Alice Miller Childhood Trauma

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Alice Miller explored several themes in her book Banished Knowledge. The main idea of the book is the effect of childhood trauma, such as, emotional blindness and disconnection from one's real self and feelings and the need for an enlightened witness in order to begin the healing process. In Banished Knowledge, Alice Miller states that trauma suffered in our childhood is remembered by the body and is manifested later in the abused child's adult life often in a destructive manner to the individual's soul. In exploring childhood trauma, Alice Miller argues that a child's innate ability is to blossom; when that child's needs and desires are ignored, the only possible recourse is to repress his/her distress, which is tantamount to mutilating his/her soul, resulting in the interference with his ability to feel, to be aware and to remember. If the "parent" does not see, accept, and acknowledge the child for who he/she really is and becomes emotionally unavailable to that child, his/her soul becomes ‘murdered'; the parent essentially creates a "walking dead" person. According to Miller, the fact is that parents who are indifferent and incapable of showing love and warmth to their children are blinded by their memories of their own childhood trauma which they have repressed; this repression unconsciously perpetuates the cycle of childhood abuse. An interesting point made by Alice Miller is that the abused child will argue that the abuse, whether verbal or physical, received from the parent was for his or her own good and greater personal development. The trauma experienced in childhood is often repressed; the child unconsciously is afraid to connect with others or does not know how to make his/herself emotionally available and, therefore, the false self which was seen and accepted by the parent becomes dominant, and when that individual fails to live up to the expectations of the parent, that individual becomes depressed. Alice Miller also spoke about disconnection and using it as a means of connecting with others. In Banished Knowledge, Miller spoke of a woman who gave birth and wanted a daughter instead of a son. The boy at the age of seven was forced to wear girls clothing and to wear his hear long as an adult he was so confused and filled with anger that he started to kill women; he felt no remorse about his actions but unconsciously knew that "female" was the source of his trauma and pain. According to Alice Miller, the killer was presumably trying to destroy the girl his mother wanted instead of him. The mother was blind sighted; she did not or could not see and accept the child for who he was; therefore, the mother used the following strategies of disconnection to connect with her son: one, the power over tactic and two, manipulation. Her actions annihilated his personhood; he committed several murders because his true self, the boy, was not seen and accepted by his mother he became, in essence, a Frankenstein monster and could only maintain his own existence by becoming a "succubus," and feeding off the life of others.

The boy during the mirror stage, that is, age 2-6, was not seen and accepted by his mother; at the stage in his life when he was becoming independent, he was forced to adopt a personhood that was not his. He felt that he was not good enough and when he was not emotionally attached to his mother at age 14, he committed his first murder, killing the person his Mother had accepted instead of his own person, the boy. The ideas of Alice Miller's book a Banished Knowledge points out that to prevent Frankenstein's in adulthood, a child must be seen, accepted and acknowledged for whom, he or she really is.


Name: Megan Henry
February 18th, 2006 1st Re-write
Class Work
Professor Bradshaw- Breyers

A Reading...
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