|Publishers' summaries provided by Alice Miller.
Body Never Lies - The Lingering Effects of Cruel Parenting
New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2005.
World-renowned therapist Alice Miller has devoted a lifetime to
studying the cruelties inflicted on children. In The Body Never Lies
Miller goes further, investigating the long-range consequences of
childhood abuse on the adult body.
Using numerous case histories gleaned from her practice, as well as
examining the biographical stories of celebrated writers such as
Marcel Proust, Virginia Woolf, Friedrich Nietzsche, and others,
Miller shows how a child's emotional traumas, repressed humiliation,
and bottled rage can manifest themselves as serious adult health
problems. In discussing the lives of these literary giants, Miller
explores the known or, in some cases, unknown traumas that haunted
each author's childhood. More important, Miller connects the
writers' painful childhoods with their later afflictions, which
included depression, anorexia, cancer, and even insanity.
While examining everything from parental spanking to sexual abuse
and emotional blackmail, Miller exposes the societal pressures that
converge to harm children. She explains that we have so many
societal mechanisms to prevent us from feeling anger or rage against
our parents that we tend never to confront our own feelings. To
combat the debilitating effects of such jarring and often
contradictory emotions, Miller explores the benefits of using a
therapist as an "Enlightened Witness" to reaffirm the
patient's repressed reactions to a forgotten childhood experience.
Miller also discusses how institutionalized religion itself can
contribute to the crushing guilt that prevents us from being healthy
and conscious adults. She urges society to realize that the Fourth
Commandment -"Honor thy father and thy mother"- offers
immunity to abusive parents. Indeed, she argues, it is healthier not
to extend forgiveness to parents whose tyrannical childrearing
methods have resulted in unhappy, and often ruined, adult lives.
In a stirring rejection of the "Poisonous Pedagogy" that
pardons even the most brutal parenting, Miller examines the cyclical
nature of violence and abuse. Parents and guardians who abuse their
children, both physically and mentally, leave them embarrassed and
hurt. The inability of most children to properly express such
feelings causes them to perpetuate the cycle by lashing out at their
family, friends, and, above al1, their own children, who will
inevitably do the same.
Throughout The Body Never Lies, Miller offers a calm and
encouraging voice. Indeed, The Body Never Lies, through its
illuminating and provocative insight, affords us a unique
understanding of the immense healing powers of the adult self and
Truth Will Set You Free - Overcoming Emotional Blindness and Finding
Your True Adult Self
New York: Basic Books, 2001.
Drawing on the latest research on brain development, Miller
speaks out against the increasing popularity of childhood corporal
punishment and demonstrates how spanking and other disciplinary
traumas are encoded in the brain, stunting our ability to overcome
them. Our bodies retain memories of humiliation, causing panoply of
physical ills and dangerous levels of denial. This denial, necessary
for the child's survival, leads to emotional blindness and finally
to mental barriers that cut off awareness and the ability to learn
new ways of acting. If this cycle repeats itself, the grown child
will perpetrate the same abuse on later generations, warns Miller.
In this stunning new contribution to her life's work, Miller not
only invites us to confront our own pasts, but reveals how each of
us can liberate our present as adults and as parents.
New York: Basic Books, 1981, Paperback under the title The
Drama of the Gifted Child, in UK, The Drama of Being a Child.
The common bond unifying the three studies in this volume is a
concern with the factors operative in loss of the self
and the routes leading towards the achievement of true identity, The
Drama of the Gifted Child (and "gifted" here means
"sensitive", "aware") has its roots in an
intuitive apprehension of the parents' needs by the child at a very
early stage. The child adapts to those needs by learning not to feel
his most intense feelings, once he has realized that those
feelings are considered undesirable. Although these
"prohibited" feelings cannot always be avoided at a later
stage, they remain split off. This means that the most vital part of
the true self is not integrated into the personality. The result is
emotional insecurity and impoverishment (loss of self), either
expressed in the form of depression or fended off via
grandiosity. The examples cited sensitize us to the mute,
inarticulate suffering of the child and help us to penetrate the
idealizations serving to conceal that suffering. It also opens our
eyes to the tragedy of the parents; their unavailability and
inaccessibility prove to be the fruit of their availability as
Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-rearing and the Roots of
New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1990.
