Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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Our body cannot 'turn the page'
Saturday January 21, 2006

How can the concept of forgiveness or the action of forgiveness be defined?

Hello,

. . . I have a question: In several places of Alice Miller’s writings there is a recourse to the word “forgiveness,” which I understand, but the concept is not quite clear to me.

Which meaning does she attach to that word:

• Erasing the past?

• To recognize the past and to simply give up one’s hatred and/or one’s anger?

• Beyond that to return to love (real or presumed)?

• Another meaning?

Isn’t there another form of forgiveness, which could be positive for the once concerned (I am thinking of the second meaning, which allows the patient, if s/he so wishes, to turn the page and break off bridges instead of remaining tied to the hatred)?

Thank you.

F

AM: Your question is very important; but it contains the naοve assumption that we can manipulate our feelings without letting others pay the price for it. In reality, we cannot do so. You are saying here what everyone says, what we all have learned from our parents, in school, in church and even in most of the therapies: “One has to turn the page.” It is, without doubt, nice what is being suggested to us: to tell the hatred that it should go away and never ever return. We want to turn the page and live in peace.

Everyone wants this, and it would be nice if it worked. But unfortunately, it does not work. Not at all. Why? Because rage, like all other emotions, cannot be controlled and cannot be manipulated; IT dictates us something; it forces us to experience it and to understand its causes. It can return every time when someone has hurt us, and we cannot prevent that. Because our body cannot “turn the page” and it demands from us that we listen to it. What we can do, though, is suppress our rage, with all its consequences: Illnesses, addiction, crimes. When we do not want to feel our justified rage, because we already have forgiven our parents even the worst abuses, we will soon find out to our surprise that we passed on the same pains, which we endured from our parents, to our children or to others. If we are truthful, we will not claim that we acted “for their own good” (like that beatings are “a good means of education”). Unfortunately, this is what most parents say; this is why our society is so hypocritical.

On the page “articles” you can find my text about hatred, which should be able to help you understand better what I am trying to explain here. Also the book “The Body Never Lies” can help you to understand more.

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