In this startling biography that's bound to raise controversy, journalist Richard Pollak dismantles the myth of Bruno Bettelheim, one of the 20th century's most influential psychotherapists. Pollack reveals how Bettelheim faked his credentials, exaggerated data, lied about his success rate with patients, sometimes abused children in his care and ...Read MoreIn this startling biography that's bound to raise controversy, journalist Richard Pollak dismantles the myth of Bruno Bettelheim, one of the 20th century's most influential psychotherapists. Pollack reveals how Bettelheim faked his credentials, exaggerated data, lied about his success rate with patients, sometimes abused children in his care and plagiarized portions of his most famous book, The Uses of Enchantment. 16 pages of photos. National ads/media.Read Less
Publishers Weekly, 1996-11-18 In this shocking, demythologizing biography, Bruno Bettelheim (1903-1990), world-famous Vienna-born psychoanalyst, bestselling author and authority on troubled children, is portrayed as a dogmatic, arrogant, exploitative tyrant who manipulated and abused patients, a compulsive liar who fabricated stories about patients and embellished his own past. Pollak, the Nation's former executive editor and literary editor, charges that Bettelheim sadistically punished and emotionally abused children at the University of Chicago's Orthogenic School, the residential treatment center he directed for three decades. The renowned healer tyrannized the staff, insulted and denigrated his students and was a stern, self-preoccupied, indifferent parent, according to Pollak, who bases his allegations on interviews with more than 200 people including former patients, colleagues and Bettelheim's son and daughter. Bettelheim, who grew up traumatized by his father's syphilis, spent more than 10 months in Dachau and Buchenwald, from which camps he was released in 1939. His own helplessness when the Nazis arrested him and his ordeal in the concentration camps was the basis, argues Pollak, for his proclamations that Jewish Holocaust victims cooperated in their own destruction because centuries of "ghetto thinking" had conditioned them to passivity. A professed atheist uncomfortable with his Jewishness, Bettelheim forbade children at the Orthogenic School to celebrate Jewish holidays and repeatedly urged Jews to assimilate. He enforced a racist, all-white admission policy at the school, Pollak maintains. Bettelheim's claimed rates of therapeutic success were greatly exaggerated, according to a systematic follow-up study cited here. Media celebrity made the prolific psychoanalyst a pundit, yet Pollak notes that Bettelheim's belief that autism is caused by bad parenting was demolished by thorough research as early as 1964, and he labels as specious Bettelheim's thesis that autistic and schizophrenic children behave much like helpless concentration camp inmates. Pollak's brother, who became a patient at the Orthogenic School at the age of six in 1943, died five years later in an accidental fall, which Bettelheim, in a 1969 meeting with the author, categorically insisted was a contrived accident, a suicide. That episode led Pollak to write this sure-to-be controversial biography, a significant, meticulously documented book that should force a reevaluation of Bettelheim's writings. Photos. (Jan.)
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