In this book, Alice Miller opens our eyes to the devastating
effects of education and care purporting to have the "child's
best interests" in mind. She does this first by analyzing what
she calls the "pedagogic approach", and secondly by
describing the childhood of a drug addict, a political leader (Adolf
Hitler), and a child-murderer.
Her book succeeds in conveying not just factual (and hence
uninvolving) information, but also an emotional awareness of the way
in which psychoses, drug addiction, and crime represent a deferred
and indirect expression of experiences undergone in early infancy.
For a child to develop naturally, she needs respect from her
caregivers, tolerance for her feelings, awareness of her needs and
sensibilities, and authenticity on the part of her parents. This
authenticity manifests itself in an upbringing style in which it is
the personal freedom of the parents - and not educational dogma -
that imposes natural limits of the child.
Tu Propio Bien (Spanish Edition)
Barcelona: Tusquets, 1998
Shalt Not Be Aware: Society's Betrayal of the Child
New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998
Child abuse is beginning to be recognized as something more
significant than an isolated family affair. The title of this book,
first published in Germany in 1981, spells out the unspoken
commandment that such abused children - indeed, all of us - have
been obeying since early childhood. We have all been made to feel
from our earliest days that we are to blame for anything
shameful that happens to us, so that our awareness of these
inflicted abuses dims.
Alice Miller demonstrates that this centuries-old tradition also
finds expression in Freud's notions of the "Oedipus
complex" and "infantile sexuality" - his drive theory
- which put the blame on the child. Freud maintained that his
patients who claimed to have been sexually molested as children were
only "fantasizing" as a defense against their own sexual
desires for their innocent parents. This theory helped to conceal
the fact that sexual abuse of children occurs frequently and results
in later emotional disturbances in the victims of such abuse -
because they are not allowed awareness of it.
In fairy tales, works of literature, and dreams, Alice Miller
maintains, the truth about childhood can emerge, precisely because
it is not recognized as such. Detailed examples from Kafka, Flaubert,
Beckett, and Virginia Woolf offer proof of her thesis and illustrate
her understanding of human creativity.
of a Childhood
New York, Penguin USA, new edition 1996.
In Pictures of a Childhood, Alice MiIler explores the
connection between childhood and that creative activity which
"somehow permits us to give form to the chaos within and
thereby master our anxiety."
Having realized in the early seventies a lifelong desire to
paint, Dr. Miller found an unfamiliar world emerging from her
paintings: not the "nice" world of her childhood, to which
she had always testified, but one of fear, despair and loneliness.
Meditating on her spontaneously executed watercolors - sixty-six
of which are reproduced here in full color - and their implications,
Dr. Miller offers an analysis of the roots of creativity in the authentic
self's struggle for survival.
Untouched Key: Tracing Childhood Trauma in Creativity and
New York: Anchor-Press, 1992
As in her former books, Alice Miller again focuses on facts. She
is as determined as ever to cut through the veil that, for thousands
of years now, has been so meticulously woven to shroud the truth.
And when she lifts that veil and brushes it aside, the results are
astonishing, as is amply demonstrated by her analyses of the works
of Nietzsche, Picasso, Kollwicz, Keaton and others. With the key
shunned by so many for so long - childhood - she opens rusty locks
and offers her readers a wealth of unexpected perspectives.
What did Picasso express in "Guernica"? Why did Buster
Keaton never smile? Why did Nietzsche heap so much opprobrium on
women and religion, and lose his mind for eleven years? Why did
Hitler and Stalin become tyrannical mass murderers? Alice Miller
investigates these and other questions thoroughly in this book. She
draws from her discoveries the conclusion that human beings are not
"innately" destructive, that they are made that way by
ignorance, abuse, and neglect, particularly if no sympathetic
witness comes to their aid. She also shows why some mistreated
children do not become criminals but instead bear witness as artists
to the truth about their childhoods, even though in purely intuitive
and unconscious ways.
It is Dr. Miller's goal to encourage these sympathetic witnesses,
to lend them support, and to inform them about the world-wide and
ignored plight of children, for she thinks that only by confronting
the truth that has been avoided from time immemorial can human
beings be saved from blind destruction and self-destruction. This
discovery is eloquently illustrated in the last section of The
Untouched Key, wherein the story of Abraham and Isaac and the
story of "The Emperor's New Clothes" are retold to reveal
their profound meaning.
