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.