Vance Packard exposed the invasion of privacy that was being imposed on society by governmental agencies, employers, and public schools. In part one, I gave you a taste of what someone in the work force might encounter. Most people are acquainted with government agency’s role in surveillance and loss of privacy. You only need to recall the “Red scare”, which put thousands of innocent Americans on lists as dangerous citizens. They were subjected to lie detector tests, followed by the FBI, and had every part of their lives scrutinized. So I will skip that part. On to the violation of privacy in the public schools.
For some unknown reason, many public schools felt the need to investigate the home lives of their students. Personality tests and psychological tests were given to children without the knowledge or permission of their parents or legal guardians. One popular test to give children was the Blacky Test. Here is an excerpt from chapter 8:
The Blacky Pictures consist of eleven cartoons portraying the adventures of a dog named Blacky. The cast of characters includes Blacky, Mama, Papa, and Tippy, who is “a sibling figure of unspecified age and sex.” The manuel states that each cartoon is designed to “depict either a stage of psychosexual development or a type of object relationship within that development.” The tester introduces each each cartoon with a comment. Here are some of the introductory comments and the “dimension” being tested by the students’ responses to the pictures:
Cartoon I – “Here is Blacky with Mama…” – Oral Eroticism.
Cartoon III – “Here Blacky is relieving himself (herself)…” – Anal Sadism.
Cartoon IV – “Here is Blacky watching Mama and Papa…” – Oedipal Intensity.
Cartoon V – “Here Blacky is discovering sex…” – Masturbation Guilt.
Cartoon VI – “Here Blacky is watching Tippy…” – Castration Anxiety (M) or Penis Envy (F).
Students were also asked to fill out personal surveys, again without their parents’ permission, asking them to check any of the items that afflicted them. What sort of things were on the list?
“I am bothered by menstrual disorders.”
“I have sores between my toes.”
“It hurts when I go to the toilet.”
“I want to get rid of pimples.”
“I am ashamed of my parents’ dress and manners.”
“My parents don’t trust me.”
“I’m losing faith in religion.”
“My nose is ugly.”
“I’m bother by thoughts of heaven and hell.”
“There has been a lack of real affection and love in my home.”
Questions were asked as well:
“Do you bathe every day?”
“Do you eat together as a family?”
“Have your parents slapped you?”
“Are your parents happy together?”
“Do you prefer to keep your friends away from home because it is not attractive?”
My take-away from this portion of the book:
It is not necessary to have modern technology, hidden recording devices, or lie detector machines to breach people’s private lives. All it takes is the appalling gall to ask people to fork over the intimate details of their lives, and for people to meekly comply.