Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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Post WWII trauma?
Monday September 25, 2006

Dear Dr Miller,

I hope my email finds you in good health. I was delighted to stumble across your email because for years I have longed to ask you one question.

I read your book 'The drama of the gifted child' many years ago, following an article my brother lent me that you had written about the gifted child and the narcissistic disturbance.
He is now a psychiatrist - his mentor suggested that he read it during his training. In your very interesting article you suggest that because our mother lost her father at a very early age this shaped her behaviour towards us. It is amazing how many of the things you describe relate to us. Our mother was born in 1927, her father actually lived and worked abroad in Argentina - so he was alive and rarely home - becoming isolated by the war. He died abroad in 1951.

As the youngest of 4 children, I was perhaps the least affected by our mother's subconscious expression.

As children, we 3 boys became very competitive, striving to succeed. I studied physics and maths - not my natural flair because I am a natural linguist, speaking 6 languages and with a working knowledge of 6 more. I put this down to my sinaesthesia - natural colour coding of letters of the alphabet. This becomes colour coding of my own spelling of phrases and hence I remember language as pictures.

So perhaps we are all quite high intellect and very sensitive in our family. My guess is that our sister (sibling 3) was not affected. There is another question there - did she escape the disturbance?

For many years I have wanted to know whether you have considered the consequences of the second world war and the enormous number of men and fathers who did not come home and how this affected the mothers of our generation.

Is it really the same - that those millions of children who grew up in the post war years without a father, had a risidual narcissistic disturbance? Are there signs for this - or did I miss something - that the narcissistic disturbance has the greater impact upon the higher intellect?

Sincerely, P. W.

AM: I am unable to answer you a question today that refers to some sentences I wrote in 1979. You may find the answer if you take your time to read my recent books or at least the articles on this web-site. There are millions of reasons why somebody’s mother is unavailable for a child, not only the loss of her father, of course.

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