Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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Ending the vitious circle
Monday September 29, 2008



Dear Dr. Miller:

As I read Drama of the Gifted Child, I struggle with my own feelings
of guilt for the emotional damage I caused my daughter and the self-
loathing she now struggles with as a result.

I am the daughter of a woman who openly idolizes her dead mother, my
grandmother, despite evidence that is all too clear to me that my
grandmother used my mother to ease her own suffering. My grandmother,
in turn, swung between grandiosity and self-loathing in an attempt, no
doubt, to cope with wounds caused by her mother, a woman who sunk into
a deep depression after so neglecting my grandmothers infant sister
that the newborn died.

I am only now, after 14 years of therapy, beginning to see with more
clarity the patterns the women in my family have re-enacted generation
after generation. As I work to be present for my own daughter's
recovery, I can now see how, in times of distress, I have forced her
to obliterate herself to shore me up emotionally. She is now at a
therapeutic boarding school working through the deep pain of not
attaching to me, her mother, as an infant.

I have searched the web to find ways in which I can recover not only
from my abandonment as a child but from the guilt I now feel for
abandoning my daughter. As a daughter and a mother I saw both versions
of myself in your book. The daughter in me hates the mother I became.
What is your advice to someone in my position?

Jane (pseudonym)

AM: You seem to understand well what happened to you and why you could not give to your daughter what she needed so much. You can't change the path, fortunately your daughter works on HER past. But you can forgive YOU and stop to hate yourself when you understand that you WERE a blind victim, which you no longer are.


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