“MY MAIN CONCERN in this present book is with the effects the denial of our true and strong emotions have on our bodies. Such denial is demanded of us not least by morality and religion. On the basis of what I know about psychotherapy, both from personal experience and from accounts I have been given by very many people, I have come to the conclusion that individuals abused in childhood can attempt to obey the Forth Commandment* only by recourse to a massive repression and detachment of their true emotions. They cannot love and honor their parents because unconsciously they still fear them. However much they want to, they cannot build up a relaxed and trusting relationship.
Instead, what usually materializes is a pathological attachment, a mixture of fear and dutiful obedience that hardly deserves the name of love in the genuine sense of the word. I call this a sham, a façade. In addition, people abused in childhood frequently hope all their lives that someday they will experience the love they have been denied. These expectations reinforce their attachment to their parents, an attachment that religion creeds refer to as love and praise as a virtue. Unfortunately, the same thing happens in most therapies, as most people are still dominated by traditional morality. There is a price to be paid for this morality, a price paid by the body.
Individuals who believe that they feel what they ought to feel and constantly do their best not to feel what they forbid themselves to feel will ultimately fall ill---unless, that is, they leave it to their children to pick up the check by projections onto them the emotions they cannot admit to themselves.
From the Preface the Body Nerve Lies, page 14, 15
…In the end I had to realize that I cannot force love to come if it is not there in the first place. On the other hand, I learned that a feeling of love will establish itself automatically (for example, love for my children or love for my friends) once I stop demanding that I feel such love and stop obeying the moral injunctions imposed on me. But such a sensation can happen only when I feel free and remain open and receptive to all my feelings, including the negative ones.
The realization that I cannot manipulate my feelings, that I can delude neither myself nor others, brought me immense relief and liberation. Only then was I fully struck by the large number of people who (like me) literally almost kill themselves in the attempt to obey the Forth Commandment, without any consideration of the price this exacts both from their own bodies and from their children. As long as the children allow themselves to be used in this way, it is entirely possible to live to be one hundred without any awareness of one’s personal truth and without any illness ensuing from this protracted form of self-deception.
A mother who is forced to realize that the deprivations imposed on her in her youth make it impossible for her to love a child of her own, however hard she may try, can certainly expect to be accused of immorality if she has the courage to put that truth into words, But I believe that is precisely this explicit acceptance of her true feelings, independent of claims of morality, that will enable her to give both herself and her children the honest and sincere kind of support they most, and at the same time will allow her to free herself from the shackles of self-deception.
When children are born, what they need most from their parents is love, by which I mean affection, attention, care, protection, kindness, and the willingness to communicate. If these needs are gratified, the bodies of those children will retain the good memory of such caring affection all their lives, and later, as adults, they will be able to pass on the same kind of love to their children. But if this is not the case, the children will be left with a lifelong yarning for the fulfilment of their initial (and vital) needs. In later life, this yarning will be directed at other people. In comparison, the more implacably children have been deprived of love and negated or maltreated in the name of “upbringing,” the more those children, on reaching adulthood, will look to their parents (or other people substituting for them) to supply all the things that those same parents failed to provide when they were needed most. This is a normal response on the part of the body. It knows precisely what it needs, it cannot forget the deprivations. The deprivation or hole is there, waiting to be filled.
The older we get, the more difficult it is to find people who can give us the love our parents denied us. But the body’s expectations do not slacken with age---quite the contrary! They are merely directed at others, usually our own children and grandchildren. The only way out of this dilemma is to become aware of these mechanisms and to identify the reality of our own childhood by counteracting the process of repression and denial. In this way we can create in ourselves a person who can satisfy at least some of the needs that have been waiting for fulfilment since birth, if not earlier. Then we can give ourselves the attention, the respect, the understanding for our emotions, the sorely needed protection, and the unconditional love that our parents withheld from us.
To make this happen, we need one special experience: the experience of love for the child we once were. Without it, we have no way of knowing what love consist of.
…once that energy is no longer required for the repression of one’s own truth. The point is that the fatigue characteristic of such depression reasserts itself every time we repress strong emotions, play down the memories stored in the body, and refuses them the attention they clamor for.
…But many people prefer to seek aid from medication, drugs, or alcohol, which can only block off the path to the understanding of the truth even more completely. Why? Because recognizing the truth is painful? This is certainly the case, But that pain is temporary. With the right kind of therapeutic care it can be endured. I believe that the main problem here is that there are not enough such professionals’ companions to be had. Almost all the representatives of what I’ll call the “caring professions” appear to be prevented by our morality system from siding with the children we once were and recognizing the consequences of the early injuries we have sustained. They are entirely under the influence of the Fourth Commandment, which tells us to honor our parents, “that thy days may be long upon the land the Lord thy God giveth thee.’
It is patently obvious that this commandment is bound to thwart the healing of early injuries. It is equally obvious why this fact has never been publicly recognized and though about. The scope and power of the commandment is immeasurable, since it is nurtured by the infant’s natural attachment to its parents. The greatest philosophers and writers have shied away from attacking it. Even Friedrich Nietzsche, who was notable for his virulent attacks on Christian morality, never went so far to extend that criticism to his own family. In every adult who has suffered abuse as a child lies dormant that small child’s fear of punishment at the hands of the parents if he or she should dare to rebel against their behavior. But it will lie dormant only as long that fear remains unconscious. Once consciously experienced, it will dissolve in the course of time.
The morality behind the Fourth Commandment, coupled with the expectations of the children we once were, creates a situation in which the large majority of therapists will offer patients precisely the same principles they were confronted with during their upbringing. Many of the therapists are still bound up with their own parents by countless threads. They call this inextricable entanglement “love,” and offer this kind of love to others as a solution. They preach forgiveness as a path to recovery and appear not know that this path is a trap by which they themselves are caught. Forgiveness has never had a healing effect. It is highly significant, perplexing to say the least, that we have been bound for thousands of years to a commandment that hardly anyone has questioned, simply because it underscores the physical reality that all children, whether abused or not, always love their parents. Only as adults do we have a choice. But we often behave as if we were still children who never had the right to question the commandments laid down to them by their parents. As conscious adults we have the right to pose questions, even though we know how much those questions would have shocked our parents when we were children”
From the introduction The Body Never Lies, page 20,21, 22, 23, 24,25
..Am I saying that forgiveness for crimes done to a child is not only ineffective but actively harmful? Yes, that is precisely what I am saying. The body does not understand moral precepts. It fights against the denial of genuine emotions and for the admission of the truth to our conscious minds. This is something the child cannot afford to do, it has to deceive itself and turn a blind eye to the parents’ crimes in order to survive. Adults no longer need to do this, but if they do, the price they pay is high. Either they ruin their own health or they make others pay the price – their children, their patients, the people who work for them, etc." -- Alice Miller
Above excerpt from the article Deception Kills Love by Alice Miller