The CREATION OF DR B: A Biography of Bruno Bettelheim
For more than four decades, Bruno Bettelheim was regarded by a large public as one of the world's most important and influential psychotherapists, a Viennese intellectual who stood as "one of Freud's few genuine heirs of our time." In fact, as Richard Pollak documents in this revelatory new biography, Bettelheim was a lumber dealer who grandly reinvented himself with a faked set of academic credentials after emigrating to the United States in 1939. In the years that followed, deception followed deception as Bettelheim claimed that he had traveled in Freud's circle, had treated autistic children in Vienna, had interviewed 1,500 fellow prisoners for his famous psychological study of concentration camp behavior, and had been freed from Buchenwald through the intervention of Eleanor Roosevelt.
In Love Is Not Enough, Truants from Life, and The Empty Fortress, Bettelheim's much-praised books about the Orthogenic School, the home for emotionally disturbed children at the University of Chicago that he ran for three decades, he continued his fabrications, maintaining that he had treated "hundreds" of schizophrenic children who feared for their lives at the hands of their parents, shaping pseudonymous case histories to enhance his reputation, and claiming, with concocted statistics, that he was returning 85 percent of his young patients to normal lives.
Pollak also demonstrates in frightening detail how "Dr. B," as he was called at the Orthogenic School, often spun angrily out of control and abused the children both physically and emotionally, all the while insisting in his books and from the lectern that such punishment was absolutely verboten. Pollak also carefully spells out how Bettelheim plagiarized portions of his prize-winning book on the psychological meaning of fairy tales, The Uses of Enchantment.
In a work of prodigious research, Pollak reveals the real Bruno Bettelheim for the first time, giving us a portrait at once tough-minded and sympathetic of a man who, for all his success, could never stop dissembling and re-creating himself.
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The creation of Dr. B: a biography of Bruno BettelheimUser Review - Book Verdict
Bettelheim's reputation as a pioneer in the humane treatment of emotionally disturbed children while director of the University of Chicago's Orthogenic School (1944-73) is challenged in this controversial biography. After Bettelheim's suicide in 1991, Pollak, journalist and former editor of the Nation, interviewed Bettelheim's relatives, colleagues, staff of the school, and former patients. Covering much of the same ground as Nina Sutton's earlier Bettelheim: A Life and a Legacy (LJ 7/96) but lacking her engaging style, Pollak reveals that Bettelheim lied about his credentials, fabricated his conclusions (including his success rate with patients), manipulated staff, and abused students at the Orthogenic School. In particular, Pollak describes Bettelheim's retirement years, his seminars while professor of psychology at the University of Chicago, and the charges of plagiarism associated with his most famous book, The Uses of Enchantment (LJ 6/1/76). A final assessment of Bettelheim's work awaits release of Orthogenic School student files and follow-up studies of former patients. Recommended for psychology collections in academic and large public libraries.--Lucille M. Boone, San Jose P.L., Cal.
Review: The Creation of Doctor B: A Biography of Bruno BettelheimUser Review - Michael Connolly - Goodreads
The Author The author, Richard Pollak, became interested in Bruno Bettelheim, because Richard's younger brother Stephen spent five years at the Orthogenic School for emotionally disturbed children ... Read full review