on July 16, 2004
I'm a 60-year-old autistic and have read lots of books and articles both by and about Bruno Bettelheim. This one takes the cake, though. It's so easy to skew facts in order to defame genius.
Consider this: Bettelheim openly admitted he smacked his patients, but only in response to violent behavior. No one gets mad at Benjamin Spock for suggesting that it's not such a bad thing to strike your child, just so long as you include a display of rage, rather than a cold-blooded reptilian front! When Annie Sullivan clobbered seven-year-old Helen Keller, everyone thought that was just precious. But when Bettelheim did it occassionally, he became grist for Pollak's cheap-shot rumor mill.
In fact, Helen Keller is a good case in point to back Bettelheim's theories of autism. When Keller was 19 months old, according to her parents, she was precocious and could talk perfectly well. After her traumatic illness, she not only lost her ability to talk--as typical of most autistics--she started exhibiting COMPLETE, FULL-BLOWN autistic behavior. She would perseverate over meaningless details and rock back and forth. In fact, modern reseach has shown that 31 per-cent of all blind children become autistic at age two.
Bettelheim believed that nobody is born autistic, but they may have inherited predispositions. Moreover, he believed that one can acquire a predisposition due to environment. If
Bettelheim was right, that autism has multiple causes, it would explain why autism is so elusive to modern researchers who are careful to rule out in advance any theoretical construct that might suggest environmental determinants, because such researchers are afraid of upsetting enraged mommies. When is the last time anyone has suggested that mothers like the one in "The Three Faces of Eve" might cause mental problems? This is deliberate ignorance, and Pollak has encouraged it. His book is a disaster to millions of autistic children who must now abandon all hope, or place it in the hands of neurologists. Unfortunately, no neurologist on Earth offers a cure for autism.
on July 3, 2000
On an episode of "The Simpsons," Bart is climbing on a psychiatrist's bookcase and knocking off some tomes. The psychiatrist says, "Stop that! Some of those books haven't been discredited yet!" "The Creation of Dr. B" is truly an astonishing book. To think that such a fraud could obtain such a prominent position in American life makes you wonder what other now-respected people out there are con-men and phonies. Pollak's book is a model of research and writing: those post-modern people who say we can never come to a definite knowledge of the truth should eat their words after reading this. "Dr. B" is one of those recent works that help show the insanity of the Freudian dominace of psychology in the mid 20th century. Can we now lump it with phrenology, as it deserves to be?
on November 30, 2002
RICHARD POLLAK, THE AUTHOR OF "THE CREATION OF DR. B", BRINGS TO HIS STORY HIS OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH DR. B. HE ALSO BRINGS WITH HIM A LOT OF PERSONAL RESENTMENT. HE SEEMS UNABLE TO SEPARATE BETTELHEIM'S STRONG FREUDIAN PERSPECTIVE AND BELIEFS FROM BETTELHEIM'S QUESTIONABLE BEHAVIOR. POLLAK'S RESENTMENT GETS THE BETTER OF HIM WHEN HE MAKES DUMB REMARKS LIKE: BETTELHEIM WAS A "A MOMMY HATER"
HIS BIO DOES GIVE SOME GOOD HISTORY ABOUT BETTELHEIM, THE TYPE OF HISTORY WE ALL LIKE TO SEE ABOUT GREAT MEN, ALL THEIR DIRTY LAUNDRY. IN BETTELHEIM'S CASE A LOT OF THIS AIRING OF LAUNDRY IS WARRENTED. BUT BETTELHEIM WAS A TRUE FREUDIAN. AND I FOR ONE HAVE FOUND HIS WRITINGS EXTREMELY ENLIGHTENING. THAT HIS PERSONAL LIFE WAS A [FAKE] DOES NOT TAKE AWAY FROM HIS POSITIVE BELIEFS ABOUT HUMAN NATURE. POLLAK THINKS OTHERWISE.
on February 11, 1999
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.