The Creation of Dr. B: A Biography of Bruno Bettelheim and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Qty:1
  • List Price: $30.95
  • Save: $5.87 (19%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
Gift-wrap available.
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: This book was personally inspected before being listed and meets or exceeds Amazon's standards of good condition. Binding is tight with no loose or missing pages. Text is clean, free of any highlighted paragraphs, underlined main idea sentences, or personal notations in the margins. Photographs are intact and unmarked upon, as well.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

The Creation of Doctor B: A Biography of Bruno Bettelheim Paperback – April 6, 1998


See all 3 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Paperback
"Please retry"
$25.08
$19.97 $0.01
Best%20Books%20of%202014
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Best Books of the Year
Best Books of 2014
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for 2014's Best Books of the Year in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.

Product Details

  • Series: Biography of Bruno Bettelheim
  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; First Paper ed edition (April 6, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684846403
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684846408
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,536,220 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Authors

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

The psychiatrist says, "Stop that!
R. W. Rasband
Pollak's book is a long-needed, well-written, thoroughly researched document that should be required reading for every psychology and psychiatry student.
Fíal
Bettelheim was truly a destructive man in every sense of the word.
Crochet Lover

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 41 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 11, 1999
Format: Paperback
As a former student at Bettelheim's Orthogenic School, I would like to commend Mr. Pollack for a well written and truthful account of Dr. B. He was NOT the "saint" as people would like to have him be. Mr. Pollack's description of Dr. B is totally accurate in every detail. We, the students, as Mr. Pollack did point out, were very intimidated by Dr. B and were often slapped and beaten by him. The Orthogenic School staff, never came to our aid, themselves, as well, being intimadated by this man. I am glad Mr. Pollak wrote this book and only wish others would also expose the fake Dr.B.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Crochet Lover on June 30, 2012
Format: Paperback
I read The Creation of Dr. B several years ago... recently, while going through some storage boxes, I found my copy and had memories come back about what I read. I still have chills go down my spine when I remember reading about not only what an abusive monster and a fraud he was, but thinking about how much he must have set back progress in autism research, and all because he knew exactly who to deceive and how for his own gain.

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.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 5, 1997
Format: Hardcover
A book that obviously comes out of deep passion and painstaking scholarship, written with a cold and disciplined fury. The evidence Pollak uncovers is so shocking as to be practically grotesque. It would be hilarious if it wasn't so tragic. Bettelheim blighted the lives of a generation of autistic children (as well as their parents), as well as those of any other children who were unfortunate to fall into his care. Pollak's harshness is never less than scrupulously fair, and is clearly richly merited.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Fíal on October 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Pollak's book is a long-needed, well-written, thoroughly researched document that should be required reading for every psychology and psychiatry student.

Bruno Bettelheim did not blight just one generation of families of autistic people. He hurt, and continues to hurt, hundreds of thousands of people through his misbegotten, arrogantly upheld, cruel, baseless theories that were far more widely publicized than the current scientific research. His book The Empty Fortress (published in 1962 with all the Freudian nonsense) is still in print, which means that there are even today, 2007, many people out there who believe or even revere him.

Rare, indeed, is the family member of an autistic person who has not been assured by a confident Bettelheim reader that the child's mother caused his disease. Can you imagine the harm and heartbreak this causes? Even Bettelheim's own wife quarreled with him because he was so hard on mothers.

Personally I believe that Bettelheim killed himself in part because it was more and more difficult for him to uphold his theories, his life work, in the face of mounting scientific evidence that autism has physical causes.

The Bettelheim defenders have no facts to back them up. They fall back on "he was a brilliant man" or "follow-up studies would have gone against his method" or "he was a distinguished scholar." The facts are that Bettelheim's whole career as a "scholar" was based on lies and misrepresentations; that he hurt dozens of children directly and hundreds of thousands of families indirectly; and that Pollak's book is finally getting people to take a hard look at a very bad man.

The University of Chicago should publicly apologize that it supported him for so long.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
19 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Monica Shouts on July 30, 2004
Format: Paperback
Pollak does a brilliant job of tearing away the deceptions and rationalizations that made Bettelheim's Orthogenic School seem like an outstanding, cutting edge School for emotionally troubled, mentally ill and autistic children.

The chapter on Bettelheim's brutality against the children really made me wonder how did the staff working with him rationalize his behavior for so many years? I guess some staff were intimidated by him. And some were awestruck by his prestige.

I think indirectly Pollak's book is an indictment against the University of Chicago for so carelessly supporting Bettelheim for so many years - 30 years. Pollak shows how Bettelheim was allowed to surround himself with whatever staff he pleased. And frequently, he chose impressionable, young people who had good reason to believe that Bettelheim's method's were rational since the U of C backed the school. I guess the U of C was so content with Bettelheim's national prestige and with the money he brought to the University that they weren't concerned about his cruel, sadistic side. And I'm sure that U of C officials must have known something about this side of Betttelheim, since he said outrageous things in public.

Also, I guess Pollak's book shows how easy it can be for the ordinary person to witness terrible acts of brutality against a vulnerable population (and troubled children, some as young as 4, living away from their parents for several years is probably one of the more vulnerable populations in the world) yet do and say nothing.

In the book, Bettelheim supporters seem to rationalize that because Bettelheim was so brilliant that he could somehow abuse children in an effective, therapeutic way.
Read more ›
3 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews


What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?