Abnormal Psychology: Mental Health and Mental Illness

Popular Psychology

Who are Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren (Dear Abby)?

Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren are the pen names of twin sisters who ended up as enormously successful advice columnists from the 1950s into the 1990s. Born in 1918 in Iowa, neither sister had any formal training in psychology or a related field. Esther “Eppie” Friedman Lederer (1918—2002) assumed the Ann Landers advice column for the Chicago Sun-Times in 1955. She continued until 1987, at which point she switched to the Chicago Tribune. Married to a wealthy businessman named Jules Lederer, who was also the founder of Budget-Rent-A-Car, she had amassed a wide range of contacts, which she mined for her column. Her plain-spoken, common sense advice appealed to a great many people and her column was eventually syndicated to over 1,000 newspapers. In 1956, her twin sister Pauline “Popo” Friedman Philips, began a rival column, “Dear Abby”, in the San Francisco Chronicle under the pen name Abigail Van Buren. Although neither sister had any training in the mental health field, they took care to clarify the limits of their knowledge and abilities, and often advised their readers to seek professional help if their problems seemed beyond the scope of a newspaper advice column.


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