cover image Dr. Joyce Brothers: The Founding Mother of TV Psychology

Dr. Joyce Brothers: The Founding Mother of TV Psychology

Kathleen Collins. Rowman & Littlefield, $35 (240p) ISBN 978-1-4422-6869-2

Collins (Watching What We Eat: The Evolution of Television Cooking Shows) delivers a straightforward biography of psychologist Joyce Brothers, who was ubiquitous on TV from the 1950s through the 1990s as the public face of psychology. Poised, smart, savvy, and ambitious, Brothers served as “a conduit for learning about particularly American problems and fixations.” Collins focuses on Brothers’s television career, proposing the thesis that Brothers personified psychology for the American public after WWII. Brothers used television to gain exposure, and exposure allowed her to charge substantial speaking fees, which were her “bread and butter.” Unfortunately, this book is short on more complex insights, settling for a thorough overview of Brothers’s television career rather than an in-depth argument about her role in American culture. The reader is left wanting to know more about the barriers Brothers overcame (or perhaps went around) and her motivations, not to mention her theories of psychology. Collins touches on sexism and feminism, calling Brothers a “de facto feminist,” but she doesn’t delve. Her interest is in Brothers’s role in television history, not so much in Brothers herself. The book will leave readers better informed about this major figure in popular psychology, but also feeling that the definitive biography of her has yet to be written. [em](Sept.) [/em]