Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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Why is the Truth so Scandalous?
Thursday December 06, 2007

Dear Dr. Miller,

On recommendation of a friend, I read your Dilemma of the Gifted Child, and followed that with your book on childrearing. I am glad that I found your work.

I am in my early thirties, and have been depressed for most of my life. Depression was much easier to cope with as a child...

When I began to read your work, I was seeing therapist, perhaps the third one, in as many years. Very recently, I fired her. Until this therapist, I had been mostly convinced that I was simply a problematic client, or patient.

I felt I didn't improve because I failed to listen, or follow my therapists' directions, implorations, and prescriptions. Now I think differently.

Your work helped me to reflect on the importance of early childhood, and the experiences suffered at that time, under the influence of caretakers. It became of utmost importance to meticulously review, through an oral narration with my then-therapist, the history of my early childhood. After carefully reading "Gisela and Anita," from Thou Shalt Not Be Aware, I wanted to discover my own blocks.

Sadly, my therapist refused to follow me down this path. In our last session together, I laid down and began to tell of an incident ocurred to me when I was maybe 3. Not five minutes into my account, my body literally exploded with emotion. I bawled, and my hips, and ribcage, bent up, and down, with unleashed pain. For all of the hurt traveling out of my body at that time, inside, I was also very happy. In fact, I was ecstatic because I knew that I was on my way to wholeness.

Yet, my therapist did not see it this way. I needed to be let continued to cry, and sob, then I needed to continue my story. Instead, my therapist attempted to redirect me away from this visceral experience, asking me something about how I felt, as a child.

I didn't want to do this. It felt wrong. I simply wanted to be listened to, until I was done.

My therapist accused me--as she had been then for a couple of months--of always wanting to be in control. I often refused to follow her leads, choosing instead, to tell stories about my life.

That afternoon, my therapist also stated that, by way of my desire to narrate my early childhood, I wanted to "stay" in my past, and that she wasn't going to "let" me do that. She didn't understand that I wanted to narrate, and work through my past, in order to arrive to the present. I was tired of attempting to explain my views to her.

In retrospect, I feel that my former therapist was not ready to hear my story, perhaps because she has failed to resolve her most important pains. I recall my initial interview of her. In response to why she had chosen her profession, she answered that her job provided her with "challenges." It seemed that she saw each patient as a game to "figure out." She saw herself as a "life coach" as well. I also asked her if she herself had undergone therapy to find her authentic self. She answered self-righteously by saying that therapy was part of her training program. I pointed out that having participated in therapy didn't mean she had reached a level of authenticity. She tried to defend herself by stating that, as my therapist, she was not going to disclose personal details about her own past to me, her client. I stated the obvious: I was not asking for details, not even a summary. I was simply asking: "Have you done the work that you are suggesting that I do?" In the end, she answered yes, but she seemed shaky, unsure of herself.

If any good can be extracted from this latest experience of mine, it is that I am more sure of what I need in therapy, and feel more empowered to negotiate for what I need during session. I am going to get rid of a therapist a lot sooner if they aren't willing to travel with me to subterranean realms. In the meantime, I hope I can find a replacement soon.

AM: You seem to protect yourself very well from abuse and stupid answers, the once abused child in your body can feel safe with such a strong and well informed witness. Congratulations!!!

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