Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Dr. Joyce Brothers is dead



Dr. Joyce Brothers wins $64,000 for boxing expertise

October 27, 1957
 
Psychologist Dr. Joyce Brothers put her boxing trivia to the test and came away with $64,000 on October 27, 1957. Brothers, who was appearing on the game show The $64,000 Challenge, took the top prize, competing against a team of seven boxers on boxing lore. This was her second time winning the program’s top prize—two years earlier she had claimed her first victory (when the show was called The $64,000 Question), also on the subject of boxing.

Brothers’ winning appearance not only garnered her a substantial prize, but also sparked her career as a talk-show psychologist. After her appearance on Challenge, Brothers was picked to co-host WATV’s show, Sports Showcase. In 1958, NBC offered Brothers her own talk show, The Dr. Joyce Brothers Show. The show, which counseled viewers on childrearing, marriage, and sex, was an instant success and soon became syndicated nationally. Brothers soon became a ubiquitous media presence offering her psychological expertise on numerous talk shows and often appearing as a celebrity guest on a variety of game shows.

In 1963, Brothers began writing a monthly column for Good Housekeeping. She also wrote a daily column that at its height was published in more than 350 newspapers, and has written several books, including What Every Woman Should know About Men (1982) and How to Get Whatever You Want Out of Life (1978). Her most personal and popular work was Widow (1990), which described Brothers’ emotional journey after the death of her husband in 1989 after thirty-nine years of marriage.



What isn't mentioned above is that she presented herself as an expert on boxing because she noticed that the show liked to cast "contrast" contestants, e.g., the butcher who is an expert on classical music. So what better topic area for a "lady psychologist" than boxing? The kicker is that she knew relatively little about boxing prior to being selected for the show. She studied up on it and quickly learned more about the sport and its history than the seven boxing experts she contended against. Having had a minor brush with a trivia show myself, I hugely admire her chutzpah.

[Emphasizing contrasts is a very useful tip, by the way: the football linebacker who practices Japanese flower arranging is going to stand out more in college or graduate school admissions than a football linebacker who is also an all-state wrestler. Think about your contrasts and present yourself accordingly. The (erroneous) impression that people get when they see that you can do two entirely different things is that you can do anything.]

Dr. Joyce Brothers was the "face of psychology" when I was a kid. Unfortunately, nowadays all we have are Dr. Phil (who actually used to be a licensed psychologist) and Dr. Laura (who isn't a psychologist; her Ph.D. is in physiology but she used to be a Marriage and Family Therapist).

Well, I still prefer those two entertainers to the world's most famous psychiatrist and the world's most famous aspiring neuroscientist.






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