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Karon, B.P. (2011). To the Editor. DIVISION/Rev., 2:38.

(2011). DIVISION/Review, 2:38


To the Editor Related Papers

Bertram P. Karon, Ph.D., ABPP

Re: Jacqueline Sanders's Reminiscence of Bruno Bettelheim in DIVISION/Review, 1(1), 23-27.

There is a minor historical inaccuracy in Jacqueline Sanders's thoughtful and feelingful reminiscence of her experiences with Bruno Bettelheim and her reviews of the three biographies. She states:

He [Fisher] presents Bettelheim as a lay analyst, although he never went through a program nor did he have the training analysis. He never claimed in my presence to be a psychoanalyst and never had private patients-psychotherapeutic or psychoanalytic…. This indication that Bettelheim did not have the benefit of another helping him with the examination of his unconscious, is helpful in understanding the blind spots…(p. 27)

This seems to imply that Bettelheim was never psychoanalyzed. But Bruno Bettelheim was psychoanalyzed by Richard Sterba in Vienna before undergoing the trauma of the concentration camp. Both Bettelheim and Sterba mentioned it, with Bettelheim commenting that how Sterba began the analysis made it possible for him to be analyzed. Sterba was one of the first four candidates at the first psychoanalytic institute in Vienna and early became a training analyst. I do not know whether that psychoanalysis was a training analysis. I believe I heard Bettelheim say that no one who'd been in a concentration camp could go back to the life they led before that experience, that before the concentration camp, like most psychoanalysts, he had only worked with neurotic adults, and after coming out of the concentration camp he now only worked with psychotic children.

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