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

By W. David Sievers | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XI
Drawing Room Freudians -- Behrman, Osborn, Raphaelson

S. N. BEHRMAN

Samuel Nathaniel Behrman's contribution to the psychoanalytic drama ranks in importance with that of O'Neill and Barry. Although he consistently employs the comedy of manners form rather than expressionism, Behrman possesses a mature awareness of the complexity of unconscious motivation and has been able to reflect this in a number of timely and delightful plays.

Behrman's mastery of psychology is no accident. He attended Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts between 1912 and 1914 and majored in psychology. Sigmund Freud had made his influential trip to Worcester for a series of lectures in 1909. Behrman wrote the present author that he had heard much about Freud from the head of the psychology department, ". . . his personality, the aura which emanated from him, his effect on his listeners and on his colleagues." Behrman also told of sitting at the feet of Dr. G. Stanley Hall, President Emeritus of Clark, who had invited Freud to America:

I read Hall's 'Adolescence' and he was very patient (I blush to think how I pestered him) when I bombarded him with questions about Freud.

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