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The Silence from the Media is Deafening

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Apr 082017


Mr. Rodman,

How are you?

I hope you, Mrs. Rodman and Alice. are doing well.

I’m sorry to bother you, but I thought you might be interested in my story now that part of it is in the public record. I filed a lawsuit against my former employer, Securitas, for discrimination and emotional harassment after I published my book.

You can see details about the court proceedings in the link below:

It’s kind of interesting how this all came about. Your neighbor at CM, M. P., hired me to watch his home when he’s away on business, and we’ve actually become great friends. He couldn’t believe what happened to me at S, and he encouraged me to file a complaint of wrongful termination with the EEOC. Unfortunately, by the time I contacted them I had already missed their deadline, but they issued me a letter of my rights to sue and told me that I had 90 days to file the lawsuit. I don’t know how it will end, but I hope it will help raise awareness about emotional harassment in the workplace, especially towards women.

M. has also become a huge fan of my book, and has great respect for its truthfulness, authenticity, and honesty. These are the things I value most in life, and I know that my book is a valuable contribution for anyone else who wants to see things more clearly.

I heard journalist Christiane Amanpour give a speech recently and these words really resonated with me: “I believe in being truthful, not neutral. And I believe we must stop banalizing the truth.”

This is why I’m so eager to get my story out. The people at Securitas and at S. wanted to destroy me, because they couldn’t handle the truth. As it turns out, my ex-boss, Kyle Wilson, killed himself in a standoff with the Police over a bank robbery in Chandler. You can learn more about this incident by following the links below:

The last time we spoke, you mentioned that my book spooks people. I believe that it only spooks people who are living a lie and are threatened by the truth, and that makes it all the more important to get my story out there.

My book is slowly finding an audience, which includes friends like M. P. and Mrs. W., who also lives in CM., as well as strangers across the country and around the world who contact me on a regular basis and write great reviews on my Amazon page.

I hope you can help me share my story with the general public. Not because it’s my book or my story, but because it’s urgent for society to understand the damaging effects of childhood repression and how it turns people into sociopaths who do everything from intimidating women in the workplace to use the political system to prop themselves up and keep others down. Alice Miller knew what she was talking about when she recognized the damage parents can do to their children, and the world is in dire need for a conversation about what we can do to stop the madness.

Maybe you can help start this conversation by creating a little segment on the evening news, or on a morning show, that highlights these concepts in light of current events, and explains how people must work through their repression if they want to free themselves from lies and illusions.

I’d love to discuss this with you in more detail if you’d like to meet for coffee one day soon.

Thank you for your attention,

Sylvie Shene

Hi E,

Thank you for editing for me the letter to the local news producer.

I have not heard, yet from Mark Rodman. The silence from the media is deafening, they are so afraid of the truth of connected stories and are all about protecting the status quo.

Yes, people can be very weird, especially in the media. These words by Alice Miller are so true: “… Rather than take the risk, they prefer to forgo information that might be of life-death importance for coming generations. So in order not to have to call their own parents into question for a single moment, they cling to outdated, destructive opinions.Clearly, the prospect of confronting one’s own personal history, in this case, is an alarming experience. And, as always, the fear of facts is stilled by a fascination with intellectual terms and abstractions aimed at concealing and masking the truth—the truth of facts that appear so threatening… At every attempt to share the new discoveries I made with the public, I ran up against the most determined resistance on the part of the media. It is true I can go on publishing these discoveries in my books because my publishers are already aware of the growing interest in this topic. But there are other people who have important things to say, and they are dependent on the press. They and their readers rely on essential information not being torpedoed. All too often, however, the media buttress the wall of silence against which all those who have begun to confront their own childhood rebound.”

I have to figure out a way of how to break through the media’s very thick wall of silence. It seems the media only pays attention when there is violence and spilled blood, in our society most people feed on violence and are like vultures looking for dead bodies, especially those in the media. The media only pays attention to violence for pure sensationalism and ratings. It seems violence is the only language they understand and pay attention to, so it going to be hard to penetrate through the media’s wall of silence.

Also, read the Open Letter to the Media of June 27, 2015

And also, read Open Letter to Jimmy Kimmel

I got the response below from the producer

“Dear Sylvie,

I apologize for the delayed to your letter. While we appreciate the offer to tell your story, as a matter of editorial policy we do not cover individual employment disputes.

Thanks for thinking of us. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors.


Mark Rodman”

Below is my response to the producer’s dismissal letter:

Dear Mark,

Thank you for replying to my letter, but I don’t think you understood what I was asking you for.
I’m not looking for coverage to get back at a particular company for firing me unjustly—my message goes way beyond that.

My goal is to raise awareness of the dangers unresolved childhood trauma inflicts on our whole society. The sooner people understand that if they work through their deep repression—and the resulting compulsion to repeat the damage that was done to them by hurting others—the less likely we’ll have to live and work with sociopaths. Our world will be less consumed by the awful things that make news every day, from celebrity sexual harassment charges and ideological fighting to terrorist attacks and nuclear threats from the world’s dictators.

Alice Miller was a courageous thinker who understood what it takes to heal humanity. Her teachings healed me, and my goal is to spread her message to as many people courageous enough to listen.

Maybe what I have to offer isn’t a hard news story, but I’m hoping you can help me find an appropriate lifestyle platform at your station. Or perhaps you know some journalists who want to explore a proven way to change human behavior for the better.

Alice Miller ran into great resistance from the media, so it’s no surprise that I’m running into the same problems. All I need is one champion, who will understand the power of her incredible message of hope. If you can’t be that person for me, perhaps you can introduce me to someone who will.

I’d love to discuss this with you further at your earliest convenience.


Sylvie Shene

 Posted by at 5:21 pm
Nov 292015

Since writing the letter to the media below, a new wrinkle in my story unfolded last March 11, that by odd coincidence was my birthday, it came to my attention that my old boss, a branch manager for the security company that employed me, robbed a bank in Chandler and killed himself in a standoff with the local police. Here is proof I was dealing with sociopaths of the worse type! They treated me like a criminal, but look who are the criminals! And isn’t interesting that the media never revealed the bank robber’s name! I’m sure they are protecting the security company he worked for, it would not look good for a security company that one of his top managers was robbing banks on the side! Read more here

My name is Sylvie Imelda Shene and I think I have a story for you.

For nine and a half years, I worked as a gate attendant manager for a wealthy community in Scottsdale. I was a hard worker and an easygoing supervisor, and I always had a smile on my face. In fact, I got along so well with some of the residents that they often invited me to parties and hired me to watch their homes and pets whenever they went away, sometimes for six months at a time. I always handled myself with integrity and a great attitude, and it was greatly appreciated by many of the residents.

Last summer, I published a book about how to recover from childhood trauma, using my own experiences growing up poor in rural Portugal, working as a topless dancer and discovering the groundbreaking works of psychologist Alice Miller. My book, A Dance to Freedom, is part memoir and a part self-help book and I’m proud to say that it’s touched many people around the world.

Working on this book was a labor of love for me. I’m not a wealthy person, but I managed to save and raise (through the crowdfunding site Indiegogo) the money I needed to get the book out into the world. It took me five years and four ghostwriters to get it right, but it’s all been worth it.

Many of the residents in the community where I worked supported me in this endeavor, and I’m sincerely grateful for their love and support. Others, however — including the property manager of the community and the security company that employed me — weren’t as enthusiastic about the project. They all started treating me differently after I published my book. They couldn’t stand the fact that someone who they considered inferior — a guard gate manager — could get a real book out into the world and understand the human condition so much that their own lies and illusions were exposed.

