Circuit Riders for Mental Health: The Hogg Foundation in Twentieth-Century Texas

By William S. Bush | Go to book overview

4
Branching Out

THE PROFESSIONALIZATION OF MENTAL HEALTH
RESEARCH AND PHILANTHROPY

Amental health mascot of sorts began to appear on the scene in Louisiana and Texas during the spring of 1947. “Pierre the Pelican” was the symbol of a major public education campaign aimed at young couples who were expecting their first child. Supported by the Hogg Foundation and the Woman’s Foundation, this campaign was conceived and carried out by Loyd Rowland, director of the Louisiana Society for Mental Health and former chair of the psychology department at Baylor University. It represented a local and regional response to the national demographic increase in marriage and childbirth—known more colloquially as the “baby boom”—that began during World War II and continued into the early 1960s. Accompanying the baby boom was an explosion of childrearing advice literature for young couples, led by Benjamin Spock’s best-selling book, Baby and Child Care (1946).1 Although it did not reference Spock by name, the Pierre the Pelican campaign echoed many of his popular prescriptions for successful childrearing. In a series of twelve carefully conceived pamphlets mailed each month to new parents, the campaign addressed “things like parental harmony, sleep habits, kindness, food habits, thumb sucking, peacefulness, security, fears, toilet training, dressing, enjoying the baby, and friends for the baby”2 Calling for fathers to play a more active role in childrearing, the literature encouraged parents to redirect children’s misbehavior rather than engage in physical discipline. “Babies must be protected from fear and made to feel secure,” encouraged one mailer.3

Psychologist Rowland created this campaign as an early intervention to “combat mental illness” in lower- and middle-class populations, much of which he argued stemmed from traumatizing parental discipline experienced in early childhood.4 He noted that many couples had only recently joined the middle class due to the rapid expansion of the postwar American economy and needed expert advice to shed the mores of their parents’ generation. In Rowland’s view, these young, first-time parents represented

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Circuit Riders for Mental Health: The Hogg Foundation in Twentieth-Century Texas
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction - Out of Sight, out of Mind 1
  • 1 - "A Mental Health Program for the People of Texas" 9
  • 2 - Spreading the Gospel of Mental Health in the 1940s and 1950s 29
  • 3 - "A Real Revolution in Mental Health Concepts" 56
  • 4 - Branching out 85
  • 5 - "This Most Urgent of All Health Problems" 111
  • 6 - The Unfinished Revolution, 1970-2000 136
  • Epilogue - People First 155
  • Notes 159
  • Bibliography 191
  • Index 199
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