chapter analyses the processes by which neuromuscular relaxation functioned and proliferated as a taught practice. It is a study of health communication, education and management, which pays attention to material and audio-visualcultures and uncovers the mechanisms, expectations and consequences of teaching and learning relaxation. Whereas state-sponsored public health campaigns relating to smoking, alcohol, diet and exercise have been well documented by historians, the processes by which stress-management strategies were contemporaneously popularised and consumed have
Dr Williams’ Pink Pills for Pale People and the hybrid pathways of Chinese
and geographical setting have tended to focus on the development during this period of a multivalent visualculture that promoted an aspirational or fictive reality. Tani Barlow claims that the ‘sexy girl iconography’ in 1920s and 1930s Shanghai presents ‘the fantasy of modern social life in the colonial modern arena’ even through products as mundane as insect repellent.
In Selling Happiness , Ellen Johnston Laing similarly argues for the role of calendar posters in transforming the visualculture of Shanghai and
Visualising obesity as a public health concern in 1970s and 1980s
for health education to make more effective use of the mass media so that campaigns could productively influence individuals to act on the advice given and demonstrate ‘self-discipline’ in controlling their behaviours.
The centrality of mass media techniques to the construction of the new public health ensured that visual communication techniques became valued tools of persuasion.
Visualculture has much to offer historical examinations of public health. Historians of visualculture and medicine
neuromuscular relaxation as safe, effective, drug-free therapies for conditions ranging from high blood pressure to migraine, labour pain and anxiety. However, the therapeutic efficacy of relaxation techniques relied on them being expertly taught, conscientiously learned and persistently practised. This chapter focuses on the pedagogy of twentieth-century therapeutic relaxation methods in Britain, paying particular attention to their material and audio-visualculture. Relaxation instruction and ideology were communicated through numerous channels including self-help books