Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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A dream on the gifted child
Saturday September 16, 2006

Dear Alice Miller,

I have been very blessed by your courageous writings; I have read several of your books and recently came across The Drama of the Gifted Child. I've read both editions of it, and in it I can so easily identify myself and - finally - am finding clues to why I, despite of bright intelligence, likable personality, favourable appearance etc, seem to have fallen short of many essential aspects of life, like marriage and satisfying job. And why advancing in these areas seem to demand a terrible struggle from my part, while these things seem to come with no effort to people much less gifted and well-favoured than myself. Finally, when different exercises of positive thinking etc. start feeling like self-deception, and while I realize that my present condition should not even be "statistically possible", I have decided to go deeper and, thanks to the understanding in your books, I am able to connect effects to causes in a new and revealing, though painful, way. My childhood as the first child to young parents was not one of the happiest but I did not think it was "too bad", at least not that bad that it would have been a reasonable excuse for my present difficulties. I have seen some therapists who did not share my nonchalant attitude toward my childhood, but unfortunately it was never properly processed with any therapist. Nevetheless, I got understanding with which I feel fairly well equipped to process these issues with the help of literature.

What I wanted to share with you is a dream that I had when I was a very young child, maybe no more than four or five years old. I have always remembered this dream, but never been able to grasp its meaning. I'm now almost 39, and a couple of weeks ago, realizing that I am a Gifted Child, who has shouldered and internalized an enormous amount of my parents' problems and been an object of their projections, the dream and its meaning became clear to me. I trust you can easily understand its symbolic language. I might add that my parents, though non-academics themselves, expected a splendid career from me, and if the last scene of the dream symbolizes that, I can but marvel how my spirit at that age was able to discern that. I am quite sensitive, however the scene can also have a general symbolic meaning. (I also think that this dream, and why I have always remembered it, may be one of the these things that cannot be completely explained rationally.)

The dream was like this:

There was an old Palestinian town, like one my Sunday school teachers told towns in Jesus' times looked like. The town was at the background, it was very quiet with only few people walking in the streets, in front there was a square. Two men came to the square with a basket, an ordinary hand basket. The men were villains, with a look of greed in their eyes, wealthy and fat, one was wearing a red fez. In the basket there was a teenage boy, he was a slave, nude from the waist upwards, wearing a small turban. He was slender and beautiful, and had an angelic behaviour. He looked at the men with a meek look in his eyes, a little smile, and his only concern was to serve them and please them, but he was not helplessly submissive in his attitude, he was like that with a personal integrity. The men dug a big hole and put the boy in there, he stood there waist-deep. Then they filled the hole with the boy init. They dug the hole up again, and the boy was there, with a little smile on his face, like asking how he could better please and serve the men. They filled the hole, dug it up again, and the boy stood still there. They filled it for the third time, dug it up, and now the boy had changed into a golden spiral-formed pole, which had been the greedy villains' aim.

I now understand that I was the boy, the villains were my parents, and me as an individual person was buried in the hole. Why I picture myself as a boy in a dream can be explained by the fact that, while outwardly very feminine, it has been difficult to me to find my real femininity as I always had to rely on my masculine side.

I hope the dream can serve as one more example of the sensitivity of children's intuition.

Thank you once again for the wonderful work you are doing. I wish you best of luck in everything.

Faithfully yours, M. V., Turku, Finland

AM: Thank you so much for your wonderful dream and your much-telling letter. I was very moved by both of them. I do feel that your dream can be explained rationally and I hope that once you will be able to do so, as soon as you will stop to idealize your childhood. Of course, this is a process that might take much time but the dream will stay with you as your knowing witness and give you the company you need for your orientation each time when you try to fool yourself because the pain may seem to be unbearable. It is rarely so. Usually feeling the pain and stopping to understand and pitying the parents brings a great deal of relief and insight. Have you already tried to write to the forum ourchildhood.int? I wish you much luck!

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