Freud on Broadway: A History of Psychoanalysis and the American Drama

By W. David Sievers | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IX
Shifting Psychology in the Thirties

JUVENILE PROBLEMS

The thirties were significant as a transitional decade in American history, and no less crucial as a transition in the American drama. The most conspicuous shift was from an interest in isolated aspects of individual psychology to group-centered problems. With the changed attitude, however, the influence of psychoanalysis did not diminish. Rather the insights of psychoanalysis were variously applied to social problems as related to prisons, schools, labor and management, poverty, juvenile delinquency, fascism and radicalism. Eyes newly opened to social and economic pressures saw with the perception afforded by dynamic psychology.

Credit for the first psycho-social study since the early effort of Theodore Dreiser in The Hand of the Potter (whose greatness was that he was ahead of his time) should be given to Martin Flavin, who as early as 1929 wrote a psychoanalytic study of frustration in prison, The Criminal Code.

Following The Criminal Code came a number of plays dealing with reform schools and the general subject of juvenile delinquency, finally branching off into more general explorations of adolescent psychology. T. C. Upham Lost Boy ( 1932) was a grim

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