I was fortunate to be able to correspond with Alice Miller after I read her books. Here are selected letters that we wrote to one another.
Standing on My Feet, Friday August 22, 2008
Dear Alice Miller,
I am forever grateful to you. After reading your books, I felt understood for the first time in my life. I am excited to have found someone who finally knows what they are talking about, so I bought all of your books! You have confirmed what I have always known, but could not articulate. I have to say that I was not as lucky as some of your readers in finding a good therapist, but thanks to the information in your books and website, I have finally found freedom at the age of 49. I was 36 years old when I discovered your books. Upon reading them I did not feel alone anymore, and with your help I was able to free myself from a toxic bond to my abusive family who are all in denial.
I am finally able to speak to them and be in their presence, if only for a short time. I have no hard feelings toward them anymore, just detachment and compassion. Of course, my being in the States and them in Portugal helps a lot, as the distance keeps them from invading my space.
Consequently, I am alone but happy, healthier and standing on my own two feet.
I believe I can help take your books to a lot of people who want the truth like me. You have helped me in writing my own book about my life’s journey, experiences and discoveries. I had to travel long distances and endure many years until I found an enlightened witness like you. No one who wants the truth should have to wait this long.
I have a horrible link to a famous doctor in Portugal, who took advantage of me when I was 17 years old. The doctors in Portugal are so sick and in the dark. If I find a way to go public with my story I will expose this sick doctor, and at the same time bring attention to your work. My passion is to do everything in my power to shine as much light as I can onto your very courageous work. This particular doctor is well-known in Portugal, Spain and Brazil, so people would probably buy my book because of his celebrity, and at the same time they would be introduced to your work. In the U.S., many people would be curious about my story and would probably buy the book. I have lived here for over 20 years and danced in a bar in Phoenix, Arizona. I became a very popular dancer and people from all over the U.S. and the world came to see me. Today I work as a gate attendant manager for a very up-scale, gated community in Scottsdale, Arizona. I was wondering if you or someone you know might help me to get my story written and published.
I know now that my mission in life is to expose this sick doctor in Portugal and help bring attention to your work. I want to see every Alice Miller book on display in every bookstore around the world. It is so annoying that I see so many books containing misleading information and lies, while I have to special-order your books. I feel there is a conspiracy to keep your books hidden from the public, especially in Portugal. I want to do everything I can to break through this conspiracy.
In the meantime, I have created a website—www.sylvieshene.com—where I tell some of my story the best way I can, getting a little help from people here and there. I have also posted a lot of your work, and if you find anything there you don’t agree with please let me know. I totally trust your judgment.
Thank you for your attention and for the very courageous work that you do. Without your books and your website, I would never have made it.
My love to you and your team,
P.S. If you like, I give you permission to publish my letter on your website and use my legal name.
AM: Thank you very much for your letter. It is indeed very difficult to find my books in the Portuguese and Spanish speaking countries. As you are interested in distributing the knowledge that was helpful for you, I am sending you my new flyer that you can translate into Portuguese if you wish to do so. Then we can put this text also into youtube where some other flyers are already published in English. I can well understand that you wish and need to write about the abuse by the famous doctor but I think that you should first discuss with a lawyer the question how to avoid being accused by HIM for defamation. This can still happen. In any case, I don’t think that my books need this story to be read and understood. And I am glad that you succeeded to save yourself eventually. The world is full of scandals like that and the victims often stay stuck in their stories. Please let me know how you feel about my suggestion.
A Dream, Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Dear Alice Miller:
Thank you so much for answering my e-mail. It is surreal to me that I am communicating with you. You are a true hero. And thank you for sending me your new flyer. I will translate and distribute it as soon as possible.
Your suggestion makes a lot of sense, and I will definitely try to find a lawyer. I understand your concerns for my well-being with respect to getting stuck in my story, but I think I am strong and mature enough to handle it and protect the little girl within me. I am very well aware of the risk involved, but it’s one that I must take.
I feel it is no coincidence that I left Portugal and found your books. In the process, I found my voice, and this young doctor, at the time, became famous. I feel all this has happened so that I can get maximum exposure for your work and expose the problem of these unhealthy professionals in Portugal.
I can give you many examples: This morning I was speaking with my niece-in-law on the phone. She has a little boy and she is the only one in my family who has paid attention to your ideas. The rest of the family unconsciously chooses to deny these truths. She has also tried to take these truths to her family so she could help her nieces and nephews from being spanked, but her sisters refuse to listen. One of her nephews, who is about 10 years old now, was taken to the hospital for a lot of physical tests. He had to have general anesthesia to find out why he keeps urinating in bed at night. A psychologist talked with her nephew and he told him that he was afraid of his father. The psychologist suggested that the father spend more time with his son. As if spending more time with his abuser is going to help the little boy! Instead, the whole family should have been brought in and educated about the dangers of spanking their children. These ignorant professionals who are making their money and deceiving themselves and others have to be stopped.
