Alice Miller (psychologist)
Swiss psychologist (1923-2010)
Alice Miller (born Alicija Englard; 12 January 1923 – 14 April 2010) was a Polish-Swiss psychologist, psychoanalyst and philosopher of Jewish origin, who is noted for her books on parental child abuse, translated into several languages.
The Drama of the Gifted Child (Das Drama des begabten Kindes, 1979)Edit
- The mother can feel herself the center of attention, for her child's eyes follow her everywhere. A child cannot run away from her as her own mother once did.
- Clinging uncritically to traditional ideas and beliefs often serves to obscure or deny real facts of our life history.
Breaking Down the Wall of Silence (Abbruch der Schweigemauer) (1990)Edit
- Parents are indeed capable of routinely torturing their children without anyone interceding.
- Hard as it is to believe, in the entire world there is not a single faculty in which a degree is offered in the study of psychic injuries in childhood.
- Psychoanalysis does not distort the truth by accident. It does so by necessity. It is an effective system for the suppression of the truth about childhood, a truth feared by our entire society. Not surprisingly, it enjoys great esteem among intellectuals... Fear of the truth about child abuse is a leitmotif of nearly all forms of therapy known to me.
- The danger does not lie with individuals, however criminal they may be. Far more, it lies in the ignorance of our entire society, which confirms these people in the lies that they were obliged to believe in childhood. Teachers, attorneys, doctors, social workers, priests, and other respected representatives of society protect parents from the mistreated child's every accusation and see to it that the truth about child abuse remains concealed. Even the child protection agencies insist that this crime, and this crime alone, should go unpunished.
- It is the resentment of the past, we are told, that is making us ill. In those by now familiar groups in which addicts and their relations go into therapy together, the following belief is invariably expressed. Only when you have forgiven your parents for everything they did to you can you get well. Even if both your parents were alcoholic, even if they mistreated, confused, exploited, beat, and totally overloaded you, you must forgive.
- The majority of therapists work under the influence of destructive interpretations culled from both Western and Oriental religions, which preach forgiveness to the once-mistreated child. Thereby, they create a new vicious circle for people who, from their earliest years, have been caught in the vicious circle of pedagogy. For forgiveness does not resolve latent hatred and self-hatred but rather covers them up in a very dangerous way.
- In my own therapy it was my experience that it was precisely the opposite of forgiveness —namely, rebellion against mistreatment suffered, the recognition and condemnation of my parents' destructive opinions and actions, and the articulation of my own needs— that ultimately freed me from the past.
- By refusing to forgive, I give up all illusions. Why should I forgive, when no one is asking me to? I mean, my parents refuse to understand and to know what they did to me. So why should I go on trying to understand and forgive my parents and whatever happened in their childhood, with things like psychoanalysis and transactional analysis? What's the use? Whom does it help? It doesn't help my parents to see the truth. But it does prevent me from experiencing my feelings, the feelings that would give me access to the truth. But under the bell-jar of forgiveness, feelings cannot and may not blossom freely.
- I cannot conceive of a society in which children are not mistreated, but respected and lovingly cared for, that would develop an ideology of forgiveness for incomprehensible cruelties. This ideology is indivisible with the command "Thou shalt not be aware" [of the cruelty your parents inflicted to you] and with the repetition of that cruelty on the next generation.
- The possibility of change depends on whether there is a sufficient number of enlightened witnesses to create a safety net for the growing consciousness of those who have been mistreated as children, so that they do not fall into the darkness of forgetfulness, from which they will later emerge as criminals or the mentally ill.
- But who is there to help when all the "helpers" fear their own personal history? Bogus traditional morality, destructive religious interpretations, and confusion in our methods of childrearing all make this experience harder and hinder our initiative. Without a doubt, the pharmaceutical industry also profits from our blindness and despondency.
- If one day the secret of childhood were to become no longer a secret, the state would be able to save immense sums that it spends on hospitals, psychiatric clinics, and prisons maintaining our blindness. That this might deliberately happen is almost too incredible a thought.