Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Spirituality and Religion Are Blinders that Hides the Truth

Hi R,

I have not spoken with you in a long time! I hope all is well with you and M.

You have been on my mind quite a bit lately and reading the article 7 Spiritual Ideas That Enable Abuse And Shame The Victim  it really made me think of you and I thought I would share it with you, because you have been so affected by religion/spirituality, especially the new age spirituality like the course of miracles and the law of attraction, etc,  lies "poison" that seems you can't let go or purge this poison out of your body.  It's really good article you should read it!  

Religion and Spirituality in our society have really become blinders that block true healing. 

If we had written a book telling the same old recycled BS that a computer can generate! My book would have been a best seller already! And the reason this BS is so popular with the masses is because it doesn't challenge them to face their own painful childhood repression.

Just like Alice Miller wrote in the answers below to her readers:

"I am also glad that you have the hope that we can pass on our knowledge to the masses. I had this hope 30 years ago when I wrote the Drama. I thought that showing the truth can change so much. Meanwhile, I became more skeptic or just more impatient after I discovered the fear of the beaten child in all of us that built up the omnipresent resistance against the truth." Alice Miller

(Me too like Alice Miller had the hope with the writing of my book would help pass this knowledge to the masses, but like Alice Miller, I have become skeptical and with the writing of my book I too learned that people's repressed fears at the parents builds omnipresent resistance against the truth. And people rather destroy others than face and consciously feel their own repressed fears to see the truth. And this is why I have been harassed, prosecuted and ostracized in the workplace since I published my book. I understand people's fears of their childhood pain that have been trying to keep repressed all of their lives, but it is still disappointing that pretty much everyone I meet doesn't have the courage to face their fears and become real)   

 AM: Thank you for your reply; it is much telling to me because in my opinion the word “spirituality” is in most cases covering something that is not clear. In your concept, I don’t see the path to growing but rather the repetition and continuation of the child’s dependency on illusions. My experience gave me a very different view into illness and healing. If you have enough time, you can read the letters published here and see that growing and healing begin when former victims of mistreatment start to confront themselves with the cruelty of their upbringing, without illusions about the “love” of a higher power and without blaming themselves for projections. They allow themselves to feel their authentic emotions without moral restrictions and in this way become eventually true to themselves.
If you succeed to read the 12 steps with an open mind, freely, as if it were for the first time, you will easily discover how they continue to keep the ACA in the former dependency of the child: fear, self-blame, and permanent overstrain.
A person who has eventually painfully realized that she was never loved, can based on this truth, learn to love herself and her children. But a person who lives with the illusion that she was indeed loved by the Higher Power, though she has missed to feel this love, will probably blame herself in the old manner for her lack of gratitude and will tend to demand the love from her children. By so doing, she will pass on the blame to her children if they don’t behave in the way she wishes them to do; she will pass on the blame, together with the lie that she learned in her so-called recovery

AM: The questions you are asking me will hopefully find their answers in my last book: Free from Lies. Here I can only give you some indications. By reading the Drama I wrote 30 years ago many people found their own feelings until then dissociated, which opened them access to their tragic histories. The countless letters I received later informed me about the huge territory of suffering in childhood that almost all of us have endured and almost all of us keep DENYING over their whole lives by paying for this denial with their health. Or by letting others, mostly their own children, to pay. Hence over the 30 years, I came to understand that to heal the wounds stemming from child abuse we must give up this denial by overcoming the fear of being punished again and take the risk of feeling not only the grief but also and above all the RAGE about the way we were treated in childhood. This insight allowed me to develop a therapy concept that works.
I don’t use the word “spirituality” because it doesn’t have any specific meaning to me, it is often used to name very different issues that can be defined more precisely without using this word. I don’t need to believe as Einstein did that the WORLD is perfect but I do make the discovery again and again that our bodies function in a marvelous way as soon as we stop to lie and to betray ourselves, as soon as we are ready to accept our truth.

