Psyche, Psychosis And Psychiatry – David Susskind – August 7, 1960 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

Mental Health in the America of 2023 is at a crisis point, no one doubts that. Mental Health in the 1960s was approaching that crisis and was treating it in an entirely different way.

In this discussion, hosted by David Susskind, we were in the midst of some of the most potentially catastrophic times during the 1960s. We were under more stress than we had ever been – our society was changing before our eyes – we were resorting to a whole host of avenues for escape. Alcohol was by far the most prevalent and its abuse was at an alarming high. We were also resorting to medication; pills prescribed by family doctors that elevated moods or sedated them. Use and abuse of Pharmaceuticals was at an all-time high.

And America was looking at Psychiatry as the possible solution to the problem. In the 1960s, Mental Health was comparitively new and something of a mystery, as was discussed by Frederick Hacker, Edward Steinbrook, Judd Marmer, Ralph Greenson, Milton Wexler and Eugene Pumpian-Midlin; all eminent Psychiatrists at various hospitals and Universities around the country. Classifying conditions and possible treatments were very much in the beginning stages, even though Psychiatry had been around decades before. In the 1960s it was determined what was happening to America was a problem in how we thought – that our issues were deeper in nature. We were complicated and people were not easy to figure out, let alone pigeon-hole.

During this almost two-hour discussion, the history of Psychiatry is mentioned as are also the introduction of more potent pharmaceuticals such as LSD (which was in the experimental stages at the time). There is a tendency to get into the holier-than-thou aspects of treatment. Defining a huge difference between Psycho-Analysis and other forms of Psychiatry. How Mental Health was a thing that could be “cured”. It was clear we were entering into the era of “one size doesn’t fit all” and “your shrink is not your savior”.

At two hours it gets a bit wordy and heavy on declarations – but the crux of the matter was; Mental Health was becoming an issue in 1960 and there were no snap or easy answers. We quickly found out.

Here is that discussion (with the first minute missing due to the age of the tape) as it was heard on August 7, 1960.

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