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Alice Miller

Alice Miller

Alice Miller was an eminent polish psychologist as well as an author. Born on January 12th 1923 in Poland she studied for her doctorate degree in psychology, sociology and philosophy at University of Basel in Switzerland. She found her first interest in psychoanalysis on which she wrote three books based on her studies and observations but she found out that psychoanalysis was not feasible enough to serve everybody and deal with the influential aspects of psychology, so after 20 years of being a psychoanalysis practitioner she stopped her practice in the field and started an in-depth study of factors causing and effecting child abuse. She wrote a book, Thou Shalt Not Be Aware: Society’s Betrayal of the Child, for which she was bestowed with the Janusz Korczak literary award in 1986. She analyzed the commonly acceptable childhood abuses such as spanking in the trauma model which she called as poisonous pedagogy, a phrase adopted from Katharina Rutschky’s work originally known as Schwarze Pädagogik and translated as black or dark pedagogy/imprinting. She formulated a trauma model based on the theory of poisonous pedagogy. Poisonous pedagogy describes the methods of bringing up a child that are harmful to their growth and nourishment as in abuses and extreme controlling behavior of parents.

According to the studies conducted by her on child mistreatment and abuse it consisted of all sorts of humiliations starting from the most common spanking to a parent emotionally detaching a child from oneself. Child abuse is one of the most common social dilemmas, according to her that is not only damaging to a child’s social growth but also has a deep seated negative impact on his future well being. According to her propositions on child abuse, it is not about physical or sexual abuse but it is actually the mental torture and abuses that are hurled at a child by his parents which damages a child’s personality. The effects of abuse are often left unidentified until and unless a serious problem in the form of mental illness shows up in the person. All types of mental illnesses which results mostly in a rebellious attitude like involvement in crimes and other damaging activities are an outcome of childhood sufferings in the form of mental abuses that are left unidentified and eventually uncured. The reason behind this is that parents are considered to be a superior authority in every culture and even psychologists are not at all comfortable and confident enough to blame parents for their child’s psychological issues.

Alice Miller was also a gifted and well known writer, her first book, The Drama of a Gifted Child, published in 1979 was about childhood deprivation of love and it’s after effects in adult life, she also wrote a book titled as Abbruch der Schweigemauer (The Demolition of Silence) in which negated the psychotherapists critically who suggested that the victims of emotional abuse should forgive their parents, Miller pointed out this suggestion as completely irrational as this could further increase the suffering. Her other works and publications include Banished knowledge, The Untouched Key which comprised an in depth analysis and theories on childhood abuse.

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