It was this combination of jealousy and fear that led a group of sociopaths to begin a campaign of emotional harassment against me. One resident returned the book she bought from me with toilet paper in it. The property manager started a campaign to get rid of me and, with the help of some board members, created a messy package receiving procedure they hoped would frustrate me into quitting. And a new employee who wanted my job called other guards at their homes to see if they had anything bad to say against me. The sociopathic behavior ramped up almost daily, and after six months they decided to fire me without cause.

It saddens me that someone can actually lose their job for exercising their right to freedom of speech. I think what my former employer and co-workers did was a disgrace, and I want as many people to know about it as possible.

If you think you can help me get my story told, I’d really appreciate it.

Thanks so much for your consideration.


Sylvie Imelda Shene

Thank you, Jekaterina. Connected stories like mine need to be told, but sadly most people in the media are only interested in disconnected stories of victims without resolution they can exploit for pure sensationalism, they are like vultures. And they feel threatened by connected stories like mine, because stories like mine, makes people look in the mirror to question themselves, their own parents and people in power position standing in symbolizing their parents. AND WHO WANTS TO DO THAT? Most people are still scared little children afraid of being punished if they dare to speak the naked truth and expose the real state of affairs.

David Lynch, thank you for your comment, but the reason people in the community read my book was because they all knew I used to be a topless dancer!!! They didn’t have a problem with that!!! They thought it was cool!!! Some used to be customers and they knew me from the club! I was treated like I was a star!!! I was very well known in this town! I had a good reputation of being honest and a clean dancer. They thought they were getting a disconnected story, like many out there, but my story is connected with true liberation at the end. My book is a mirror and they didn’t like their own reflections!!! They rather destroy me than face their own painful truths. They were uncomfortable with my knowledge and my understanding of the human mind that I could see through their masks and facades. Just like Donald Warner Parker wrote in his review of my book: “What more can you give a person and this world, for that matter, than sharing your own hard-earned wisdom, experience and truth through telling your own story and holding up a mirror for others to capture their own reflection in it, while at the same time providing the vital information of Alice Miller’s body of work to free themselves from their denial and repression and the illusions that keep it intact. It is so true what you wrote in your Chapter False Hope on page 126, “Ultimately I realized that self-help books and 12-step programs offer a false hope at best. I’m convinced that people who put their faith in these types of things — or in psychologists, psychiatrists or any other cult leader for that matter — are avoiding the real causes of their problems and are just masking their symptoms instead. The seductiveness of the quick fixes offered by traditional treatments and therapies is very powerful and even if they don’t work they offer at least temporary relief from the fear and pain of our abused younger selves.” You make it crystal clear in your book how Ed Sweet played such an important role in the development of it and how grateful you are to him. Once again my Best Wishes to you and Congratulations to you as well on the accomplishment of your passionate mission to get to people the vital and lifesaving information, guidance and companionship they need to free themselves of lies and illusions.”

You are right they rather replace me with someone that is emotionally blind and mindless shill/crony they can feel superior to and they can fool.

David Lynch: Sylvie, you got set up to fail. This is a common tactic employed by power-hungry narcissists for getting rid of employees that they no longer want around by creating a “no-win situation” where everything you do right is ignored and minimized and everything you supposedly do wrong is magnified, exaggerated and maximized. You were unlucky enough to get targeted by a lying sociopath who saw an opportunity to get rid of you once he learned from your book that you had a history of working as a stripper. Armed with that knowledge it would then have been very easy for him to rally up an army of mindless supporters by telling lies that you were also involved in prostitution/porn etc. He character-assassinates you by painting you as a deadly threat to the morality and good name of their supposedly perfect little community and all his sheeple follow along like the mindless hypocrites that they are cos they want to please Big Daddy. He gets rid of you because you are independent and he has no control over you and replaces you with a mindless shill/crony who will be loyal to him and thereby increase his power-base. The moral is always be very careful about who you share your story with because there are vicious narcs everywhere just waiting for any opportunity they can get to do harm to other people. I don’t see your story getting any media attention though because it is so depressingly common. However, if you felt strongly enough about it then you could use (or misuse) social media to anonymously let the world know about what this man is really like.

Read David Lynch’s original comment here.

Also read more comments here and here

Also, you might find interesting the letters I wrote to Bill Maher in the link below:

Free Speech in America is an Illusion

You also might like reading Open Letter to Jimmy Kimmel

And  Open Letter to Felicia Cabrita 

 Posted by at 4:06 am  Comments Off on Open Letter to the Media
May 142015

There is still a widespread belief that children are incapable of feeling: either the things done to them will have no consequences at all, or those consequences will be different from what they would be in an adult. The simple reason advanced for this belief is that they are “still children.” Only a short while ago it was permissible to operate on children without giving them an anesthetic. Above all, the costume of circumcising boys and girls and subjecting them to sadistic initiation rituals is still quite normal practice in many countries. Blows inflicted on adults count as grievous bodily harm or torture; those inflicted on children go by the name of upbringing. Is this not in itself sufficient and inconvertible proof that most people have suffered serious brain damage, a “lesion” or a gaping void where we would expect to find empathy, particularly for children? Effectively, this observation is evidence in favor of the theory that all those beaten in childhood must have sustained subsequent damage to the brain, as almost all adults are more or less impervious to the violence done to children!

In my quest for an explanation of this fact, I decided in 2002 to find out at what age parents thought they might begin impressing the necessary of good behavior on their children by giving them “little” smacks and slaps. As there were no statistics available on this point, I instructed a survey institute to ask one hundred mothers from different strata of society how old their children were when they first decided it was necessary to make them behave better by administering slaps to their hands or bottoms. The responses were extremely enlightening. Eighty-nine of the women were almost unanimous in saying that children were about eighteen months old when they first inflicted physical “correction” on them. Eleven mothers were unable to recall the exact age, but not one of them said that she had never stuck her child.

These findings were published in the French journal Psychologies the same year. But they aroused no reactions of any kind, neither incredulity or indignation. My conclusion from this is that such treatment is widespread and its justification hardly ever challenged. The question it posted for me was what actually happens in the brain of a child exposed to smacking at such an early age. Through the pain inflicted may not be severe (at least we assume this to be the case), children will surely register the fact that they have been attacked by the very person they instinctively expect to protect them from attacks by others. This is bound to cause ineradicable confusion in the infant brain, which at this stage is not fully formed. Such children will inevitable wonder whether their mother is there to protect them from danger or is in fact a source of danger herself. Accordingly, they will adjust to the situation by registering violence as something normal and integrating it as such into their learning process. What remains is fear (of the next bow), distrust, and denial of the pain inflicted on them.

What also remains is something I refer to in my book The Truth Will Set You Free as mental blockages. Later, in adulthood, the combination of infant confusion and denial of suffering obviously instills reluctance or downright refusal to reflect on the problem posed by inflicting physical punishment on small children. Mental blockages (and the fear underlying them) prevent us from asking ourselves how this confusion originated in the first place. Accordingly, we fend off everything that would lead to such reflection.

As far as I know, what infants feel when they are psychically attacked and the effects that the suppression of these feelings have on life of individual adults and the whole fabric of society are issues that have never been addressed by philosophers, sociologists, or theologians. The lengths to which the evasion of these issues has gone struck me with full force recently when I was reading a superbly written and highly informative book on the subject of anger. The book describes with minute precision the disastrous effects of anger directed at scapegoats in the course of history. But nowhere in these hundred pages is there any reference to the origins of such anger. At no point does the author indicate that the anger felt by every individual person stems from the primary, justified anger of the small child at the blows inflicted on it by the parents. The immediate expression of that anger is suppressed, but at a later stage this suppressed fury will be directed at innocent victims with uninhibited savagery.