Anyway, I would like to tell you about the dream I had last night. It is very strange because I don’t have many dreams anymore or I just don’t remember them. You and I were at the Phoenix airport and you were moving back to Europe. (I know you don’t travel anymore, but in my dreams you do!) We were waiting for your plane to take off, but it was taking forever. You were traveling with a cat, and this cat did not need to be in a carrier! He was very calm, followed you everywhere, and slept next to you while we waited. I fell asleep too and when I woke up you had taken off. I was a little sad that I did not see you leave and did not get to say goodbye. I started to look for my car keys to go back home, but I was having trouble finding them. Eventually, I found them in my purse, but when I got out of the airport I was in a strange city and did not recognize anything! I did not feel scared, I just kept looking around in awe, and then I woke up. Do you have any idea what this might mean?
Thank you for your attention and I hope all is well with you. Much love,
AM: Thank you for your letter. You don’t mention that you read and understood the new flyer I have sent you. Was the content scaring? The dream may be your unconscious reaction to the scaring flyer. The dream may say: I feel well now, I don’t need to know more, I can let Alice Miller go and I can find the key to my car (this is wonderful, it is your autonomy!). But you are a curious person, you are not only looking for your peace, you want to KNOW. This may be the new, unknown city you will now have to discover by writing your book. It is a very encouraging dream.
Dear Alice Miller:
Thank you so much for taking the time to write to me. I have no words to express how much this means to me.
I’m sorry I didn’t mention that I read your new flyer. It is very easy for me to understand, maybe because I have read all of your books. I’m excited that you fit all these facts so well into a flyer, and I cannot wait to translate it into Portuguese to help share it with the public, who is in such great need of this knowledge.
No, the content was not scary to me. I received your first e-mail Sunday morning, and I only received and read your new flyer Monday morning, after I had the dream. The truth does not scare me, it’s liberating, and I welcome it no matter how much it hurts.
But it does not hurt anymore! To the contrary, I feel joy and happiness that I have liberated myself. I do feel some sadness for all the people who still live in an emotional prison—suffering and making others suffer—by refusing to look at the truth because they are so afraid to feel their repressed emotions and be alone.
Your interpretation of my dream makes a lot of sense, and indeed it is very encouraging.
Again, thank you for all your help and the very courageous work you do. You are truly one in a million! My best wishes to you and your staff. Much love,
Empathy Thursday, November 06, 2008
Dear Alice Miller,
I am so excited to find out that you are writing your autobiography. I can’t wait to read it. Do you know when you will finish it? And will it be available in English? I also can’t wait until June when your last book, Free from Lies will be available in English.
You are the most important person in my life because you are the only one who speaks the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I always knew the truth, but I don’t think I could have been left alone with it much longer. All my life I was thirsty to hear the truth from someone else, but everyone I listened to was telling lies.
Until I read your books, it was the first time that I knew I was finally hearing the truth from someone else. I am so grateful to you: Without you, on my side, I probably would have been dead by now. Like J.B. in the post “Liberation,” I used to hear the same phrases and I too had difficulty walking away from those people. I wanted to explain to them and help them understand. From reading your books, I learned that I cannot make someone see and understand if they refuse to see their own truth. Now I can walk away without difficulty. Finally, I am free! Thank you so much for all your books and your website.
AM: Congratulations! Yes, you can’t make someone to see if he doesn’t want to.
AM: Thank you for your letter. I am sorry that my answer to your previous letter didn’t appear on the website under your text. I wrote: “Congratulations to your understanding. You are right, you can’t make someone to see who DOESN’T WANT to see.”
The following are several letters I received and answered by one of my readers. I asked Alice to comment on them…
From: S F to Sylvie Shene, December 27, 2008, Alice Miller
Ms. Shene, I have come across your website from the Alice Miller link and wanted to “introduce” myself. I have for the past 20 years or so been an avid reader and participant in Alice Miller’s forums, and I wanted to share my resolve and advocacy of “once-abused-children” with you. In ALL aspects of my adult life am I confronted with the effects of childhood trauma, both in myself and in EVERYONE I meet. We are ALL, I think, in one way or another, “survivors”. The published article about MDs is for me now VERY pertinent, as I have just this week been “eliminated” from a childhood forum by the moderator (a MD himself) because of me having “abused his patience with me”. Now if THAT is that an “echo from childhood”, then what is, I ask you? Feel free to comment. sf
From Sylvie Shene To: S F Dec. 29, 2008
SF, thank you for contacting me. I am sorry you are going through the pain of being rejected from the childhood forum. There is no doubt that this is connected to childhood. I wished you had gone into detail as to how the incident was triggered. I hope you come to an understanding of the feelings triggered by the incident and come to a resolution so that in the future you will see things more clearly and remove yourself from a possibly abusive situation. As a child, you could not walk away, but now as an adult when you are in a place or are involved with people who cause the dynamics of your childhood to be reenacted, you can say to yourself: “There it goes again, I had better get up and walk away.” I know that most people who were abused as children find it hard to meet people who can empathize with how they have been affected by their childhood. This can be very lonely. I believe that learning to stand alone and find our autonomy is the goal.
