Profile of Alice Miller

Profile of Alice Miller

Towards the reality of childhood

Alice Miller received her PhD at the University of Basle and worked as a psychotherapist in Zurich for 20 years. In 1980, she decided to dedicate herself completely to her research on childhood and its tragic influence on the adult’s life. Ever since, she is trying to share her knowledge of the decisive persistence of endured child abuse on the entire life and ways of healing.

Out of 192 members of the United Nations, only 19 have so far forbidden corporal punishment of children. In the USA, there still remain 20 states that allow this cruel violence against children and teenagers. Those appalled by these facts and aware of their consequences for the future will understand all the books by Alice Miller. Because she shows, with the help of her books, articles, flyers, interviews and answers to readers’ mail on her website, that child abuse like beating and humiliating not only produces unhappy, confused children, but also destructive teenagers and abusive parents.

Alice Miller sees the roots of worldwide violence in the fact that children are beaten all over the world, especially in their first years, when their brain becomes structured. The damages caused by this practice are devastating, but unfortunately hardly noticed by society. Though the facts are easy to understand: As children are forbidden to defend themselves against the violence directed towards them, they must suppress the natural reactions like rage and fear; and later, as adults, they discharge these strong emotions against their own children or whole peoples. Alice Miller illustrates this dynamic in her 13 books by using her case histories and her numerous studies on the biographies of dictators and famous artists. The avoidance of this issue in all societies has the result that extremely irrational behavior, brutality, sadism and other perversions can be produced completely undisturbed in families and that the products can be regarded as “genetically conditioned.” Alice Miller thinks that only through becoming conscious of this dynamic can we break the chain of violence. For this reason she devotes her life-work to this enlightenment.

Over the past years, Alice Miller has developed a concept of therapy that guides us to confront ourselves with our history and to acknowledge and thus reduce the still unconscious, but highly active fear of the formerly beaten child. When we succeed to eventually feel our justified, angry indignation instead of denying it we can fully grow up and become autonomous. Since it is this childhood fear of the all-powerful, abusive parents that drives adults to abuse their own children. Countless esoteric and “spiritual” offers serve to obscure the pain resulting from the torture once undergone, yet fully denied.

Alice Miller feels that her discovery, despite its tragic aspects, contains actually very optimistic options because it opens the door to consciousness, to the awareness of childhood reality and thus to the liberation from its destructive consequences. For several years now, her search for the reality of childhood represents a sharp opposition to psychoanalysis, which remains in the old tradition of blaming the child and sparing the parents by calling the abuses fantasies. Consequently, Alice Miller renounced her membership in the International Psychoanalytical Association already in 1988.