Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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Thanks for epiphany!
Thursday December 22, 2005

I am 50yo male and quite successful. I don’t spend any time thinking about my early childhood, though my very intelligent German mother clearly suffered greatly from mental illness (repeatedly diagnoses as borderline personality disorder and “infantilism” ) and was completely unable to even begin to provide any emotional support, or to “mirror” for, her babies. My Irish father was a grandiose alcoholic who left before long. They lived and met in NYC and eloped while drunk.

Anyway, I have been having two recurrent nightmares, for many years now. Reading your book “Drama of the Gifted Child”—which I read on a lark—enabled me to interpret both, I think! Again, I don’t spend any time thinking of my childhood or interpreting my dreams (though God knows I have my share of anxiety depression), but the below interpretation (which is my first attempt at it) seems easy under the circumstances:

Dream One

The dream commences with me already in a prison cell. I am very depressed, aware that it is a lifelong sentence without possibility of parole. (In real life, I have no criminal history). The poignant part of this recurrent dream is that I never have the slightest idea of why I have been imprisoned. In the dream I am never freed, and instead I always wake up still imprisoned without knowing why. I have had this dream repeatedly for many, many years.

Dream Two

I am living in a very large house. There is a comfortable part that I spend all my time in. However, in the dream I recognize that there is another part of this large house that I am not the least bit familiar with. I know it is there, but I avoid it and it is basically shut down. I avoid it because it is too spooky. There may be ghosts in it. In some of the dreams I sheepishly look into or even venture into this strange and undiscovered section of the house, and I am always very, very anxious when I do so. I can see that when you look out the windows from this scary part of the house, the view on the street is different– like you are looking into a different neighborhood. It is not necessarily better or worse, just different. I never find peace with that part of the house– I high-tail it out of there or avoid it in the first place and instead stay in the comfortable part of the house.

Analysis

Dream One: Emotional neglect and abuse occurred before I was verbal. This abuse has essentially “imprisoned” me, though of course I cannot know why I was imprisoned by it because I have no recollection of it.

Dream Two: My mind is that house. I know much of it, but there is a part of it I do not know even though I live in this house. The part that I do not know contains some scary material. If I could reconcile that part, I could have a different outlook on life.

Comments?

I really do want some feedback on this—as it seems like an epiphany—so if you don’t have time please pass it along to a competent analyst willing to comment. I am happy to pay any reasonable fee.

Thanks!


E.K. O'B.

AM: You say that you are not interested in your childhood and you share this attitude with most people. But not many have in themselves a child who so strongly forces them to look behind. Your child does it in a brilliant way, creating dreams that can hardly be misunderstood and seems to do it at any cost, it doesn't give up until you are ready to go to the "other" rooms and leave the prison. Once you are ready to do it, to feel and understand the pain and the extreme suffering of the child you were these rooms will become less and less spooky and awkward, they will get more and more sense and will no longer need to bother you at night. If you are going to take this path with the help of a therapist my FAQ-list may be helpful by looking for a good informed witness. Also my last book "The "Body Never Lies" as well as articles and interviews on this site can serve you as witnesses. Good luck and much courage!

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