Good luck, Sylvie
From: S F to Sylvie Shene, December 30, 2008
Actually, the “problem” is that I am already QUITE “autonomous”, and that seems to irritate most authoritarian personalities, of which there are many. I see that you are a psychologist, but actually, I contacted you for the contact, not necessarily for the “pep talk”, but thanks anyway for your compassion. The incident got “triggered” as the moderator accused me “abusing his patience”, (I was asking for reasons for accepting some posts and rejecting others-he gave no answers, which EVERYBODY deserves), and for having “stalked” the other members…..just bullshit.
What does get “triggered” in me are memories of how similar many people react to child-like behavior as my parents did. I´m not behaviorally “triggered” by it, I just think it is interesting and important to see HOW MANY “adults” there are walking around, (even in the “healing” world) who are unaware of how THEIR fears and autocratic impulses are being “triggered” by people like myself.
Now if one has been “properly” pedagogically trained, one would say, “Well it is happening so much, it MUST have something to do with something I’m doing”, but MY question is, “Why are so many people who REACT to me as my parents once did”?
I think the answer lies in the fact that the “upbringing” that I went through was maybe particular to me and parents in certain ways, but that GENERALLY, practically EVERBODY has had parents like mine including these forum moderators. What is lacking in my view are people who know this.
From Sylvie Shene To: S F Dec. 30, 2008
Thank you for writing back and congratulations on your autonomy, it’s a good place to be in! I am not a psychologist and I’m sorry if I sounded like one. I know that almost everywhere we go people treat us the way their parents treated them. It is hard to handle and at times painful. It’s even more frustrating when it happens in the “healing” world.
I still don’t handle transference very well, but the good thing about being an adult now is that I can remove myself from the situation and go to my little condo, feel my feelings, and take care of myself. Have you read the article on the Alice Miller website about transference?
Feel free to write to me anytime, Sylvie
From Sylvie Shene To: S F
I’m sorry for the mix-up, I thought I had read on your myspace page that you were. My mistake. Autonomy is truly the best “place” to be as you said.
I myself am now in Germany, where my father was born, and where the ideas of authority and discipline are still unquestionable entrenched in most of the people. It has given me much practice in guarding my autonomous stance, although I DO miss the interchange with other like-minded people. Hence, my writing to you, and you look so sympathetic in your photo, I thought it would be worth the try.
What I felt in arguing with this forum moderator was the same frustration that I felt as a child with my father, when NO MATTER what I did I would be seen and treated as “guilty as charged” even though I’d not the SLIGHTEST idea what they were talking about. I have learned to give myself in ALL aspects of life the constitutionally-guaranteed “assumption of innocence” in all these matters, and today I was thinking about just HOW MUCH energy I needed to expand as a child warding off my parents ‘and siblings´ constant fault-finding-like living in a courtroom, or a penal colony.
One more thing about the “public discourse” to which you referred. During the run-up to the Iraq war, I met a guy at the Rathaus Schöneberg in Berlin, (the place where JFK gave his famous “Ich bin ein Berlner” speech, and met a guy, Scott Ridder, who was on Hans Blix’s inspection team in Iraq, and he told us that they were allowed to go ANYWHERE they wanted to all over the country with unlimited access and that there were NO weapons of mass destruction. I knew from the beginning that it was a scam, so the CIA didn’t? It just proves as you said that people and politicians will go looking for “Bogeymen” rather than face the REAL threats and dangers that they ONCE were in.
I have read some material on Prescott Bush, GW’s grandfather, and his daily thrashings of GHWB, which were CERTAINLY given to GW when he was a child. And now 800,000, Iraqis have paid for this with their lives. Horrible.
From Sylvie Shene To: S F, January 1, 2009
Don’t worry about it, you probably thought I was a psychologist because on my website it says I have a degree in “Psychology/Social Work,” but it is just a two-year degree I received on the Internet. I created my website a few years ago and since then I see a lot of things differently. There are a lot of things I’d like to change on my website, but my time is limited and I have not had the chance to do it. No, I’ve never been trained as a psychologist…Which I think is good!
I took the course to make my resumé look better, and it helped me get a management position where I work. Do you speak German? Do you read Alice Miller’s books in her original language? In Portugal, where I am from, it is the same or even worse than in Germany. In my family, my niece-in-law was the only one who listened to me. She is making a difference in raising her now 7-year-old son. She feels very alone. My family and her family are against her for protecting and treating her son with respect. They blame me and tell her not to speak to me. She has an aunt who says she wishes she could kill me!
