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Bingham Dai Papers

 Collection
Identifier: RB-8007

Scope and Contents note

The Bingham Dai Collection contains correspondence, writings, journal, newspaper and magazine articles, photographs, note cards, and various documents regarding the professional and academic life of Dr. Bingham Dai. The collection also includes books from Dai's personal reference library. This collection covers the years 1910-2009; the bulk of the material spans 1960-1990. A majority of the items in this collection were not authored by Dai but were used by him for reference or are biographical in nature. One can get a sense of what Dai's research interests were, his views on psychology and life, and how peers felt about Dai and his work from these materials. Series V provides fascinating insights into the relationship between Dr. Dai and his young wife Vivian as they were swept up in events that proved to be a prologue to World War II.

Dates

  • 1910-2009, undated (bulk 1960-1990)
  • Majority of material found within 1960 - 1990

Language of Materials

Material in English and Chinese.

Access Restrictions

An appointment for research is required. No restrictions to access. No Interlibrary Loan.

Copyright Notice

Standard federal copyright laws apply.

Chronology

Chronology

26 August 1899
Bingham Dai born in Gutian, Fujian Province, China.
circa 1913
Attended YMCA high school.
1923
Completed B.A. in Philosophy and Religion from St. John's University in Shanghai, China.
1929
Entered University of Chicago.
1932
Completed M.A. in Sociology from University of Chicago.
1932-1933
Attended Seminar on the Impact of Culture upon Personality conducted by Edward Sapir at Yale. Also, first meeting with Harry Stack Sullivan.
1933-1935
Underwent training in self-knowledge from Harry Stack Sullivan and Leon J. Saul.
15 July 1935
Married Vivian Chen of New York, New York.
1935-1936
Fellow in medical psychology, Peking Union Medical College (PUMC), Peiping, China. Worked under Richard S. Lyman.
1936
Appointed Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, PUMC. Began development of personality study program.
1936-1937
Became lecturer, Department of Sociology, Tsin Hua University, Peiping, China.
1937
Japanese invasion of China.
Completed Ph.D., University of Chicago.
1939
Left China to return to United States.
1939-1942
Appointed Lecturer, Department of Sociology at Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee.
1942-1943
Edited China at War, a newspaper based in New York City.
1943
Appointed Professor of Psychiatry at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. Reunited with Richard S. Lyman. Continued with personality study, which he would teach until his retirement.
February 1945
Selected to assist Office of Strategic Services (OSS) operations in China.
1950
Became Professor of Psychology, Duke University.
1950-1955
Served as a consultant for the World Federation for Mental Health.
1969
Became a consultant for Highland Hospital, Asheville, North Carolina.
Retired from Duke University, made Professor Emeritus. Relocated with Vivian to Spruce Pine, North Carolina.
1975
Became a consultant for New River Mental Health Association, Boone, North Carolina.
1980s
Guest lecturer at Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina.
31 October 1996
Died in Spruce Pine, North Carolina, at 97 years of age.

Biographical Note

Bingham Dai was born in Gutian, Fujian Province, China on 26 August 1899. Dai's father sent him to an American-run YMCA high school at age 13. He wanted Bingham to learn the English language so he could get a good job in foreign trade. While at this school Dai became interested in education, self-awareness, and self-knowledge. These studies convinced Dai to pursue a career as a "mental healer." One of his earliest initiatives was to help organize self-study groups with fellow students to build self-awareness based on Confucian teachings.

In 1923, Bingham Dai completed a B.A. in Philosophy and Religion from St. John's University in Shanghai, China. While there, he studied Christian theology, Neo-Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. Dai entered the University of Chicago in 1929 after being selected by the Chinese government for a fellowship to earn a graduate degree in the United States. He completed an M.A. in Sociology in 1932 and a Ph.D. in 1937. During this time Dai studied with Robert E. Park, George H. Mead, Leon J. Saul, and Karen Horney of the venerable "Chicago school."

