Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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Translating a difficult message
Sunday June 03, 2007

Dear Mrs Miller,

In your answer to my letter of 9 March 2007 ("Great Food") you said that you wrote a whole book about the destructive effect of the 4th command.
Though I had the Dutch translation of "The body never lies" lying in front of me on my desk, I was wondering which book you meant.
One reason for not realising that you specific meant this book will be that in a certain way all your books handle the fourth command as main topic.
But I think another reason is the way this book is presented in the Dutch language.
I experience myself that translating my personal suffering caused by my upbringing, in trying to speak about it with the people in my surrounding is very difficult and results in much resistence and denial from the side of those people.
On the internet I could find the text on the cover of the German version of "The body never lies".
There on the cover is made very clear that the book is about the obstructive effects of the 4th command and that we have to admit the truth about our toxic parents.
However on the cover of the Dutch version the three words: "The Fourth Command", are not written at all.
I think that you will not believe me if I tell you that even the words "Mother"or "Father"or "Upbringing" are not written there.
There is only vagualy written that there are experiences "from our youth that we have suppressed, with which we are not yet ready".
Because the text on the cover of a book is the presentation of the idea of the book to the public, I think it is important that such a text is an honest representation of the content of the book.
Obviously is the publisher of your book free to mystify your message and to deny the truth by his text on the cover.
In the French version of your book: "Le corps ne ment jamais" a chapter is called": "Adultes nous ne sommes pas obliger d aimer nos parents"( As adults we are not obliged to obey our parents).
In the Dutch translation this chapter is called :"In de carroussel van de gevoelens" ( In the roundabout of feelings).
I do not know what was your original text but as far as I can see it, here again is in the Dutch translation a weakening of your message that we have the right to discuss the behaviour of our parents and to admit the truth about what they did to us
In another section of your book you discuss whether a changed attitude of children towards there parents will result in more respect from the side of the parents . The translation in Dutch is that you can not agree fully with that . As far as I know your ideas, you can not agree at all with that Idea.
Am I correct in seeing in the above examples an obstruction of your message caused by fear of publisher and translater?
To me this way of translating is not a "free" translation of your words, but a distortion of your message.
I experience in myself that your message is easy to understand but so difficult to accept.
I write you this message because I have big difficulties in emotionally integrating your message and to become honest with myself because of the big resistence I feel in myself and around me.
I know that your message is loud and clear: "You are not to blame for your pain and suffering, they are".
It want to become honest to myself and therfore your message should not be weakened.

Thanks again for your great work. W.

AM: Thank you for your letter. Obviously the fear of parents governs also the decisions of editors and publishers in your country. We will control more exactly what will get on the cover of the next book. The title of it will be "Your saved Life," "Paths towards Liberation."

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