Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

Free From Lies
Discovering your true needs

Norton, 2009

Reading this book is a therapeutic encounter with one's own life's story. Dr. Alice Miller, author of such world-renowned books as the Drama of the Gifted Child and The Truth Will Set You Free, has devoted her life to empowering people who have severe symptoms from denying that they suffered physical and emotional abuse as children. Here, in Free from Lies, she tackles uncharted territory as she shows how former victims can finally heal the scars of their youth by finding the true history of their childhood instead of denying it.

Abandoning traditional concepts of psychoanalysis that often - like society on the whole - protect the parents and accuse the child, Dr. Miller explains why a therapist should become a partial, empathic witness to the survivor of obvious cruelty rather than a neutral analyst. She further provides a guide to help patients find the right therapist who will always and unconditionally stay on the side of the wounded child. Dr. Miller explains as well how to identify the causes of the unconscious pain that manifests itself later as depression, self-mutilation, primal inadequacy, and loneliness.

The journey "from victims to destroyer" explores the dynamic that turns once-abused children into abusive parents. Dr. Miller's revolutionary analysis of this cycle of destruction helps us understand what occurs when the abusive behavior reaches beyond the family unit to threaten the whole society. Abusers are able to deny the most obvious and absolutely undeniable facts without the slightest hesitation. They imitate their parents, who were teaching them to lie by telling their children that they were beaten "out of love." As Free from Lies makes clear, this cycle of suppression and repression of truth originates in a cultural mindset that accepts, and even condones, child abuse by calling it "the right upbringing." Excerpts from Dr. Miller's answers to the startling readers' letters sent to her Web site show that a wide variety of abuse is inflicted daily on children throughout the world.

The media's attention is only captured by extreme cases, but the plight of children who are regularly subjected to ordinary abuse in their "upbringing," like spanking, kicking, and others forms of humiliation, remains silenced or even highly encouraged by many.

Held hostage by anger, guilt, and denial, survivors of child abuse will find in Free from Lies the tools necessary to break the cycle, because Dr. Miller's compassion, experience, and guidance provide a much-needed liberation from the crippling lies transferred to us for millennia.

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