While a graduate student, Dai was involved in activities that would help shape his later career in psychoanalysis. In 1932-33 he was selected for a fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation to attend the Seminar on the Impact of Culture upon Personality conducted by Edward Sapir at Yale. There he met Harry Stack Sullivan who invited Dai to visit him in New York City. Dai accepted and later studied self-knowledge with Sullivan. This fit into Dai's existing interest in self-study and furthered his knowledge and experience.

In 1935, Richard S. Lyman, Associate Professor in the Neuropsychiatry department of the Peking (then Peiping) Union Medical College (P.U.M.C.) in Peking, China, invited Dai to join the department as a fellow in medical psychology. Dai became an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at P.U.M.C. after completion of his Ph.D. While there, he developed a unique educational program called "personality study" that he used to train staff members in therapy. These studies helped recipients know themselves by helping them learn their own personalities. This was done through careful listening, simple questioning, and creating a comfortable atmosphere for the patient. Dai's personality study drew heavily upon the principles of Confucianism and Taoism, especially the concept of 'wu-wei,' which emphasizes non-action. Using 'wu-wei' meant, in Dai's context, helping the patient to guide themselves toward the solution of their problems rather than being led down a path by the therapist.

Another key aspect of personality study was the use of dreams to help patients work out problems. Dai saw dreams as a way for people to access information about themselves they can not reach consciously. He would help patients to interpret their dreams for themselves which would help them to come to a solution for whatever problem they were having. Dai's conclusions about dreams were in direct conflict with contemporary thought about them. Whereas Freud thought that dreams were disguised wishes, Dai saw them as symbolic.

Dai firmly believed the therapist's job was to remove obstacles from patients' paths so they could solve their own problems. Dai advocated teaching people to be aware of themselves and focus on the well being of the whole person rather than certain specific aspects of mental or physical health.

Dai unfortunately was forced to leave P.U.M.C. in 1939 as a result of the Japanese invasion of China. From there he went to Fisk University in Nashville, TN where he became a lecturer in the Department of Sociology. In 1942 he left Fisk to edit the newspaper China at War based in New York City.

Dai joined the faculty of the Duke University School of Medicine in the Department of Psychiatry in 1943. He was reunited with Richard S. Lyman (from Peiping Union Medical College) who was then chair of the Psychiatry Department. Dai, along with Lyman, participated in an Office of Strategic Services project to select men for special Chinese commando units to make attacks behind Japanese lines. He also studied the likelihood of Chinese people to consort with the enemy during wartime. Dai's association with the OSS was in a non-military capacity.

While at Duke, Dai was able to perfect his personality study program. All psychiatric and selected medical residents participated in the program which the students affectionately called "Daianalysis." Students claimed the program helped them learn about themselves and gave them valuable insight they used with patients. Dai helped educate Duke medical students until his retirement in 1969.

Dai and his wife Vivian, whom he married 15 July 1935, moved from Durham to Spruce Pine, North Carolina after his retirement. Spruce Pine was chosen so that Vivian, a nationally recognized weaver and master of ceramics, could be closer to the Penland School of Crafts. Dai continued to see patients in his home office and became a consultant to the staffs of Highland Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina and the New River Mental Health Center in Boone, North Carolina. He also became a guest lecturer in the 1980's at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, giving talks to graduate students, faculty, and interested local professionals.

Dr. Dai remained active in his field until his death on 31 October 1996 at 97 years of age. He remained in Spruce Pine, North Carolina until his death.

In 1986, Dr. Paul L. Adams, one of Dai's former students, summed up Dai's career by discussing some of his major contributions to psychiatry and psychology. He claimed Dai was a pioneer because of his work with personality study and that he significantly contributed to the field's scholarship on obsessive compulsive disorder, dream study, application of Oriental concepts to psychotherapy, and psychotherapy led by the patient. He also was a leader in ideas concerning patients' natural tendency toward good health, preventing burnout in psychotherapists, opium addiction, race relations in the United States, the role of self-knowledge in medical education, and promoting the idea of the essential harmony between religious beliefs and the principles of psychology and psychiatry.

