The New York Times ran an interesting article on famed psychoanalyst Alice Miller that got me thinking.
Dr. Miller died on April 14th and was famous for her 1981 book The Drama of the Gifted Child as well as her work in child maltreatment, abuse, the raising of children and the damage parents can do.
Miller asserts in her 1981 book that a child's pent up rage at his/her parents for mistreatment impacts their adult lives so negatively that the expression of rage and anger must be allowed, in all it's fury, in order to help the grown child to move on with their lives in a positive and meaningful way.
Miller also suggests that the parent who stands by as one abusive parent lashes out at a child is just as guilty of abuse. And that there is no excuse for any parent to stand "helpless" as his or her partner beats, humiliates or otherwise harms a child. No parent is helpless.
And unlike many therapists, Miller disagreed in a therapy and "forgive and forget" theory. She firmly believed that anger and rage must be expelled from the abused child, without the need to hold back. Rage is necessary therapy. She felt that therapists who do not accept rage as healing, do so because of their own repressions and due to being taught that therapy must be a gentle process that avoids expressions of fury.
Miller also believed that almost all humans have been beaten or abused in their lives by their parents and that parents who hit were always hit as children, too.
Go ahead, Miller said. Rage at your parents for their abuse. You are who you are because of them.
Her detractors believe she encouraged adults to play the victim role and use the 'abuse excuse' for their own negative acts.
You can read more about Dr. Miller here: http://www.alice-miller.com
Do you believe in Dr. Miller's theories? Have your parents played a role in who you are today because of their abuse of you? Or do you think her theories really do allow an 'abuse excuse'?
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