Thank you so much for explaining to me how you see the possible role of religions whose influence on the masses – you are right – -can’t be ignored. As to your example concerning slavery, we could indeed use the same argument maintaining that child abuse is a moral issue. The problem is that most (if not all) people don’t consider themselves as abused but well (strictly) brought up. For that reason, I rather speak about hitting children because these are FACTS that can’t be denied. I am glad that people like you exist already, people who know how they suffered in childhood and so learn to love and respect themselves. I am also glad that you have the hope that we can pass on our knowledge to the masses. I had this hope 30 years ago when I wrote the Drama. I thought that showing the truth can change so much. Meanwhile, I became more skeptic or just more impatient after I discovered the fear of the beaten child in all of us that built up the omnipresent resistance against the truth. If you have time enough try to read my last book “Free From Lies”, Norton NY, 3009. 

AM: Thank you for your further thoughts. I agree with almost everything you write besides your trust in the help of religionsHave you been growing up in a religious home, have you been a devoted child? This could explain your strong belief that representatives of religions can become interested in the tragedy of child abuse. I made many experiences in this direction and came to the conclusion that all religions are based on the denial of true feelings. Buddhism clearly preaches only “positive feelings” and coming away from the negative ones (that are actually authentic, true). You want to lead people towards the truth, how then do you expect help from religions? I don’t see neither how you want to pass on your knowledge to the masses who never never heard anything about unconsciousness, about repressed emotions etc though they are constantly driven by them. As a therapist, you know how much time it takes to become free from lies that were inflicted on us in the first years of our lives. How do you want the masses to liberate themselves from this burden without long therapies? I don’t want to question your optimism, it is precious to me, I would love to be able to share it with you but I can’t ignore the fact that the power of religions is stronger than the inborn capacity to love if it is so early destroyed. If we expected help from religions that are based on denial we would “reckon without the host”. The capacity for love we brought to the world at our birth has been systematically destroyed by religious hypocrisy.
You say rightly that for 100 years now we have been exposed to the idea (to the FACT, I would say) that childhood experience shapes the adult. What happened to this discovery? In the seventies, some authors took it seriously. RD Laing, Siraala, Kemper (The Battered Child), Florence Rush, Ashley Montague and others moved in the direction towards awareness and were listened to. But today all this seems forgotten and covered by religions and all kind of esoteric “wisdom” disguised under the word “spirituality”. In the late eighties even the most powerful communist system could be abandoned because it was not linked to religion and the liberation from lies did not imply feelings of guilt as religious systems do. There, the liberation seems almost impossible because the fears of the small child don’t allow people this liberation. Where are you then looking for help? From institutions who forbid this liberation and benefit from our cruel and ignorant upbringing?

AM: Thank you for expounding your vision. Yes, it would be wonderful if we could initiate a powerful movement towards more awareness. In fact, by understanding the emotional needs of children we would come to understand OURSELVES too, the basis of our existence, of our own Being as responsible adults. But this is impossible without liberating the strong bitterness of the abused child we hide deep in our bodies because of the fears of our parents. Unfortunately, ALL religions FORBID this emotional liberation, they rather allow wars, some of them even consider wars as sacred because they have never understood that feeling the legitimate rage PROTECTS us from acting out in wars and criminality. The last is organized exactly by people who DON’T feel.

AM: Thank you very much for your letter and the essay. Among the many letters, I have received from therapists who seem to know exactly how they can make people free and happy you are one of the few exceptions who fully understand the dynamic of violence through child abuse that I described in my books and articles. I can thus easily share your vision of a spiritual revolution but without the Christian and Buddhist models. In both of them NOBODY EVER raised a voice against the habit of beating small children and even today nobody is doing this. The fear of the small child of being punished by their parents for the slightest rebellion against injustice seems to stay in almost all adults. It is universal because religions put this fear in concrete by forbidding the child to protest against parents. How do you feel about that fact that on the whole planet we can’t find even only one university where the issue of child mistreatment and its effects in the adult’s life would be taught and discussed? What can be done in your opinion to overcome this fear, to enable people to give up their denial about their own cruel upbringing called education and so to become empathetic parents? I think that there is no any other option than to feel our own truth. Try to get my two new books that will soon come out at Norton.