Chronology

26 August 1899
Born in Gutian, Fujian Province, China.
circa 1913
Attended YMCA high school.
1923
Completed B.A. in Philosophy and Religion from St. John's University in Shanghai, China.
1929
Entered University of Chicago.
1932
Completed M.A. in Sociology from University of Chicago.
1932-1933
Attended Seminar on the Impact of Culture upon Personality conducted by Edward Sapir at Yale. Also, first meeting with Harry Stack Sullivan.
1933-1935
Underwent training in self-knowledge from Harry Stack Sullivan and Leon J. Saul.
15 July 1935
Married Vivian Chen of New York, New York.
1935-1936
Fellow in medical psychology, Peking Union Medical College (PUMC), Peking, China. Worked under Richard S. Lyman.
1936
Appointed Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, PUMC. Began development of personality study program.
1936-1937
Became lecturer, Department of Sociology, Tsin Hua University, Peking, China.
1937
Completed Ph.D., University of Chicago.
1937
Japanese invasion of China.
1939
Left China to return to United States.
1939-1942
Appointed Lecturer, Department of Sociology at Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee.
1942-1943
Edited China at War, a newspaper based in New York City.
1943
Appointed Professor of Psychiatry at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. Reunited with Richard S. Lyman. Continued with personality study, which he would teach until his retirement.
February 1945
Selected to assist Office of Strategic Services (OSS) operations in China.
1950
Became Professor of Psychology, Duke University.
1950-1955
Served as a consultant for the World Federation for Mental Health.
1969
Retired from Duke University, made Professor Emeritus. Relocated with Vivian to Spruce Pine, North Carolina.
1969
Became a consultant for Highland Hospital, Asheville, North Carolina.
1975
Became a consultant for New River Mental Health Association, Boone, North Carolina.
1980s
Guest lecturer at Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina.
31 October 1996
Died in Spruce Pine, North Carolina, at 97 years of age.

Extent

19.5 Linear Feet

Abstract

The Bingham Dai Papers include the professional and personal papers of Dr. Bingham Dai (1899-1996), a psychotherapist. Dai was one of the first native-born Chinese to be trained in new theories of psychiatry and psychology in the 1930s. He taught at Peking Union Medical College in China, Duke University, and finished his career lecturing at Appalachian State University.

Collection Overview

The Bingham Dai Collection contains correspondence, writings, journal, newspaper and magazine articles, photographs, note cards, and various documents regarding the professional and academic life of Dr. Bingham Dai. The collection also includes books from Dai's personal reference library. This collection covers the years 1910-2009; the bulk of the material spans 1960-1990. A majority of the items in this collection were not authored by Dai but were used by him for reference or are biographical in nature. One can get a sense of what Dai's research interests were, his views on psychology and life, and how peers felt about Dai and his work from these materials. Series V provides fascinating insights into the relationship between Dr. Dai and his young wife Vivian as they were swept up in events that proved to be a prologue to World War II.

Arrangement

The collection is divided into six series. Series I contains personal and biographical information. These materials were gathered together after Dr. Dai's death and artificially arranged. In processing the collection, the decision was made to keep Series I intact although there does not appear to be an original order to the materials. Series II contains Dr. Dai's publications, mainly articles in scholarly journals, and articles by other authors that he found particularly significant. Series III included Dr. Dai's reference files of articles and stories appearing in a wide range of professional and popular magazines. Series IV contains fourteen boxes of note cards divided into various categories, including a complete index of Dr. Dai's holdings of long-playing records. Series V, added in 2008, contains letters between Dr. Dai and his wife, Vivian, written mainly during their separation, 1937 - 1939, following Mrs. Dai's return to the United States after the Japanese invasion of China. The series also contains a photo album of images collected by Dr. Dai while growing up in China and his years in the United States pursuing his graduate studies, circa 1910 - 1935. Series VI is an addendum of materials transferred to the library after the arrival of the bulk of the collection by Meiling Dai, and articles written using the collection resources.

