4. Why is spanking always
AM: Spanking is always an abuse of power. It is
humiliating and it creates fear. A state of fear can only teach
children to be distrustful and hide their true feelings. They
learn from their parents that violence is the right way of
resolving conflicts and that they are bad or unworthy and thus
deserve correction. These children will soon forget why they were
spanked. They will submit very quickly, but later in life, they
will do the same to weaker persons. By spanking we teach violence.
The child's body has learned the lesson of violence from their
parents over a long period and we cannot expect it to suddenly
forget these lessons at the behest of religious values, which the
body doesn't understand anyway. Instead, it retains the memory of
5. Many despicable acts are committed in the name of
parental love. How would you define real parental love?
AM: I love my children if I can respect them with their
feelings and their needs and try to fulfill these needs as well as
I can. I don't love them if I see them not as persons equal to me
but as objects that I have to correct.
6. You speak of child abuse in our cultures as a
forbidden issue. Why is this so? What is needed to change this
state of affairs?
AM: The issue is forbidden because most of us were
spanked in childhood and we don't want to be reminded of that. We
learned as children that spanking is harmless. We had to learn
this lie in order to survive. Now, as adults, we don't want to
know the truth, that in fact spanking is harmful. It is
interesting that when you say "don't spank your child"
people become aggressive with you. They become even more
aggressive if you say "you were spanked yourself and suffered
as a child, you were forced to deny your pain in order to
survive". They would rather kill you than admit the truth and
feel the pain of having been humiliated and unloved when they were
spanked by someone five times bigger than themselves. These
aggressive reactions are understandable. Imagine how you would
feel if you went out on the street and suddenly somebody five
times bigger than you beat you in a rage and you didn't even
understand why. A child cannot bear this truth, it must repress
it. But an adult can face up to it. As adults we are not so alone,
we can look for witnesses, and we have a consciousness we didn't
have when we were children.
7. You say that hatred is better than the adoration of
abusive parents, because it is a sign of our vitality. With regard
to their parents many people find themselves trapped in a chain of
self-deception (they idealize them). How can we direct hatred,
rage and anger at the proper recipient (and not at ourselves or
AM: We can try to become emotionally honest with
ourselves and find the courage to confront the reality of our
childhood. Unfortunately there are not many people who really want
to know what happened in the first years of their lives. But their
number seems to be growing. Some years ago we created forums in
different languages on the Internet. They are called ourchildhood.
Adults who were abused as children and who want to know more
precisely what happened to them and how they actually feel about
it can share their memories with other survivors in a safe
environment and get more and more in touch with their true
histories. Thanks to the compassion of these feeling witnesses
they achieve more emotional clarity that helps them to change the
way they treat their own children. Of course, they become more
authentic with their partners once they understand better the
causes of the strong emotions that were previously repressed.
8. One of the basic psychological truths is that persons
emotionally deprived in childhood hope all their lives to receive
the love denied to them. Why is it so hard to accept that we
weren't important to anyone? Many even prefer to commit suicide
AM: Yes, you are quite right. Some prefer to commit
suicide or willingly accept a chronic illness and some prefer to
become dictators over whole nations, or serial murderers, and to
show to others what they learned as children (violence, cruelty,
and perversion), rather than acknowledge their early deprivation.
The more deprived and mistreated people were in their childhood,
the more they stay attached to their parents, waiting for them to
change. They also seem to be stuck with their fear. This fear of
the tormented child makes any kind of rebellion unthinkable, even
if the parents are already dead.
9. While we are on the subject, Slovenia is famous for
its high percentage of suicides. How would you tackle this
AM: Suicide is always the consequence of denied suffering in
childhood, as is depression. I have written an article about
depression, which you can read on my website. There I refer to
many examples of very successful stars, such as Dalida for
instance, the famous Egyptian singer, who in their lives got
everything they wanted and were admired and famous. But in the
middle of their lives they became depressive and many committed
suicide. In all these cases it was not the present that made them
suffer, it was the denied traumas of their childhood that made
them feel miserable because they were never consciously
acknowledged. The body was left alone with its knowledge.
10. How do you think morality and ethics come about? Why
does someone become immoral?