When they were little nobody ever respected and protected them, and now when they see a child being protected and respected it triggers their anger. They attack my niece, and when they have the chance, they take it out on her little boy. It’s very sad to witness these psychological mechanisms take place; their anger being transferred and displaced onto the next generation, instead of being directed at the past generation who are really the cause of their anger and hurt. The only person my niece and my little grandnephew have to talk to is me. Unfortunately, my niece-in-law only speaks Portuguese, and it’s hard to find Alice Miller’s books in Portuguese.
I too want to find like-minded people, but it’s very hard here in Scottsdale, Arizona where I live. I don’t know anyone who I can really talk to. Everyone I meet is to some extent emotionally blind. Alice Miller’s website is the only place I can go to hear the truth and feel understood.
Last month I created a page at intent.com, a website created by Deepak Chopra for people to find support for their intents in life. I have enjoyed reading some of his books in the past, but I did not find support there. I received attacks for speaking my truths. They used the same lingo my family used to use on me (about the spirituality and reincarnation crap). I too, like you in your forum, was feeling the same frustration I used to feel in my family of origin. The so-called “spiritual people” are even more emotionally blind than society in general, and I have come to the conclusion that spirituality cements blindness and is the ultimate illusion. If I could have deleted the comments that people were leaving, I would have stayed on the site. I felt that these people were like flies attacking me and there was nothing I could do to get rid of them. So, I deleted everything from my intent.com page!
Very interesting that you met Scott Ridder from the inspection team in Iraq. I didn’t have proof like you that weapons of mass destruction were a big scam, but I did know that the Iraq war was a big lie. I too have read about Gorge W. Bush’s childhood. Because he idealized his parents and childhood, he was not able to see or understand what happened to him as a child. Because he was not able to feel his repressed emotions, people around the world had to pay the price for it, especially the Iraqi people. It’s horrible, just as you said. I am glad you wrote to me, it’s nice to talk to other like-minded people who want to see and understand what happened to them as a child.
Best wishes for the New Year, Sylvie
In reference to the above letters
Dear Alice Miller,
I forgot to tell you if you like, feel free to comment on the letters I shared with you yesterday.
Best wishes, Sylvie
Alice Miller 1/2/09 Re: I forgot to tell you…
AM: I have learned over the years of my work on the internet that there are readers who SEEM to understand SOME of what I have written, at least intellectually, but they are still so afraid of their very cruel parents and of their repressed FEELINGS of rage towards them that they are constantly looking for scapegoats.
They thus live in a continual confusion pretending that they are healed and even offering help and empathy to others. But eventually they use unconsciously other people (even the ones who are quite friendly to them) as a poisonous container like their parents did to them, and if the offended people begin to defend themselves they can become very mean.
I can only urge you to trust your feelings and to NOT offer your empathy and interest to everybody just because they say they read and understood everything I have written. In most of the cases it is a lie. To understand my books means to overcome the fear of one’s parents, to honestly feel the justified rage TOWARD THEM and to no longer use others to getting free from the accumulated rage.
Sylvie Imelda Shene, 1/9/09
Dear Alice Miller,
Thank you for your reply. Your words validated my feelings and surely I am going to trust them. I know that a lot of smart and talented people are able to intellectually understand your books to some extent, but in the end, they are not capable of getting in touch with their repressed feelings. They actually use their intellect and talents to escape from feeling their true emotions. It is very sad. Intuitively I have always known this and that is why I have always worked to find my independence. I will never give it up for anyone, because eventually if I am with someone long enough, there will be the possibility of being used as a poisonous container or scapegoat. I need to have a place of my own for safety.
I am sorry to hear that some of your followers on the Internet have tried to use you as their poisonous container or scapegoat and make you a target for their repressed feelings. You have done so much for them. You don’t deserve this treatment.
I know I have to be very careful with people on the Internet. Two years ago, I returned from a year and a half in Portugal. I was very disillusioned and I decided to go out and have some fun. I thought I was invincible and that I knew better and nobody could hurt me. A young, good-looking man here in Arizona found my myspace page and started to write to me. He called me “beautiful” and took an interest in the things I was saying.
I thought that maybe I would go out with him, have some fun, and share with him what I have learned. So I decided to take the risk and sure enough, this person was not interested in anything I had to say. He only wanted to use me and live off of me. He could not hold a job and I was willing to let him live with me for a while, only if he was doing his emotional work. However, he was not able to face his truth or feel his repressed feelings of the child he once was.
In no time he started to treat me like his family used to treat him and reenacted his childhood drama and mine all over again. I tried to explain to him what was happening, but he did not want to hear it. I asked him to leave because I was not going to be his poisonous container.
The good thing about getting involved with this man was that I did not feel any painful repressed emotions. This was a test for me. I was just a little offended at his emotional blindness. How could he think that he could use me, lie to me, and get away with it? Couldn’t he see that I was not going to let him take advantage of me? That is the last time I will take a risk with anyone—I am getting too old to take risks with people.
