The Naked Society – by Vance Packard (1964) – part 2

The Naked Society – by Vance Packard (1964) – part 1

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?

Continue reading “The Naked Society – by Vance Packard (1964) – part 2”

The Naked Society – by Vance Packard (1964) – part 1

If you’re like me, you assume that back in the “good old days”, people had much more privacy than we have now. Life was simpler before the technology boom of the 1980s, so there must have been more privacy. Then came the internet, RFID technology, computers, cell phones, smart meters, self-driving cars, and computerized appliances. Now most people are concerned- at least to some degree – about the diminishing amount of privacy in our society and in the world.

But back in the early to mid 1900s, there was actually a surprising amount of surveillance and gathering of personal information. Where was this coming from? According to author Vance Packard, the surveillance came from three directions: government agencies, businesses, and schools.

In the 1930s, polygraph machines (lie detectors) had become very popular. They were used by just about everyone, from prospective employers to life insurance agents to police departments. This greatly accelerated the loss of privacy for the typical American in the 1930s, 40s, and beyond.

Psychological surveys were also very popular. Several years before this book was published, Vance Packard tested the extent of surveys (the Form) by pretending to apply for a managerial position. Here is an excerpt from chapter 3 “How To Strip A Job-Seeker Naked”:

Continue reading “The Naked Society – by Vance Packard (1964) – part 1”