Saturday, May 17, 2014

In Most Cases Is a Lie

Dear J,

I have wanted to write you for the longest time, but I am so busy these days that I cannot believe it has been almost three months since you wrote me last. The honesty in your last email touched me deeply.

First of all, I like to let you know that just because a therapist proclaims to have read Alice Miller’s books it does not mean this person has freed him/herself from his/her own emotional prison. In most cases is a lie. These words Alice Miller wrote to me come truer every day: “I have learned over the years of my work on the Internet that there are readers who SEEM to understand SOME of what I have written, at least intellectually, but they are still so afraid of their very cruel parents and of their repressed FEELINGS of rage towards them that they are constantly looking for scapegoats. They thus live in continual confusion, pretending that they are healed and even offering help and empathy to others. But eventually they use other people unconsciously (even the ones who are quite friendly to them) as poisonous containers like their parents did to them, and if the offended people begin to defend themselves they can become very mean. I can only urge you to trust your feelings and do NOT offer your empathy and interest to everybody just because they say they read and understood everything I have written. In most of the cases, it is a lie. To understand my books means to overcome the fear of one’s parents, to honestly feel the justified rage TOWARD THEM, and to no longer use others to get free from the accumulated rage."

I have recently had an experience with a person that is a therapist and it seems intellectually understands somewhat. She is very open about how much she suffered as a child at the hands of her own mother but has not have freed herself from the repressed rage of the child she once was and still suffers from depression and is consumed by guilt. She could not understand that my childhood and youth suffering was at the hands of my older sisters and teachers and that not everyone had a mean, mean mother like she did. Because she has not freed herself from her repressed rage is very uncomfortable with anger. She wrongly lives with the assumption that all parents are cruel. Just like Alice Miller tries to clarify a critic of hers: “ the "Guardian" published a feature on my work, which is based on the assumption that in my opinion, ALL parents are cruel. This shows an essential misunderstanding of my whole work because I never made such a misleading and wrong statement. I hope that the book will find many readers who are willing and thus able to understand what I actually have written and to appreciate its political consequences.”

I try to explain to her that my parents played the roles of grandparents and my older sisters played the roles of my parents in my life, I never lived in fear of my parents, but I was constantly very afraid of my older sisters, she kept accusing me of saving my mother, projecting her own experiences into me and not able to see my own unique experience. Of course my parents not being able to care and protect me were the root of all, but my suffering was at the hands of my sisters and teachers and the child I once was hated them. Of course the child I once was also hated my parents for bringing me into the world when they were in no position to care and protect me, but most of my repressed hate was at my older sisters and teachers because that’s who made me suffer the most as a child.  But she could not understand that and she just wanted to see what she wanted to see, blind by the repressed hate at her own mother and the guilt for having repeated the abusive circle with her own children, without realizing it, she unconsciously was trying to regress me to the wounded child I once was and transfer her own unresolved hate and guilt into me. She reenacted both of our childhood dramas by giving me the same treatment her mother gave her and my older sisters gave me when I was little.

Sadly this is what most therapists do, they cast themselves in the role of the parent and reenact everyone's childhood dramas. Endless keeping everyone stuck.


You wrote: “Hi Sylvie, thanks for your reply. I did not choose to leave my therapist, by the way, but she felt that continuing our sessions had become pointless, as I did not communicate on an emotional level any longer, in her view. This may be possible. I pleaded to continue the sessions, but I can understand my therapist, and I believe her when she says there is not much point to continuing, given my behavior. Possibly I (and MM) have psychopathic traits, indeed I think it is likely, judging my own behavior, lack of remorse and conscience in some instances in my life.”

By your words above looks like to me a reenactment of both of your childhood dramas. You pleading like a child would plead his mother or mother substitute not to leave her and the therapist rejecting you like her mother did to her when she was little. When your anger became too much for her to handle, she rejected you, probably just like her mother rejected her when she showed anger. Do you see how both of your childhood dramas are being reenacted here? The only thing your therapist changed in her life is that she is not any longer playing the role of the child but is playing the role of the parent and you are still playing the role of the child.

Every day I am becoming more convinced that if we really want to free ourselves, we have to become our own enlightened witnesses, because if we keep looking and waiting for an enlightened witness, we might be looking and waiting forever and never find her and we will die in the emotional prisons we were born in. 

“I would also say it is possible MM has not left his emotional prison, maybe the reason is that he has never had the opportunity to confide in a truly enlightened witness. You mentioned that "our wounds need to be healed first in private with the assistance of a true enlightened witness." I agree, but it is very difficult sometimes.”

