Thursday, June 18, 2009

Here it is

From Alice Miller's article The Political Consequences of Child Abuse:
Why were there people brave enough to risk their lives to save Jews from Nazi Persecution? Much scientific inquiry has been expended on this question. The usual answers revolve around religious or moral values such as Christian charity or a sense of responsibility instilled in them by parents, teachers and other caregivers. But there is no doubt that the active supporters of the extermination and the passive hangers–on had usually also been given a religious upbringing. So this can hardly furnish a sufficient explanation.

I was convinced that there must have been some special factor in the childhood of the rescuers, in the prevailing atmosphere of their childhood, that made it so fundamentally different from what the war criminals had experienced, but at first I couldn’t prove my hypothesis. For years I sought in vain for a book that would give this subject adequate coverage. Finally, thanks to Lloyd deMause’s help, I found an empirical study by the Oliners, The Altruistic Personality: Rescuers of Jews in Nazi Europe, based on interviews with more than 400 witnesses of those dark days. It confirmed my hypothesis. The study concluded that the only factor distinguishing the rescuers from the persecutors and hangers–on was the way they had been brought up by their parents.

Almost all rescuers interviewed reported that their parents had attempted to discipline them with arguments rather than punishment. They were only rarely subjected to corporal punishment, and if they were it was invariably in connection with some misdemeanor and never because their parents had felt the need to discharge some uncontrollable and inexplicable feeling of rage on them. One man recalled that he had once been spanked for taking smaller children out onto a frozen lake and endangering their lives. Another reported that his father had only ever hit him once and apologized afterwards. Many of the statements might be paraphrased thus: “My mother always tried to explain what was wrong about whatever it was I had done. My father also spent a lot of time talking to me. I was impressed by what he had to say.”

So Schindler, Wallenberg and others weren't raised in the standard Prussian way (described earlier in the article).
Similar cases are discussed by Philip Greven in his highly informative book, Spare the Child. He quotes various American men and women of the church recommending cruel beatings for infants in the first few months of life as a way of ensuring that the lesson thus learnt remains indelibly impressed on them for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately they were only too right. These terrible destructive texts which have misled so many parents are the conclusive proof of the long–lasting effect of beating. They could only have been written by people who were exposed to merciless beatings as children and later glorified what they had been through. Fortunately, these books were not published in 40 editions in the USA.

The last sentence refers to Schreber's book on what I just called "Prussian" child-rearing. I call it that, not to deride that strain of the Germans, but because, to me at least, the term conveys the image of a monacled, German officer clicking his heels as he snaps to attention before a superior.


Starsplash said...

Exactly what mom did for us and what I did for my children.

Al said...

I meant to say that you were right: German society didn't change much from Bismarck's day through WWII, other than the impositions of the wars and the depression.

Starsplash said...

Al I think some of your considerations were becaue you got whipped more than once becaue I convinced mom that you were lying about me picking on you.
I am sorry about that. There ultimately is no excuse; youthful inadequecaies or others, for me to have done that. Please forgive me.

Concerning your article I have no explanation why these sort of things are plain to me outside of gift from God.
Why one man would become a rescuer and another a tyrant. But I do know that spanking used properly, sparingly with the parent contrite works. The child must know that he is being diciplined not because the parent is embarr-assed (funny thought about that word) or made to look bad because of the childs behavior but because the parent cares.

I have never read whether Hitler was spanked or not.
I know that his childhood upbringing was one of torment. At the risk of being thought of as a Nazi I have to say that I actually believe he cared and wanted to make a change for good.
Of course the world that hates him can not wish so. To the world he was an irreconcilable tyrant who only caused; and inexcusably so, a war that led to an (I say)underestimated 60 million dead.

To be aloof enough to say that I think is the elecrified barb wire fense which I shall not cross.

Alan did I ever tell you how much of a plearsure it is to talk with you who I do not have to explain every little thing in detail.

I am so tired of talking wtih ignorant muts.

Al said...

I am sorry too.


I drew you into my mental maelstrom caused by my study of ideas I'd never delved into before. I've always disparaged psychology, but I'm seeing some promise in it. Not done yet, so the maelstrom is still whirling.

There are a couple things here that are too nasty to keep around. I'll delete them tonight. The rest will be left for historical purposes.

Sometimes I don't get what you're saying. I'll try to ask when I don't get something and not just assume it's because you're "crazy."

I think you did change. Toward me anyway. So, with that and this, if you need to hear (or read) the formal words, I forgive you.

Starsplash said...

Thank you.

I think too that there is some to psychology but it is probably like so many other things.
Like spagetti; once a week it's good, every day, yuch.

Also I am thinking that to try and describe the norm social nature of man; when mankind is a learning changing organism, will always be behind. It is then always the history of social behavior.

I also believe that there is so many facets to mankind that it may be virtually impossible to tag what would be the next great social directon mankind would take thus making many old precepts not precepts at all just obsolete concepts. Yet there does seem to fundamental principles that pass from generation to generation and age to age.

I don't know why ( God brought me here)I came here to OK but the way it is working out I am getting to tend to old wounds that have been left to fester for so long. It does fee like a peace is begining to settle in.

I got to get me a new key board. I do like the wireless idea but it does not respond well enough for even moderatly fast typing. That coupled with my normal typos make for a real mess.