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HOME > Biographical > 100 New Yorkers of the 1970s > EASTSIDER DR. LEE SALK
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America's foremost child psychologist


At one time, the name Salk was synonymous with one thing only — the revolutionary polio vaccine discovered by Dr. Jonas Salk in 1953. In the 1970s, however, another national figure of the same name has emerged — Dr. Lee Salk, Jonas' younger brother, who is probably the most highly respected and best-known child psychologist in America today.

The most successful of his five books, What Every Child Would Like
His Parents to Know (1972), has been translated into 16 languages, while
his most recent work, titled simply Dear Dr. Salk, was published in
March by Harper & Row.

A soft-spoken, highly energetic man who bears a close physical resemblance to comedian Phil Silvers, Dr. Salk recently invited me to share his thoughts in an interview at his Upper East Side apartment.

"What I try to do as a psychologist," he said, sitting in a large, circular chair in his spacious library, "is to use all the media to present what I consider useful psychological information that has been distilled for the consumer — to take the jargon out of it, and the ambiguity, so people can use it to deal effectively with their problems. While most people see me as a child psychologist, I'm really an adult psychologist who has focused on some of the most difficult issues that affect all people. … In my initial years of practice, it became clear to me that most of the problems originated in childhood, and I felt that perhaps the front line of mental health is really in those early, critical years."

Since 1972, he has been writing a column titled "You and Your Family" for McCall's magazine, which has a readership of 16 million.

"I frequently deal with family concerns, including problems that have to do with older people," he explained. "I choose a different topic each month. Frequently the topic revolves around a number of letters that come in. The June issue, for example, has an unusually large column because we're dealing with sexuality. We get hundreds and hundreds of letters, so I can't answer them personally, but I do read them all. When I'm giving a speech across the country, I like to use airplane time to catch up on my mail."

As a television personality, he appears at least twice a week on NBC's News Center 4. His off-the-cuff manner is no deception: Salk does each of his broadcasts live, without a script,............
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