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I’ve just found out that the brilliant and amazing Alice Miller died on April 14, 2010 at the age of 87. She was a psychotherapist, a prolific writer, and a devoted champion of children’s rights, working throughout her life to spread awareness of the effects of child abuse.

Here is a video message she put out a few years back:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2hF2ujCeFw

and here is a link to her website:

http://www.alice-miller.com/index_en.php

The following is from an article by Mary Katherine Armstrong, “Child Abuse, Shame, Rage and Violence”, (Journal of Psychohistory, Summer 2003):

Dr. Daniel Gottlieb Moritz Schreber was a prominent German doctor who set himself up as an authority on child psychology. In 1858 his books on child rearing were so popular with German parents, that some of them went through forty printings. Of course, the parents who bought the books did not even remotely suspect that they were purchasing manuals on how to expose their children to a systematic form of torture with long term effects.

Dr. Shreber’s psychology started with the newborn baby who should be drilled from the very first day to obey and refrain from crying. Master the crying baby through frightening it, and “you will be master of the child forever. From then on, a glance, a word, a single threatening gesture will be sufficient to control the child” (Miller, 1990, p.10). As a result of admonitions to avoid physical demonstrations such as stroking, cuddling and kissing, all these German infants suffered from the absence of direct, loving contact with their parents. Today’s extensive research into attachment theory makes clear the damage done by such unattuned parenting.

Germany was the only nation which gave precise details on how to discipline babies through frightening them. German children were reared according to detailed rules, designed to produce children who were cut off from their own ability to think things through and come to satisfactory personal decisions. Humiliation, these child rearing experts pronounced, is the key to producing adults who will always obey authority figures and never act in accordance with their own will. Alice Miller tell us that dependence on authority, plus intense shaming of children, produced the generation of Germans who obediently followed Hitler into the Second World War and found their emotional release in carrying out atrocities. She says:

Of course children in other countries have been and still are mistreated in the name of upbringing and care-giving, but hardly already as babies and hardly with the systematic thoroughness characteristic of the Prussian pedagogy. In the two generations before Hitler’s rise to power, the implementation of this method was brought to a high degree of perfection in Germany (1998, p.574).

Dr. Alice Miller has just released a new book. It’s called “Free From Lies, Discovering Your True Needs.” Big news for many. For those who don’t know Alice Miller is a highly-regarded Swiss psychotherapist who writes about child abuse and the mechanisms by which it affects victims into adulthood. She writes a lot about denial, lies, and the adult impact of childhood abuse on victims. She is one of the relatively few who study historical figures and their childhoods and has written on the brutality of Hitler’s and Stalin’s childhoods, including the connection between the pain of their childhoods and the cruel adults they became. Here is a link to the Press Release about the book: Free From Lies, Discovering Your True Needs, By Dr. Alice Miller. I recommend her books. She is very intelligent and knowledgeable, in addition to being highly experienced through her work with large numbers of psychotherapy clients.