AM: Thank you for your letter. It helps to see how even a great discovery can be concealed by an ideology if it becomes a part of it. When Florence Rush, Sandra Butler, Michelle Morris and others wrote about child abuse in the eighties, they were feminists but were not yet so much concerned about protecting their mothers. Your quotations from Bass and Davis show how the profound denial of the mother’s role could since camouflage the truth and sometimes block the path to effective therapy. I observe everywhere how ideologies hinder us to see simple facts. Why stay many buttered women for years with their husbands and try to help them because (as they say) they “love” them, if they KNOW that tomorrow they will be hit again? I think these are the women that had to learn in the very first years of their lives to accept hitting from their mothers and never protest against this terror but indulge it with love. There was no other choice.

AM: Certainly, if I knew of some therapists who would be respectful enough to answer your questions; free enough to show indignation about what your parents have done to you; empathetic enough when you need to release your rage pent up for decades in your body; wise enough to not preach to you forgetting, forgiveness, meditation, positive thinking; honest enough to not offer you empty words like spirituality, when they feel scared by your history, and that are not increasing your life-long feelings of guilt – I would be happy to give you their names, addresses and phone-numbers.
Unfortunately, I don’t know them, but I still like to hope that they exist. However, when I am looking for them on the Internet I find plenty of esoteric and religious offers, plenty of denials, commercial interests, traditional traps, but not at all what I am looking for. For that reason, I gave you with my FAQ list tools for your own research. If a therapist refuses to answer your questions right from the start, you can be sure that by leaving him you can save yourself your time and your money. If you don’t dare to ask your questions out of your fear of your parents, your fear may be highly understandable. However, trying to do it anyway may be useful because your questions are important and by daring to ask them you can only win.

AM: I totally agree with you. In addition to all the reasons you mentioned, I think that the foundation of False Memory Syndrom had a big influence on the increasing general denial of child abuse since 1970 when Laing, Sass and many others were writing. This foundation have suit therapists who helped former victims to retrieve old memories of sexual abuse. The creators of the foundation had succeeded to spread the fear of being suit among the therapists who are now less interested in childhood and more in spirituality and other blinders like this. Thank you for your mentioning the association of parents of schizophrenics, this goes in the same direction: with much money, you can silence the most obvious truth.

Out of the Prison of Confusion

“Even Adolf Hitler never denied that he had been beaten. What he denied was that these beatings were painful. And by totally falsifying his feelings, he would become a mass murderer. That would never have occurred had he been capable of feeling, and weeping about, his situation and had he not repressed his justifiable hatred of those responsible for his distress but consciously experienced and comprehended it. Instead, he perverted this hatred into ideology. The same hold for Stalin, Ceausescu, and all the other beaten and humiliated children who later turn into tyrants and criminals.

The return of the truth only begins to announce itself in the moment that we turn the tables and the word “spanked” condemns itself as heartless testimony to the disrespect and humiliation inflicted on the child. Only once we have become capable of empathizing with the feelings of the abused child we once were, and rejection the mockery and cynicism of our adult selves, do we begin to open the gates to the truth. Only then can we also stop being a danger to others.”  From the book “Breaking Down the Wall of Silence” Alice Miller page 15, 16

AM: We seem to agree about the issue of therapy: that working on the own history is a way to healing the effects of child abuse and its denial. But there is still another question that bothers us and seems not to bother you, namely: Why is this knowledge (for us so easy to understand) globally denied, ignored, feared, and avoided? What causes this ignorance and blindness of abusers, cruel parents, doctors, lawyers, and why don’t they understand the most simple connections? In our opinion, they are hindered to understand by the lesions in their mind, caused by the fear of a tormented baby and toddler. Why can only very few people realize that spanking children produces a violent and sick society?
What do you answer to this question? Please, answer ONLY this one.

