Amstetten: About the childhood of Josef Fritzl
Monday May 05, 2008
Dear Alice Miller,
the writer of a reader’s letter referred to Amstetten, a few days ago, the harrowing incestuous abuse of his daughter by Joseph Fritzl. On the internet-page of the British “Independent” there is an article which deals, sadly only very briefly, with Fritzl’s childhood. The article is called appropriately: “The making of a monster.”
In the article, the sister in law of Fritzl is quoted, his wife’s sister: “Josef grew up without a father. His mother raised him with her fists,” Mrs R said. “She used to beat him black and blue almost every day. Something must have been broken in him because of that. He was unable to feel any kind of sympathy for other people. He humiliated my sister (who is the mother of the daughter in the basement who supposedly did not know anything) for most of her life.”
More it regrettably does not say. But the connection seems terribly clear, in terms of your books. He has been abused abominably in his childhood and he has passed it on in an unimaginably cruel way to his daughter.
Aside from it it is mentioned that Fritzl grew up during the war as well as the violence of this time – which alone explains less, I think, because that is true for many people of his generation, all of his generation. What one can ask oneself too is, what kind of a childhood his wife must have had if she married such a man who does not show compassion for anyone and who humiliates her daily, and still, she stays with him.
Thank you for your work! M.
AM: Thank you so much for your important letter. The short report of the Independent explains FULLY the behavior of Joseph Fritzl. In an eerily precise way, he has staged what happened to him as a child: His mother was his SOLE RULER, because his father was not there for balance. She has beaten him daily, she owned him completely so that he did not have helping witnesses where he could have noticed how badly off he was, the more so as she obviously provided conscientiously for his food. He was forced into total obedience and had to bear daily the constant violations through his mother, had to be grateful, too, for the provision of clothes and food, could maybe fulfill small wishes in secret and was proud of his slyness and inventive zest for lying and disguise. His life happened hidden in secret, like it does now in the power of the police force. In the same manner, he has organized his daughter’s situation in order to hold up the denial of the suffering of his childhood. His lawyer talks about his “good sides,” just as Fritzl would probably talk about the “good sides” of his mother that enslaved him as completely as he now has demonstrated it to the whole world. Fritzl has shown the world what can happen later to a child who was TOTALLY deprived of his freedom by his single mother “educating” him wih fists by herself, a child who has no witness, who has to be grateful to his, who may never contradict her and who for years impounds secretly wishes of revenge until he can satisfy them years later in a series of rapes of women without ever getting enough. Because revenge does not grant satisfaction and demands again and again new restagings. Even vacations in Thailand were necessary for this purpose. If one would ask Fritzl now, what his childhood was like, he would probably praise his mother and her care and not yet have realized that he grew up in a prison where his muscles, to be sure, were obviously well nourished, but where his brain was comfused and poisoned through the contempt of his dignity. I can hardly imagine that this single, power-hungry and brutal mother did NOT use her small son for her sexual wishes and thus only increased the confusion (what is love and what is meanness?) in his brain. In this way, perversions develop, which pose riddles for us if we don’t have the courage to take seriously the childhood histories.
The deduction of the crimes from the denied childhood-situation is in no way meant to alleviate Joseph Fritzl’s guilt and to invoke pity. As an adult, he is fully responsible for all his crimes and deserves the greatest punishments for committing them. His masterful skillfulness in deceiving and manipulating the police and other authorities as well as his extreme sadism show that he proceeded methodically. So he exhibits strong psychopathic traits. There are hardly any signs for a positive prognosis through effective psychotherapy by acknowledging the truth about his childhood because he is, like every psychopath, not at all interested in understanding himself, only in controlling, misleading and manipulating others. Obviously, he was also successful in deceiving his lawyer when they talked who now believes, as an inexperienced layperson, that Fritzl belongs into a psychiatric clinic but not into jail. It would be very naïve and calamitous to follow this idea because it would mean to deliver Fritzl a giant stage where he could masterfully deceive the stuff and fellow patients and thus harm them.