Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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Genes
Wednesday July 12, 2006

Dear Ms. Miller,

I admire and agree with your proof that a lot of the depressions and personality disorders have our roots in childhood trauma and not in inborn genes. But I also believe that there is such a thing as people who are depressed not as a result of trying to suppress childhood traumas but because of a chemical imbalance in the brain. Bipolar disorder for example has nothing to do with unresolved child abuse issues, and some cases of obssessive compulsive disorder is the result of inborn genes, although I agree that most cases of OCD are the result of poor potty training methods in childhood and although I agree that many cases of depression have to do with unresolved child abuse issues; this does not apply to every case. There are some people who need medication for their OCD and depression because in their particular cases their aforementioned mental illnesses have nothing to do with child abuse. Getting a patient to relive past traumas of his or her childhood will not cure a person who has obssessive compulsive disorder as a side effect of Asperger's Syndrome for example. And I have Asperger's Syndrome. J. B.

AM: Thank you for your letter and your interest for my writing. I don't speak about "unresolved childhood traumas" but about the whole atmosphere of families where many children have to grow up without being allowed to feel and to express their needs. Without a helping witness these children often learn not to feel at all in order to please their parents and to survive, as I explained it in my book "The Drama of the gifted Child". Later, they may develop different illnesses like obsessive neurosis, anorexia, etc., because their bodies need to make them aware of the fact that emotions are very important to a human being; they make it alive. The grown up may then realize (in the fortunate cases) that the reasons, which made him or her to fear their strong emotions, no longer exist, that as adults they are free to feel them and to enjoy themselves.

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