Refrigerator Mothers focuses on the mothers of children with autism in the America of the 1950s and ’60s, when the theory that autism was caused by cold, distant treatment of a child prevailed. The collateral damage of Bruno Bettelheim’s now-discredited theories not only included mothers being unfairly blamed and judged for their child’s disability, but research dollars squandered down the wrong diagnostic path, and most horrifying of all, a generation of autistic children locked away in Bettelheim’s “treatment center”. With no education, visitation, or engagement with the world; only an amorphous shape of stone meant to substitute for the mother these children had been ripped from. A history of Bettelheim’s Orthogenic School is beyond the scope of this documentation, but first-hand accounts can be found in Crazy: My Seven Years at Bruno Bettelheim’s Orthogenic School and Not the Thing I Was: Thirteen Years at Bruno Bettelheim’s Orthogenic School.