Dr. Joyce Brothers, 85, who held a PhD in psychology and was one of the best known of those who provided the American public with personal counseling through the mass media, died May 13 at her home in Fort Lee, N.J.

Her daughter, Lisa Brothers Arbisser, said she died of respiratory failure,.

A seemingly unlikely knowledge of boxing first drew public attention to Dr. Brothers, but her long career was founded on what were seen as the sympathy, sincerity and psychological knowledge that she provided.

Among those who confronted the troubles and torments of the multitude, Dr. Brothers seemed to stand out for her ability to give concise, comprehensible advice.

Although her scholarly training was undeniable, her suggestions came in everyday language, without resort to cant, jargon or bewildering complexity.

Her solutions, ideas and recommendations appeared in a syndicated newspaper column that at one point ran in more than 300 papers. A column ran for many years in Good Housekeeping magazine.

Readers also could avail themselves of her insights through best-selling books.

But problem-plagued and angst-ridden members of the American public, as well as the merely curious and those who craved greater self-knowledge, had their greatest access to Dr. Brothers through her constant television appearances.

She did not shrink from frank talk about topics that until then had been the subject only of whispers. She responded to society’s growing desire to speak publicly about matters once kept private.

“I invented media psychology,” she was once quoted as telling The Washington Post. “I was the first. The founding mother.”

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