As the torture of children and the suppression and denial of that torture are so widespread, one might assume that this protective mechanism is part of human nature, that it is designed to spare us pain and hence plays a salutary role. But there are at least two facts that militate against this interpretation:

First, the fact that suppressed abuse is passed on to the next generation so that the progression of violence cannot be halted; and second, the fact that remembrance of abuse we have been subjected to causes the symptoms of illness to disappear.

The established fact that the discovery of our own childhood sufferings in the company of an empathic witness (see pages 26-27 and 51) leads to relief from physical and mental symptoms (such as depression) forces us to look for an entirely new form of therapy. Unlike the denial of these sufferings—a recourse typically advocated by therapists—it is, in fact, the confrontation with our own painful truth that leads to liberation.

To my mind, this realization applies equally to therapy for children. Like most of us, I believed for a long time that children are in need of illusion and denial of unpleasant facts in order to survive, simply because the painful truth would be too much for them to bear. But today I am convinced that, as in the case of adults, conscious knowledge of their own truth and the actual story of their lives will protect them from illness and the disorders. But for that, they require the help of their parents.

In our day and age, there are very many behaviorally disturbed children and also very many therapeutic programs designed to help them. Unfortunately, most of these are based on the pedagogical conviction that it is both desirable and feasible to induce “difficult” children to become well adapted, obedient, and docile. What we are confronted with here is a more or less successful form of behavioral therapy designed to “repair” the disturbed child. Approaches of this kind willfully ignore the fact that problem children have invariably suffered a series of injuries to their integral personality dating back to the period between birth and fourth year of life, the period in which the brain becomes fully formed. The history of those injuries is usually suppressed.

But we cannot genuinely help an injured person to heal their wounds by refusing to acknowledge them as such. Luckily, youthful organisms have better prospects of healing, and the same is true of mental lesions. Accordingly, the first step must be to look closely at those wounds, take them seriously, and refrain from denying their existence. The task in hand is not to “repair” a ‘disturbed” child but to minister to his or her wounds, something which can only be achieved by empathy and the conveyance of correct information.

Children need more than well-adjusted behavior for their emotional development and genuine maturity. They need access to their own history if they are not to fall victim to depression, eating disorders, or drug dependency at a later stage. It is my firm belief that, in the case of children with a history of physical abuse, even well-intentional parental or therapeutic efforts are doomed to fail in the long term if the humiliations these children have been subjected to are never addressed, in other words, if they are left alone with their experiences. To free them from this isolation—the feeling of being the sole guardian of a guilty secret—parents would need to summon up the courage to admit their errors to their children. This would change the whole situation. In calm and collected conversation with their children they might say something like this:

“when you were small, we hit you because we were brought up that way and believed that this was the right thing to do. Only now have we realized that we should never have done it, and we want to apologize. We are truly sorry that we humiliated you and inflicted pain on you. We shall never do this again. If we should ever be tempted to break this promise, we want you to remind us of this conversation. In twenty-three such behavior is a punishable offense; it is against the law. In the last few decades, people have realized that beaten children live in constant apprehension. They grow up fearing the next blow. This interferes with many of their normal functions. Later they may be unable to defend themselves when they are attacked, or they may retaliate excessively in a state of shock caused by limited fear. Anxious children find it hard to concentrate, both at home and at school. Their attention is directed less at things they have to do than at the behavior of their teachers and parents, as they can never be sure when the next blow may be inflicted on them. Adult behavior appears totally unpredictable to them, so they constantly have to be on their guard. These children lose all trust in their parents, whose task it is to protect them from attacks by others and not turn into aggressors themselves. Loss of trust in their parents makes children anxious and isolated because society takes sides with parents and not with children.”

This information divulged by parents is no revelation to the children because their bodies already know this. But the parents’ courage and their decision to look in the face will certainly have a lasting beneficial and liberating effect. Also, this behavior will act as an important model for children, demonstrating personal courage and respect for truth and the dignity of their children, rather than violence and lack of self-control. As children learn from their parents’ behavior and not from what they say, the effect of such a confession can only be beneficial. The secret the children have been left alone with has given a name and explicitly into the relationship, which from then on can be based on mutual respect instead of the authoritarian exercise of power. The unspoken injuries can heal if they are not left to fester in the unconscious. When children given this kind of information later become parents themselves, they will no longer compulsively repeat the sometimes brutal or perverted behavior of their parents, as the suppression of their injuries will not drive them to do so. The regret expressed by parents has expunged the tragic events and deprived them of their malevolent after effects.

Children beaten by their parents learn from such behavior to regard violence as a viable expedient. This can hardly be denied. Nursery-school teachers would readily corroborate this view if they allowed themselves to see things as they are. Children beaten at home will take it out on their weaker classmates or siblings. In the family, they are punished for such behavior, which leaves them completely at a loss. Isn’t this what they have learned from their parents? In this way confusion sets in at an early age, later manifesting itself as a “disturbance.” These children are then sent to a therapist. But no one dares to get down to the roots of the problem, although this would seem to be such an obvious course.

Play therapy under the guidance of an empathic therapist can help children express themselves and develop trust in the framework of a protected, consistent environment. But as such therapy hardly ever addresses the early injuries inflicted on the children, they are normally left alone with these experiences. Even the most gifted therapists cannot break down this isolation if, for the sake of their parents, they hesitate to include the injuries of the early years in their considerations. But their task is not to address these injuries themselves, as the frightened children would then expect punishment from their parents. Instead, a therapist should work with parents and explain to them why such exchanges could be liberating both for themselves and for their children.

Naturally, not all parents will respond to such a suggestion, even if it is recommended to them by a therapist. Many of them will scorn such an idea, accusing the therapist of naiveté, insisting that he or she has no idea of how devious children can be, and fearing that if they were foolish enough to fall in with this proposal their children would merely take advantage of them. Such reactions are anything but unexpected. Most parents see their own parents in their children. They are afraid of admitting an error because severe penalties were inflicted on them every time they made a mistake when they were children. They cling desperately to the mask of infallibility, and it is this that makes it so hard for them to respond.

But I am happy to concede that not all parents are such incorrigible know-it-alls. I believe that despite these fears there are many parents who would gladly desist from such power play, parents who would be prepared to help their children if their fear of a frank and open exchange had not prevented them from doing so. Such parents will presumably find it easier to address the “secret” that has been tormenting their children, and they will be rewarded for their efforts by witnessing the salutary effect that the revelation of the truth will have on their children. They will realize how futile the authoritarian preaching of values is in comparison with the honest confession of the errors they have made, a confession that gives adults the genuine authority that is born of credibility. Children require such authority because it helps them to find their bearings in the world. Children who are told the truth and are not brought up to tolerate lies and cruelty can develop as freely as a plant whose roots have not been attacked by pests (in our case, lies)

I have tested these ideas on my friends, and I have asked parents and children for their opinions. Frequently, I found that I had been misunderstood. My listeners assumed that I was talking about an apology on the part of the parents; the children replied that it must be possible to forgive their parents, etc. But this has very little to do with what I am getting at. If parents apologize, then their children may easily get the idea that forgiveness is expected of them, that it is their job to “let the parents off the hook” and free them of their feeling of guilt.

This is not the point at issue. What I have in mind is information that confirms the bodily knowledge of the children and focuses on their subjective experience. The children themselves are the essential factor, their feeling, and legitimate needs. When children realize that their parents are actively interested in the feelings aroused by their physical attacks, they will experience a major sense of relief and also something like justice. The operative factor here is not forgiveness but the removal of secrets that have a devise effect. The aim is to establish a new relationship based on mutual trust and to achieve the breakdown of the isolation from which these maltreated children have been suffering.

