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For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence Paperback – November 14, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0374522698 ISBN-10: 0374522693 Edition: 3rd

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For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence + The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self, Revised Edition + The Body Never Lies: The Lingering Effects of Hurtful Parenting
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 282 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 3rd edition (November 14, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374522693
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374522698
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #275,670 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Miller explores the backgrounds of extreme cases of self-destructive and violent individuals to further her theories on longterm consequences of abusive childrearing. Her conclusions about what creates a drug addict, a murderer, even a Hitler, stray far from psychoanalytic dogma about human nature. Miller paints a jolting picture of the violent world each generation helps shape when traditional upbringing, with its hidden cruelty, is perpetuated. She also offers a way out by striving to resensitize the child in the adult, to unlock an emotional life frozen in repression.


"This is a book of extraordinary importance, for it makes as clear as a beacon light the root causes of violence as a consequence of our misguided child-rearing practices. For Your Own Good should be read by all who are troubled by what has happened to our world and to our children. I cannot sufficiently stress the importance and urgency of reading [this book]."--Ashley Montagu

"A shattering, frightening [book], and eventually one of the most illuminating and life-view-changing works I have ever read . . . I challenge any thinking and feeling person to read this book [and] not in turn be changed or altered."--Church World

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 63 customer reviews
Enjoyed this book tremendously and would recommend this reading to ALL.
Alice Miller does a great job in connecting childhood trauma, abuse, and neglect to irrational, deviant, and violent adult behaviors.
The NT
I think this book goes a long way in helping people realize what the cycle is that needs to be broken.
Bror Erickson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

126 of 128 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 31, 2003
Format: Paperback
It's a sobering thing to have the answers to the deepest questions most of us ever ask about the human condition. I wouldn't trade the insights gained from reading this book for my former uneducated "bliss," but knowing the truth exacts a price. Once you understand the `emotional physics' of how violent adults begin as violated children, violated, moreover, by the very people who are supposed to love and protect them -- you will see the results of that treatment acted out on various levels all around you, in everyone you know - for none of us have escaped being damaged on some level by abusive child-rearing practices. The `tough to live with' aspect of such insight is realizing how far too many people become either a Persecutor or a Victim, acting out the imbalance of power they were raised with - not by confronting those who first damaged them (usually their primary caregivers) but by seeking substitute targets to attack on levels from subtle (being a control freak at work and making the lives of your subordinates miserable) to grotesque (marching Jewish children into gas chambers and still being able to sleep at night.)
While the entire book is horrifying in it's illumination of sanctioned, morally enshrined cruelty to children in society, it was Ms Miller's chapter on Adolf Hitler that struck the most powerful epiphany. How often in my life had I heard Hitler described as an "unnatural monster," as "sent by the Devil," as someone not human? Miller's analysis of not only Hitler but of his father's and mother's lives, how their damaged characters intersected to create the totalitarian regime that was Adolf's childhood home, sent absolute chills of knowing through me as I read: in a less virulent form, his childhood had been my own.
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259 of 271 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
Data: I am 51 years old; 2 sons, 10 and 13; married 15 years; and I have been on a path of healing and growth since 1994. I read 'Drama of the Gifted Child' 5 years ago. Since then I have read dozens of inner-work book. Lately, I had have been feeling that I have learned all I needed to know about my wounds and it was time to move on. "Time for action, not reflection," I say to myself. I doubtfully picked up 'For Your Own Good,' last week in a used book store. After all, revisiting 'childhood' issues was wasting my time.
Boom! This book has invaded my soul and my heart. Alice Miller has touched on one of the greatest 'family secrets' in the world as she describes the devastating effect of 'child rearing.' (If you like John Bradshaw, Miller will touch the same raw nerve.) The hurt we pass on to our children, that I have passed on to my children, will haunt me for the rest of my days. It is so clear and so obvious once we step back and look at how we parents treat our children. I can see clearly how I dumped my frustration, hurt and pain on my kids...minute by minute, day by day. As they grow into adolescence I see all of this more clearly. While Miller's ideas, and this book, are uncomfortable for adults, she has empowered me to proceed more consciously for the rest of my life in all my dealings with my kids. For that I feel blessed.
What is a mystery, as others have noted, is why Miller's simple and direct ideas have received so little welcome in our world. Instead we build more prisons, hire more police, pass more laws, and express total bewilderment at the behaviour of the children whom we have tried to manipulate, mold, and control since their births. Who is accountable here? Let any person with guts and the desire to know the real truth about who he/she is tackle this book. It WILL be painful...and it WILL be liberating.
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112 of 114 people found the following review helpful By Terrance H. Heath on April 9, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I remember reading "Great Expectations" in school and feeling a shock of recognition when the narrator mentioned that he'd been "brought up by hand." I realized I had been brought up by hand too; by the palm of the hand, the back of the hand, or whatever implement was near enough for that hand to grab and swing. After the smack or swat came the welts and the tears and then the command to "stop crying or I'll give you something to cry about." As a rule, a natural response to that pain and humiliation was not allowed. Nor was any other expression of frustration or anger. Not only did I not have a right not be physically harmed, but I didn't have a right to my feelings about either.

Alice Miller's words have given me a context in which to understand my childhood experience, and to begin to look at it honestly as well as the effect it's had on my life. While I know have a better understanding of why I adopted various personal characteristics and made certain choices as an adult, her book has helped strengthen a resolve I formed as a child: that if I ever had children of my own, I would never use physical punishment on them; I would never deny them their feelings as I'd been denied mine.

Today I have a three year old son who at least doesn't know what it's like to be beaten by the parents who are supposed to love and protect him, or to have his feelings and his personhood denied. I decided a long time ago that if I could help it, my children would know that there's a better way. Alice Miller's words give me hope that there is such a way, and that I might find it if I continue to pay attention.
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