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The Body Never Lies: The Lingering Effects of Cruel Parenting Hardcover – May 17, 2005
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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 --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top customer reviews
Also, I think that there were a number of conclusions drawn or at least suggested, that had no evidence to support.
Do I believe abuse by parents harms children? Absolutely. Do I believe that when a person denies the abuse they suffered at the hands of their parent it is more harmful than working through it and acknowledging it? Absolutely. In fact, I believe that too many adults allow their parents to continue to abuse them. I also believe that sometimes, adults need to completely cut ties with an abusive parent who is unable to stop behaving ways that harm them.
I appreciate Alice Miller for sharing this perspective, helping to raise awareness and letting readers know it is okay to acknowledge the harm their parents have inflicted.
Until I left home three years later, I walked the line. I never learned to relax; in fact, for the next twenty four years, in order to feel good, not feel or calm my bad feelings was to drink, take pills, overeat, overwork and have sex and fight.
At age seventeen, desperate to feel safe and have a sense of belonging, I joined a Non-Denominational Christian Church, which turned out to be a cult who kept me captive for thirteen years. At age forty-one, I found myself in the emergency room of Riverside Hospital having my wrist sown up from attempted suicide.
The doctor asked me what happened and I told him I wanted to hurt myself. Instead of locking me up in a psyche ward, he sent me home with a friend asking her to watch me for the next twenty-four years. I went home in shock. I tried to kill myself and the doctors send me home.
Here I am sixty years old and after reading this book I am free enough to tell my story. This book holds ideas on how I can deal and heal with from my poisonous past.
“Frequently, Physical illnesses are the body’s response to permanent disregard of its vital functions. One of our most vital functions is an ability to listen to the true story of our lives… The central issue in this book is the conflict between the things we feel – the things our bodies register – and the things we think we ought to feel so as to comply with moral norms and standards we have internalized at an early age.” (Page 19)
“Anxious to stay in line with the system of moral values I had accepted, I did my best to imagine good feelings I did not possess while ignoring the bad feelings I did have.” (Page 20)
“The only way out of this dilemma is to become aware of these mechanisms and to identify the reality of our own childhood by counteracting the processes of repression and denial.” (Page 22)
“What is absolutely imperative is the termination of the harmful attachment to the internalized to the internalized parents of childhood, an attachment that, though we call it love, certainly does not deserve the name.” (Page 96)
“… People who have been severed from their true feelings since early childhood will be dependent on institutions like the church and will let themselves be told what they are allowed to feel.” (Page 119)
“... (We) are no longer a child, and my life no longer depends on recognition from ‘the family.” (Pages 128)
“The goal of a successful therapy is liberation from a painful dependency – not reconciliation, which is only a moralistic and not a physiological demand.” (Page 131)
“The Body Never Lies” by Alice Miller
I officially resigned from my faith of more than 20 years about a year ago for a number of reasons. The demand that my continued pain was my fault because somehow I was not praying enough or correctly caused me to feel cursed with toxic shame. Then, there were the demands that I not only forgive my perpetrators but to pray for them was just beyond my ability to accept. The only means that I could maintain any sense of dignity was to resign from "all of that (religious) self-righteousness."
It was after this resignation that I then discovered this book. And, felt acknowledged as a noble being rather being forced to live in the shadows of the sins of my perpetrators. It was their sins & they did their best to convince me of that.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!