Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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Child neglect
Tuesday July 11, 2006

Hello Dr. Miller:
I have just completed reading two of your books, The Drama of the Gifted Child and
The Untouched Key. I found the theme of both of these books very useful to me. I was able to answer several questions about my childhood that have bothered me for some time.
If you were to ask me, "Was your childhood good?" In general, I would say that it was and that both of my parents were good providers (at least in a material sense). My father worked hard to provide shelter and food. My mother was very good at domestic issues. I believe that they loved me, but I did get occasional overly brisk spankings for minor infractions.
But, there was another problem. I was an active and very curious, creative child by age three. My father was highly critical of everything I did or created. I could never please him.
My mother was very passive, preferring to sit in the house and sew. I was placed in the yard all day long where I had to entertain myself. I became very good at self-entertainment, perhaps too good.
I really needed acceptance and a sense of belonging as a small child. Today, I have a very grandiose side that prefers outside, independent self-stimulus to simple human contact and relationships.
Trust, my life experiences and achievements are stunning. I am proud of all of them, and I feel I have helped others and made the world a better place. If I listed all of the things, I have done you probably would not be amazed.
But, deep down, I am not happy because even if I achieve some highly creative plane, I am not very satisfied. It is, as though, I have no ability to judge when I have achieved perfection, or, for that matter, no ability to sense that I am performing below standard, particularly in social settings.
I have not done too well in two marriages, largely because I have never let either of these ladies in, and this lack of emotional commitment on my part has sapped their energies.
I do not want to give up my creative side, but I would like to be a more settled human being in my relationship with other people.
Could you give me any suggestions about the effects of very subtle and covert child neglect as it might apply to my situation?
Thanks, G. W., MD

AM: I don't actually understand your question. What do you need to know from me besides of what I have published? I read twice your letter and think that based on your early experiences it is you who could tell me much about "the effects of very subtle and covert child neglect" - once you decide to FEEL what they meant to the small, helpless boy.

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