Monday December 15, 2008
Dear Bodhi Kikue Kanzeon,
I was especially moved by the following words of yours:
Since being abused for no reason is scarier than the abuse itself, the child has to arrive at a reason within herself. This is where the damage – a damage that is transcultural – occurs, because the child usually decides (if she is not explicitly told) that she is being "punished" because she is bad, wicked or evil, so in order to try to become "better," she begins to repress things about herself to try to please the adults around her. Now since she does not know which things about herself are the source of her problem, she usually tries to cover all possible bases, so she represses everything about herself that she can. Many times the end result is sadly that everything unique, original, alive and childlike about the victim ends up being self-judged as bad and suppressed.
So we end up with the tragedy of the "obedient, quiet, good" – and spiritually dead – child. The worst thing about this is that, since obedience and "goodness" (read toeing the line and not rocking the boat of authority figures) are rewarded in our society, these children often grow up to be perceived as competent, highly functioning, successful individuals and so do not feel motivated to find the cause of their inner alienation – if they are even self-aware enough to perceive it as such. Even if the former abused child does realize that something is amiss – perhaps because she develops symptoms of anxiety, depression, rage episodes, eating disorder, OCD, substance abuse, or relationship dysfunction – she would never (since a "good" child does not talk back or find fault with parents) look to the way she was brought up as a cause.
I check into the letters section of Alice Miller's website a few times per month. Dr. Miller's books have saved my life. I was very moved by your essays: they are direct, honest, insightful, and straight to the point. Thank you for writing them and for submitting them to Dr. Miller. I am glad that she printed them.
San Francisco, California, USA
AM: Yes, I agree with you about the unusual directness and honesty of these articles. Thank you for having reacted to them.