Date of Award
College of Liberal Arts
Type of Degree
Dr. Greta Rensenbrink, Committee Chairperson
Dr. Kat Williams
Dr. Robert Deal
This project studies the use of mental hygiene films in the 1950s to understand the American ideal of gender, sex roles, and mental health. Focusing specifically on masculinity, this project shows that psychologists and psychiatrists of the mid-twentieth century helped to define what it meant to be a real man in America. Sources for this research included mental hygiene films, psychological studies and articles from the 1950s, and news broadcasts. Upon examination of these sources, it becomes clear that mental health specialists were concerned with the development of correct masculinity in male children and becoming the modern doctors that could potentially be the answer to all of America’s anxieties. Likewise, adult, male homosexuality or homosexual tendencies were specifically targeted as an issue of men’s mental health. Homosexual tendencies in men was believed by many specialists to be a sign of poor development in childhood. Also, it was concluded that different types of mental illness disrupted the development of correct masculinity in American men. These illnesses, according to psychiatrists and psychologists, prevented boys from becoming strong, independent men that could contribute to the conservative American way of life.
Title on thesis: E A MAN: CHILDHOOD, MASCULINITY, MENTAL HYGIENE, AND THE ASYLUM IN THE 1950S
Men -- Psychology.
Masculinity -- History.
Masculinity in mass media.
Miller, Emily Lonna, "Be a Man: Childhood, Masculinity, Mental Hygiene, and the Asylum in the 1950's" (2019). Theses, Dissertations and Capstones. 1213.