AM: Denial is the main defense of an alcoholic. It is thus no wonder that you “learned” to do it from your father. But he didn’t know what he was doing and you DO. You have the courage to question your behavior and to look for its sources. I thus have not any doubt that you will overcome this state, you will FEEL the plight of the little boy, the victim of your father’s denial, and more and more he will feel safe with you and will less and less need to behave like the father did.

AM: You are right: For everybody who dares to think It MUST be scary to see with open eyes that we blindly produce the EVIL (the violence) in almost every newborn as long as we deny the violence and injustice we suffered from as children. We fear the simple and undeniable facts so much that we create all kind of theories to conceal this truth. In this way we can avoid feeling the fear of the punishments the child we once were had to expect if he SAW the truth and even talked about. There are however some people who dared to feel their truth and experienced the liberation from the prison of lies that for some ” skeptical” persons are not logical at all but maybe just quieting.

2. What role do you think religions/churches play in connection with cruelty to children?

2. All the religions I know of uphold the tenet that children should honor their parents and ancestors, however cruel they may have been to their children. Almost everyone abides by this commandment, even if their health suffers as a result. The reason for this suffering is that for the body morality is meaningless. The body cannot lie. It has stored the memories of the torments inflicted on it and it urges us to respect that truth. The point is that we cannot truly love and honor people who have made us suffer for years on end, unless we deceive ourselves into doing so.

3. How, in your experience, do representatives of the church respond to this issue?

3. As you know, I have written a number of letters to the present Pope and his predecessor, also to various cardinals, including Cardinal Lustiger. I got either evasive replies or no answer at all. I wanted young parents to be informed how dangerous it is to hit their children. After all, it has been scientifically established that such treatment causes brain damage. NO ONE showed the least interest in this information or the slightest compassion for the millions of little children at the receiving end of such cruelty. I began to feel as if I had been recommending a recipe for some strange, exotic dish. I go into greater detail on these exchanges in my book The Truth Will Set You Free.

4. What effect does cruelty to children have on society?

4. The children of today are the citizens of tomorrow. They are powerless to fend off their parents’ attacks, they are helpless, they have to suppress their anger unless they want to come in for even more punishment. But as soon as they reach adulthood, this anger resurfaces and is directed above all at their own children or at other people they can treat as scapegoats with impunity. If they are powerful enough, they can vent their rage on whole peoples and work off their suppressed anger on millions of individuals. In my book Breaking Down the Wall of Silence, I take Ceausescu as an example, giving a detailed account of how this mechanism functioned under his dictatorship in Romania. But there are also very many people who do not vent their suppressed anger on others. Instead, they punish themselves for what was done to them, precisely as they were taught in their childhood and as their religion demands. They fall ill, become drug-dependent, or lapse into depression, all because the last thing they dare to do is accuse their parents.

6. In For Your Own Good, you examined the atrocities perpetrated by Adolf Hitler in the light of his childhood. What conclusions did you come to?
6. Hitler’s biography brought it home to me for the first time how dangerous it is to deny the horrors of an extremely cruel childhood. But it would take too long to explain here, you need to read the evidence set out in the book.

7. You have also related the works of famous writers like Schiller, Nietzsche, Proust, Rimbaud, Kafka etc. to their childhood experiences, concluding that the books they produced were encrypted accounts of suppressed childhood dramas. This is a new and unusual perspective on literary production. Have you identified such links between other kinds of artist and their works?
7. Yes, I find them in all the biographies I have come across so far. After all, it’s an entirely logical thing. Children learn at a very early stage what their parents instill into them. So if they experience violence, that’s what they learn. As they are prohibited from actually demonstrating what they have learned, they may initially be incredibly obedient and remarkably “good” children, as the Auschwitz commander Rudolf Höss reveals. It is only later that they demonstrate the brutality they have learned from their parents. Artists often express unconsciously what they survived in childhood and later repressed. They do it mostly in a coded manner. Unfortunately. this still appears to be forbidden knowledge, so far no one has cued in to my research. When individuals run amok, EVERYONE insists without a second thought that they have ABSOLUTELY no idea what can have prompted an adolescent to do so, and in the press, no reference is ever made to their childhood. In all cases, the parents are spared this kind of inquiry. So how can readers understand how violence is learned, if no one helps them?

