Saturday, April 24, 2010

Author Alice Miller dies

I'm very sad, but she lived a long and fruitful life. I'm going to have to do a bit of fisking on this obit, though.
Apr 23, 2010 1:10 PM | By Sapa-dpa

Alice Miller, the author and psychologist who claimed that Adolf Hitler was bad because he was spanked as a boy, has died at the age of 87, says her Berlin publisher.
All right, that's just a sensationalistic "grabber." We'll let it slide here.
Miller, who was born in Poland, later lived in Switzerland and spent her last years in Provence in France, died on April 12 and was buried in strict privacy. This was not made public at the time, said Suhrkamp Verlag, the publishing company.

As a psychoanalyst she was convinced that corporal punishment and sexual abuse during childhood had lifelong effects on her patients.

Her views were controversial, with some arguing that the notion triggered a wave of false allegations against parents and teachers, after suggestible patients became convinced they were abuse victims.
Which is also controversial; the truth or falsity of the allegations, I mean.
In her 1980 book For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence, she proposed that Hitler's father traumatised the young Adolf with beatings and verbal abuse and taught him to despise himself and Jews.
She did not merely propose that claim, she cited proof that he was a brutally abused child. Her point was to prove her thesis.
Historians replied that the Nazi dictator's personality was not so easily explained, but the thesis was still widely publicised.
She didn't claim it was the whole explanation. And, by the way, "historians"? How many and how knowledgable are they about recent developments in psychology? Can't reporters ask these questions?
Her books about childhood trauma and giftedness appeared in 30 languages. Miller was born in 1923 in Lviv, which was then in Poland and is now a city in Ukraine.
Now here is a fitting obituary:
...[E]xposing the full extent of the psychological damage flowing from the justification of violence against children was Alice Miller's life's work and her great contribution to the world. She showed how people will go to incredible lengths, for their entire lives, for generations, just to avoid the natural feelings of humiliation, shame and anger that flow from being abused, and then having that abuse justified. People will do just about anything -- excuse, avoid, forget, invent whole ideologies -- if it will allow them to continue to repress those negative feelings, and continue to maintain the fiction of the justification.


dia said...

thank you so much, for bringing a little balance and recognition. I believe Mrs Miller's life was a very troubled one, which might account for some of her flaws as a person and a researcher, yet her work was ground-breaking and immensely valuable. I attended her international ourchildhood forum for a few years, before Barbara Rogers took over. It was a very enlightening experience, though not always easy and often harsh.
Thanks again

p.s why don't journalists do their damn work, and think twice before writing such BS?

Al said...

You're very welcome. Thank you for the validation.

BobG said...

That Alice Miller's personal demons, brought on by her own childhood, were never fully resolved is sad, profoundly sad. Yet I believe it was precisely this drive towards health that enabled her to write so many and such powerful books.
For those who wish to explore, at low cost, her writings, her book "For Your Own Good" is available for free download from:
Her website: also has many of her articles. An important element for me is her paintings, which I believe showed her profound internal unresolved tensions... They are at:


Tef said...

Reading the post traumatised me. I am convinced I must hate... hate somebody now. Can't journalists ask me who I hate?

Was Alice a Jew?

Anonymous said...

if you are traumatized, Tef, you must "forget and forgive". Oprah said it, and that settles it, I guess.

Al said...

I've got another book for you, tef. It's called...oh, (sigh) I gotta get up and get it... Here we go. Self-Therapy: A Step-By Step Guide to Creating Inner Wholeness Using IFS, A New, Cutting-Edge Therapy. It'll fix you right up.

raymond said...

In my neck of the woods, we are cursed with the most extreme levels of Child Abuse, lack of Rights for Children, Addictions, Indifference, psychological problems, not to mention Cancers, Suicides and end-of-life specific conditions, at the hands of the Catholic Church, Her slaves in Government as well as of a population in a state of amnesia.

I consider myself very fortunate to know of Alice Miller, as only through her Books and Website can I make sense of this unbelievable state of affairs. I also believe that she is the only Hope and Way Out.

Unequivocally on her side, and Unconditionally condemning the Childhood Violence she exposed.

Thank you Alice.


Al said...

Sorry, Raymond. I didn't get to the computer right away after work. I deleted the duplicate post. I'm very sorry about your pain. Thank you for your thoughts.

dia said...

Thank you Raymond, yes, for sharing your pain and your thoughts. Miller may not be the Only way out, but she's definitely part of the solution.