Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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The price for protecting the Mothers
Sunday March 15, 2009

Dear Alice Miller,

I want to thank you for the letter "Feminism" and the answer on your website. Reading the book by Bass & Davis these days I couldn't help but notice how the writers excuse the mothers. Not only do they write, as you mentioned, that very few mothers abuse their children (this was enraging for me to read because I was sexually exploited also by my mother), but at least in the 1994 edition there is a box in the chapter "Anger" with the title "Working Through Mother Blame", where it is said that it is "preposterous" to blame the mothers who did not care to notice or to protect their daughters. And in the chapter "Forgiveness" it is written that one does not have to forgive the father, but the mothers, oh, they can be excused: Laura Davis herself writes how she has forgiven her mother, after she came to understand the mother's childhood. Davis writes: "I started to understand, from her point of view, why she's responded to me the way she had. The pieces started to fit together. I felt compassion for her and I liked it."

So this is maybe the best explanation to the Feminism of the writers of this book: the senior author, Laura Davis, could not summon the courage to look BOTH her parents in the eyes, she continued to believe the lie that her mother was powerless (although the mother was a social worker!!), she remained afraid to give up half her illusions. In my opinion, this is why she also had to include a chapter in her book on "Spirituality" and to write how to "let go" in the end of the process and stop it artificially (in the chapter on "Resolution and Moving on") - this is a necessity because the process of recovery could not be completed in a natural way as long as the women continue to escape such an important part of their childhood reality - THE BETRAYAL OF THE MOTHERS.


AM: Thank you for your letter. It helps to see how even a great discovery can be concealed by an ideology if it becomes a part of it. When Florence Rush, Sandra Butler, Michelle Morris and others wrote about child abuse in the eighties, they were feminists, but were not yet so much concerned about protecting their mothers. Your quotations from Bass and Davis show how the profound denial of the mother's role could since camouflage the truth and sometimes block the path to effective therapy. I observe everywhere how ideologies hinder us to see simple facts. Why stay many buttered women for years with their husbands and try to help them because (as they say) they "love" them, if they KNOW that tomorrow they will be hit again? I think these are the women that had to learn in the very first years of their lives to accept hittings from their mothers and never protest against this terror but indulge it with love. There was no other choice.

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