Thursday, April 03, 2014

Crazy by Roberta Carly Redford

Crazy: My Seven Years at Bruno Bettelheim's Orthogenic School, Roberta Carly Redford. [self-published],, 2011. e-book, 287 pps.

     Bruno Bettelheim [there is some disagreement over whether or not he was actually qualified as any sort of doctor] was a name I'd heard of many years ago. I remember slogging my way through a book written by him called "Love is Not Enough" about the residential facility that he founded and ran for some years in Chicago. He was reputedly an expert on autistic kids when folks still believed that "refrigerator moms"-- cold and frigid women incapable of giving off human warmth or maternal affection-- were responsible for the incubation of autism in their offspring.

     From Crazy, I learned that-- after his suicide and subsequent un-silencing of the voices of past child and teen residents of O.S. [Orthogenic School]-- his version of "love"certainly wasn't enough. O.S. kids were beaten by Bruno Bettelheim [and by some staffers] allegedly for their own good. They were also subject to unwanted touching and random crazy outbursts by the man who appeared to be a giant teddy bear to those of us who were [forced to be, in my case] readers of his books.

     In at least one other review, the author Roberta Carly Redford was described as being so angry that her anger detracted from her message. It is unfortunate that this current society appears to expect that survivors will be grateful and good. I don't hold her anger against her. The anger is a necessary part of healing.

     Roberta Carly Redford was dumped at O.S. by her adoptive parents. She used the phrase "identified problem" in Crazy. That is a phrase which I understand. One person in the family is forced into the role of the "identified problem" and thus any sort of mental hell treatment or therapy is directed at that one person as being the one person who is the primary cause of familial dysfunction, or who is so different that he or she does not fit into their "normal, average, good" family and thus ought to be shipped off to be fixed or changed. No return until the crazy behavior is mitigated.

     Fortunately, Bruno Bettelheim did not use psychiatric drugs on his charges. [Perhaps the writing of scripts would have been problematic, I do not know]. Psych drugs are no picnic and back in the days when Bettelheim was alive, they had an even wider range of wicked side effects.

sapphoq reviews says: Roberta Carly Redford has written a powerful memoir of her seven years at O.S. These seven years are years that she cannot get back. After her time at the place, she required therapy to help her through her original issues plus those that she acquired while under Bettelheim's "therapeutic milieu" *cough, cough*. I believe her. I wish her the very best. Highly recommended.

1 comment:

Roberta Carly Redford said...

Hello. This is Roberta Carly Redford and I want to thank you for your wonderful review of "Crazy."

I appreciate the fact that you believe me (so many people still don't) and that you don't find that my anger detracts from my story.

You made me feel validated. Thanks again.