Acknowledgment by parents of the injuries they have inflicted on their children dismantles many barriers, and the effect is similar to a spontaneous healing process. This is something one normally expects of therapists, but they cannot achieve this without the help of parents. When parents display empathy for their children feelings and own up to their mistakes without saying “your behavior drove us to it,” then a great deal will change. The children then have something they can model themselves on. There is no attempt to evade realities, no attempt to “repair” them in line with the parents’ ideas. They have been shown that truth can be put into words and, once expressed, has the power to heal. Above all, when parents admit their feelings, their children no longer need to feel guilty for the mistakes their parents have made. Such feelings of guilt are the breeding ground for countless attacks of depression in later life.

Children who have sensed in such exchanges that their injuries and their feelings are taken seriously by their parents and that their dignity is respected are also more immune to the detrimental effects of television than those who harbor unconscious, suppressed desires for revenge on their parents and for that reason identify with scenes of violence on the screen. Politicians may envisage the prohibition of violence on television as a remedy, but this is unlikely to unlikely to have much effect.

By contrast, children who have been informed about the early injuries inflicted on them will be much more critical of brutal movies or quickly lose interest in them altogether. They may even find it easier to see through the dissociated sadism of the moviemakers than do the many adults who are unwilling to face up to the suffering of the maltreated children they once were. Such adults may be fascinated by scenes of violence without suspecting that they are being forced to consume the emotional trash peddled as “art” by filmmakers who are unaware that they are in fact parading their own histories.

This was forcibly brought home to me by an interview with a respected American film directed fond of including repulsive monsters and sadistic sex scenes in his movies. He said that modern film technology had made it possible for him to demonstrate that love has many faces and that sadistic sex is one of them. He appeared completely oblivious of where, when, and from whom he was forced to adopt this confusing philosophy as a small child, and this ignorance is quite likely to accompany him to the end of his days. His self-styled “art” enables him both to tell his own story and to erase it from his memory at the same time. Naturally, such blindness has severe social consequences.

The best time for conversation with one’s children about the injuries inflicted on them is probably between the ages of four and twelve, at all events before the onset of puberty. In adolescence, the interest in this topic will probably wane. At this stage defense mechanisms militating against the remembrance of early sufferings may already be firmly cemented, particularly as adolescent children will soon have children of their own and as parents can then experience a position of strength enabling them to completely forget how helpless they once were. But there are exceptions, and in adult life, there are also times when, despite considerable success in their present-day careers, some physical illness may force people to face up to the questions posed by their childhood. Almost all the letters I find in mailbox tell similar stories.  “I was not abused, but frequently beaten and tormented. Despite this, I have managed to start a family of my own. I have children, a good job, etc. But now I have started suffering from depression, pain, and insomnia, and I don’t know why. Could it have something to do with my childhood? But that was such a long time ago, and I can hardly remember anything about it.”

It is by no means rare for people looking for answers to questions like this to discover their true selves, the story of a maltreated child and the pain he or she has been forced to deny. They start to live with their own genuine feelings instead of running away from them, and frequently they are astonished at the liberation they experience by pursuing this path. They give the child they once were what their parents were never able to give to them: permission to know their own truth, to live with it, to identify with it instead of fearing it. Because they know the truth about themselves they no longer need to lie to their bodies or to pacify them with drugs, medicines, alcohol, or ingenious theories. In this way, they save the energy they once had invest in fleeing from themselves.

THE LATER CHAPTERS of this book are made up of texts I have devoted over the last few years to the subject of inner liberation (through the reawakening of emotions such as fear, anger, and grief) and the issues connected with therapy. Some of them have already been published on my Web site. They are not chronological but are grouped according to the subjects they address, thus making it easier for readers to find their way around.

They consist of articles, interviews, and responses to readers’ letters, ending with a narrative describing the liberation of a mother from the prison of her childhood and the constraints of social convention.

As the collection contains various articles designed as independent entities rather than parts of a book, the reader will come across a number of repetitions that I could not remove without jeopardizing the argumentation of the article in question. In the context of the present compilation, this means that some issues are addressed on a variety of different occasions. This was necessary to preserve the internal logic of the respective text.

Preface of the book Free from Lies by Alice Miller

 Posted by at 7:00 pm  Comments Off on Telling Children the Truth
Dec 292014

Interview with Alice Miller by Diane Connors for OMNI Publications International March 1987

“I describe pictures of people, use histories of them as mirrors. And then many come and say, `This is exactly what I felt all my life but couldn’t say.’ I don’t want to be a guru. I don’t want people to believe me. I only encourage them to take their own experience seriously.”

Alice Miller’s stories portray abused and silenced children who later become destructive to themselves and to others. Adolf Hitler, says Miller, was such a child. Constantly mistreated by his father, emotionally abandoned by his mother, he learned only cruelty; he learned to be obedient and to accept daily punishments with unquestioning compliance. After years, he took revenge. As an adult he once said, “It gives us a very special, secret pleasure to see how unaware people are of what is really happening to them.”

Miller, famed throughout Europe, wrote of Hitler’s childhood in For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and The Roots of Violence. In the same work she lets Christiane F. tell her own story: “I had trouble telling the letters H and K apart One evening my mother was taking great pains to explain the difference to me. I could scarcely pay attention to what she was saying because I noticed my father getting more and more furious. I always knew what was going to happen. He went out and got the hand broom and gave me a trouncing. Now I was supposed to tell the difference between H, and K. Of course by that time I didn’t know anything anymore, so I got another licking and was sent to bed.” Christiane went into the street and became a drug addict.

“We do not need books about psychology in order to learn to respect our children,” Miller says. “What we need is a total revision of the methods of child rearing and our traditional view about it.

The way we were treated as small children is the way we treat ourselves the rest of our lives: with cruelty or with tenderness and protection. We often impose our most agonizing suffering upon ourselves and, later, on our children.”

In 1979 Miller’s first book, The Drama of the Gifted Child, was published in Germany. First titled Prisoners of Childhood, its three short essays described how parents project their feelings, ideas, and dreams upon their children. To survive and be loved, a child learns to obey. In repressing his or her feelings, the child stifles attempts to be herself or himself. The result, said Miller, is all too often depression, ebbing of vitality, the loss of self. The Drama drew wide audiences in Europe and then the United States. Two more books quickly followed: For Your Own Good and Thou Shalt Not Be Aware continued to focus on the child but moved into deeper studies of child abuse, attitudes of child rearing, psychological theory, and treatment.

Last summer Miller published Pictures of a Childhood. A collection of 66 watercolor paintings, it represents a small fraction of her art. As she tells us in the book’s introduction, Miller started to paint 14 years ago. “Five years after I began painting spontaneously, I started writing books. This never would have been possible without the inner liberation painting has given me. The more freedom I got playing with colors, the more I had to question what I had learned twenty years ago.

“It wasn’t until I wrote my books that I found out just how hostile society was toward children,” she says. “I have come to realize that hostility toward children is to be found in countless forms, not only in death camps but throughout all levels of society and in every intellectual discipline — even in most schools of therapy.”

Born in Poland in 1923, Miller was educated and lives in Switzerland. She studied philosophy, sociology, and psychology and took her doctorate in 1953. She completed her psychoanalytic training in Zurich, and as a practicing psychoanalyst she has been involved in teaching and training for more than 20 years.

As her writing progressed, Miller’s view of the child became more and more opposed to that of traditional Freudian theory. Miller at first dedicated Thou Shalt Not Be Aware to Freud on the one hundred twenty-fifth anniversary of his birth. “His discoveries of the survival of childhood experiences in the adult unconscious and the phenomena of repression have influenced my life and way of thinking,” she says. “But I came to different conclusions than Freud when I could no longer deny what I learned from my patients about the repression of child abuse.”

