Bettelheim, a Life and a Legacy

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BasicBooks, 1996 - Biography & Autobiography - 606 pages
Who was Bruno Bettelheim? The brilliant discoverer of a unique method of treating psychotic children, justly acclaimed the world over? Or the brutal and despotic bully who was denounced after his death by former students and patients? In her quest to understand this puzzling and powerful man, Nina Sutton spent five years tracing Bettelheim's footsteps from Vienna to Los Angeles, via Chicago, Basel, and Jerusalem. She interviewed students and colleagues, friends and enemies, and uncovered rare documents, including Bettelheim's letters from Buchenwald and Dachau. As the internationally famous director of the Orthogenic School in Chicago and the author of a dozen bestsellers on Nazism, child rearing, emotional disturbances, and fairy tales, Bettelheim was always surrounded by controversy. He was a Jew who rejected the inevitability of the Holocaust, a psychoanalyst who challenged the very notion of "insanity", and a man who liked to shroud his life in mystery and sometimes outright lies. Most significantly, he was a therapist driven by an almost magical idea: that from an absolute evil, Nazism, could be drawn the salvation of deeply disturbed children. Sutton shows how Bettelheim discovered his life force in the concentration camp and then tried to use his own aggression as a lighting rod for the self-destructive anger and violence seething within the children in his care. Probing deep into his past and into the scandal that broke out after his suicide, she reveals how care and brutality, commitment to truth and a passion for fairy tales, could coexist in this exceptional man.

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BETTELHEIM: A Life and a Legacy

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A deeply sympathetic psychobiography of Bruno Bettelheim, the much honored yet controversial therapist who for nearly three decades directed the University of Chicago's Orthogenic School, a Freudian ... Read full review

Bettelheim, a life and a legacy

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In his lifetime (1903-90), Bruno Bettelheim was regarded as an authority on childrearing and a pioneer of psychoanalysis. His prolific writings ranged from his experiences as a survivor of Nazi ... Read full review


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