Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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A case in Mexico
Friday November 17, 2006

Hi!
I have been intrigued by news about mothers who kill their children, Yates, and others. I really tried to understand them. How could a person take her kids and put them under water for a few minutes and struggle with them until...no more struggle. I remember reading about a woman in San Fco who took her three kids to a pier in the middle of the night, stripped them from their clothes in a cold night and threw them into the freezing water.
But what impressed me the most was the kids, their submissiveness, their awareness of what was happening to them and not running or screaming for help, their helplessness. The oldest kids in both cases were older than six years old. They obviously knew what was happening to them and to their younger brothers and sisters. It was just so unbearable to me to learn about these monstrous actions upon innocent children.
And then, in Mexico, I heard about this guy who entered the house of his ex-girlfriend and savagely stabbed her 7-year-old brother and strangled her 3-year-old sister. I was stunned. And this guy came from a stable medium class family. I really wanted to understand how this was possible. How could a society create such monsters? How could this be prevented? I have 2 young children (a boy 5, and a 4-year-old girl). How could I spare them from this destiny? How could I see the danger signs in them, their friends and boy/girlfriends?
I remember crying night after night because I could just imagine the last moments of these babies. My sister is doing an MA in Psychology and I called her one night when I felt the pain was just unbearable, and she told me "you have to understand that in the world there is evil". It just left me feeling more lonely and desperate. It seemed something so huge to overcome. I felt so depressed.
And then I came upon your books.
Thank you.
You have just opened my eyes. It is not evil in the world. It is evil in US. It is something we do.
The guy who killed these children told of his childhood that his father was military-like. He said he remembered one time a guy went to his house to pick a fight with him but his dad telling this guy that he was bigger and that the fight would be unfair, but that he offered his older son to fight with!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And then when the other guy declined his proposition, he then said that he could then fight with whom he wanted. He remembered his dad always saying "hit him in the snout (which is a very rude word in Spanish)!" and that he started fighting, but feeling weaker than the other guy, but then getting angrier and angrier and the last thing he remembers was some people pulling him away from the other guy who had a broken nose and was on the floor bleeding.
We all need to be aware of the negative effects our actions will have upon our children and eventually upon society. Your books should be given to us in the hospitals when we take our babies home. But I understand how threatening to some people they might seem. Especially because we don't know what to do then, I mean if we don't use physical force, how can we "control" kids. In Mexico, this is a very important issue, we feel we must have control over the defenseless. This is very sad. Then we are surprised when we find that no one in our society can take responsibility for his or her actions.
Anyway, thanks again. Your book has helped me question myself as a daughter (even though I don't remember being spanked and receiving lots of love, I don't think anyone understood my feelings), as a person, as a professor (I teach English as a second language), as a student of an MA in Education, as a wife, as a friend, as a member of a society in decadence, as a catholic, and most importantly as a mother.
THANK YOU AND MAY GOD BLESS YOU!!!!

AM: Thank You for your letter. You write: Your books should be given to us in the hospitals when we take our babies home. But I understand how threatening to some people they might seem. Especially because we don't know what to do then, I mean if we don't use physical force, how can we "control" kids. In Mexico, this is a very important issue, we feel we must have control over the defenseless."
Why should we have control over the defenceless? Only because we learned this from our parents. And the religion agrees with this. If we dare to see the crimes that come from this control, we no longer feel helpless and see that we CAN change MUCH, very much: we can change this MENTALITY and leave the patterns of our parents behind.

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