Among the rare glimpses my mother offered of her early years in Vienna, one is especially intriguing. She said that her cousin Stella had been sent to see Sigmund Freud in hopes that Stella’s unexplained lameness would prove to be psychosomatic. I have no reason to disbelieve my mother, but the story strikes me as odd. Freud was far better known and respected abroad.
This first issue of “Psychoanalysis” was published by E.C. Comics in 1955. I found this cover posted on the Facebook page of the International Psychoanalytical Association (IPA), with the explanation:
The comic featured three patients, Freddy Carter, Ellen Lyman and Mark Stone who were undergoing psychoanalysis. The analyst was the central character and only referred to as ‘The Psychiatrist.’ According to the editors, “This magazine is our most difficult and revolutionary creative effort thus far. Through the medium of the comic format, we will attempt to portray, graphically and dramatically, the manner in which people find peace of mind through the science of psychoanalysis.” The comic was approved by the Comics Code Authority but newsstands did not want to display it and the publication only lasted for a total of four issues.
The entry on the comic in Wikipedia notes that at the invitation of Steve Allen, the first host of NBC’s Tonight show, “Psychoanalysis” was adapted and put on air in two dramatic episodes. That I would have loved to see; too bad it was pre-You Tube.
One more thing: I was going to joke that these weren’t comics but early graphic novels, and then discovered that an actual graphic novel dedicated to psychoanalysis was recently published: Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama, by Alison Bechdel.
Stay tuned for more in this series about Freud and psychoanalysis in the popular imagination. I welcome all interesting Freud spottings.