Behave by Andromeda Romano-Lax is a fictional biography of Rosalie Rayner Watson, the wife of the founder of behaviorist psychology, John B. Watson. Rosalie was one of the most controversial scientists and mothers of the 20th century. Rosalie helped her husband John with his research on child behavior and publish the 1928 parenting guide that was revered as the child-rearing bible. With quotes such as “The mother begins to destroy the child the moment it’s born.”
After graduating from Vassar in 1920 Rosalie won a coveted research position at Johns Hopkins where she meets and begins to work with John. The study conducted controversial experiments on hundreds of babies to prove behaviorist principles. During that time Rosalie began an affair with the married John which was highly scandalous in the 1920’s. The book then follows the couple throughout their lives with their research and raising their own children.
Behave is not really the type of read I would normally pick up for myself but I was invited to view this one and thought to myself why not, this could be interesting. I actually found myself quite fascinated with the book fairly on and am glad I did give this one a chance.
Going into this one I didn’t know anything about Rosalie or John so it was all new to me. The author has come up with this fictional recount of their lives based on the information found about the couple. There are a lot of things mentioned throughout the era this takes place in which really brought me back to that time in history. I will say though during the research phase of the book I’d find myself just cringing, I can’t imagine studies like in the book would ever be done in today’s society but it was an interesting look at this couple that spent their lives studying human behavior and response.
Overall, a fascinating look into this historical couple, while it’s a work of fiction it’s based on facts found about their lives.
I received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.