Today Miller has departed from the traditional analytic approach to treatment and from Freudian theory. Early in his work Freud believed that the root of neurosis was actual trauma, often violent and sexual in nature, that had been repressed in childhood. Later he altered his view, deciding that the child is by no means innocent but is born with drives that are sexual and destructive in nature. Why has Freud’s Oedipus complex lasted so long? Miller asks. “Because in the Freudian view the parents, not the child, are innocent. The Freudian view fits society; it overlooks in Oedipus the abused child and sees him with incestuous wishes that lead to his killing his father, marrying his mother, and ultimately blinding himself.”

Traditional analysis, says Miller, duplicates the parent-child relationship with the conventional analyst in the position of power. But there is hope in therapy if the therapist is a true advocate of the patient. Respect for the child within the patient and his discovery of his real history must play a role in the treatment process. The child undergoes a long inner struggle “between the fear of losing the person he loves if he remains true to himself, and panic at the prospect of losing himself if he has to deny who he is. A child cannot resolve a conflict of this nature and is forced to conform because he cannot survive by himself. Therapy should not repeat this condition.”

Miller uses the phrase “poisonous pedagogy” to describe what we inflict on children “for their own good” out of our hypocrisy and ignorance. She perceives that we instill humiliation, shame, fear, and guilt as we are “training” children. By encouraging conformity, suppressing curiosity and emotions, a parent reduces a child’s ability to make crucial perceptions in later life. “Children are tolerant. They learn intolerance from us.”

While Miller’s work is ignored or attacked by the orthodoxy, farsighted therapists often hail it as monumental in its analysis of hidden cruelty and the roots of violence. Anthropologist Ashley Montagu stated that Thou Shalt Not Be Aware “will undoubtedly prove to be a watershed in the history of psychoanalysis.”

“My antipedagogical position is not directed against a specific type of pedagogy,” Miller notes, “but against pedagogical ideology in general, which can be found also in the permissive theories.” She fears that as a consequence of adults’ arrogant attitudes — including “permissive” attitudes — toward children’s feelings, children are trained to be accommodating. But their own voices will be silenced, and their awareness killed. And more blind and arrogant adults will be the result.

Interviewer Diane Connors, also a psychotherapist, visited Miller in her apartment near Zurich. Small in stature, Miller radiates a sense of both caution and fragility, and a clear-eyed, unflinching commitment to what she is saying, and an awareness of society’s resistance to her work.

When did you realize respect for the child would be your central focus?

I looked from the beginning, I think from my childhood, for the answer to why people behave in such an irrational way. I always needed to understand and make things clear. I didn’t get much information from my mother, who would say, “It is this way; it is so and so and so.” She never gave me an explanation if I asked. I was very alone as a child.
Maybe I was five years old when I saw a woman with a child. The girl was three or four. She fell down and was hurt. Her mother, who was talking to another mother, slapped the child just because she came crying with bloody knees. I remember my question then: “This child is punished twice: first by falling down and then by the mother. Why does she punish the child? She is not guilty — she needs her mother’s help, not punishment.”

Did you ask your mother?

I did not dare ask this question, but it was the “prequestion” of my life. Then I saw the war, and I asked why people hate so much and behave in this absurd way. They must have a hidden reason, I guessed. I found no answer in philosophy and none in psychoanalysis. I found it in the later years of my life when I faced the child within myself and when I began to listen to the child in my patients.
I had to forget the theories. Even Freud says that the child is guilty if he is hurt. The child is always guilty. The mother of my childhood memory was angry that the child was a problem when she wanted to talk to a friend. I could see that because I was five and didn’t know any theories at that time. Grown-ups don’t see. They learn theories that cover up the most obvious explanations, and they believe these theories.
You know Andersen’s tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes”? I think it is my role in society now, and in analytic society, to say the emperor is without clothes. And many now say, “Oh, I am so glad because I knew it too but didn’t dare say it.” Yet there are others who say he is wearing clothes, because they are afraid of losing power.
In The Drama I’d hoped to reach the professionals, my colleagues; so I spoke in psychoanalytical language. Meanwhile I went beyond this language, and I don’t use it anymore: I no longer try to reach people trained as I was. Even as they deny what I wrote, their patients say, “She describes my own experiences. I know what she is talking about.”

Why do some professionals deny what you’re saying?

Because they are not allowed to face reality. You know, it was interesting. The first time I talked on these ideas was when I spoke to about three hundred analysts on the narcissism of psychoanalysts. They were so surprised, because it was very unusual to hear a colleague side with the child. First they reacted naturally, were just grateful and did not show much resistance to their feelings. They thanked me and said, “But how did you know it was my life you described?” And I said, “It was my own life I described.” Many men had tears in their eyes. Then I tried to publish this article in a German professional review, but the editors refused it. Resistance was already established. They sent it back because they had to see everything as Freud would have; otherwise it is frightening or dangerous. The International Analytic Society published it in the International Journal of Psychoanalysis. But the German review, Psyche, did not. It was too provoking for the Germans.

What were the provocative issues?

That neurosis and psychosis result from repressed feelings that are a reaction to trauma. The child’s anger and all the other feelings we don’t like are reactions to child abuse.
Today we know that we have a lot of child abuse. It was silenced before. The child must repress the memory of this abuse and deny the pain in order to survive; otherwise he would be killed by the pain.

Might this happen so early in the child’s development that he lacks words, understanding, or permission to express the pain?

The words have to be found. A good therapy should help the patient evolve from a “silent child” to a “talking child.” The child couldn’t have found the words if the trauma were too early, or the environment too hostile. But now, in therapy, if you have a therapist who is really your advocate, your conscious witness for when you experienced your trauma for the first time, then you become a talking child. Therapy exists to help you find the words to tell your mother or father how you felt at that time when they hurt you or how you felt when you could not talk — even that.

What do you mean by advocate?

One who sides with the child. Always. The therapist must not say the parents were disturbed but well meaning, because he is then siding with the grown-ups. If the child thinks that the parents who behaved so strangely and humiliated him were well meaning, he cannot feel his pain, and he sympathizes instead with his parents. It is a crime to beat a child because the beating is a damage, and you can never change this reality. A battered child feels humiliated, confused, isolated; and he is made to feel guilty because he is told he is bad. We are afraid to say that child abuse is a crime because we want to protect the parent from his guilt. But we really fail to help them when we support their blindness, because in this way we also betray the child in the parent.

How do you deal with pain in the healing process?

Pain is the way to the truth. By denying that you were unloved as a child, you spare yourself some pain, but you are not with your own truth. And throughout your whole life you’ll try to earn love. In therapy, avoiding pain causes blockage. Yet nobody can confront being neglected or hated without feeling guilty. “It is my fault that my mother is cruel,” he thinks. “I made my mother furious; what can I do to make her loving?” So he will continue trying to make her love him. The guilt is really protection against the terrible realization that you are fated to have a mother who cannot love. This is much more painful than to think, “Oh, she is a good mother, it’s only me who’s bad.” Because then you can try to do something to get love. But it’s not true; you cannot earn love. And feeling guilty for what has been done to you only supports your blindness and your neurosis.
There are some treatments where the patients cry a lot — they really suffer — but do not talk. I saw a videocassette where for one hour the patient relived the pain of birth but didn’t talk about it. Only later did he report on what he had felt. But in my opinion it is important to speak, to verbalize, during the experience of pain. Even if the patient felt as if he were in the womb, he should try to talk to the mother and tell her how he feels. The link between feelings and their verbal expression is crucial to the healing process. But he can’t do it without assistance; he has to know someone is there who understands how he feels, who supports and confirms him. If a child has been molested and the therapist doesn’t deny this fact, many things can open up in the patient. The therapist must not preach forgiveness, or the patient will repress the pain. He won’t change, and the repressed rage will look for a scapegoat.

