Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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Questions and answers
Monday February 19, 2007

Hello,

I was reading a letter to you from a person who was telling of how it was difficult to feel authentic pain during a 12 step support group and how the groups effort was to speak only of successes and not of current discovered pain of the past.

Your description of the 12 step support group as "brainwashing" people really moved me to write to you.

I have recently visited (2 times now) an Al-Anon support group and have wondered whether this is a good place for people to share their pain. (there seems to be so few places to share about childhood pain). It was my hope that I would not have to live isolated and alone anymore. The work of discovering the pain of my past is daunting, confusing, terrifying and more often than not, elusive. I am having such trouble feeling the pain...I feel so numb and out of touch with my childhood. At times, a brief memory will flash by but not remain long enough to understand it, let alone feel it.

HOW does one get in touch with a mute child from within? My childhood is fragmented to me... I don't remember much of it.

I was always fascinated with the Helen Keller story and the labor of love her teacher gave in finding a way to communicate to the one who was cut off from everyone. Thank God she persisted, I want to persist also, but haven't found the key yet. I am desperate and frantic to be liberated. 47 years is too long not to have really lived life.

Is healing NOT found in a 12 step program?

I want to say here that I am seeing a therapist whom I have received help and support from in discovering the "theme" of injustices and mistreatment I received in childhood, but I have such a struggle to find them and FEEL them specifically. The injuries seem vague I believe because they had very much to do with an alcoholic father who practiced his psychological learning methods on me. He was a "behaviorist" who specialized in "control" through intimidation, shame, guilt and threats of abandonment if I were to exercise my will to choose a different path than the one he saw fit for me. His presence in my life was radically extreme. There were long periods of disinterest and no contact with me (although he lived in our home, weeks went by when I went unnoticed by him). The other extreme was when he did notice me, he "conquered" me by "kidnapping" me against my will and taking me in his car for long rides while he drank heavily and insisted on interrogating me about my life.

I was his prisoner.

I have not had a contact with him in over a year, and do not feel I owe him my respect, loyalty or love anymore. This happened for me only after I received "permission" from my therapist to make this choice.

I am 47 years old, and am married to the same husband now for 19 years. I am sadly and fearfully discovering I may have married a similar person as my father. My husband does not consume alcohol, but I have felt like I just exchanged prison guards upon marriage to him. He is in therapy also, but is very resistent to exploring his childhood woundings. It appears I have found someone who will mistreat me emotionally in much the same way as my father has...with the exception of the extreme of "interrogation". Emotionally abandonment is his preferred method.

Together we have 4 children, and because of your books, I am beginning to see the importance of helping them to express their feelings, but I am clearly a beginner and would appreciate any help you may offer about this. I will say that our children LOVE the opportunity to speak plainly and frankly about the affect our parenting is having on their lives. The freedom to share their anger at us is rewarded beautifully by reconciliation and true love and forgiveness when we accept their feelings and apologize for our mistreatment, however "incidental" we as adults may feel it is.
I am concerned that my husband is still not permitting them to share their feelings towards him and i worry about the effect this has on our children. I would appreciate help in the following areas if at all possible.

1. HOW TO FEEL my childhood pain

2. I belive there are "lost memories" and I don't know how to find them and then feel them. Is hypnosis a method you would recommend. (This idea really frightens me.)

3. Whether or not you encourage 12 step program for Al-Anon

4. How to know if my therapist is someone who can facilitate my journey, or sabbotage it?

5. Where else to find the "rare" enlightened witnesses.

6. Do you encourage ANY church or religious group as a support for this journey?


Thank YOU for your courageous, greatly controversial and sadly greatly opposed views. I am deeply indebted to the light you have been. I hope to liberate my child within and be a voice like you have been for the cessation of child abuse and mistreatment.

Blessings, L.G.

AM: I will try to answer you as far as I can:
1. My FAQ-list may help you to find the therapist who could enable you to feel.
2. You are right to mistrust hypnosis
3. No, I don't encourage the 12 steps programs.
4. By reading carefully and applying the FAQ-list
5. The same
6. No

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