Bettelheim, Bruno

Bruno Bettelheim

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Bruno Bettelheim (August 28, 1903 – March 13, 1990) was the director of the Orthogenic School for Disturbed Children at the University of Chicago from 1944 to 1973. He wrote a number of books on psychology and for a time had an international reputation for his work on Sigmund Freud, psychoanalysis, and emotionally disturbed children.

A survivor of the Dachau and Buchenwald concentration camps, Bettelheim emigrated to the United States in 1939. Though he studied art history at the University of Vienna, he spent his academic career in the US as a professor of psychology at the University of Chicago. He was the author of numerous works, including The Uses of Enchantment (1976), which applied Freudian psychology to fairy tales and won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the National Book Award. However, a 1991 article in The Journal of American Folklore charged that Bettelheim had engaged in plagiarism by unacknowledged borrowing from a number of sources, primarily Julius Heuscher's A Psychiatric Study of Fairy Tales (1963), although Heuscher himself stated he was not bothered.

Currently, many of Bettelheim's theories in which he attributes autism spectrum conditions to parenting style are considered to be discredited, not least because of the controversies relating to his academic and professional qualifications.