Bettelheim: Living and Dying

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David James Fisher is a practicing psychoanalyst and a European cultural historian. He is Senior Faculty Member, New Center for Psychoanalysis; Training and Supervising Analyst, Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis; and Clinical Instructor, Department of Psychiatry, UCLA School of Medicine. He is the author of Romain Rolland and the Politics of Intellectual Engagement (Transaction Publishers, 2004); Cultural Theory and Psychoanalytic Tradition (Transaction Publishers, 1991); and Psychoanalytische Kulturkritik und die Seele des Menschen (Psychosozial-Verlag, 2003).
”Fisher gives a realistic representation of Bruno Bettelheim as a human being, full of contradictions and frailties – a man who found in psychoanalysis not just a profession, but his true purpose in life.” in: The Psychoanalytic Quarterly, Vol. LXXIX, No. 3, 2010
“[an] engrossing memoir … [an] intensely moving story of the intergenerational, intercultural, inter-weltanschauung engagement of two men, one of them dying … “ in: The Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 1 Feb. 2009
“There is much to admire in Fisher’s study, especially in the penultimate section on suicide and the ravages of age. Fisher’s voice is warm and humane, and he invites the reader’s compassion for Bettelheim without denying the man’s obvious flaws.” in: American Imago, Vol. 63, No. 1
“an important and engaging book … provides rich and intriguing perspectives on this extraordinary and complicated man, including personal accounts by the author who served as confidante to Bettelheim in the years just prior to Bettelheim’s suicide. … this fine book, overall, is a balanced portrait, written with care, style, and thoughtfulness, about a man whose contributions continue to await the widespread recognition they are due.” in: Clinical Social Work 37 (2009)
“… a historical gold mine for research into the history of psychoanalysis. … This collections of essays is valuable both for Fisher’s interpretative insights and the publication of several primary documents in the history of European and North American psychoanalysis.” in: Journal of the History of the Behavioural Sciences, Vol. 45 (s), Spring 2009
“A self-declared ‘critical admirer’ and final confident of Bruno Bettelheim, David James Fisher succeeds with as balanced and nuanced a portrayal as seems possible of the character, the lifetime contributions, and the final justifications of a most controversial psychoanalytic eminence. Bettelheim was at once the center of major professional polemics, and at the same time, the psychoanalyst who, after Sigmund Freud and Erik Erikson, has had the greatest impact on the wider culture of the twentieth century. Fisher's book is highly recommended reading for all concerned with the interplay of ideas and personas in the evolving history of the psychoanalytic place in the scheme of human development.” – Robert S. Wallerstein, M.D., Emeritus Professor and former Chair, Department of Psychiatry, UCSF School of Medicine
“These sparkling personal essays on Bettelheim, a pathbreaker of modern ego psychology, who has been savagely attacked and deprecated since his death seventeen years ago, restore the man and his work in historical, clinical, and human context for the contemporary clinician and informed reader. Fisher has done a splendid job of bringing this complex, fascinating figure to life.” – Peter J. Loewenberg, Ph.D., Professor of History and Political Psychology, UCLA, former Director of Education, New Center for Psychoanalysis in Los Angeles
“David James Fisher has written a moving, personal portrait of Bruno Bettelheim as thinker, writer, and friend. His story of Bettelheim during the last two years of his life makes for riveting reading, as does his balanced view of both Bettelheim's personality and his many contributions to psychoanalysis and the treatment of disturbed children. Fisher's work is a valuable volume in the history of psychoanalysis in America, and a wonderful narrative about this enormously complex man.” – Joseph Reppen, Ph.D., Editor, Psychoanalytic Psychology, and Chair, Council of Editors of Psychoanalytic Journals
Foreword
One Introduction
Two: Psychoanalytic Cultural Criticism and the Soul
Three: Towards A Psychoanalytic Understanding of Fascism and Anti-Semitism: Perceptions from the 1940’s
Four: On Parenting and Playing
Five: The Relationship and Debates between Bruno Bettelheim and Rudolf Ekstein
Six: In Memoriam: Rudolf Ekstein (1912-2005)
Seven: A Final Conversation with Bruno Bettelheim
Eight: The Suicide of a Survivor: Some Intimate Perceptionsof Bettelheim’s Suicide
Nine: Homage to Bettelheim
Ten: An Open Letter to Newsweek
Eleven: Concerning Bruno Bettelheim: A Reply to Former Patients from the Orthogenic School
Twelve: Two Letters from Bettelheim to the Author
About the Author
References
Index
Acknowledgements