Imagination and the Prevention of Violence: Fredric Wertham, Mass Media and Mental Hygiene, 1946–1958
Psychiatrist Fredric Wertham claimed that the United States could prevent juvenile delinquency by censoring comics. Bellevue psychiatrist and DC Comics consultant Dr. Lauretta Bender endorsed comics for children. Doyle compares Wertham and Bender’s arguments, concluding the two sides could never resolve whether human imagination—especially that of a developing child—was able to safely internalise pop culture’s rapidly increasing barrage of images. Doyle also makes the claim that Wertham’s mental hygiene campaign attracted popular support precisely because his understanding of imagination and its role in society resonated with a post-war public that had made Walt Disney’s products its standard of an acceptable imaginative life.