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Thou Shalt Not Be Aware: Society's Betrayal of the Child Paperback – October 15, 1998


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Thou Shalt Not Be Aware: Society's Betrayal of the Child + 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
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1 edition (October 15, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374525439
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374525439
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #170,183 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Miller parts company with Freud on the origins of children's fantasies in this progressive study of repressed memory. Forget the Oedipus complex. Miller reasons that when children suffer abuse, their feelings of pain and rage have nowhere to go in a society that esteems parental power over them as a natural right. Children have no choice but to internalize the anguish, creating a wellspring of fantasy material. This book offers a fresh take on how the unconscious retains memories of childhood and, without appropriate intervention, generates emotional ills and destructive behavior. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"A provactive critique of traditional therapy's view of childhood . . . This is explosive stuff. I can't imagine anyone coming away from this book without several newfound discoveries about herself and her relation to her parents."--Nancy Evans, Glamour

"Thou Shalt Not Be Aware is that rarest of gems, a highly creative and exciting work which throws a multifaceted light upon the development of human nature in the Western World."--Ashley Montagu

"Alice Miller is not out to 'hang the bastards,' but rather to help create a world of self-conscious and self-loving individuals who don't need, want or know how to abuse others."--Sheila Koren, San Francisco Chronicle

"It is timely. It is powerful. It is painful . . . absorbing, enlightening and provoking."--Louise Lione, Charlotte Observer

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Customer Reviews

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I have many Alice Miller books, including this one.
Spunk!
Read all of Alice's books to see how all of this relates to everyday life and how we all can start to mend society on a whole.
John R. Allen
Yes this book is dated a bit, but the message is still relevant and powerful.
Panasonic

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 57 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 26, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is an incredibly liberating book. Ms. Miller is the strongest child advocate ever. She rejects the concept that children have power over adults (a la Lolita) and lets us see the true balance of power between children and their primary caretakers (which explains why over 3,000 children a year are murdered by their adult caretakers). All the guilt that parents lay on children for making them unhappy is revealed as the oppresion that it is. Finally, someone who doesn't insist that children (even adult ones) sacrifice themselves to the unresolved needs of their parents. Reading this book is a truly cathartic experience.
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46 of 49 people found the following review helpful By jumpy1 on April 25, 2002
Format: Paperback
In Thou Shalt Not Be Aware, Alice Miller turns Freud's oedipal complex on its head by exposing the circumstances that led Freud to side against his patients, and thus, against the truth of the life experiences of children. It is a great work by a highly regarded psychiatrist and thinker, well researched, and readily useful in applying to one's own life. For myself, this book (along with The Drama of the Gifted Child) helped to liberate me from the lies of my family and confront the abusers of my childhood without fear, dread or resentment, for, as I gradually accepted the facts of their lives as well as my own, I could accept the havoc they wreaked on mine, and finally take unashamed responsibility for my own life.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 2, 1998
Format: Paperback
Alice Miller has gotten through her pain and is being a true advocate by helping the rest of us through ours. The book, made me laugh, cry, gasp, and scream out loud. I read Drama of the Gifted Child first, and then this, and have read seven of her other books. I especially enjoy the personal references in all her books. This book was special to me because it uncovered the 'poisonous pedagomy' in my life, that had been there all the time. I did not even know it until I read this book. It told all about my life and how to get better. I wish I could have read this book years ago - I may not have to have been so miserable for so long! I am truly grateful to have found the works of Alice Miller. She is an inspiration and a mentor!!!
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 3, 1999
Format: Paperback
God bless her...this book finally pin pointed the frustration I felt with "shrinks" and other "institutions". So credible is Alice Miller AND yet why isn't this woman front page news. After an injurious experience with a devout Freudian I am sure his genious did more harm than good. What courage A. Miller had to stand up and fight. Keep on excavating..there is hope with people like her in this world!
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38 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Mackler on January 27, 2001
Format: Paperback
Thou Shalt Not Be Aware is one of the finest theoretical books demonstrating how parents betray their children and how devastating this is for the child. Yet Alice Miller, wonderful writer that she is, cannot fully absorb the significance of her own message. This denial pervades her writing and weakens her book's impact.

She spends over three hundred pages of Thou Shalt Not Be Aware showing how parents damage their children, yet she refuses to hold parents accountable. (Page 58: "[People cannot] grasp that I blame neither children nor parents.") In effect, she, one of the 20th century's greatest trumpeters for the child's rights, herself creates a theory which abandons the full truth of the child. Shying away from the strength of her message, she compromises as best she can, turns vague, and blames society instead. Thus, the subtitle of the book: "Society's Betrayal Of The Child."

It is not society that primarily betrays children. It really is parents. Yet Alice Miller, a parent of two children herself and a woman who never came close to processing her own unresolved grief from her own childhood - stemming from maltreatment by her own parents, not society - cannot accept that. It is too painful.

Thus it comes as no great surprise that years after writing this book, when she herself entered deep therapy to resolve her childhood traumas once and for all, her true past horrors surfaced and she suffered a near-psychotic breakdown. A 1995 interview says it all: "At the end of these three weeks my feelings were in a turmoil, so that I could not find sleep, that for the first time in my life I thought of suicide, and had anxiety verging on the psychotic.
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36 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Earl Hazell on February 26, 2002
Format: Paperback
Alice Miller makes her perspective so clear and so unavoidable in this book that it is all but impossible not to feel your stomach go up in knots as you try to think about everyone's life that it explains--from best friends to her analysis of author Franz Kafka--but your own.
Without hanging Freud in effigy or throwing the baby of his genius out with the bathwater of his philosophical and ethical judgement errors, Miller established her perspective and cry for new psychological techniques based in compassionate listening to others lives and childhoods (instead of forcing others lives into a preexisting paradigm) magnificently.
The effect of her work begins with her establishment of Freud's drive theory--Oedipal complex, et. al.--as merely an artistic, pseudo-scientific extension of the very Judeo-Christian, Victorian Age system of morality that allowed for secret atrocities to be routinely committed on innocent children in the first place. Its existential inadequacy in charting the anatomy of the soul (which is what the word "psyche" means) comes up in virtually every psychoanalysed person and derivative doctrine and explains much if not most of the profound failures of the entire discipline in Western society this past century (and, definitively, people's lack of faith in it). It's as if Freud, like Shakespeare or Bach, created a new language with many of the materials of the popular one being used; only unlike Shakespeare or Bach then chose, because of the martyrdom that sticking to his real discoveries demanded of him, to basically backpeddle and translate all of the same antequated ideas he should have replaced into it.
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