How do we change the world?
Saturday July 22, 2006
Dear Alice Miller
As a child I was abused and neglected by my parents. I was beaten; left alone; waken up at night to tidy my room or to satisfye my mothers needs; mocked and ridiculed and constantly told how stupid I was; scared out of my mind with religion; not given food when I was hungry; was forced to eat when I was not hungry or to eat food I didn’t like; came to locked doors when coming home from school and getting yelled when my mother arrived for not having a key to the door even though she refused to give me a key; being forced to read out loud by my father while he was ridiculing me; getting my savings account emptied by my parents when they should buy something for them selves or my older brother. My childhood was a dark place smelling of neglect, where I was crushed thoroughly and repeatidly. The pain exceeded tolerable levels so many times that being alive today is almost a miracle.
Half a year ago or so I broke off contact with my father. About a month ago it felt like a natural thing to break off contact with my mother as well. I have three brothers, and none of them reacted when I broke with my father, but they react now. They can understand my attitude towards my father, but can’t see through my mother’s nice appearance of friendliness and helpfulness, seeing that she now – out of necessity – has changed her ways to get her sons to satisfy her emotional needs and carry her symptoms. If she cries in front of my brothers – and she does – they will do anything for her and go to any lenghts to satisfy her needs.
A former friend of mine, a person that saw himself fit to “help” me and others by moral commandments and hidden manipulations “for our own good”, claiming he was inspired by you, Miller, were also extremely idealizing of his mother. Before I saw through him, I really thought he was empathic, and asked once where he’d got his empathy from. “From my mother”, he answered. He hates his father but loves his mother. His anger towards his father for divorcing his mother is great, and he stands up like soldier to help his mother in practical ways and to satisfy her emotional needs.
A woman I know is working in a home for elderly people. One of the people living there is an extremely narcissistic woman, lying, manipulating, and trying to rule all the people around her. Her son comes to visit her once in a while, and she tells him all this kinds of lies in the Baron von Münchausen class; lies one would normally expect people to see through. But her son believs every word she says, and concludes that the personal, her doctors and the other elderly people living there are all mistreating his mother.
It’s really scary and depressing how the bond between the cargiver closest to the child in the early months and years still have such powers over their adult offspring, and with the ease they are able to still control their children down to the detail level, even half a century later.
For the last 6 months my confidence has increased, my attention has improven, and my mind has cleared up sufficently to make me able to write in newspapers and to athorities informing about the negative consequences of unemphatic caring. The response however, so far, has been zero. People believe what they want to believe no matter how much research I present to prove what I’m saying.
How can we change all this, when addressing people on an intellectual level seems so futile; what would it take to speed things up when it comes to making this world a better place for children, Alice Miller?
Warmly, V. J., Norway
AM: We can’t change the world, we can only write what we have understood, as you do it. Your examples are much telling and I hope that people who are searching like you will benefit from them.