Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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Fear of achieving
Wednesday July 04, 2007

Dear Alice Millier

I had a strong emotional reaction to a reader's letter of 3rd June:

"PTSD as effect of parental humiliation
I suspect that a child who grows up beneath an explosively violent, narcissistic father who persistently found fault with the child’s every act (and whenever the child performs splendidly, his behavior is met with complete disinterest and silence) will become an adult who, rather than charging into his life’s dreams and ambitions, will instead face life defensively, over cautiously and fearing the ingrained and inevitable backlash of criticism and humiliation. ........."

My father sounds very like this person's and I find it hard to recognise what my dreams are, yet alone follow them. I start things, sometimes, but but don't finish them - it's like something stops me, a kind of fear, and I can't concentrate any more, therefore gaining no sense of achievement (I'm 39). I feel audacious in trying to achieve anything for myself, a feeling of "who do I think I am"? I am very critical of and angry with my father and how he treated me as a child, especially since reading your books, but I wasn't able to see, until I read this (KM's) letter, that my lack of ability to recognise and pursue dreams can be attributed to my achievements being ignored and to never being praised by him as a child.

Yours gratefully, S.

AM: Never being praised as a child is very much intimidating. Your strong emotional reaction to the letter of June 3 may help you to feel the rage of the child who was never supported in what was important for him to realize. I wish you the courage to feel this rage and to give your child the support he needs now FROM YOU.

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