Refrigerator Mothers | Chicago Reader

Refrigerator Mothers

For decades child psychologist Bruno Bettelheim claimed that autism was caused by mothers who denied their children love, resulting in their withdrawal from human contact; this junk science had no basis in fact, and autism is now believed to be a neurological disorder. Video maker David E. Simpson tells this story of scientific arrogance through the mothers, many of whom are still bitter (one remarks, “I didn't find out for 18 years that I wasn't at fault for sure”). Stills, home movies, and footage of the adult children present different varieties of autism and show the mothers' intense devotion to their difficult kids, though I could have done without the mood music.


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