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Book details
  • SubGenre:Social Scientists & Psychologists
  • Language:English
  • Pages:456
  • eBook ISBN:9781483530154

The Creation of Dr. B

A Biography of Bruno Bettelheim

by Richard Pollak

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The Creation of Dr. B, Richard Pollak's riveting biography of Bruno Bettelheim, reveals the world-renowned child psychologist as a dogmatic tyrant and compulsive liar who often terrorized his young patients and their parents, plagiarized his prize-winning work, made false claims about his concentration camp experiences, and grandly invented his own past.


For three decades, Bruno Bettelheim ran the University of Chicago's Orthogenic School for emotionally disturbed children. The Austrian émigré rose to become perhaps the leading expert on treating autistic children, claiming cure rates of 85 percent. He dazzled the media with such numbers, and also by comparing the mothers of autistic children to the Nazi guards in Dachau and Buchenwald, where he had been incarcerated for ten months. Thousands of readers of Bettelheim's books and articles, and watchers of his interviews on television, regarded him as without peer in the psychological realm. But, as Pollak shows conclusively, all the while Bettelheim was leading, in the words of the New York Times Book Review, "a life of lies." 

About the author

Richard Pollak's books, besides The Creation of Dr. B: A Biography of Bruno Bettelheim, include After the Barn: A Brother's Memoir; The Colombo Bay, an account of his five-week voyage on a container ship after the 9/11 terror attacks; Up Against Apartheid: The Role and the Plight of the Press in South Africa, and The Episode, a novel that deals with epilepsy. From 1979 to 2004, he served variously as executive editor, literary editor and contributing editor of The Nation. He has written for that weekly, and for Harper’s, The Atlantic, The New York Times Book Review and other major magazines, and he co-founded and edited [More] magazine, the monthly journalism review that published in the 1970s. He was an associate editor at Newsweek, a political reporter at The Evening Sun in Baltimore, and a Poynter Fellow at Yale University, where he created and taught a course in “The Politics of Journalism,” which he also taught for several years at New York University. He lives in Portland, Maine, with his wife, the pianist Diane Walsh.