Friday, September 20, 2013

Honest comments about Daniel Mackler’s critic of Alice Miller

 “Rhetoric without a purpose. Alice Miler's books exposed the psychoanalytic bias against taking adult or children’s' stories of early life abuse literally and as real history, and the pervasive and very traumatic child rearing practices of a culture dominated by the "Proverbs" mentality, "if you beat him with a rod, he will not die." This mentality reigns supreme even today. Anyone who has read even a few of Dr. Miller's books will know why these works are hated and a target of disinformation by the adherents of "children as property" and "children as sinners" ideology (or theology). Alice Miller learning from her child is no different than a therapist learning from their patient. It is not unethical or immoral, but the way an aware and sensitive person grows. I really can't understand Mackler's reasoning or even the factual basis for any of this depiction of Alice Miller and I hope it will in no way discourage anyone from reading as many of Dr. Miller's books they can find. She is on the right side of parental pedagogy for all time and most therapists consider her the guiding light in understanding violence against children and the adult residuals of parental narcissism and sadism.” Z. St. John

“I am a mother and a neglected child.  In the course of time, I realized many situations I would have liked to do more to protect my children but often the damage is already done as many parents are unaware or the circumstances presented us with different priorities which often the children succumbed together with the parents.  Alice Miller confirmed to me the dynamic of how child abuse in it multifaceted forms is perpetuated, she too learned her lesson which led to the insight she so capably was able to communicate to the world through her books.  The lesson is reflected in those very words the article quotes and I repeated it below:

The spontaneity with which my daughter expressed her childlike, innocent, affectionate nature at whatever age she happened to be, and her sensitivity to insincerity and disingenuousness in whatever form, gave my life new dimensions and new objectives. [Breaking Down the Wall of Silence, 1996 revised edition, p. xiii]

I believe the above was not a need for Dr. Miller to justify her 'blind spots' for not for having protected her daughter or even being the cause unswervingly for that matter, but instead I see the above statement as an act of generosity in sharing with the world her own family story which certainly gave the insight particularly on the subtleties of abuse hidden cultural practices.   

Those that have benefitted from her insight and all we can do is make our contributions to her work for the good of humanity. I am skeptical on criticisms that tend to destroy or create doubt on such monumental insights as Alice Miller and others are doing.
I could more for my own children, but I had reached a good level of awareness and important priorities for survival prevented me from doing more.  My own children may not have serious problems thanks to the awareness I had reached at a certain point of their development.

Thank you for your attention and hope the above contributes to further reflection.” Marcella

New poster here.

Reading through I wanted to add some ideas that I didn’t see in other comments.
I mainly want to say that I think it’s totally reasonable of Alice Miller to be unresponsive to your [Daniel Mackler’s] essay and even dismissive.

Here is a woman who has spent much of her life swimming upstream, going against the flow, fighting against the going paradigm. Simultaneously, she is trying to heal her
own wounds; she must feel awfully vulnerable much of the time. So here she is trying to stand up to constant criticism while at the same time carrying around all these unhealed wounds.

And here you come along and attack her, yet again. It’s true that you
also say how much you have learned from her, how influential she has been for you. But your primary purpose with the essay seems to be to harp on how she’s NOT PERFECT.

Sorry for the all caps shouting, but I want to make a point that by writing your essay with this accusatory tone, you are practicing exactly the same sort of critical, judgmental behavior that you say is so damaging. Somehow you expect this wounded, damaged soul, Alice Miller, to be immune to your criticism; for her not to be sensitive to your attacks.

In my experience, people go deaf when they feel attacked. They don’t respond with an open-minded desire to learn. I imagine, given her life history and the fact that her theories are probably subject to constant criticism—at the same time that they are also praised by many—, she’s sensitive. Who wouldn’t be?

If I were you, I’d go back and try to read your essay with a mind to how it might
feel to be Alice Miller and read your words.

Given the
feelings that your essay might invoke in her, imagine her trying to remain detached and un-triggered by old wounds. No matter how successful you might be in remaining detached when people make comments, this doesn’t mean she should be able to be equally detached. She’s under constant fire, from all sides; she’s getting old, and probably worn out from the battle. Despite all her efforts, and all her insights, she hasn’t been able to truly get the healing she needs. She’s also a woman in a field where most of the heavy hitters have been men. Getting recognition and not being heard as “shrill” is a battle women have to face on top of everything else.

And you might think here about the fine line between detachment and dissociation, which you’ve mentioned elsewhere on other topics. I think there might be a little bit of a disconnect inside you about your ability to remain “dispassionate” and take on criticism, and recognizing that
others (such as Alice Miller) maybe still so painfully connected to the old wounds that they cannot be dispassionate.

Can you cut her some slack? Not be so hard on her? She’s done amazing things. No one is perfect.
Life is a series of course corrections.

And perhaps you might even consider what parts of your
own unhealed wounds you are projecting onto her in your demands for perfection. Are you insisting that she be the perfect mother you never had? I would perhaps question your motives in writing your essay as a “critique,” rather than simply saying “Here’s what I learned from Alice Miller’s amazing work. And here are some ways that I think maybe we could go even further.”

Can you imagine writing what you did, extending her theories, going beyond where she went without attacking her in the process? If you were able to do this, I think she would feel validated, appreciated. You would be building on what she
did do, what she did accomplish, rather than focusing on the areas where she was human and failed to be perfect.

If you choose to re-read your essay with an eye toward greater compassion toward Alice Miller, you might notice that using “Limits” in the title started off on the wrong foot to get her to listen to you with an open mind. You might do some word counts to see how often you use language that most people would perceive as critical if they were on the receiving end. Try to put yourself in her shoes.

And I realize you didn’t write the essay as a direct letter to her, and maybe never thought about whether she’d ever read it. You were processing your own needs, which is cool.

I think it’d be an interesting, and revealing, exercise for you to try to say what you think about her in a non-judgmental way.


1 comment:

  1. See also my own debunking of Danny Mackler here: