If you are looking for a good mentor, I can not think of a better one than Alice Miller. Through my own experience of physical, and emotional abuse; I felt someone out there could help me find the words to express my feelings, and how to respond to the ones who have been lying to me. I found that Alice Miller's own experience of her childhood, and her long journey in the quest for answers has helped me in a way that goes to the root of the problem and inspire me to be better than the ones I once looked up to, my own parents.
Alice Miller was born durring 1923 in Poland, after living in Germany for a short while, and in 1946 she found a home in Switzerland where she won a scholarship to the University of Basel. Gaining a doctorate in philosophy, psychology, and sociology in 1953. Miller practiced psychoanalysis in Zurich from 1960 to 1980. During this time she wrote books concerning what she felt were things missing in her own therapy practices. In conclusion of her writings, she found that the teachings of psychology no longer had any place in her practice. In 1985 she wrote about all of her experience, and findings in a book which won the Janusz Korczak Literary Award, and was titled " Thou Shalt Not Be Aware". She moved to France where she was interviewed by Psychologie Heute (Psychology Today), and the following year she cancelled her memberships to the International Psychoanalytic Association, and the Swiss Psychoanalytic Society. Before her death in 2010, she wrote "Pictures of My Life" which was an informal autobiography which divulged her painful childhood experiences, and her life long journey discovering what to do in this situation of abuse.
My own experience which brought me to Alice Miller is worth being shared with others. I used the word "plastic" to explain how I was feeling up until one day something horrible happened to me. I opened my eyes and noticed things that I missed before. At the same time, I rattled off phrases like "It is a blessing that this happened to me, it is a reason for all of us to now bond". I don't want to go into details but I went to visit my father after not seeing him for many years, and at the end of the day he grabbed his gun and tried to kill me as I tried to flee. My whole family covered this up, and made me feel like it was my fault never once listening to me about what happened. In fact my father was a police man and he was afraid he would get into trouble for what he did so he covered himself by calling my brother and mother which he has not spoken to for decades, and told them that I tried to grab his gun and was going to kill my father, brother, mother, and grandmother.
I was so confused, my mother would not even answer the phone for a week after this happened, and family members I have not heard from for a long time called me and said I tried to hurt their father. I called my father just days after this happened and said I forgive you, and his reply was "what are talking about", "are you recording this conversation". To this day, 18 years later, nothing has changed, and my father died without saying what really happened or that he was sorry.
There is beauty in every story, and I want to share with you how this changed my life. I learned that people need one another, that loneliness is no way to protect yourself from harm. I also learned that forgiving was out of the question, I needed them to tell me why they acted that way, share with them how this made me feel. I wanted them to make up for this, how it cost me my job, cost in future relationships with others, how I needed to learn how to trust another again. I was also afraid of them acting this way to another in the future, that all I went through would be for nothing, and it would happen again. What really concerned me though, is if there is no accountability, what would stop them from doing this to me again and who would believe me, who would offer a hand and help me. I was right to try to confront them, and not just forgive them and hang out like nothing happened. But what happened next was astonishing.
Learning about abuse, which I did see a therapist (which by the way told me to just forgive them), I read all sorts of material, and began to see the world behind all the advertising, pr firms, lies from the ones close to you. I got to know about "word play". I got to also work on finding the words to deal with this, to confront them with that. It is like a teacher telling you to write that dirty word you said in class a hundred times on the chalk board. After a while you "begin to deal" with the feelings and get gifts in little ways, like learning word play used by others.
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Since I was had been questioning everything about my family from day one, I now began to doubt other things in my world. Particularly in politics at the time, George Bush was about to get elected for the first time. I met David Swanson on his internet site back then while making comments on his site using Dr. Seuss quotes. I wanted others to not feel alone in all of this, I wanted others to stand up strong when another puts his neck out in trying to make this world a better place. I met people like Amy Goodman, who introduced me to others like Howard Zinn, Buckminster Fuller, Cindy Sheehan, and many others who I saw who genuinely cared, and was trying to find words. But what was most remarkable is that the word play I saw in my family was the same word play used in politics. It made it very hard to put their actions into simple words. Kinda like putting a worm on a fishing hook, if you have tried this you know what I am talking about.
