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The Creation of Dr. B: A Biography of Bruno Bettelheim

A "devastating" book written with "exquisite politeness . . . . Bettelheim seems to have re-enacted the archetypal American success story of inventing a false past, concocting a new formula for snake oil and selling it to the public with flummery. Under Mr. Pollak's magnifying glass, Bettelheim is seen in a new, harsh light, and stands exposed as a brilliant charlatan.”

--The New York Times

“[Pollak's] book fundamentally changes how we view Bruno Bettelheim. His brilliance, it is now clear, lay not in his professional accomplishments but in his extraordinary use of manipulation and control-of his patients, his intimates, his colleagues, his data and his credulous public."

--The Boston Globe

"The Creation of Dr. B is a monument to scrupulous investigative reporting. . . . The book is prodigiously well-researched . . . a scholarly rebuttal of Bettelheim's most cherished findings."

--The Washington Post

"In this stunning, revelatory biography of our most celebrated psychotherapist, Richard Pollak has held a delicate balance. It is an astonishing performance . . . . a gripping detective story."

--Studs Terkel

"[A] searing investigative biography . . . [and] well-written, engrossing chronicle of a scoundrel . . . . Read this book and learn about the great harm self-designated 'experts' in psychology do when we swallow the bunkum they hawk."

--Paul R. McHugh, director of the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in the Baltimore Sun

"Pollak does a service by demonstrating how dangerous hero worship and psychoanalysis are in combination."

--Peter D. Kramer, author of Listening to Prozac, in The Weekly Standard

". . . as Pollak demonstrates, Bettelheim was a snake oil salesman of the first magnitude."

--The Chicago Tribune

". . . Pollak's biography makes a persuasive case that [Bettelheim] was a manipulative, domineering egotripper who abused his charges and coworkers psychically if not physically. For all his public charisma and healing skills, he might have been an evil twin to the Wizard of Oz."


"[The Creation of Dr. B] is credible--painstakingly reported, convincingly written. . . Pollak . . . adopts the sensible course--he presents massive amounts of information, then lets readers speculate on Bettelheim's motivations for themselves. . . . The book is much richer for Pollak's responsible handling of a difficult life."


The picture Pollak draws "is sufficiently consistent and sufficiently damning to make it unlikely that subsequent biographers will be able to restore Bettelheim's once fearsome reputation. . . . Pollak's book does not convict only Bettelheim, it indicts those of his time who knew the man but kept their reservations to themselves."

--Howard Gardner, author and Harvard professor of education, in The Los Angeles Times