Wednesday March 26, 2008
Dear Alice Miller,
I am writing to thank you for your enormous contributions to our collective understanding of child development and child abuse.
Fifteen years ago I embarked on a journey to get to the truth about an issue that has affected me deeply, circumcision. In the course of my seeking I was directed to your books by Marilyn Milos of NOCIRC.
Your books particularly, Banished Knowledge, helped me to understand the dynamics in my upbringing and those that shaped the lives of my parents. My father was your classic case of poisonous pedagogy. When I was six years old and he was violently spanking me, (part of his discipline process to teach piano) I cried out to him, “Why are you doing this to me?” And he replied as he continued to hit me, “Because this is how my father taught me violin lessons.”
My mother revealed your classic example of how shame is taught. We lived under a silent taboo not to talk about bodily functions, or sexual matters. As a very small child I remember how every time she saw a small boy fondling his penis through his pants she would comment, “That’s disgusting, that child’s mother should teach her child not to touch himself like that.”
I did not write to tell you the story of my life, but simply to say how very much I appreciate all I have read of your work, how often your writings confirmed for me things that I had experienced, but couldn’t put into words. I refer to your books regularly and often encourage other to read them. Several times I’ve had the experience of discussing childhood experiences with my contemporaries and several times had someone bring up your work. When I asked one friend how he had survived his most horrific childhood of severe abuse and neglect he relied, “Ever heard of Alice Miller?”
I hope this finds you well and enjoying your life. Please know you are thought of very well by many people and many of us are extremely grateful for sharing your most enlightened views.
Very best wishes, J. L., Vancouver, BC, Canada
AM: I thank you also very much for your warm letter, am of course happy that there are people like you and your friends in Canada who are able to understand my writing because they are able to take seriously their own experiences (like your father’s answer that teaches you volumes). However, there are so many formerly beaten children who are even as adults still much afraid of being abandoned or punished in another way when they begin to SEE their parent’s deeds that they don’t dare to speak up.