Do you think the child has no history, that a child is born into the world like a tabula rasa on which experience inscribes his or her character?

No, I don’t. The child comes from the womb with his or her history as experienced in the womb. But he doesn’t come with projections. He is born innocent and ready to love. And the child can love — much more than we grown-ups can. This idea of the child as a loving being meets so much resistance because we learned to defend our parents and to blame ourselves for everything they have done.

In what ways does your style reflect these views?

I try to reach the child in the readers, allow them to feel. I see my style as ranking keys. Everybody can take one so that they can go open their own door to find something. Or they can say no, I don’t want to go through this door; I will return the key. I try to evoke feelings, images. In this way I offer keys to your own experience. You can then go look at your children and learn from them, not from me. Because only from your own experience can you really learn.
In my first studies I was very abstract; I wanted to understand the most abstract ideas — of Kant, Hegel, or Marx. My dissertation in philosophy was very abstract. Now I see that each philosopher had to build a big, big building in order not to feel his pain. Even Freud.

Why did you decide to become an author and lecturer?

I want to inform people that there is no one person in the whole world who abuses children without having been abused as a child. I think this finding is crucial and can help to understand a lot of things. As an analyst, I couldn’t share my findings with anybody of this profession. It wasn’t possible, and I had to understand why not. So I wrote my third book, Thou Shalt Not Be Aware. Again I was in the position of the child who sees so many people admiring the emperor without clothes. I wanted to understand this too, their motive. Why are they not aware?
Then others began showing interest in my work. Ashley Montagu confirmed my view of the child, and I also found confirmation from other writers who wrote about child abuse. Montagu sent me his book Growing Young, in which he quoted the famous British psychoanalyst Edward Glover. Glover describes the perfectly normal infant as “egocentric, greedy, dirty, violent in temper, destructive in habit, profoundly sexual in purpose, aggrandizing in attitude, devoid of all but the most primitive reality sense, without conscience of a moral feeling, whose attitude to society as represented by the family is opportunist, inconsiderate, domineering, and sadistic.” So when we compare the normal baby to the criminal type labeled psychopath, the baby for all practical purposes is a born criminal. This view is dangerous to humanity. We pretend to give the child the norms of society to make him into a “human being.” This is the Freudian view of the infant. Melanie Klein also saw the infant as a destructive creature. I once talked to a Kleinian analyst, a nice young woman, and she said, “Haven’t you seen destructive babies?” And I said. “What do you mean?” She said, “Small siblings that give you a slap.” And I said, “Why are you so appalled by this play? The baby doesn’t understand. But if you believe it is wrong and bad, he will feel wrong and bad, will not understand, and will finally become destructive out of this distress.” I think our attitude toward infants will make them either good, loving, and trusting or hating and destructive.

Do you have reactions from Kleinian analysts to your works?

A Dutch psychiatrist trained in the Kleinian school once wrote me: “What you have written seemed terrible at first and turned around everything I had learned, and it scared me. But now I am grateful. Every day at the hospital is fascinating. Each patient is a history, and I learn from each of them.”
When I say I’d like to open my eyes and ears to the suffering of the child, it’s close to what [Frederick] Leboyer did with the newborn. So many people have witnessed birth, yet nobody saw the child was suffering, crying out in psychic pain. Nobody could feel with the child. They were convinced it was necessary to cry after birth. Leboyer said that this pain was unnecessary. “I can show that the child will smile some minutes after birth,” he said. Many mothers know he was right, but not the professionals, who still prevent mothers from making birth a good experience for their newborns. They learned thirty years ago that it is necessary for the baby to scream and be spanked, and they continue to believe what they learned.
It is the same for my work. To protect what they learned, the professionals ignore what I’m showing them. What Leboyer did for the newborn, I’m trying to do for the older child to explain his behavior, to bring adults closer to his suffering, which they deny; to explain how he feels and in this way prevent child abuse in the future. As long as we deny the child abuse, we can’t stop it. We just call it upbringing. I am trying to listen to the child’s voice, make people aware of the child’s feelings, feelings that I first faced in myself when I started to paint.

Do you think painting opened up a lot of feelings for you?

Because I could begin without theoretical knowledge, without luggage, really, as a child. And I had so much fun when I began. I knew something was going to be created, to come out. And it did. The first five years of painting enabled me to write The Drama in this unconventional way. I was playing with thoughts. And as I experienced creativity in my painting, I became much more critical about what I had learned as theory.

In The Drama you connect repressed feeling with loss of vitality. Was that your experience here?

Yes, experiencing the pain of my life gave me back my vitality. First pain, then vitality. The price of repressing feelings is depression. I also had to resist the usual way of learning. If you are forced to do something, you cannot have fun. But for me, having fun is the first condition of creativity. I learned when I played with color. But I resisted learning about color by reading theories from books. For me painting, dreaming, and writing have something in common. I paint as I dream. I have many impulses and associations. I never have a plan, a concept of what I want to do. I do have a concept sometimes, but I cannot realize it because while painting, I start to dream of something else and I forget my plan. In the beginning I had a sort of narrative style. I wanted to tell a story, or a story in myself wanted to be told. Now it’s more like needing this color, this form, this line. It’s improvisation. I’d say I am painting like a jazz musician.
I don’t want to make a masterpiece, or even good pictures. Fortunately, I don’t need to sell my paintings. I’m only compelled to work further and further into what is true. Sometimes I destroy my paintings. I change and change them, even though they may have been nicer before. In the end I’m happy because it’s what I wanted to say. I don’t care if someone says it’s good or not. In painting I feel absolutely free. I have my palette, my white paper; and nobody can tell me what is right or wrong.

You admire Goya and Turner?

They are not models for me but are examples of true and great artists. Both were successful and admired. Then suddenly they absolutely changed their styles. Goya, who had made wonderful portraits, began painting ghosts and his inner world. And Turner began painting light. And when people began to say, “This is not good — you made really good paintings before,” he didn’t care; both he and Goya did what they needed to do. So for me they are examples of courage.
Picasso, too, did this so many times. To go out of what for most people is comforting — to be good, skillful, admired, famous, and then to abandon all this to go your own way — is so very frightening to most people. But I had to do this in order to get in touch with myself, to become free. Otherwise I feel like I am in a prison.

Who are your heroes?

The older I become, the less I have heroes. Even Freud was not a hero but for a long time a father figure. But when I discovered his denial of the truth, he wasn’t even that anymore. I cannot idealize anybody as I did twenty or forty years ago. In my school days Socrates was a big figure because he questioned so many things. I also liked the honesty of Montaigne; I liked Kafka, and I adored Shakespeare. Now I can’t read novels so easily anymore. I am bored if I see the lie. I like reports on childhood if they are written honestly, which is rare. The childhood offers the keys to the whole personality. I wrote essays on Nietzsche, Picasso, [German expressionist] Kathe Kollwitz after I discovered facts from their childhoods that cast new light on their works. It is amazing that the importance of these facts was overlooked. The essays are still unpublished because I haven’t had the time to put them in a new book. And I’m tired of publishing books. I love to write but not to publish. It takes so much time and is not really creative.

When did you ultimately decide to write The Drama?

