Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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Is public exposure dangerous?
Thursday July 19, 2007

Dear Ms. Miller,

I am re-reading your splendid book "Banished Knowledge" and I have a question.
In a footnote in chapter six you write [English translation]: " ...the exposure of this anguish [i.e. anguish rooted in childhood] to the public, even an applauding one, does not promote the working through and the dissolving of childhood feelings. On the contrary, it blocks such a process and can finally render it impossible ".
Can you please explain why this public exposure is so dangerous? And how it blocks the process exactly?
Does this assertion not contradict the idea behind the forums you recommend?

Sincerely, Norman

AM: I wrote this footnote about 15 years ago when this kind of exposure was very rare. It then very often met with total misunderstanding and lack of empathy. For the authors of such books, the cold or even rejecting reactions could be very hurtful and left them with new traumas. I wouldn't write this note today because I think (or hope at least) that meanwhile readers and reviewers of autobiographic books dealing with own abuse endured in childhood are better informed, the issue is more discussed today. But it is still very common to ridicule people who describe their plight as children and accuse them of self-pity because this is what most people learned to do during their own childhood. They learned to side with the abusive parents and are afraid of siding with the child.

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