I will keep trying to share my experiences and discoveries with others as much as I can, but with a lot of distance. I will never take anyone in unless I know for sure that they are aware, responsible, caring, and conscious. I am very aware that chance is slim. I am content living alone for the rest of my life with my cats.
This year I found out that this same young man had a baby boy with a young girl he met. I guess he did not learn anything from me, otherwise, he would not have had this poor, innocent, little being to use as his poisonous container. I wrote him e-mails telling him that because he was running out of adults to use as his poisonous container, he looked for an unconscious girl to have a baby for him. He would then have a little innocent being at his disposal to use as his poisonous container in which to feed all the lies that were fed to him as a child. I told him he was selfish, cruel, and a coward!
This unconscious girlfriend also is not able to hold a job. I believe she comes from a family with money and he thinks that by having a baby with her he will get to the family’s money and be able to live off them. It is so sad to witness that this little being was created for the sole purpose of manipulation. This child has no way of knowing what is happening to him. It makes me feel so powerless.
This is also what happened to my sister, who is three years older than me. She got involved with a man who could not hold a job, and he got her pregnant in 1986 and used his little baby daughter as a tool of manipulation to live off my family. This man was also violent. When the money was all gone he got a staph infection and died in the hospital at the age of 49, I think. My niece is now 23 years old and last year on Live Messenger she wrote me saying she had a panic attack. She asked if I knew what causes panic attacks. I tried to explain to her that it had to do with her difficult childhood and I shared with her the answers you gave to your readers about panic attacks on December 18, 2005, March 6, 2009, and September 1, 2009:
“Panic attacks are always connected to traumatic childhood experiences. If we have access to our history we can sometimes easily find the memory and the triggers in the presence that explain the fear so that the fear disappears. In your example the woman feels panic after a happy experience.
It CAN be that one of her parents or both envied her for her gifts and her success in school, in sports, etc. and criticized or ridiculed her after each achievement. Then, instead of being happy she felt bad, ashamed, guilty, and in her brain pleasure became connected with pain. The adult can later suffer from panic attacks after having been successful. The interjected parent repeats then what the real parent did to the child by destroying her pleasure out of pure envy.
Is this understandable to you? —It is never too late for the truth if one really WANTS to know it. Let your mother talk to you about her childhood, what she suffered of, then she will find out what the panic attacks have to tell her, and this understanding can help her to overcome the fear. Otherwise, in the full denial, she doesn’t know what she is scared of, and this is VERY PAINFUL. Knowing the reason of one’s fear can be very relieving. But it is possible that she will refuse to talk about her childhood, then you can’t do anything. Don’t try to force her. — Your rabbis may be right, as far as the theory is concerned:
God is perfect, the man is not. The commandment comes from God, but parents are human and their failures are understandable (one may ask: are they also understandable if children make them or must children be punished by beatings when they show that they are not perfect? Should parents also be beaten for their imperfection? Why not?)
I wonder if you have already tried to use these theories in a concrete case. Could you, for instance, tell your parents: “I can’t honor you because when I was small and helpless you humiliated me by spanking and slapping me, you implanted fear and rage in my small body that caused me later panic attacks I am still suffering from”? Can you imagine speaking in this way with your parents? What kind of reaction are you expecting from your parents if you say the truth, that you cannot honor them? Loving understanding and apologies or rage and indignation in the name of God? I assume that your body knows very well why it produces panic attacks.
All religious families who spank their children are not only cruel but also highly confusing because they pretend to do it in the name of God. In this way, they betray the children’s confidence who will believe their whole lives what they so early had to believe. The Judaism is not an exception. You will hear from priests of other religions the same theories as your rabbis tell you.
But none of them tackles the concrete fact that slapping and beating a small child is cruel, humiliating, stupid and damaging their brains, especially if it happens to a child before the age of three years old when the brain is being structured. The priests seem not to know (or not to care) that spanking and slapping children makes them to become violent or chronically scared, often for their whole lives.
Above all, it teaches them to stay ignorant and to teach their own children the same absurdities they learned from their parents: that GOD NEEDS THEIR SUFFERING.
You write that you are orthodox. In my opinion, orthodoxy is not about love, it is about obedience. Thus you may hate what I have written here. But I wrote it to the person who has panic attacks, who wants to know her true feelings, who try to understand their meaning and wants to be honest, even if that means not to be obedient.”
Later my niece wrote me an e-mail and these are her exact words (she likes to speak and write in English to me): “There is something that I need to say…I don’t believe that most of my problems are related with my childhood. I was really happy on that time…” She idolizes her father and is in total denial. I know how her childhood was, because every summer I used to go to Portugal and I witnessed with my own eyes the nightmare she grew up with.
There is nothing I can do make her see it now. I can only hope that she does not have children. She is in college and it looks like she is pretty successful in her studies. She will be one more of the so-called “educated,” unconscious, poisoned persons in the world. (I think “educated” people in denial are the most dangerous.)
