From Publishers Weekly
In her latest vehement treatise, Swiss psychoanalyst Miller (The Drama of the Gifted Child
) reprises her classic critiques of filial duty. In her view, our culture systematically denies childhood abuse sufferers access to their true feelings. Repressed emotional responses to early humiliations and unfulfilled needs are inevitably transferred to the body, Miller believes, producing long-term illness. She also believes that the majority of therapists are bent on fostering an attitude of forgiveness. Miller instead urges the reader to reappraise the substance of the Fourth Commandment, which she construes as containing "a kind of moral blackmail" and, reflecting on her own unhappy childhood, argues that what survivors of parental cruelty need most is someone who shares their feelings of indignation. Miller traces the relationship between inadequate or tyrannical parenting and adult bodily illness, depression and suicide in pithy biographies of Dostoyevski, Chekhov, Kafka, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce and many others. Yet Miller is more a subjective observer and a guru than a social scientist. Her highly personal, undertheorized and generalizing approach will strike some as simplistic, yet those who loyally follow her child-centered philosophy will probably find much to enjoy in the conviction with which she writes. (May)
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“Alice Miller’s arguments are lucid, closely reasoned, and utterly convincing.” (Elaine Kendall - Los Angeles Times Book Review