AM: Never by preaching, only by experience. Ethical
values are not transmitted by words, not even by the most holy
words, only by experience. Nobody is born wicked. It is ridiculous
to think, as people thought in the Middle Ages, that the devil put
a wicked child into the family which should correct it by
spanking, so that it could become a decent person. A tormented
child will become a tormentor and certainly a cruel parent unless
in childhood he/she found a helping witness, a person with whom
they could feel safe, loved, protected, respected and thanks to
these experiences learn what love can be. Then such a child will
not become a tyrant; he/she will then be able to respect other
people and have empathy for them. It is very significant that in
the childhood of all the dictators I have examined, I didn't find
even one helping witness. The child thus glorified the violence it
11. Religious education teaches us to forgive our
tormentors. Should we really forgive them? Is it in fact possible
to do so?
AM: It is understandable that we want to forgive and
forget and not to feel the pain, but this outcome doesn't work. It
turns out sooner or later that this is not an outcome at all. Take
the many sexual abusers among the people of the Church. They have
forgiven their parents for sexual abuse or other abuses of their
power. But what are many of them doing? They are repeating the
"sins" of their parents because they have
forgiven them. If they could consciously condemn the deeds of
their parents they wouldn't be urged to do the same, to molest and
to confuse children by forcing them to stay silent - as if this
was the most normal thing to do and not a crime. They just deceive
themselves. Religions can have an enormous power over our minds
and force us to many kinds of self-deception. But they have not
the slightest influence on our body, which knows perfectly well
our emotions and insists on our honesty.
12. Is compassion for Milosevic or Saddam Hussein
AM: I have always had compassion for children but never
for an adult tyrant. Here, I have sometimes been misunderstood,
especially when I described the childhood of Adolf Hitler. Some
readers didn't understand that I could feel compassion for the
infant but never for the adult Hitler, who became a monster
exactly because he denied how he suffered from being severely
humiliated by his father (who by the way was an illegal child of a
Jew). (See For
Your Own Good). As a child, Adolf Hitler was of course
unable to defend his dignity but he also remained submissive in
adulthood. He feared and honored his father his whole life,
suffered from attacks of panic at night, and his unconscious
hatred was directed at all Jews and half-Jews.
13. The fiercest adorers of their parents are those who
were the most emotionally deprived by them. There is a very cruel
mechanism at work here and it produces a very pessimistic vision
of life. Is there hope for the badly wounded?
AM: I don't think that my view is pessimistic. On the
contrary, I think that if we can understand how the cycle of
violence functions we can share our knowledge with others and
cooperate in putting a stop to it. But if we believe that people
are born with genes that make them violent we can't change
anything. Although this opinion is highly pessimistic and
feeble-minded, it is shared by many so-called intelligent
individuals. I have never got an answer to my question why so many
"genetically" defective persons should have been born
under the rule of Hitler in Germany or of Milosevic in Serbia. The
reasons for these misleading ideas are always the same: people
prefer to believe in genes than to see how their parents treated
them and to feel the pain. But by feeling the pain they could
liberate themselves from the compulsion to repeat and thus become
responsible adults. This statement is by no means pessimistic.
14. Is there hope for those who don't find a witness?
AM: An informative book can also function as a witness.
The more we speak and write about this problem, the more witnesses
will be available in the world, well-informed witnesses who can
help children to feel respected and safe and help adults to bear
their truth. Denial not only urges us to repeat, it also consumes
a great deal of energy. Illnesses, eating disorders and substance
addictions are the consequences.
15. "Positive thinking" can be just as harmful
as religious injunctions to forgive and love those who hate us.
Should we avoid new age self-help manuals?
AM: Yes, you are right. "Positive thinking" is
in no sense a remedy, as it is a form of self-deception, it is a
flight from the truth and cannot help because the body knows
better. In my recently published article on my website, "What
is Hatred?" I explain this point more extensively. I do the
same in my latest book, which will soon be published in your
16. What are the political consequences of your writing?
AM: They could be beneficial indeed if politicians were
not afraid of confronting the truth of their childhood.
Emotionally, most of them are two-year-old children who were never
loved and respected as the persons they were, with their feelings
and needs, even if some of them were admired for their skills.
They deny their frustrations of the past and are looking for
loving parents in the persons of their voters. The more money they
get for the election campaign, the more they feel loved. But as
this "love" can never make up for the absence of love
that the child of a strict, cold demanding and resentful mother
had to suffer, the struggle for love can never stop. And thousands
of people will pay the price.