|4. Why is spanking always wrong?
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 being spanked.
5. Many despicable acts are committed in the name of parental love. How would you define real
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 our
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 instead.
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 problem?
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 had endured.
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
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 acceptable?
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
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 language.
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.