Who are some famous child psychologists

Child psychologist Bruno BettelheimFulfilling the needs of children

"As long as I was able to be active, I was happy with life. Old age, including illness, limits your life very much. And I would say if you cannot maintain human relationships and if you are no longer able to work, then life has very little meaning, "said Bruno Bettelheim once.

In the end, he no longer wanted: On March 13, 1990, at the age of 86, Bruno Bettelheim committed suicide in a retirement home in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA - lonely, bitter and marked by a stroke. A little later, some former patients made massive allegations against the famous child psychologist. They claimed that the "Orthogenic School," an institute for long-term inpatient treatment of severely behavioral and autistic children at the University of Chicago, which Bettelheim had directed for nearly thirty years, had a climate of fear. Bettelheim also beat children. "That is often the case when someone is very idealized. Whoever stands high on the throne can also fall low," said the Essen child analyst Amelie Haffer-Penther. "I think it is important to understand his life story there. Because he experienced something in the concentration camp, which maybe partly came to light there."

From entrepreneur to psychologist

Bettelheim, born in Vienna on August 28, 1903, came from a wealthy Jewish family. He would have liked to become an art or literary scholar, but in 1926, after his father's death, he succeeded him as a wood wholesaler - with a "knack for business", as his biographer Nina Sutton put it. After the Nazis invaded Austria in 1938, Bettelheim was first deported to Dachau and then to Buchenwald. Since then he has been interested in people in "extreme situations". Bettelheim once said: "What impressed me so much is that the SS created, how should I put it, an environment in the concentration camp that was completely destructive to personality. It was always this model: Concentration camps as destructive of life and personality. One Institution for children - personality building. This contrast. "

Thanks to the intercession of influential friends, including Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of the American President, Bettelheim was released after eleven months on condition that he immigrate to the United States. In 1944 he took over the management of the "Orthogenic School". Without ever having studied medicine, he established his concept of the "total therapeutic milieu" there - according to the principles of Freudian psychoanalysis. Bettelheim: "Above all, these children, what the baby needs, don't you, need a completely accepting environment that fulfills all needs."

Every child needs individual care

"The children were pampered at all levels. They were simply given the opportunity to sleep when they wanted, to get up, to eat what they wanted. So you can say it was a bit of a slouch", says Amelie Haffer-Penther. Bettelheim was convinced: "But what is satisfactory for one child is not satisfactory for the other child. Well, there had to be great variations, individual variations." Many of his former protégés remembered Bettelheim with great gratitude.

After his retirement in 1973 he wrote books, including the bestseller "Children need fairy tales" - a rehabilitation of the supposedly cruel Grimm fairy tales as an aid in the fight against unconscious fears, some of which the large begging home may have shared with the children. Child aggression remained a central theme - for Bettelheim a necessary developmental step on the way to tolerance and peacefulness: "But of course the parents have to set the example that they don't have aggression. Or have very little or very controlled aggression. Of course, that takes a while For a long time until the child adopts this example. You have to be patient and not expect the six, ten or twelve year old to be what he will be as an adult, because - as Goethe said - a talent is formed in silence. And a character in the stream of the world. "