Remembering a Pop Psych Icon

June 19, 2013
A black and white photograph of a woman holding a book

Joyce Brothers c. 1955

On May 13, 2013, America lost a popular icon, Joyce Brothers. A well-known psychologist, television star, and author, Brothers brought popular psychology and talk therapy to the American public in an understandable language. She frequently appeared on talk and game shows, and she had her own syndicated shows such as Ask Dr. Brothers and The Dr. Joyce Brothers Show, making her a fixture on the TV sets of American households for decades. Her list of accomplishments also included several books like What Every Woman Should Know about Men and a monthly column for Good Housekeeping magazine.

Brothers, born Joyce Diane Bauer, was born in Brooklyn, New York, on October 20, 1927. She attended Cornell University, majoring in home economics and psychology. From there, she enrolled in Columbia University as a doctoral student in psychology.

A page of text

A page from Joyce Brothers’ Columbia dissertation.

Brothers might have pursued a career in academia if it weren’t for a chance happening in 1955. While appearing as a contestant on the TV game show The $64,000 Question, she answered questions on the subject of boxing, amazing viewers with her mental sharpness and quick memory. From there, Brothers’ television career took off.

But here’s another fact that you might not have known about Brothers: In 1952, while at Columbia, she received a fellowship from AAUW of New York State. That fellowship enabled her to finish her dissertation, “an investigation of avoidance, anxiety, and escape behavior in human subjects as measured by action potentials in muscle.” Brothers passed away at the age of 85. She will be missed, but at AAUW she will always be proudly remembered as one of our fellows.

By:   |   June 19, 2013

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