If we lived in a society that really protected children, we could report these people as unfit parents, be watchful of the parents and take the children side and protect them, so these little beings could grow up feeling loved, cared for, in truth, and protected to become loving, conscious human beings. But such an agency does not exist. It’s so sad. These children are going to be these people’s poisonous containers and will become uncaring, unconscious poisonous people themselves.
This is one of the reasons I don’t have hope for humanity. In most cases, the people in denial are the ones having children, and the more in denial they are the more children they have. This vicious circle has no end, and our tortured planet cannot afford any more unconscious, poisonous people. We were six billion people not too long ago and now we are close to 9 billion. I don’t think our tortured planet can support any more insane, uncaring, unconscious, poisonous people much longer.
And sometimes I think if people refuse to see these psychological mechanisms, I hope we all die soon. Maybe a big asteroid falling from the sky will put an end to human life quickly, because I am tired of seeing little, defenseless, innocent beings suffer because adults refuse to see and feel.
Two memories come to mind. In the first, I was about 13 years old and my brother had gotten a woman pregnant in Spain. This woman was obsessed with my brother and I have no doubt she got pregnant to use the baby to get to my brother. She would send pictures of the baby to my mother. My mother talked to my brother about taking responsibility for his child, so my brother quickly married her and brought his new wife and the baby (who was about two years old) to meet all of us.
I remember one night being in bed. My older sister and I were sleeping together, and in the room next to us was my brother with his new wife and baby. In the middle of the night, the baby kept crying. Now I understand why — this baby used to sleep with his mother and now this strange man was sleeping with her. He was forced to sleep alone in his crib. My brother was yelling at the baby to stop crying and started to spank him to make him stop.
This woman, his new wife, did not do anything to protect her baby. I guess she did not need her baby anymore, he had gotten her what she wanted. I told my sister that our brother was hitting the baby. I wanted to get up and go to the baby and hold him, but my sister did not let me. She told me, “You always cause more trouble, just be quiet.”
Now I regret that I listened to my sister. Being 16 my sister should have been stronger, or at least let me do it and not stop me. No wonder my nephew has problems being a parent to his little boy. Thank goodness my niece-in-law is listening to me, and she is doing everything she can to break the cycle and protect their little boy.
When I was 16 years old, my other brother, who also married a Spanish girl, came visiting with his wife and two young children—the older girl was 3 years old and the younger was a 2-year-old baby boy. My brother started to spank the baby boy because he did not want to eat.
This time I got up and said, “If the baby does not want to eat, he will later when he is hungry…And in my presence, no one will spank a child.” My brother was yelling at me, but I picked up both children and took them to the park. I know they were very little, but they still remember when I protected them from their father. I remember walking down the road holding the hands of these little children, feeling so powerless and wishing there was a place I could go for help. But help to protect children from unconscious parents does not exist.
I so agree with your answer to the post “we all are the crew” on January 01, 2009.
I don’t have much hope for humanity. Like you said to your reader:
“You write: ‘My main point in the allegory is that by necessity none of us are passengers anymore. Everybody’s crew.’ I agree with you. But to become aware of the fact that our obedience learned in childhood doesn’t allow us to think freely needs probably more than many hundred years. I am not sure if the tortured planet leaves us the necessary time to understand this fact, to protest against it, and to become a conscious, responsible member of the crew.”
I am amazed at all the smart, “educated” and talented people in the world, especially those on TV who cannot see and feel. It is very sad because the TV could be an excellent tool to mirror how to be a courageous and feeling human being. The people who need to be on TV are all blocked by the powerful repressed people; those who take refuge in ideologies, philosophy, religion, rationalities, theories, etc.
Those things don’t work and take us away from our painful truth and make us more emotionally blind to the chance to become aware and become a feeling, human being. It’s so sad to see this tool go to waste when it could be used to help us save ourselves and the planet.
Also your words on the post “Painful memories” on January 02, 2009 are so true:
“…..To give the Drama to your parents will hardly help you. Even if your parents changed, miraculously, the memory of what happened to you when you were a small child will stay unchanged and will need your feelings of pain and anger to be able to bring you the health and freedom you are looking for.”
I went through this illusion for years, writing letters to my family and sending all of them books. They could not face themselves, see the truth or feel their repressed feelings. I had to feel my own pain of coming from a family lacking courage and incapable of seeing and feeling. I had to feel all of my repressed feelings alone. I remember one day being in a rage at my family. I ripped up some of their pictures that I had with me in the States. Like you said, even if they “miraculously changed” I would still feel my repressed feelings and nothing will ever change that.
I won’t take more of your time. Thank you for being here. It’s nice to know there is someone out there who understands.
Dear Alice Miller,
The story of the 8-year-old boy here in Arizona has upset me very much.
I wished you had elaborated more on your answer to your reader’s letter of 12-2-08, about the story of the 8-year-old boy here in Arizona.
