Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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A letter from the invisible man
Monday October 15, 2007

Dear Mrs Miller

Some time ago I wrote you about the despair, loneliness and rejection I encoountered in the upbringing by my parents.
As the oldest sun with three brothers and one sister, I was born in Holland in 1948 and within two years my two oldest sisters were born in narrow rooms and sober circumtances. Father working all day or night at the firebrigade and mother washing and cleaning diapers and bedding all day.
I was told by her that she also had ambulant psychiatric treatment at a certain moment because things went over her head.
I do not remember much of that period but my first memory is that I ( around three years old) was taken by my mother in the perambulator on the street and that a woman came towards me and looked and spoke at me in admiration because of my blond curls. I remember that gave me an impressive warm and good feeling that I never had before. A second clear memory is that as a five yaer old boy in the toddlerschool I stole some coins that were lying on the desk of the mistress. On my way back home I did not know what to do with them and throwed them away. Some years later in the elementaryschool I stole a projector out of the locker of a classmate and as a universitystudent I stole a lot of studybooks. I was never caught for that, but also later on in my adulthood until recent (next year I hope to be sixty years old, sic) did I may other risky, irresponsible and quit (self )destructive things.
During my psychologystudy at some moment the concept "acting -out behaviour" was presented and described as "a non-verbal translation of an intapsychic conflict".
Although that is quite an abstract formulation, I immediately knew that my stealingactiviyies were also a form of acting-out behaviour. But until I got a better understanding of your work about a year ago, I could not ( did not dare) to see that my behaviour must have been the result of the things that had happened in my childhood.
I do not remember serious physical abuse, but I suppose that to adapt me as a baby to her wishes my mother also had to use physical means. Certainly because next to our room only separated by a curtain the landlord was living and much noise was not allowed. (When I asked her about that, she tells me that in order to stop me crying she putted my thumb in my mouth. How many times she had to use force in doing that I can only guess. Of course I do not want to say that the fact that your mother is forcing your thumb in your mouth is from the same order as the experience of many readers that their father or some relative is forcing his penis in you which results in the the betrayal trauma, but in both cases there is the important element of not respecting the childs physical integrity.)
Once she told proudly: "I only had to look at them to silence them".
But what in my memories is most painful are my feelings of not being really seen, not being understood and taken serious, not being respected for who I was. There was total lack of feeding communication and my soul was occupied territory.
I never had my mother looking at me in such a way as that lady on the street looked at the little boy in the preambulator.
And although she is still alive I can give up now the illusion that I will ever have a mother like that.
In one of my postings I wrote: "I had to act if I was not there" and now I feel that I fullfiled that maternal command in an almost perfect way: I was hiding away. I did not (dare to) show my talents and I lived an isolated and unseen life.
So I did what they wanted me to do: I made myself invisible.

But now I realize that because I had to make myself invisible for other people, I also was not visible for myself.

This is for you Mrs Miller, because you saved y life:

I could not see myself
There was nothing to see what really was me
Only lies they dropped there
Now I can taste their poison
I can spit it out
Now I can fill the emptiness
There is space, light
Time to throw awy my crutches
Take away my blindfold
Go walking on own feet
Eyes open
Looking to feel
My soul unchained

W.

AM: I am glad that you eventually decided to leave the hiding place and to come out in the open air. As you see, your philosophy was not able to fully protect you from the dangers of your family. Now you seem to realize that the dangers you tried to avoid were actually REAL, but that today your mother can no longer hurt you unless you continue to allow her to do so.

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