Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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Prisoners of Childhood
Thursday August 03, 2006

Dear Dr. Miller,

I have been wanting for years to tell you how incredibly grateful I am to you for exploring the taboo territory that you have, and for publishing your findings.

I came across The Drama of the Gifted Child in 1985, when my own daughter was 2. I cannot put into words how I felt reading it. It was as though this hole at the center of my being was finally healed. I kept that book with me at all times, like a security blanket, underlined most of it, copied much of the text into a notebook just to feel personally that there was indeed another human being who could validate my heretofore never validated point of view. The closest I had come to feeling understood before that was in my readings of Karen Horney. I had never actually met a human being in the flesh that didn't immediately put down my thoughts and feelings, who didn't automatically side with my parents--without even hearing my story!

I wish I could say that I transformed completely and immediately, but I did not. I read every single book you wrote, eagerly awaiting the next. When I read For Your Own Good I knew instantly that my mother's German grandparents must have come from Prussia--with a little research, it turned out they did indeed. Your description of Prussian child-rearing techniques was so exactly a description of my own childhood (although without ever having been told anything was for my good--I didn't even rate that much) that I recognized it without knowing the history. I have read Stettbacher's book at your recommendation, and have found some modalities that I can use on my own and have grown much with them: Feldenkrais practice, EFT, Focusing, to name a few.

My daughter is now 23 and has her own childhood issues to heal. I did the very best I could, and she is heads and shoulders above the person I was at 23, so that is good. That I couldn't give her the childhood I wanted to was inevitable because I couldn't give what I didn't have. We are able to talk about these things. But I honestly don't know what would have happened if I had not had you as my passive, written witness. My gut knew the treatment most therapists provide was inappropirate and a denial; thanks to your books, I could understand why and support myself in my search for real validation.

It is not exaggeration to tell you that you have been one of the very most important people in my life. I cannot thank you enough. I hope that someday I have the opportunity to meet you in person, at last.

With love and boundless appreciation, B. G.

AM: Thank you so much for your kind letter. Have you also read "The Body Never Lies" in the Paperback edition with the new afterword?

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