I identify with this little boy, too.
Heartbreaking. I think this little boy is very courageous because he took revenge on those who were hurting him. He did not repress it and maybe it will prevent him from looking unconsciously and compulsively for innocent beings or scapegoats to hurt because of what his parents did to him. Everywhere I go I find that most people are cowards.
They protect and idealize their parents, but they take revenge on innocent beings, other little children, their own children and animals and help to create wars. Grownups always join together against children. Children are always alone without anyone on their side.
What upsets me the most are the professionals, psychologists, and psychiatrists. They all talk about theories but they don’t explain to the public the true psychological mechanisms. They hide behind theories so they don’t have to face their own painful truth that they are grown men and women still afraid of their own parents.
I have no doubt that the father’s friend took the father’s side about hitting the little boy. If he had taken the little boy’s side and had protected him, this never would have happened.
If a grown person was living in a hostage situation and killed his perpetrators, society would probably take his side, saying that he did what he needed to do to free himself. He would not be punished. Most children live in a hostage situation without anyone to help them. This little boy needed an enlightened witness who could understand and take his side. He does not need more punishment.
Maybe I am a little far off, but that is how I feel. As you say: “The parents are the problem and not the children. But nobody wants to understand that parents are not free to give their children emotional support as long as they are stuck in their fear of their own parents and don’t dare to question their cruel behavior. Out of this fear, they repeat the cruelties they were subjected to in their own childhoods.”
I wish that everyone on the planet could read your article on your website, “The Essential Role of an Enlightened Witness in Society“:
One more thing is where are all the pro-life people? They spend so much money fighting for the unborn children so that more children are born and used as scapegoats by adults. Why not spend their money fighting for the children who are already here and really need protection? All the pro-life people should read your article, “Protecting Life after Birth” in your book Breaking Down the Walls of Silence, page 145.
AM: Thank you for your letter. I completely agree with everything you are writing here. You are right: If an adult who lives in hostage could come free by killing the perpetrator he would have probably not been punished at all. And the child now will be punished or get a therapist who will make him feel guilty for his whole life. This is our system of JUSTICE. Could you send your letter to people of power to make them aware of the absurdity of their system? Your letter should be distributed, wherever you can.
Dear Dr. Alice Miller,
Thank you for your quick response. It feels good to know that I am not alone. I will send the revised letter to people in power and publish it on the Internet and send it to all the places I can think of.
Thank you for your support,
P.S. Do you mind if I distribute your literature and your answers to my letters?
AM: No problem, you can distribute my literature freely, provided you don’t make any changes in it or put any additions into it.
Dear Alice Miller,
Today I sent the letter below to Oprah Winfrey. I thought I would share it with you. Also, I’d like to inform you that I have been sending my letter of the 8-year-old boy together with your flyer “The Roots of Violence are NOT Unknown” to a lot of people and places, including the attorney of the boy, the police department, the courts, President-elect Obama, the U.S. Supreme Court, and various news channels.
I used to be a big fan of yours, but after I read Alice Miller’s books I realized that your show is a big illusion. You and your viewers are running from and avoiding personal truths and repressed painful emotions of the little girls/boys inside you. I have stopped distracting myself with TV shows that don’t give the full story, the whole truth, or give misleading information. Most people on TV are very articulate and say very seductive words that act like drugs that keep us numb, distracting us from facing our painful truths and from feeling our repressed painful emotions.
Have you read the book The Body Never Lies: The Lingering Effects of Cruel Parenting, by Alice Miller? Your body is telling your truth through symptoms. The reason you keep coming back to the weight issue is because you are not taking the time to pay attention and feel the repressed, painful emotions of the little girl inside you.
I wish you much courage,
Happy Birthday!, January 12, 2009
Dear Alice Miller,
You know you are the only person I know in this world that I wish could live forever. I hope you are having a wonderful day!
Dear Alice Miller,
I wrote this letter a month or so ago, but I did not send it. Here it is now.
Once again, thank you for having the courage to speak the truth. In your post “Barbara’s Forum2” on Monday, September 29, 2008, you wrote that instead of understanding, you receive personal attacks. It happens to me all the time. People have told me that you talk about the problem, but you don’t give any solutions. This is so annoying, because people cannot see or hear the obvious solution that you do give us—the need for each of us to face our personal, painful truths and to trust all of our feelings.
I don’t know much about IFS therapy, but all the therapies I have come in contact with actually block us from our true feelings. They merely try to change the present behavior. I have learned that change cannot be accomplished without facing the truth about our past and without working through all our feelings and repressed emotions. Any change at all would just be superficial and temporary.
I’m surprised that Barbara has been sucked in by this therapy. Your experience has revealed just how great the compulsion is to repeat, to continue to do to others what once was done to us. I have also learned that people use all kinds of methods, even therapies, to run from facing a personal truth or their true feelings. I would just like to send you a hug.
