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The Body Never Lies: The Lingering Effects of Hurtful Parenting Paperback – August 17, 2006

4.2 out of 5 stars 83 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“Alice Miller’s arguments are lucid, closely reasoned, and utterly convincing.” (Elaine Kendall - Los Angeles Times Book Review)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 Reprint edition (August 17, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393328635
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393328639
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #65,891 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After coasting through the past ten years in a fog of depression and unfulfilling relationships, I started seeing a counselor who recommended this book to me. I'm not exaggerating when I say it changed my life. Alice Miller argues that as children, we are often instructed to "honor" our parents and win their love by suppressing our genuine feelings - especially the hurt and anger we naturally feel in response to abuse. Society reinforces this belief by idealizing parents and discouraging us from telling the truth about what we experienced as children. However, this suppression has a poisonous effect on the body and mind (and society as a whole). As much as we try to hide those feelings, they make themselves known through various kinds of suffering, both emotional and physical.

Miller argues that once we are allowed to give voice to our true feelings and offer some compassion to ourselves - rather than the facade we have created to please others, namely our parents - then that real self no longer has to cry for attention through the suffering of our bodies and minds. This turned out to be very true for me. I feel that I can now be honest with myself and others without fearing rejection and loss of love. I highly recommend this book and Miller's other offerings to anyone dealing with depression, childhood abuse, or feelings of general emptiness and dissatisfaction.

**After recently re-reading this book, I would probably remove one star from my rating due to Miller's pure speculation in Part I, in which she deconstructs the writings and life stories of famous authors and artists. This section can also be slow and might be difficult for some readers to get through.

I also wish that she (or the translator) had broadened her definition of abuse.
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Format: Paperback
Alice Miller's "The Body Never Lies" is a provocation for those who are intent on denying that there is a relationship between how children are being treated and how they, later as adults, live their lives. They will fight against this book with those sad beliefs, which they learned in their childhoods and never questioned or left behind. But for those, for whom these connections are a fact and who are willing to explore their own past, their own lives and childhood suffering, this book provides great relief, even liberation.

On her life journey of research and writing, Alice Miller has gained great inner freedom and strength. In `The Body Never Lies', she courageously questions traditional morality and inspires us to face the often life long pain that children suffer through their parents. Her profound insights into this vital relationship create a truthful vision of man and his coercion to be destructive and self-destructive. Her visionary humanity leads the way into a new era, where the source of needless human suffering is movingly and powerfully recognized.

Like in an invisible jail, the fourth command confines many people into untruthful relationships with their parents, from which they often suffer. Abused and disrespected in childhood, they strive, still during their adult lives, to reach and even please cruel parents, who do not wish to understand and support them, who do not care about their well-being.

As long as they are under the spell of this command, they also often suffer in similar ways in other close relationships, denying their truth and reality like they had to as children with their parents. But there is a powerful witness to the suffering we endure through hypocritical, painful relationships--our body.
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3 Comments 264 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
Alice Miller's "The Body Never Lies" is a provocation for those who are intent on denying that there is a relationship between how children are being treated and how they, later as adults, live their lives. They will fight against this book with those sad beliefs, which they learned in their childhoods and never questioned or left behind. But for those, for whom these connections are a fact and who are willing to explore their own past, their own lives and childhood suffering, this book provides great relief, even liberation.

On her life journey of research and writing, Alice Miller has gained great inner freedom and strength. In `The Body Never Lies', she courageously questions traditional morality and inspires us to face the often life long pain that children suffer through their parents. Her profound insights into this vital relationship create a truthful vision of man and his coercion to be destructive and self-destructive. Her visionary humanity leads the way into a new era, where the source of needless human suffering is movingly and powerfully recognized.

Like in an invisible jail, the fourth command confines many people into untruthful relationships with their parents, from which they often suffer. Abused and disrespected in childhood, they strive, still during their adult lives, to reach and even please cruel parents, who do not wish to understand and support them, who do not care about their well-being.

As long as they are under the spell of this command, they also often suffer in similar ways in other close relationships, denying their truth and reality like they had to as children with their parents. But there is a powerful witness to the suffering we endure through hypocritical, painful relationships--our body.
Read more ›
1 Comment 96 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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