Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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Strange experience
Friday March 21, 2008

Dear Alice, Dear Barbara,

As I am becoming more and more aware of my childhood reality, I feel more and more anger. This anger is directed both at my parents, and at anyone who tries to rob me of my basic rights and needs, to burden me with excessive expectations, to hurt or to manipulate me (as my parents have done). I see this as a welcome development of my personality. However, whenever I get angry or even just try to act assertively, I have a strange feeling that I am talking in the same manner (voice, intonation) that my father used to talk; I sometimes even feel in these moments that I have the same look in my eyes, to the point that I feel I am almost becoming my father! This is very confusing, because I don't want to identify with my father, but I DO want to identify with my true self, to be assertive, and to permit myself to be angry. How do I make sense of this strange and ambivalent experience?

N., Israel.

AM: Where could the child learn to show his anger -- if not from his parents? The lesson was for a long time stored in his body because he was not allowed to show his anger, he didn't feel anything. Now, when you begin to feel, it makes much sense that the anger comes first in the same way that the child learned it from his father. But with time the adult will learn his OWN way of showing his feelings. Meantime he must accept that FIRST he reacts like his father or his mother. Fortunately, he can observe it, so he sees more and more how he was suffering in his childhood. Not many people have the courage to admit that they are imitating their parents; they don't want to be like them, never ever. But this can be beneficial and will certainly not last forever.

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