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Zimmerman, D.P. (1997). Bettelheim: A Life and Legacy: On Succumbing to the Temptations of “Celebrity Biography” Nina Sutton (Translated by David Sharp in collaboration with Nina Sutton), New York: Basic Books, 1996, 606 pp., illustrated, $35.00 (hardcover). Psychoanal. Psychol., 14(2):279-293.

(1997). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 14(2):279-293

Bettelheim: A Life and Legacy: On Succumbing to the Temptations of “Celebrity Biography” Nina Sutton (Translated by David Sharp in collaboration with Nina Sutton), New York: Basic Books, 1996, 606 pp., illustrated, $35.00 (hardcover)

Review by:
D. Patrick Zimmerman, PsyD

Introductory Notes

Since Dr. Bruno Bettelheim's death in 1990 at the age of 86, several biographical studies of his life have been in preparation. Nina Sutton's work is the first of these works to appear in print. Elizabeth Young-Bruehl's (1996) candid appraisal of this biography observed that Sutton was “fortunate … that she did not have to contend with other biographies,” because the material Sutton had from interviews, archives, and various correspondences was difficult enough to evaluate and organize. It also could be argued that in one way she was fortunate to have made this first biographical statement, because she did not have to contend with others who might make contributions that are not so flawed in their methodology and understanding of the field of psychoanalytic theory, as well as less unjust to Bettelheim's thinking.

Sutton notes that after the posthumous bashing of Bettelheim's reputation, “not a single stone of the Bettelheim monument had been left standing.”

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