8. You yourself are a painter, and you have engaged with your childhood experiences in your pictures, published in the book Bilder meines Lebens (Pictures of My Life, Suhrkamp 2006) and on your internet site. How has the art world responded to this overt way of coming to terms with childhood?
8.It has been ignored altogether. I have merely been praised for my artistic achievements. It is as if there was some conspiracy prohibiting any mention of childhood. What I believe is behind this attitude is the childhood fear we all have inside us, the fear that our parents would punish us if we dared to query what they have done.

9. Adults treated cruelly in childhood are frequently advised to forgive the perpetrators. This is the stance adopted by the religions and by most forms of psychotherapy. In your books, you contradict this approach. Why?
9. As I said before, our bodies have no understanding of religion or morals. If we ignore the physical experience of cruelty, we pay for this self-betrayal with illnesses, or our children have to pay for it, or both. Forgiveness heals no injuries. They can only be healed by admitting the painful truth, not by self-deception. The healing process requires them to be uncovered, not left in the dark. Some priests abuse children for their sexual gratification BECAUSE they refuse to face the fact that they were abused in this way when they were small. Every morning they forgive all “trespassers” without knowing that they are driven by the compulsion both to repeat and to deny what they once went through themselves. If they were confronted with their own history and if revealing therapy enabled them to protest angrily against what was done to them in their early years, then they would not feel the compulsion to endanger the lives of their charges. I have described this approach to therapy in my last two books, notably Free from Lies.

10. For a number of years now there has been the talk of a newly discovered disorder, the so-called “false memory syndrome.” Do you think it conceivable that someone could wrongly imagine they had been treated cruelly in childhood?
10. No. Our organism tends to shy away from pain, not to invent it. If we do invent a story it will ALWAYS be less harmful than the real, repressed one, was The False Memory Foundation is an interest group established by rich parents in the 1980s, suing those therapists whose treatment had enabled their adult children to recall the sexual abuse once inflicted on them by the parents. Unfortunately, many therapists were intimidated by this foundation, and this may be one of the reasons why childhood reality plays no part in most of the therapies on offer today.

11. In the meantime, we know that this so-called syndrome has never been scientifically acknowledged. So why is it still taken so seriously?
11. Precisely because it serves to DENY the truth. That is why it has been welcomed with open arms. The activities of this foundation have now been hailed both in France and Germany. It reminds me of the time when Sigmund Freud willfully ignored his discovery of sexual abuse and offered his disciples the Oedipus complex so that he would not have to fear his own father, “who may have been a pervert himself” (cited after Freud in my book Thou Shalt Not Be Aware).

12. Your books have gone into many editions and have been translated into 30 languages. Why has it taken so long for your insights to gain credence?
12. Because all I have to offer is the advice to take a close look at one’s own childhood. And that is the last thing we want. But those people who have been brave enough to do so, instead of allowing themselves to be sidetracked by all kinds of theories designed to spare the parents, actually discover gold mines in their histories, the key to understanding their whole lives. When they have identified the truth, symptoms like depression or eating disorders simply disappear. Of course, there is often a lot of anguish involved in this process, but it’s worth it.

13. What changes to society would be necessary to prevent violence from being passed on from one generation to the next?
13. What we need above all is the spread of knowledge about the dynamics of violence, mass enlightenment on the way in which we produce a tendency to violence in our children. With the information I sent to the Popes, I hoped I might trigger an “aha!” response and instill in them the desire to protect the children. One single statement from the Vatican would have galvanized millions of young parents. But nothing happened. People still hit heir children, and the effects are disastrous. A strict ban on such crimes would finally make people aware that every child MUST be respected and has the right to protection from the state. Otherwise, we will be rearing young people who will think nothing of starting wars in the future. Beaten children lose their natural compass.

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