Bettelheim, Bruno

Bruno Bettelheim’s (1903–1990) notable life is very much an American story, even if he claimed primary validation for his views from the Viennese culture of his birth and upbringing. He arrived in the United States in 1939 after release from internment in Dachau and Buchenwald concentration camps following the triumphant Nazi arrival in Austria, 1938. In due course, he secured temporary positions at the University of Chicago, leading to his appointment in 1944 as director of the university’s Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School, which offered residential care and treatment to disturbed children. His much-reported professional activities and his expert opinions about the problem child earned him considerable fame, but, following his death in 1990 (by suicide), his reputation was seriously damaged by accusations of lies and ...

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