Most of the documents in this collection are organized and labeled using Dai's own subject headings. Within folders, documents are arranged chronologically. Items with no apparent date were kept in the order in which they were found. Items with no subject heading were assigned a heading similar to those Dai used for ease of identification. Items not in English were identified by subject based on either labels written on the materials by Dai or by looking at the subjects of surrounding materials.

Missing Title

  1. Buddhism -- Psychology
  2. Confucianism
  3. Dai, Bingham, 1899-
  4. Dream interpretation
  5. Lyman, Richard Sherman
  6. Psychology -- China
  7. Psychology and philosophy
  8. Psychology and religion
  9. Psychotherapy
  10. Sapir, Edward, 1884 - 1939
  11. Sullivan, Henry Stack

Acquisitions Information

Transferred by deed of gift from Vivian Dai to the University Library on May 26, 1997. Personal papers (Series V) were transferred by Meiling Dai in 2008. Meiling continues to make small additions to the collection, and papers and articles produced by students and scholars who have used the collection are regularly added as Addenda (Series VI).

Related Material

Dr. Dai's personal library accompanied his papers. These books are available through the ASU online catalog. Many of the books contain annotations in Dr. Dai's handwriting. These books may be found at http://wncln.wncln.org/search/d?SEARCH=ASU+Dai+collection.

Information about Dr. Dai is also included in the following book: Psychology and Selfhood in the Segregated South by Anne C. Rose (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009)

Bibliography

  • Paul L. Adams, "Tribute to Bingham Dai." Paper presented at Psychotherapy: A Teaching Symposium Honoring Bingham Dai, Ph.D., at Highland Hospital, Asheville, North Carolina, 14 August 1986.
  • Assessment of Men: Selection of Personnel for the Office of Strategic Services. (New York: Rinehart & Company, 1948), 373-375.
  • Sally Atkins, "Bingham Dai Dies at Age 97." AAP Newsletter, January/February 1997, 4-5.
  • Gay Clyburn, "Dai Passing on Knowledge of Mental Healing."Watauga Democrat, Boone, North Carolina, 13 April 1987, 8A.
  • "Conference Honors Bingham Dai." Feedback, Highland Hospital, Asheville, North Carolina, Vol. 4, No. 4 (Fall 1986), 1.
  • Bingham Dai, "Curriculum Vitae," undated.
  • George Kriegman, "Bingham Dai and 'Wu-Wei'." The Academy Forum, (The American Academy of Psychoanalysis), Vol. 23, No. 3 (Autumn 1979), 12-13.
  • William S. Powell, North Carolina Lives: The Tar Heel Who's Who. (Hopkinsville, KY: Historical Records Association, 1962), 327-328.
  • Anne C. Rose, Psychology and Selfhood in the Segregated South. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2009.

Processing Information

Processed by Graduate Assistant Lucas Clawson under the supervision of University Archivist Hal Keiner, 2006

Series V processed by Hal Keiner, 2008

Encoded by Rachel Critzer, 2008 and Kathy Staley, 2009

There are plain paper copies of many articles; VHS tapes have been transferred to DVD.
Title
RB.8007: Bingham Dai Papers, 1899 - 2006, undated (bulk 1950 - 1996)
Status
Completed
Author
Processed by: Graduate Assistant Lucas Clawson under the supervision of University Archivist Hal Keiner; machine-readable finding aid created by: Rachel Critzer
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Description is in English

Repository Details

Part of the Appalachian State University Special Collections Repository

Contact:
218 College Street
Boone U.S.A. - North Carolina 28608-2026 United States
8282624975
8282624975 (Fax)