Yeah, actually. I do think that Bruno Bettelheim was a psychotic control freak. That's because I've had the misfortune of knowing several psychiatrists both professionally and personally. If there's one constant among all of them, it's that sooner or later they all use their training to play sick mind games on the people in their lives.
Bettelheim and Freud have several commonalities. Primary of which is their unfortunate impact on people who followed their misguided missives. While Freud gave us the ID and claimed that boys wanted sex with their mothers, Bettelheim convinced mothers throughout the country that their cold, refrigerator-like behaviors created autism in their children. He was accused of extreme violence against his students. He further besmirched his own name by claiming to have a doctorate in psychology which he, in fact, did not hold. The man was a control freak and history has well demonstrated his remarkable failings.
Bettelheim's theories about autism have been thoroughly discredited. That aside, reports of his behavior towards patients and students included screaming fits, corporal punishment, and verbal threats. If "psychotic" is synonymous with insane, mad, demented or deranged, his reported behavior seems to fit the bill. His students reportedly lived in terror of him and how he treated them.
Bruno Bettelheim believed that autism was largely due to
parenting that did not allow children to make connections to their family. His
theory of the refrigerator mother was widely hailed in his lifetime, but is less
universally valued now. Also, after Dr. Bettelheim’s suicide, many of his
former patients came forward to declare him a tyrant. They told tales of being
screamed at, humiliated and subjected to corporal punishment. Modern theories
find biological causes for autism, so it is hard to see how Dr. Bettelheim’s
methods could ever have worked.
No, I do not think that Bruno Bettelheim was really a psychotic control freak, because I think that he was just a psychologist who cared deeply about his work. Bettelheim made many advances in the theories that relate to child psychology. It makes sense that he was serious about his work. He was not trying to be annoying or controlling, he just wanted to advance his studies.