Psychiatry: Chicago's Dr. Yes

To Psychoanalyst Bruno Bettelheim, "yes" is the most important word in the English language. Yes, he says, children suffering from the most severe forms of schizophrenia can be cured. Yes, he says, children who have been judged unalterably delinquent or diagnosed as mentally deficient can grow up into mature, functioning adults—even into Harvard professors. Bettelheim's principal prescription is almost total positivism. Whatever his patients ask, he usually says yes.

Bettelheim, who studied under Freud, is principal of Chicago University's Sonia Shankman Orthogenic* School for psychotic children. Dismissed as ultra-permissive by some psychiatrists,...