Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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In Appreciation and Addition
Friday April 06, 2007

To Alice Miller,

I have read "The Drama of the Gifted Child" and I am about half-way through "The Body Never Lies." I greatly appreciate your willingness to dispel the myths that have kept so many in suffering. I am very excited to share with you a few points from my own experience that I feel add to the work you are doing. I have not exhausted all the resources available in understanding all your research and work, so if I am simply recreating the wheel I apologize.

Reading through your books I have, at times, felt almost like I wasn't invited to receive the knowledge contained therein. My parents did not beat me physically, nor do anything that the average person would consider abusive. They, in fact, always told me that I could do anything that I wanted, that they would always love me no matter what I chose to do, and that they would always be there for me if I needed them. Nonetheless, I feel as though I have experienced as much suffering as a result of their parenting as anyone else. After really reviewing my childhood as often as possible, and experiencing many feelings associated with it, I have come to one realization. It seems to me that any parents that have not come to terms with their own suffering, and their own childhoods, will invariably and without exception pass on suffering to their children. My parents both had far worse childhoods than I had with them by all observable estimations. One of the things that I have always been angry about when it comes to them is that they always seemed to pretend as though their own painful pasts were nothing, meant nothing, did not affect them. I could see that it was a lie and it angered me to no end. Through your books I was able to see how as a result of their suffering they did indeed practice some humiliating parenting techniques and so were abusive in that way. Anyway, my point here is just to say that for those people still engrossed in the idea that their parents really weren't that bad and who simply cannot connect any of their own suffering to their parents may benefit from hearing that any parents without exception will absolutely pass on their own suffering if they have not done the necessary work to face it.

I have also learned from my own experience how we receive the suffering of our parents' whole generation through our peers when we are young. I suffered a lot of verbal/physical abuse in school from peers who, now I understand, were simply passing it on from their parents. Those experiences seem to have affected me nearly as strongly as my experiences with my parents. It also seems more difficult for me to accept feelings about those experiences as I feel on the same level as my peers. In other words, since I was as old as my peers, I still hold to the thought that, "I should have just been able to stop them from hurting me, hating me, just because I was a nice kid." I am still struggling to ditch the belief that I must have brought their hatred upon myself. My best friend when I was younger sexually abused me, which is something I'm only coming now to understand. I always remembered the experience, but until recently I had always just thought of it as something terrible that I did... that I was somehow at fault for because he was my peer. He was not someone way bigger than me or older than me. I think now that he too was just passing on maligned tendencies from his parents..and so I too took on some of their suffering.

Those two topics are things I just wanted to share as ideas with you for your work.

Again, thank you, B. J.

AM: I don't know any exception from the rule that ALL parents who deny the sufferings of their childhood and idolize their parents because they are (not without reason) too afraid of questioning their deeds, are repeating what happened to them in a more or less cruel manner. But I hope that there are already some who do dare to admit their truth or who were not abused at all. These kinds of parents are not compelled to pass on the cruelty endured in childhood and denied in adulthood.

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