- Gebundene Ausgabe: 478 Seiten
- Verlag: Simon & Schuster; Auflage: First Printing (1. Januar 1997)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 0684809389
- ISBN-13: 978-0684809380
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 16,5 x 4,4 x 25,4 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 2 Kundenrezensionen
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 775.713 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
The Creation of Dr. B: A Biography of Bruno Bettelheim (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 1. Januar 1997
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While certainly a biography, Richard Pollak's book is much more than a simple account of the life of the renowned psychologist Bruno Bettelheim. Pollak's book is both more personal and more damning than would be possible for any other writer to draft. Pollak's younger brother Stephen was a patient of Bettelheim's and a student at the Orthogenic School in Chicago. At age nine, while playing hide-and-seek with his brother in an old dairy barn, Richard witnessed his six-year-old brother accidentally fall to his death. Pollak's parents attempted to deal with this tragedy by sweeping it under the rug, a solution that only delayed the author's desire to know more about his brother, his parents, and the full dimensions of this tragedy within his family life. A visit to Bettelheim to inquire into his brother's psychological records, led to a remarkable encounter in which Bettelheim inexplicably insisted that Stephen had committed suicide and laid the blame for his death with Pollak's mother, whom he described as a jealous and uncaring woman. This incredible experience led Pollak to begin to question what type of man Bettelheim truly was, and what basis he had for his diagnosis. What Pollak has uncovered is simply incredible. A twisted path of deception, self-invention, and plagiarism is disclosed in damning detail, stripping the famed author of The Uses of Enchantment of any justifiable claim to his esteemed reputation as a child psychologist, and throwing into doubt many of the basic details of the life the late Bettelheim had claimed to have lived. Pollak takes down Bettelheim, pins him to the mat, and pursues him to the end, in a fascinating work that stretches the boundaries of biography.
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I read Bruno Bettelheim books when he was the guru of child psychiatry in the 50's and 60's and thought they were excellent. Now this book exposes the truth about him. It is quite interesting and anyone who still believes in his methods should really read it.
I already knew Bettelheim's theory about refrigerator mothers was hooey when my oldest was diagnosed with autism during the mid-90s, well after Kanner and Rimland had busted Bettelheim's myths. I had heard of autism years before thanks to my mother's nursing background and experience, as well as a family friend who had a son on the spectrum. The impression I came away with was that autism was not a condition to be feared, it just was what it was, and certainly nobody was blamed for causing it.
So when my oldest got the diagnosis, I felt no false guilt or shame. I simply thought, okay, what's next, what do we do to help?
I was fortunate I came from a generation that didn't have to live with mothers being blamed and having their children taken away from them to place in an institution "for the child's good." That was the world Bruno Bettelheim created for countless parents, and he did so based on lies about his past, his credentials, and his curriculum vitae. The result was children who got institutionalized without cause and families ripped apart. Bettelheim was truly a destructive man in every sense of the word.
Bettelheim never had a psychology degree, it was in philosophy, specifically aesthetics. He wrote academic papers about artwork, not the human mind. His work required him to study psychology *a little bit*, but again, that was not his major. It made as much sense for him to consider himself an expert in psychology as it would for an engineering major with a minor in business law to hang out a shingle with the claim they can help someone facing a libel suit.
Bettelheim essentially built an empire for himself based on lies. He charmed the right people into giving him what he wanted - power and control through being a professor at the University of Chicago and eventually becoming the director of the Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School. Many of his former patients have come forward since his death to give testimony that he abused them severely.
A good percentage of his patients have also stated in the years since they were under his "care" that his imposing a diagnosis of autism on them was, in fact, inaccurate, and they were never autistic. It almost seems if someone sneezed the wrong way by Bettelheim's standards, they had autism. One could infer based on his misdiagnosing so many that it reflected not only how little he really knew about autism, but fabricated what he did say he knew. That he reacted almost violently to Rimland and Kanner's research dispelling his claims about autism not being organic/biological in nature and blasting the refrigerator mother theory out of the water also lends to his lack of credibility.
I am no psychologist, not even close to being an expert. But from my own rudimentary poking around, my guess is if Bettelheim came upon the psychology scene these days, he'd be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder and laughed out the door with a permanent Kick Me sign on his back, never to be seen again.
It's a shame he took advantage of the fact that people were more trusting of someone's word as sole source of credibility 50 years ago. It meant he was given a level of authority he didn't deserve or earn, used it to abuse and intimidate innocent children, and set back what we know about autism by decades because he imposed so much authority, that up until the 1970s-1980s, nobody bothered or dared to question him, or if they did, they were quickly discredited and silenced.
Sadly, certain experts and cultures still try to purport the refrigerator mother theory. Various countries in Europe and Asia maintain that autism is the parents' fault. Child abuse expert Alice Miller publicly maintained up to her death that, in her opinion, autism is a result of poor parenting. All of this flies in the face of scientific research that continues to come out stating autism is a combination of factors that are biological and/or genetic in nature, not psychological.
This points to just how damaging Bruno Bettelheim's work has been to autism research and to those in the autism community. Many of us not only have autism, but have children on the spectrum. We can attest neither we nor our children are the result of bad parenting. Even when some of us truly do/did have bad parents, we still don't blame them for having autism, which is for all intents and purposes different brain wiring. No more, no less. To imply that parenting is at fault for who we are is nonsensical.
For that reason I think it's still very relevant to still recommend Pollak's biography in this day and age. The autism community needs to continue ensuring Bettelheim's name is only associated with that of a fool any time someone tries to state otherwise. Those who still believe the refrigerator mother theory may be more and more in the minority, but it's surprising to me in the 21st century that anyone believes it at all or thinks Bettelheim was a credentialed or believable expert in the field.