Knowledge: Facing Childhood Injuries
New York: Anchor-Press, new edition 1997.
Cruelty to a "bad child" will make that child into a
bad adult and later create a bad world, unless an enlightened
witness comes to the rescue. A child respected and taken seriously
will create a different world; our biological mission is not to
destroy, but to protect human life. "It is not true that evil,
destructiveness, and perversion inevitably form part of human
existence, no matter how often this is maintained. But it is true
that we are daily producing evil and, with it, an ocean of suffering
for millions that is absolutely avoidable. When one day the
ignorance arising from childhood repression is eliminated and
humanity has awakened, an end can be put to this production of
evil." (Alice Miller, Banished Knowledge).
Down the Wall of Silence
New York: Penguin USA, new edition 1997.
Psychohistorical analyses of such brutal tyrants as Adolf Hitler,
Joseph Stalin, and Nicolae Ceausescu show the obvious links between
the horrors of their childhoods and the horror they inflicted on the
Dr. Miller pleads for a course of remembrance and recognition on
the part of the victim, and for awareness and condemnation of child
abuse on the part of society. She advocates getting access to and
articulating long-denied emotions so that healing may take place. In
her extensive new preface for this edition, Alice Miller discusses
the increasing attention being paid to childhood abuse since the
book's original publication. She also reveals personal details about
her own life that explain her special interest in childhood and
emotional growth, the kind of growth that can encourage survivors to
face the truth and to heal, thereby preventing future abuse from
Drama of the Gifted Child
New York: Basic Books, new edition, revised and updated, 1997.
The first publication of The Drama of the Gifted Child
(1979) and of this book are separated by fifteen years of experience
- the author's experience with her own self-therapy and with other
recent therapy methods, and finally her knowledge of the life
histories of the several thousand readers who have written to her.
The research into childhood she has undertaken in this period has
led to a further fine-tuning of her earlier findings, as is
documented and illustrated here with an abundance of examples.
The author examines the consequences of repression at the
personal and social level, the causes of the physical and
psychological harm done to children and how this can be prevented,
and finally the new methods at our disposal for dealing with the
consequences of infant traumas.
Drama del Nino Dotado (Spanish translation)
Barcelona: Tusquets, 2009
of Life: Seven Scenarios
New York: Pantheon Books, 1998.
Here are seven "life stories" of characters who, in
recounting their lives to one another, invite us to think back over
our own lives and see what has formed us and how we may yet become
How do our first experiences of pain and love affect our future?
This is the key question. Alice Miller shows us people who have
suffered great loneliness in childhood and who now, in adulthood,
despite their yearnings for contact and communication, are still
trapped in inner isolation. But encounters with others who had the
good fortune to grow up in loving families open them to new worlds
in which they too can learn to change.
As we watch, some manage to speak the truth, to free themselves
of old fears and defensive myths, to trust. The luckiest come to
love and be loved-by partners, friends, and their own children, whom
they can then free from the curse of having to relive their parents'
of Life: Six Case Histories
New York: Basic Books, 2008.
Several poignant scenarios and two essays of reflection focus on
a range of issues - from birth, motherhood, and partnership to
hatred, cults, and the Holocaust. In this updated tenth anniversary
edition, Alice Miller offers new reflections on the transformative
power of childhood.
Rage to Courage: Answers to Readers' Letters
New York: W.W. Norton & Co.,
Collected for the first time, Alice Millerís most helpful,
therapeutic, and invaluable answers to hundreds of readersí
letters. The renowned childhood researcher, psychotherapist, and
best-selling author Alice Miller has received, throughout her long
and distinguished career, countless personal letters from readers
all over the world. In From Rage to Courage, Dr. Miller has
assembled the most recent, producing an insightful work that
illuminates the issues and consequences of childhood abuse.
from Lies: Discovering Your True Needs
New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2009.
Practical and perceptive, Millerís work explains what we can
expect from therapy, how we can identify the causes of our own pain,
and why subconscious pain, unaddressed for decades, manifests itself
later as depression, self-mutilation, primal inadequacy, and chronic