Unlocking the Golden Cage: An Intimate Biography of Hilde Bruch, M.D.

Unlocking the Golden Cage: An Intimate Biography of Hilde Bruch, M.D.

Unlocking the Golden Cage: An Intimate Biography of Hilde Bruch, M.D.

Unlocking the Golden Cage: An Intimate Biography of Hilde Bruch, M.D.


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This biography of Hilde Bruch is a colorful, personal account of a legendary figure in modern psychiatry. Although she is best known as a pioneer in the field of eating disorders and is considered a major contributor to the conceptualization of anorexia nervosa, those accomplishments came in her "golden years" after an already prodigious career. Bruch authored more than 250 articles and six books, including The Golden Cage, a bestseller that introduced anorexia nervosa into popular culture. In the 60's, when thinness became a national obsession, she became widely-known and quoted, and she remained the world's foremost authority on eating disorders well into her eighties. Hilde's story begins in a turn-of-the-century German hamlet, where she stood out as an exceptionally intelligent and intuitive child, who watched skeptically as Kaiser Wilhelm's troops grandly marched off to World War I. Later, as a young Jewish physician, she experienced and fled the prejudice of the Third Reich to England and eventually New York, escaping the terrible fate of numerous family members who died in Nazi concentration camps. She spent her own childbearing years as a pediatrician advising mothers while loving their children, through it all remaining ironically outside the biological experience of motherhood. Blessed with a flawless memory, unshakable confidence, and unflagging mental energy, Hilde was ruthlessly organized, mercilessly prepared, and intimidatingly productive. Hilde spent her final twenty years as the 'Grande Dame' of Baylor UniversityMedical School in Houston and traveling the world lecturing about eating disorders and teaching today's experts. Despite the debilitating advances of Parkinson's Disease, Hilde continued writing and speaking until her death in 1984, after which she was eulogized in the Journal of the American Medical Association for her contributions as an author, pediatrician, and psychiatrist.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780936077161
Publisher: TURNER PUB CO
Publication date: 05/03/1996
Pages: 302
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Joanne Hatch Bruch is married to Herbert Bruch, Hilde's nephew, whose guardianship she assumed after his parents and sister were killed in the holocaust. When Hilde died in 1984, Joanne sorted through the voluminous keepsakes of a sentimental "pack rat," whose roots were locked in dog-eared and yellowing documents from an earlier lifetime, and discovered a fascinating story. Joanne has taught high school, is a mother and grandmother, and lives with Herbert in Devon, PA.

What People are Saying About This

Craig Johnson

This is a unique opportunity for admirers of Dr. Bruch’s work to meet Hilde the daughter, sister, outspoken student, colleague, friend, and lover. Tracing her early intellectual and academic interests in the face of war-torn Germany, it also offers an interesting glimpse of trends in European and American psychiatry from the 40’s through the 70’s. Most importantly, it gives us a sense of the woman behind the professional.
— Craig Johnson, Ph.D. Director, National Eating Disorders Organization

Joel Yager

his bold and intimate biography that tells the human side of her story—her personal struggles, the tormented years of family separation and tragedy brought on by the holocaust, her professional developments, her relationships, fulfillments, disappointments, and triumphs. Everyone interested in the field of eating disorders will be enriched by learning more about one of its pioneering spirits.
— Joel Yager, M.D. University of New Mexico, Albuquerque Editor, Eating Disorders Review

Russell Marx

What a life! From fleeing Nazi Germany to triumph in New York, from a youthful suicide attempt, to becoming a "Grande Dame" in Texas with a Rolls Royce, this book presents a compelling picture of Hilde Bruch's strengths and struggles. Is indeed an intimate portrait that shows us the compassion and wisdom that resulted in her grounbreaking work on obesity and anorexia nervosa.
— Russell Marx, M.D. University of California, San Diego

Kathryn J. Zerbe

Unlocking the Golden Cage: An Intimate Biography of Hilde Bruch is a fascinating, richly contextual, and admirably forthright account of the early pioneer of eating disorders. Bruch emerges as a woman of more than strong intellect alone but highly passionate and strongly committed to work and to life. The reader comes to understand more fully the development of Bruch’s theoretical interests while partaking of a delightful feast of her sometimes tumultuous, often conflicted, but always stimulating life story. By offering such an interesting, stunning portrait of one of psychiatry’s greatest women pioneers, this book will be an invaluable resource for practitioners and scholars for years to come. A compelling read.
— (Kathryn J. Zerbe, M.D. author of, The Body Betrayed, Helen Malsin Professor, The Menninger Clinic)


This sensitive, powerful biography illuminates the distinguished career, clinical genius, and fascinating personal struggles of the woman who unlocked the field of eating disorders for today’s experts. It is riveting reading for anyone interested in the topic of eating disorders, as well as for scholars of outstanding modern thinkers.
— David M. Garner, Ph.D. Adjunct Professor Department of Psychology Bowling Green State University

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