Oh, it was funny. Actually, I didn’t. I told you I did a paper for a conference; then I wrote another on depression. After the German professionals refused to print the first one, I wrote the third paper, and made it all into a book. Although I wrote it in three weeks, it was an expression of twenty years’ experience. I sent it to a small publisher in Switzerland who said they were not interested, that they had four other books “on narcissism.” Then I sent it to Suhrkamp, my present German publisher. The editor telephoned me the next day and said, “Wait, please, and you will have the contract in three days. It’s extraordinary; it’s so unusual.” And then the publisher came to visit me and said, “Usually I take new manuscripts home with me at lunchtime. This time I couldn’t take my nap; I had to finish it. I didn’t return to work that day, either. You made a big discovery.”

Does response to your work differ from country to country?

Yes. The Scandinavian lands, Holland, and the United States are most liberal and open. Most of my books are sold in Germany, but many Germans are still very much formed by the poisonous pedagogy. Swiss people, too. So many are not allowed to criticize parents or see the poison of their upbringing. These people say my work describes the education of the nineteenth century. They don’t realize that they still live according to nineteenth-century values.
This response is also a reaction to Hitler’s time. The denial of Hitler is so deep that the German cannot learn from his history. As a child, Hitler had no witness. His father destroyed everything his son did. He could never tell anyone the pains he was suffering. In Sweden they made a play, “Hitler’s Childhood,” from a chapter in my book. The story shows how that child looked for contact, longed for a glance, but was constantly treated like a dog.
A reaction similar to Germany’s also comes from Japan, but also from Japan come reactions from people who already have become aware. Their awareness is not damaged by theories like the Freudian drive theory, so these Japanese can face what I write, use it in their reality. They can realize the ever-present child abuse, and they can really help.
Behind every act of violence there is a history. A history of being molested, a history of denying. The denial is a law governing us, but it is ignored by society and still not investigated by the professionals. Yet it holds the keys to our understanding why pure nonsense can be still held in high esteem in our culture, such nonsense as Sigmund Freud’s idea that a child would invent traumas.

Are there cultures that have a different attitude toward parenting?

Despite variations in cultures, abuse is found in almost every one. But there are some that are different. For instance, there are people on an island of Malaysia called Senoi who have a nonviolent culture. They talk with their children about dreams each morning. They never have had war. Our culture is so violent because as children we learned not to feel.

What, in general, are your thoughts about dreams?

Dreams tell me the story of childhood, but childhood transformed. The problems of the previous day are mixed in. Dreams sometimes reveal repressed traumas, but they also help the dreamer to master them. Dreams are a creative force everybody has each night when the control is lessened.

Can therapy effect a change?

Yes, but only if the therapy will come to the pain, which is blocked in our feelings of guilt. The idea “I was guilty for what happened to me” is a blockage. Since I discovered that Freud’s drive theory not accidentally but necessarily conceals the reality of child abuse, I have looked for a new form of psychotherapy, an effective therapy to be based on the whole knowledge of child abuse available to us today.
One can find plenty of irresponsible and harmful techniques and mixtures of techniques that don’t provide a systematic confrontation with the past. Some leave people alone with their unresolved pain. These patients are victims first of child abuse and finally of therapy abuse. And they try to “help” themselves by taking drugs, joining sects or gurus, or looking for other ways of denying reality and killing pain. Political activity can be one of these ways.

What advice would you give today to a therapist in training?

First try to discover your own childhood, then take the experience seriously. Listen to the patient and not to any theory; with your theory you are not free to listen. Forget it. Do not analyze the patient like an object. Try to feel, and help the patient to feel instead of talking to the patient about the feelings of others.

The child needs fantasies to survive, to not suffer. Believe what the patient tells you, and don’t forget that repressed reality is always worse than a fantasy. No one invents traumas, because we don’t need traumas in order to survive. But neither do we need their denial. Some of us pay with severe symptoms for this denial. Study the history of childhood. Therapy has to open you as well as the patient for feeling in your whole life. It has to awaken you from a sleep.
It is tragic to go to therapy and find, instead of help, confusion. I have a letter from a seventy-nine-year-old woman saying that for “forty years of my life I went to psychoanalysis. I saw eight analysts. But for the first time, after reading your book, I didn’t feel guilty for what happened to me. I always tried, and the analysts were nice people. They wanted to help me. But they never doubted that my parents were good to me. I am so grateful now that I don’t feel guilty since I read your books. I now see how terribly they abused me. It was first my parents and then my analysts who made me feel wrong and guilty.” This insight came from a seventy-nine-year-old woman! Then she quoted from the last line of For Your Own Good: “For the human spirit is virtually indestructible, and its ability to rise from the ashes remains as long as the body draws breath.”

Does TV violence affect children?

Children who have really been loved and protected will not be interested in these films and shows and will not be in danger. But the child who was hurt and humiliated — maybe at school, not necessarily by his parents — is looking for outcomes, for material; he is looking for an object to hate and on whom to take revenge. Of course there are people who make a business of the suffering of children. But the violence doesn’t come from TV films. Its sources are deeper. Protected and loved children cannot become murderers. It is impossible to find one person who was not beaten who beats a child.

Why does violence beget itself through the generations?

If you go back you can see that the abuser was always abused. But in most cases you will not hear it from him or her, because there is so much denial. If you go to a prison and ask a murderer, “How was your childhood?” he will say, “Oh, it was not so bad. My father was severe and he punished me because I was so bad. And my mother was a nice woman.” This is the problem: You can’t find the truth because the person, the murderer himself, will prevent you from seeing his cruel childhood as it actually was. Because he cannot bear that pain, he kills innocent people instead of feeling the pain of his childhood.

Do you think a child can experience abuse in the womb?

Of course. Each child has its own experience; some experience real martyrdom. There was a child born with three ulcers. It died. The mother was fifteen years old. She was beaten during pregnancy as well, and she used drugs. Nobody knows what a child, even in the womb, has to go through. We are so ignorant, and we refuse to know.
You heard about the McMartin School in Los Angeles? At this day-care center of more than three hundred children it was charged that many of them were sexually molested. For seven months attorneys asked the children what happened to them there. This questioning was torture for the children. Some of them reported that they helped kill a baby. The grown-ups found this wasn’t true, so they called the children liars. Eventually charges were dropped against five of the seven accused molesters. But obviously this was a symbolic way to say, “When I agreed to be sexually abused I killed the child in myself.”
I want to show how society reacts to children’s reports. Abuse means killing the soul of a child. We cannot understand the child’s symbolic language, so we say the child is lying. Then abusing teachers go free, and we think that everything is legally correct. The problem is that children protect the abuser. Sometimes the abuser is exchanged for another person in their reports. They perhaps say, “I’m afraid of the mailman because he was bad to me.” And the parents know that the mailman had no body contact with their child. But behind the “made-up” story lurks a father or uncle. The lie functions to protect the loved person but at the same time expresses anxieties. Grown-ups say that these are children who invent stories. But the story is not invented; a real event happened.

Can society learn to understand the child’s language?

I hope so. Otherwise we will commit a mass suicide with the help of technology. The child’s language is often very clear, but we refuse to listen to it. Children can endure terrible abuse and cruelty from the first moment of their lives, thanks to the technology in hospitals. The abuse is stored up in the mind, and it can remain active the whole life. Therefore, a mother maltreating her small baby can repeat exactly what happened to her without having any knowledge, any conscious memories. But the stored-up memories in her body will compel her to repeat the same trauma.
Unless a child receives the warm arms of a person who will console him and tell him with his arms that the shock of birth is over, this child will wait his whole life expecting a repetition of this shock. One of the first lessons is that you are alone, in a dangerous place, and nobody sees your pain. But this situation can easily be changed when we acknowledge the newborn as a feeling and highly sensitive person. Very often the child comes into life after a struggle, and we don’t realize that he needs consolation and the arms of a mother. We give him medication, hospitals, and high technology instead. And we think it is good for the child — only because we had the same experience years ago and think it is usual. What really happens in the psyche of a newborn is absolutely not interesting to most people. That is why I am giving you this interview.