I know it’s very difficult to face and feel the repressed emotions of the child we once were in the context of our own childhood. These words by Alice Miller just came to mind: “AM: Thank you for your letter. It might seem very easy to give this advice (feel your repressed rage) but you know now how hard it is to eventually feel what you tried not to feel over 50 years. I am glad that you succeeded and feel liberated. The weight of denied feelings can be gigantic and very destructive..”


“I cannot really judge whether Alice Miller fully acknowledged her mistakes to MM. He says she did not, but maybe this is not true. I can only say that in my case, I was not able to forgive my mother for her terribly abusive behavior in the past, as she refused to acknowledge that. I still stand between us even now. In fact, I am able to feel the anger and the hatred more than ever before, but I agree it is like a prison because these feelings do not seem to diminish with time. I literally feel like killing my mother much of the time now, because she destroyed much of my personality. Then again, I often feel guilty because I did not admit the truth to myself for so long. Nevertheless, life goes on, and one has to try to make the best of it.”

No, we cannot judge, only the people involved know the real truth. But these words by Alice Miller in the book The Body Never Lies, page, 138, she expressed her sadness and pain of not having the right information when she was a young mother to avoid of passing her wounds into her oldest child: “As a child I had to learn to suppress my entirely natural responses to the injuries inflicted on me, responses like rage, anger, pain, and fear. Otherwise, I would have been punished. Later, at school, I was proud of the skill I had developed in controlling and restraining these feelings. I considered this ability a virtue, and I also expected my first child to achieve the same kind of discipline. Only after I succeeded in freeing myself of this attitude was I able to understand the suffering of children who have been forbidden to respond to injuries in an appropriate way and to engage with their emotions in a benevolent environment, so that in later life they can take their bearing from the feelings they actually have, rather than fearing them.” 

Also in the preface Paths of Life, she continues to say: “As I've aged, I've grown more tolerant and patient; I find it easier to wait and let people take the time they need to follow my trains of thought. What helped me to become accommodating was the fact that in contrast to twenty years ago, I no longer feel alone in what I know. Since then both experts and lay people have been able to confirm my conclusions by their own experiences. I no longer have to prove anything. And yet I still feel a need to share with others things that came to me only late in life. The result does not claim to be literature, we are not dealing here with “art for art.” For my stories are actually based on simple, conscious intentions to inform people and encourage them to think. For me, as for many women, it was very painful to realize that as a young mother I had missed so much, not only for my child but also for myself, simply because I did not know enough. It hurts to see how with more information many things could have turned out better and that much cannot be made good again. My stories arose from the wish to spare other people what I have suffered myself.

Also in her interview given to Ms. Noreen Taylor. Alice Miller says: "I have two adult children. I never hit them but I was sometimes careless and neglecting to my first child out of ignorance. Fortunately not so much as my parents had been to me. It is very painful to realize that but this realization can also be liberating from a self-deception. I think that the love for the own children can bear the truth and can even thrive on it while lies and denial seed cruelty for the next generation."


I published this interview here on my blog under the title:
It is Never okay to spank, beat or Hit a Child

Your anger at your mother and MM’s anger at his mother is very understandable and healthy, thank goodness you can feel it. Your anger should diminish in time if you are no longer dependent on her or people symbolizing her (it seems the last therapist was symbolizing your mother). Once we become autonomous from our parents or parents substitutes or people in the present moment symbolizing them anger will dissolve in time just be patient.


“In general I have been impressed by those who articulated their childhood suffering at the hands of their (famous) parent(s), for instance Peter Fonda, Julian Lennon, the daugher of Marlene Dietrich, Mackenzie Phillips, daughter of John Phillips of the Mama's and the Papa's etc, because I recognized their stories of the 'other side' of otherwise very accomplished people, that the world did not know about before, and the largely hostile reactions that these children received when tey went public with their stories.”

Yes, it is very sad when the public traumatizes all over again former victims, that’s why is so important to face and feel our own repression before going public, so we can see ourselves and others clear and understand where everyone comes from.  The reason the public becomes mean is that it reminds them of painful truths in their own lives that is too much for them to face and bear at the moment.

“But it may be true that Alice Miller had, in fact, acknowledged all her mistakes to her son, but that he failed to register this so that his complaints against his mother are now destructive to her legacy, and to others who become very confused. Martin Miller, like me, has not fully left his childhood suffering behind him, it seems, and I regret it. Somehow it is very hard as an adult to reconnect to what happened, feel the pain and to put it into words. I still believe, however, that it is the only way to leave the sad and painful episodes behind one.
Best wishes, J “

I completely agree with everything you wrote above. Hopefully, more people like me will find the courage to speak up and share their own experiences how Alice Miller’s books help them liberated themselves and her legacy will go on forever and help more people like it helped me.

Best wishes to you too,

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