Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

The intended Profile
(February, 2010)

An interview given by Alice Miller to Katharina Micada
(October 8, 2009)

The feeling child
(Interview with Alice Miller by Diane Connors for OMNI Publications International, March 1987)

How to combat denial
(Interview given to Borut Petrovic Jesenovec, July 2005)

Violence Kills Love: Spanking, the Fourth Commandment, and the Suppression of Authentic Emotions
(Interview given to Borut Petrovic Jesenovec in June 2005 for the magazine ONA, Slovenia)

Interview given to Noreen Taylor, The Times, London 1999
(with some additions of 2004)

Tell Children the Truth about Terror
(Interview by Oliver Bantle, Süddeutsche Zeitung, October 2001)

Interview with Alice Miller
(November 1992)

The intended Profile

February, 2010

The interview published below meant to help a journalist who wanted to write a profile of mine. But eventually she completely lost her interest for this idea after she had read my answers to her questions. I am publishing here the short exchange because I think that it can be clarifying for my readers.

1. Why do therapists insist on always defending the parent? Why are therapists, as you say, so reluctant to accept the possibility of the malignant parent?
1. Almost ALL of us, with very few exceptions, were beaten in our childhood and were not allowed to defend ourselves. Our parents were not always "malignant"; they hit us because they have been treated the same way in their childhood. They simply believed and made us believe that this was the right way of upbringing. This message stays still stored up in our brains and as the beaten children we once were we are still afraid of punishments should we want to rebel against this absurdity. Therapists are not an exception, like all of us, like all adults who were formerly beaten they live in fear of their parents. For that reason they are unable to realize that ALL their patients have been actually mistreated in childhood. Parents don't need to be malignant to inflicting pain. They just automatically repeat what has been done to them, what they learned in the first years of their lives when their brain had been structured.

2. Why are therapists so dependent on Freudian theory?
2. Because this theory helps them to conceal the painful truth. Freud realized and published 1896 that neurosis is the result of child-mistreatment (To him it was above all the sexual abuse). As a result, he was confronted with hatred and rejection of all of his colleagues and could not bear this loneliness. So he invented a theory of the infantile sexuality and the Oedipus complex that protects the parents and blames the child. With this construction he offered his colleagues a lie that was and is still being accepted with much enthusiasm because it helps to protect the parents and to avoid the feared rebellion of the child against them. (In my book "Thou Shalt Not Be Aware" I describe this story extensively). UNFORTUNATELY, IT IS EXACTLY THIS LIE, THE DENIAL OF THE TRUTH THAT MAKES POPLE ILL AND DEPRESSIVE. When they dare to admit the truth, namely that they were treated cruelly in their childhood they can heal from their depression, often very quickly. On my mailbox many stories report about this positive outcome.

3. What kind of therapist, do you feel, is adequately trained to deal with the adult who has been damaged as an early child?
3. In my opinion, only therapists who know well of the painful stories of their own childhoods can respectfully and effectively deal with the suffering of their patients. They will not preach them forgetting and forgiveness out of their own fear; they will know that ALL of their patients suffer from the effects of the denial of having been beaten, humiliated or even tortured.

4. Why are so many professionals resistant to your theories?
4. Most professionals (but certainly not all of them) resist to my writing because they are afraid of feeling their repressed rage that was forbidden in their childhood. Unfortunately, only few of them learned in their training that feeling the legitimate rage in adulthood is not at all dangerous, that it is rather healing instead.

5. What has led to your theories?
5. In contrast to Freud, Jung and others I don't present any theories or speculations. My research has always been strictly empirical. First I listened to the stories of my patients over more than 20 years without being confused by Freudian theories. Then, after the publication of the Drama of the Gifted Child I have been receiving thousands of letters that told me about people's illnesses and their recoveries. Thanks to their courage to confront the histories of their childhoods, which were stored up in their bodies many could heal. My two last books (Free from Lies and From Rage to Courage) give testimony of this development.

6. How have your answers to readers' letters been so important to readers around the world?
6. My answers to readers over the world became so important because they encouraged people to take seriously what they already knew since ever but did not dare to believe. As there are no cultural differences in the way small children are humiliated, people understand my responses EVERYWHERE, in China as well as in Japan, in Brazil, Spain or Russia. The pain is the same, the fear of the parent is the same, and the denial of the truth is the same. And the ones who dare to leave the prison of denial make the same experience; they become rid of their depressions and other symptoms, step by step, as soon as they dare to live with their truth. Every child, even the most mistreated, needs the illusion of being loved. But adults can give up this illusion if they don't want to pay with a depression for it.