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Looking Back

Introduces a series of excerpted articles on sex and romance published in the magazine 'Psychology Today,' in the past thirty years.

You now hold in your hands what is, as best as we can tell, the 306th issueof PSYCHOLOGY TODAY. AS we celebrate our 30th anniversary this year, we've been doing what many people do as they reach major milestones in their lives: taking stock of where we are and figuring out where we want to go next. But we've also been looking hack at where the magazine has been, revisiting the thousands of articles, interviews, news stories, and reader letters that we've published over the past three decades. This is more than an exercise in nostalgia. However mysterious the intricacies of the mind may seem today, a quick glance at the premiere issue of PSYCHOLOGY TODAY (May 1967) reminds us just how far we humans have come in understanding ourselves. That issue's article titled "Pain and Aggression" focused entirely on studies of rats and other critters because so little was known about human aggression. And most of the drugs touted in another article, "The Psychopharmacological Revolution," have long been supplanted by newer, more effective medications. Clearly the progress we've made in understanding addiction, depression, violence, and a host of other ills is remarkable.

It's hard for us not to feel a surge of pride as we once again enjoy some of the classic PSYCHOLOGY TODAY articles of the 1960s, '70s, and '80s. We hope that on its golden anniversary, in 2027, the magazine's future editors will deem some of our current efforts worthy successors to the standards set by such venerable PT alumni as Nicolas Charney, T. George Harris, and Daniel Goleman (author of the recent bestseller Emotional Intelligence).

Of course, it's also worth reminding ourselves that sometimes we've been, well, wrong. Case in point: Check out the October 1976 article called "The UFO People," in which two sociologists described how they infiltrated a loose-knit cult of flying saucer fanatics to see what motivated people to join. Because members were free to come and go as they pleased, showing little or no signs of brainwashing or coercion, the authors essentially concluded that the cult's leader, Bo, was harmless. Alas, 21 years later, Bo--a former music teacher named Marshall Applewhite who now called himself. "Do"--convinced 38 Nike-clad members of his group, now dubbed Heaven's Gate, to join him in committing suicide.

In any event, we've decided to share with you some of the most memorable moments of the past 30 years. In future issues we'll look hack at some classic PT interviews and retrace three decades in the eternal quest for spiritual fulfillment. But to kick off our yearlong retrospective we present some excerpts from the many PT articles exploring sex, love, and marriage. Enjoy!

-- Peter Doskoch