The other remarkable thing would I would like to share, is that I took movies I liked as a kid, and researched their authors. I wanted to know what was going on in their lives before they wrote that book, or wrote that song. I got to meet people like Jim Morrison, Kipling, and Burroughs. I found out that these people also saw something in their lives that changed them, and it bothered them so much that they wrote about it to reach a much bigger audience than the ones who were not at first listening to them. You see people want to tell another so they don't feel all alone, they want a mentor, advice, and what this right away during what they believe to be the most important thing and time in their life. Imagine having an experience where you meet a girl and you can not sleep, eat, or even want to go to work. You try to tell your parents about this feeling, and they don't want to hear it because their marriage is not going well. You then try to tell your neighbor, and he does not want to hear it because he is still bitter about not having a girlfriend of his own for so long. You get all this practice, like writing it down on the chalk board for a hundred times and finally you break and reach for a different audience, you tell strangers. I can not tell you enough that when my dad tried to hurt me, and my family did not listen, I told my customers about what happened to me, I could not help myself. Just as a book writer could not help themselves, just as the song writer picked up a guitar having never played one before just so they could reach an audience that would listen and help.
Burroughs wrote the book Tarzan, he got his nephew hired on to a militia during world war one, and his nephew tried to get on with the English army but they refused him because he was retarded so his famous relative pulled some things and got him a gun and into the war. Well he died, and the writer felt so bad about that because he basically handed a retarded guy a gun so he researched the war to see what it was really all about. Back then you did not have all the pr firms, and media like you do today that desensitize you to war, or its cause. It was easy to find out that the war was about money and his nephew died for no good reason. So he wrote about mankind, he came under the conclusion that animals behaved better than men, and that these animals needed protecting from us. Hence you have Tarzan protecting the jungle. There were others you felt like we all do, them and I, Kipling with the Jungle Book (witnessing English brutality in the India Settlements), and Peter Kropotokin. Which by the way Peter gave away his tittle as Prince of Russia (seeing how people behaved at the palace as he grew up there) and wrote a book called "Mutual Aid". It seams that we all are looking for answers, and are displeased with what we have seen, and trying to understand, and confront this. Alice Miller would be happy to see her name at the head of this banner about confronting others, instead of ignoring it all, or worse forgiving them and remain in these dire situations.
Buckminster Fuller had a friend, his name was John Denver. John wrote a song for him titled "What One Man Can Do". Buck wanted us all to learn how to speak to one another about important things, if he could he would have invented a method. Jonas Salks believed we have this ability built into each of us all, that we are not waiting for "the one" like in the m
Matrix movie with Neo, or that "this president will make everything better". Jonas felt that it is built into the evolutionary model of all things to adapt, to correct things as we go and hoped that the correcting would outpace the mistakes. Dr. Seuss books were genius because he tried to reach children before their parents had too large an effect on them and he wanted them to learn about courage, how to stand up and how your doing so is necessary in the scheme of things. Howard Zinn said a person could not "turn his head" while traveling on a run away train heading for danger. You will find comfort to know that there are more role models out there for you to be inspired to speak your words of what bothers you, people like Leo Tolstoy, Rahul Bose, Jose Rizal, Vincent Van Gogh, Nikos Kazantzakis, Emile Zola, Timothy Leary, Doris Lessing, Ronald David Laing, William Osler, Bob Dylan, Mark Twain, and George Orwell.
By the way, my family said I should not tell this story to anyone. I hope my message was louder than theirs, and that I did not go through all of this for nothing, that it may help you with your family. After all, this world is not going in a good direction, but it is a world made up of families and if we each tried and stood up, think of how this could be a better place for the ones who really want to live. Thank you Alice Miller for dedicating your life to help us while we learn to question our own. In closing, here is the quote I found that changed my way of thinking.
Alice Miller (psychologist) - quote, In my own therapy it was my experience that it was precisely the opposite of forgiveness --namely, rebellion against mistreatment suffered, the recognition and condemnation of my parents' destructive opinions and actions, and the articulation of my own needs-- that ultimately freed me from the past.
References, and Credits:
wikipedia (for the picture of Alice Miller)
Democracy Now (Amy Goodman Interviews Howard Zinn, and Buckminster Fuller's Son)
"After Downing Street" David Swanson
Cindy Sheehan (speaking out for her son Casey)
Robert Redford ( a role model growing up, later "The Milagro Beanfield War"
John Denver (listening to his music as a child)
Rocco and Bruno (my Labrador, and Beagle whom "I love")
Jerry Ray Lumpkin (my step father whom really loved "me")
Rob Kall (my sincere gratitude, whom made this article possible)