Bishop Fulton J. Sheen: America’s public critic of psychoanalysis, 1947–1957
Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences
This paper examines the role of Bishop Fulton Sheen in the popularization of Freudian psychoanalysis in the United States during the 1940s and 50s. Social historians argue that Freudian ideas were pervasive in American culture during this period. While their claim speaks mainly to the impact of psychoanalysis on the cultural elite and college educated, they also suggest that Freudian ideas affected ordinary men and women. In the former case, the group impacted is small and not representative of the population as a whole; in the latter, the evidence is sparse and impressionistic. Neglected in their consideration is the influence of Fulton Sheen whose opinions on Freud reached an audience of 30,000,000 during the height of the popularity of his TV show, Life is Worth Living. Sheen's audience was more inclusive and representative of mainstream America. The negative and highly cautionary view of psychoanalysis he presented to many Americans was contrary to that which was promoted to and embraced by many of the college educated and likely shaped both their views of Freud and psychoanalytic therapy.
Dennis, Paul M., "Bishop Fulton J. Sheen: America’s public critic of psychoanalysis, 1947–1957" (2020). Faculty Publications. 879.