Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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Can a cruel upbringing be
Monday January 30, 2006

Hello Alice Miller,

I am also, sadly, a survivor of a brutal (and sometimes loving) upbringing; emotionally and physically beaten and humiliated. I think for myself it's the humiliation that has wreaked the most havoc in my
life. I am now 45 and have two children of my own. I, somehow, decided right from the start that I was never going to punish my kids in any way that would case them physical and emotional pain. However, I am finding it a little more difficult to restrain and retrain myself to do the same vis-a-vis emotional bagage. Anyhow, the main reason I write you today is to ask: how do I go about explaining to people (especially my mother), without insisting that they read your book, that their complete memory blanks and their inability to remember what life was like as a child is because they suffered under extreme physical and/or emotional hardship. It is so hard to get that through because I think that they have survived up until now by blocking it out, by locking it away somewhere. My mother is now an alcoholic and I know she suffered as a child, and yet still, she maintains that a little slap or whack on the bum will startle a child out of "bad" behavior (not that this is what was carried out in terms of the physical punishment she meted out to my brother and I-it was much much more violent and brutal and often). She cannot see the link and I wish there were some way to help her make the
connection.

sincerely,
M in Canada

AM: Can a cruel upbringing be "sometimes loving"? Please read my answer to Duncan from February 1. It deals with the same question: Is a person allowed to beat a child and pretend to love her/him? Why? Is the hurt child forced to believe that? is this correct? why?

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