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Bettelheim and the Psychology of Children Essay

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Bettelheim and the Psychology of Children
As one of the most controversial nonfiction writers of the 20th century, Bruno Bettelheim studied and developed theories of the effects of fairy tales on the mind of children. Bettelheim, a renowned child psychologist and a controversial writer of treatments of autism, stirred controversy through his life, especially through his famous “refrigerator mother” theory of the development of autism in children. However, he is mostly connected with his book The Uses of Enchantment, in which he described the link between the development of a child’s mind and the way fairy tales are portrayed. The two theories that he possesses over fairy tales and children and the development of autism are connected in that the way he states how fairy tales are supposed to be defined coincide with the link between the expansion of a child’s mind and the relationship grown between parent and child, counteracting the “refrigerator mother” theory. Because of the sensitivity of the subjects Bettelheim wrote about, his book collected many literary scholars, fellow psychologists, and journalist critics. Of the people who have read the book, a vast majority of the reviews criticize Bettelheim’s lack of the workings of the human mind and his outstandingly wrong theory of development of autism. The controversies around Bettelheim decant from his book. The other psychologists from around the world who read the book became infuriated with his ideas and one critic was mad enough to say “Bettelheim would impose meaning onto child development through the therapeutic use of the folk tale authoritarian and unscientific, but his stance is symptomatic of numerous humanitarian educators who perpetuate the diseases they desire to c...


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...nderstanding of the subject. As a controversial figure his work is thoroughly examined and studied, but overlooked because of increasingly debunked philosophies as “unscientific”, usually referring to his disregarded theories about autism and “refrigerator mothers”. These claims take away from the credibility of his book The Uses of Enchantment and often critics and people discount the book entirely. Even though some of his ideas had been previously engineered, his own ideas have received wide admiration, especially his ideas on oral folklore over illustrated books. In the end, Bettelheim has demonstrated his knowledge of the child psyche through his new ideas over the workings of a child’s mind and how fairy tales could shape the imagination of a child as well as giving that child access to early maturity and understanding of the world that is far from fairy tale.



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