Bruno Bettelheim
Bruno Bettelheim


 Play Dick Cavett Clip with Leo Kanner  
Bettelheim: During the mid-20 th century, Bettelheim was a self-styled expert on child development, and frequently appeared on TV, radio, and magazine covers. Here is a video of Bettelheim on the Dick Cavett show May 17, 1979, in which he states his position clearly: autism is caused not just by bad parenting but by parents who wish their child did not exist. From the perspective of today's knowledge, his words are chilling.

My heart goes out to all the families who suffered because of him.

Footage from the Dick Cavett Show, Courtesy of Daphne Productions, Inc.

Play Clip from Refrigerator Mothers

Here is a clip from my favorite documentary on autism, "Refrigerator Mothers," about how the children of people assumed to be uneducated were called emotionally disturbed (or a range of other diagnoses) rather than autistic. You can buy or rent the movie from Fanlight Productions, a wonderful company that has dozens of films about child development and disability.

"Sequence(s) from Refrigerator Mothers, ©2002, Kartemquin Educational Films, David E. Simpson & J. J. Hanley, included by
courtesy of the producers. For further information, contact Fanlight Productions."

©2007 Roy Richard Grinker