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Bettelheim, B. Ekstein, R. (2006). The Correspondence of Bruno Bettelheim and Rudolf Ekstein: 2. The Correspondence. Psychoanal. Hist., 8(1):97-124.

(2006). Psychoanalysis and History, 8(1):97-124

The Correspondence of Bruno Bettelheim and Rudolf Ekstein: 2. The Correspondence

Bruno Bettelheim, Ph.D. and Rudolf Ekstein, Ph.D.


Dear Bruno,

I was, today, surprised and pleased and also quite a bit envious, when I received your beautiful new volume on The Empty Fortress. I could instantly lose myself into that book, identify myself with it, and I found so much in it that is so closely related to my own way of working and writing.

There is that poetic title which tells so much. There is your reliance on constant clinical illustration, on case material, and your attempt to center the whole argument on cases. One has always the feeling, and this is something I am trying to do with my own writings, that you do not use case material in order to illustrate concepts, that is, to suffer [sic] from foregone conclusions; rather, that you occasionally use concepts (if you permit me the phrase) to illustrate case material.

Of course, some of the material I knew. I greeted that mechanical boy as an old acquaintance of mine. Some of these children, somehow, I have met in my own experience and, to me, they are vital confirmations of their experience.

The book will do a lot of good among us in our group. We will work on it.

There is one more thing I want to say about my feeling like a kindred soul. I do know, as I think I have mentioned to you and Fritz last time, about the lonesomeness that goes into this kind of work; and the isolation one feels from those of whom one originally, perhaps, expected the main support.

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