Two Sides of Bettelheim | Letters | Chicago Reader

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Two Sides of Bettelheim


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To the editors:

I too, have been viewing with great interest over the past month and a half the letters pertaining to Dr. Bettelheim and his conduct at the Orthogenic School [April 6 and 20; May 4, 11, and 25; and June 8]. I myself, was an innmate at the School for nearly sixteen years, from the fall of 1955 to the spring of 1971.

It is indeed true, as some of the letters have stated, that Dr. B. used corporal discipline and humiliating verbal assaults upon the kids. I was the recipient of both in my day. It is also true that Dr. B. had the capacity to be extremely warm, gently, and compassionate.

On one occasion my mother came to Chicago to visit with me. For three days we stayed at the Knickerbocker Hotel, during which time my lateness coming to breakfast greatly angered my mother. She declared that she was "fed up" and would report me to Dr. B. after returning me to the School.

Later that evening, as Dr. B. was making his rounds, I feared for what he would do to me as a result of my mother's report. He told me that he had spoken with my mother, and that in his opinion she was making a big to-do over nothing. It felt great to have him on my side.

Chuck Marks

E. 56th St.

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