What would you like to do now?

I would like to support people who are confronting child abuse. I received a letter from a child therapist in California. He was a consultant for a school. A girl told him stories of a “hot box,” a tiny windowless closet in which the children were locked up as punishment. He believed her, investigated, and, when he wrote a report about it, was fired. But he kept on investigating and found these hot boxes used in other schools. Newspapers reported about the case, and his voice and experience were noticed. He thanked me because he felt supported by my books. This shows one person can make people aware that methods they never questioned before are, in fact, damaging. The single advocate of a child can save a life; advocates say a crime is a crime; they don’t conceal the truth by calling it ambivalent parent’s love. An advocate can help keep a child from becoming a criminal. The child learns from an enlightened witness to recognize cruelty, to reject it, to defend himself against it, so as not to perpetuate it. Experiments have conclusively proven that no one learns anything by punishment. What you learn is how to avoid punishment by lies and how to punish a child twenty to thirty years later. People continue to believe, however, that punishment can be effective.

Can you change this belief?

I hope so, at least partly. My life and work concentrate on the problem of child abuse and on the question of how I can transmit what I have learned about it to professionals, parents, and people responsible for law. It’s not easy, because most people learned from the beginning of their lives that the child has to be spanked in order to become as good, human, honest, tolerant as the teachers, parents, ministers, and others around them believe that they are.
In England, where I’ve given some radio shows, interviewers often say, “You talk about the serious forms of violence and brutality in families, but there are also other forms — spankings, caning, shouting at a child.” The interviewers claim these forms of exercising power are harmless and not serious, and they argue that although they were often spanked as children, they didn’t become an Adolf Hitler. I see it as my task to repeat that each kind of beating, caning, and spanking of a child is a humiliation and is a serious damage for his whole life. A child can avoid becoming a criminal if he has the chance in childhood to meet at least one person who is not cruel to him, who maybe even likes him or understands him. The experience of love, compassion, or sympathy would help him to recognize cruelty for what it is. Children who lack this experience because there is no conscious witness will see cruelty as a normal way of treating children and will continue with this burden. They will become as Hitler, Eichmann, [Rudolf] Hoss, and all the millions of their followers who in their childhoods never found anything but cruelty.

What about the milder forms of cruelty, such as spanking, shouting, and verbal humiliation?

The tragedy is that people treated this way — even if they don’t become like Hitler — pretend that this kind of treatment was necessary. They reserve the right to do the same to their children and are reluctant to pass laws forbidding spanking in schools. In Britain such a law was not passed until 1986, and I see this delay as one of the effects of child abuse there.
The ignorance of our society is the result of child abuse. We were spanked in order to become blind like Oedipus. We have to become seeing in order to give our children the chance to grow up with more responsibility and more awareness than was available for our generation now producing atomic bombs.

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 Posted by at 9:07 pm  Comments Off on The Feeling Child
Dec 212014

The wall of silence in our society is very hard to break through, especially in the media!

In the year 2003, I traveled to Portugal and tried to contact the media there. I wanted to go public with my experiences and to bring awareness about all forms of child abuse, dyslexia, and the untreated professional. I never got a response. Portugal is a very secretive country, and the media is afraid to talk about secrets, especially if it involves a famous doctor. The media in Portugal protects people in power. As Alice Miller in her book Breaking Down the Walls of Silence: The Liberating Experience of Facing Painful Truth says: “… Rather than take the risk, they prefer to forgo information that might be of life-death importance for coming generations. So in order not to have to call their own parents into question for a single moment, they cling to outdated, destructive opinions. …Clearly, the prospect of confronting one’s own personal history, in this case, is an alarming experience. And, as always, the fear of facts is stilled by a fascination with intellectual terms and abstractions aimed at concealing and masking the truth—the truth of facts that appear so threatening… At every attempt to share the new discoveries I made with the public, I ran up against the most determined resistance on the part of the media. It is true I can go on publishing these discoveries in my books, because my publishers are already aware of the growing interest in this topic. But there are other people who have important things to say, and they are dependent on the press. They and their readers rely on essential information not being torpedoed. All too often, however, the media buttress the wall of silence against which all those who have begun to confront their own childhood rebound.”

In 1998 through 2000 I tried to help by volunteering at the Perryville Women’s Prison in Goodyear, AZ, visiting inmates in prison for alcohol and drug violations. As Alice Miller said in her book The Truth Will Set You Free: Overcoming Emotional Blindness and Finding Your True Adult Self, “Every criminal was humiliated, neglected, or abused in childhood, but few of them can admit to it.”

I have also been a sponsor for a Twelve Step meeting for teens. I was forced to quit because of the other sponsor, who was very controlling and domineering. Being with this sponsor was just like being with my family of origin. I was there really trying to be helpful to the teens.

The other sponsor had a hidden agenda, which seemed to be all about wanting to make herself look good. She had also a teen daughter who went to these meetings. She was there to see what her daughter had to say and what she would share at the meetings. Interestingly enough, her daughter would only share in the meetings if her mother for some reason could not attend. One of the reasons for two sponsors was in case one sponsor couldn’t attend, the teens would still have a meeting.

One day after I shared some of my experiences about being a teen, a teen in the group identified with me and started to open up. The other sponsor interrupted him because he broke the rule that, we were supposed to go around and wait for our turn to share, I said, “its okay, let him share,” but she insisted on following the rules. I let it go. Of course, when the turn came for him to be able to share, he passed.

After the meeting I talked to the other sponsor and let her know that by enforcing the rules by interrupting the teen when he was sharing, she blocked that teen’s expression of his feelings, only resulting in him being more repressed. I explained that rules are created to help create order when there is chaos and that is important to know when it’s okay and even important to break the rules. Otherwise, the rules created to help us will keep us, prisoners. I also told her that probably we should look for another sponsor to take her place because the Twelve Steps Program suggests that mother and daughter should not attend the same meeting. She said that a Twelve Steps meeting is just a program of suggestions.

At this, I pointed out that when it’s convenient to her, she says it’s a program of suggestions; but when she wants to be controlling, she calls it rules. The next meeting she came with some of her friends from the program to give her support against me. I felt alone like I used to feel in my family of origin.

The next meeting I let everyone know that because of personal reasons I no longer was going to be a Twelve Steps teen sponsor. I also communicated that if any teen wanted to talk to me they could call me at home. Some of them did call and told me the only reason they were going to our meeting was because of me and said they no longer were going to the meeting. I heard soon after I left, the meeting died.

That’s the last time I went to Twelve Steps meetings. The Twelve Steps refuse to look at the real causes, putting only focus in changing people behavior and what I have witnessed in Twelve Steps meetings is that People change one addiction for another. Just as C.G. JUNG and ALICE MILLER says:

“Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering.” – C.G. JUNG

“Problems cannot be solved with words, but only through experience, not merely corrective experience, but through a reliving of early fear (sadness, anger).” – ALICE MILLER

This article by Dr. Alice Miller “The Longest Journey” articulates very well the traps of Spirituality/Religion/Morality. My experience it has been the same as Dr. Alice Miller’s, it has been a very long Journey, it has taken me also all of my life to finally free myself of all the crutches and get two healthy legs to stand on.

If we want to free ourselves we have to face, acknowledge, articulate and feel our painful truth.

Sylvie Shene

 Posted by at 9:40 pm  Comments Off on I Had the Same Experience As Alice Miller