Norman, thanks for your letter, “Saying the truth or being loyal,” Tuesday, September 30, 2008. And thank you, Alice Miller, for publishing it on your website with your answer. I totally agree with what you wrote:
“Fortunate are the few children who can express their criticism, who are listened to, taken seriously and understood by their parents. They receive a precious gift for their whole life. But for most children, saying the truth means mortal danger. They are often brutally punished simply for saying frankly what they feel and think.
As adults, they often use the same means as their parents used before, without being aware of what they are doing. They are blindly attacking everybody who questions their traditional ‘opinions’ given by their parents. Their children can’t do anything else other than obey and stay loyal. Only adults can take legal actions if it comes to criminal harassment or severe defamation.”
I totally agree with everything you and Norman said: I had the same experiences. I just wish I could articulate it as well as you and Norman did. To me, it is much more important to speak the truth and not deceive myself rather than to be loyal.
Thank you for posting your answer to B.R., 2/11/09
Dear Alice Miller,
Thank you for sharing your answer to B.R. I got curious and I went to B.R.’s website to read her nasty piece of writing. I did not finish reading it because it bored me to read all about her projections onto you. I am so sorry she is making you her scapegoat. Being someone’s scapegoat is never a pleasant thing. I am so grateful for your books and website.
Having you here by my side for the last 10 years has been a life-saver and it pains me to see someone making you their scapegoat. I hope that you have a good team working with you and that the reader’s mail can go on forever. I also hope you have peace and health for many, many, many years.
You know when I read her book and articles and the answers to your reader’s mail, which I enjoy reading, I could feel that she still was repressed and harboring illusions. What she was writing was not coming from her true feelings, but from her head.
I call people like that parrots—they have great smarts, memories, and are very talented at writing and articulating, but they really don’t understand what they are saying. They are not capable of feeling their repressed feelings and they unconsciously project those repressed feelings onto scapegoats.
I had a link on my website at the end of the page of my story to your website and to B.R.’s article. I was rereading my story and clicked on the link to the article on your website and got a blank page.
For a while I was in a dilemma, not knowing what to do, because I did not want to create a link to her website. I started to write to you to ask you if you could write a small article on how religion, spirituality, and the 12-step meetings cement childhood blindness.
I decided not to bother you and created a link to the article on her website even though I don’t agree with IFS therapy (I don’t agree with most therapies out there). And now that I have proven my feelings are right, I have a responsibility to not have a link from my website to hers.
If you ever have a chance to write an article about how religion, spirituality, and the 12-step meetings cement childhood blindness, I would love to create a link to it.
Again thank you for being here and for your insights.
AM: Thank you for your thoughtful letter I agree with you that there is a difference between the powerless, legitimate rage of a desperate child that reacts to the cruelty of their parents and the rage of the adult who is attacking others out of denial of their history by imitating the behavior of own parents from the position of “power” (even grandiosity). The first rage (of the child) should be felt and expressed in therapy, it can be then RESOLVED. The second one (of the adult), directed toward scapegoats, can NEVER be resolved (see dictators). If therapists see it as an end point of their therapies and don’t enable the patients to confront the early parents and the feelings of that time they do much HARM to them. Staying trapped in the hatred toward scapegoats can’t be the successful end of a therapy. I hope that you can continue your work if you have this difference in mind and can also explain it in your forum.
Alice Miller to B R. 2/12/09
AM: Thank you for your understanding of what happened. I wrote today an answer under the title “Aggression out of denial” that could help you maybe to see what happens behind some attacks. I wrote already much about religion, the 12 steps and about blinding people by using poisonous pedagogy but all this is destroyed in my writing and not focused in a specific article. Maybe I will write some day an article on this topic but I can’t promise it now. If you want to publish my answer to E of today on your website you can do it.
Dear Alice Miller
I am so happy to see a young lady created a myspace page for you. I thought about creating one for you many times, but never got around to it. I am glad K.K. did, because she did a much better job than I would have done.
It gives me hope when I see young people reading your work. When I try to share your work with young people, my experiences have been very frustrating. Just like you said to K.K. on February 19, 2009:
“…usually young people are still dependent on parents and are thus often afraid to question their behavior. It is much later, when they become sick or are surprised that they are hitting their children even if they never wanted to do this that they start to think about their childhood and their suffering they had then to endure. They realize that they kept their truth repressed for decades, hidden in their bodies. Unfortunately, most therapists don’t help them to discover their truth, in order to heal, they tell them rather to turn the page and forget the past…”
Your words are so true and what is very sad is that even when people have their own children they still refuse to see these psychological facts. They continually do to their children what was done to them, without thinking twice.
I finally had my webmaster delete Barbara’s link from my website and created a link to your website and the article, “The Longest Journey.” I think this article expresses the point I was trying to make very well.
Again, thank you for all your help. Just like K.K. said: “Your work shines like a beacon on a cold, dark night.” I too feel very fortunate to have found your books.