Interview with child advocate Andrew Vachss

Interview with child advocate Andrew Vachss
Friday May 23, 2008

Dear Alice Miller,
This May 2008, Oprah Winfried’s talk with Andrew Vachss from 1993 has been posted on youtube.
Have you seen this interview?
Here is the link:
In this talk, Andrew Vachss confronts Oprah with her belief that anger resulting from an abusive childhood is a bad thing that one needs to overcome, and that the way to “healing” is through forgiveness. And he thoroughly questions it.
What do you think?

AM: I saw the interview. These are some of my thoughts about it: We will never be able to stop child abuse as long as we say: “I put the past behind me, I don’t feel anger, have forgiven and forgotten and get on with my life.” This advice, given very often, never actually helps. Why? Because the endured abuse, if it is not worked out, drives the former victims to do the same with their children as long as they deny the pain and the anger, which the abuse left in their bodies. Our feelings may stay for a long time repressed, unconscious, but they wake up when we become parents. Advice like the one given by Oprah wants to help people who suffer by saying: “Enjoy your life, you should no longer suffer because of things that happened so long ago”. We must know that this advice works at the expense of the next generation, supporting our blindness. Feeling and understanding the causes of our old pain does not mean that the pain and the anger will stay with us forever. Quite the opposite is true. The felt anger and pain disappear with time and enable us to love our children. It is the UNFELT, avoided and denied pain, stored up in our bodies, that drive us to repeat what have been done to us and to say: “Spanking didn’t harm me, it was good for me and will thus also not harm my children.” People who talk like this go on writing books on how we should spank babies early enough so that they learn to behave and NEVER EVER realize what had been done to them so early in their lives.