The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self
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Miller¡¯s wide and profound book about childhood trauma has provided thousands of readers with guidance and hope, and is essential reading for those interested in psychology, psychotherapy, and more.

Customer Reviews:

  • Looking back may be only way forward.
    "The unexamined life is not worth living" wrote Socrates. If you find yourself on the path of this philosophy a good place to stop is with Alice Miller's short book, "Drama of the Gifted Child". The book, despite being written for therapist's, is unambiguous, easy to understand, and extremely compelling. The book addresses our secret-selves, which includes our subconscious selves, and asks the question, and I paraphrase here, how did you really feel back in the day? Miller contends that a trauma suffered in your young life will continue producing unhappiness, addiction, compulsion, fetishes, mental illness, and worse in your adult life. The only way out of pain is to face the truth. You must face what happened and how you really felt. Not how you were told to feel, not how you needed to feel to survive, not how you told yourself you should feel-- but how you really felt. This is easier read than done. The author states that you cannot undo the past, but through the process of mourning, obtained only by squarely facing the truth, you can free yourself and finally move forward. It is ultimately the story of your psychic pain and psychic redemption. Pain that could not be have been mourned at the point of trauma, and the devastating effects that pain can still be having on your life
    I read reviews that stated Ms. Miller's book was too anti-family, too extreme, and too harsh. Of course, these reviewers probably have not lived lives of hopeless denial spinning in destructive unconscious circles, which only aggregate more psychological suffering. Drama of The Gifted Child unleashes Pandora's Box and demands you look squarely at the contents: the past, your secret self and perhaps more importantly, your fear of both.
    ...more info
  • Everyone who comes in contact with a child must read this.
    I bought this book because I have given away all my previous copies. This stands with only a handful of books I consider seminal and required reading. The Bible, The ABC's, Etiquette, and this book.

    This book is translated, and so some of the key words sound at first as if they mean less, or other than first appears. Read through it. We are setting our children up from day one. It had better be a good set-up, or they will not know how to set up their own children for whole and successful lives.

    Abuse comes not only in the form of black eyes or broken arms or incest. Abuse comes in forms that we thought were "love" but turn out to be traps.

    Read it. Read it. Read it. Think!...more info
  • An introspective look into a "different" process of being a child
    Not that I was gifted, but definitely the message about how we are rasied as children can effect our adult life. A must read for anyone who questions if they had a rough childhood that now contributes to a depressed or slilted look at adult life!!...more info
  • Nothing but the truth...
    I've worked with kids for 26 years, and I can't read this wonderful book without seeing dozens of faces attached to every sentence. These Rorshach-like reviews speak volumes on the depth of its insights; it has conjured up defenses and denials as well as testimony to its healing powers and teaching of truth. I read it every few years and each time I'm struck by how the books wisdom grows deeper as I become more able to see it and feel it. Quite accessible to lay persons, and a reminder of undiminished truth for even the most knowlegeable on children's issues....more info
  • Excellent but painful - not to be taken lightly
    Miller has created a work that reaches into the soul and guides the reader through innermost (sometimes forgotten) memories and details of early life. By showing very clearly how gifted children are often relegated to that back burner of the family because of their own innate self-sufficiency, she paints a vivid picture of unconscious, conditioned manipulation and a common lack of emotional maturity in the part of the parents. The child is essentially denied a self of its own, as the needs of the parent are always paramount.

    WARNING: This book is powerful and extremely insightful, but not the informational or educational manual you might expect from the title--it is very personal, and is likely to evoke unexpectedly strong emotions. Several people saw me with the book over a course of a few months, and immediately thought it would be for them: "Oh, I should read that--I have three gifted children!". I found myself almost discouraging their interest, as they clearly were looking for validation of this statement, not actual insight. The content of this book is extremely powerful and can be a painful experience, especially for a reader who finds himself relating to the content but not ready to face their own reality. Although it is certainly a classic, it is not a book to be offered capriciously to friends and acquaintances--a casual recommendation may be detrimental to your relationship with the unsuspecting victim.

    In my case, my role as peacemaker and surrogate caregiver in the family left me with an overall sense of personal worthlessness and confusion about my own reactions to the events of my adult life. Not having been allowed true feelings of my own through my childhood, I found myself lost in a sea of immature emotions once separated from the needs of both of my parents.

    Miller herself has identified one of the basic problems of her approach: she views the mother as the most probable source of this type of emotional manipulation, as the mother is traditionally the primary caregiver in very early childhood. But if read with a deliberate awareness that both parents (present or not) are involved in the panorama of childhood experience, a more balanced reading will yield surprisingly sharp images and a keener understanding of one's formative years.

    I found myself reading it in small bursts, as some sections resonated so keenly that I had to put the words away for a while to ruminate. But I always came back, as it helped me examine closely some things about myself that I truly had not realized, and has helped me resolve some issues that have caused me continued anger and distress. The work inspired by this book has left me feeling more capable of identifying my true feelings in times of stress, and I feel that the insight into my true self will help me as I continue to grow....more info

  • Uncanny insight
    This is an amazing book. Normally, I never read a book more than once, but I read this one three times in a row. Highly recommended....more info
  • A treatise on victimhood
    The two pillars of this book are: 1) If you're gifted and depressed it's all your mother's fault, and 2) narcissism is a good thing. If ever a book encouraged whining victimhood and wallowing in depression this is it. One wonders if Miller would even have bothered writing this book (first published in 1979) if Prozac had been invented earlier. Reading her methods for "overcoming" one's past makes me thankful that Freud's psychoanalytic techniques have fallen into disfavor of late....more info
  • Frustrating But Extremely Valuable
    It is unsurprising that Alice Miller's Drama of the Gifted Child has met with a certain amount of hostility from both the psychiatry and psychotherapy establishments. After all, she frowns both on the use of drugs and cognitive-behavioral techniques as treatments for anxiety--especially in children. She even suggests that those who would use such remedies may have unaddressed psychological problems of their own. What's worse, she appeals to no empirical studies (double-blind or not) in reaching these conclusions; in fact, a reader might be reluctant to conclude from this book that Miller would even be capable of assessing the value of a careful scientific study of this or that anti-anxiety treatment. So, as I've indicated above, this book is often very frustrating. But Miller's work is also quite valuable, at least in my opinion. Like Freud's contemporary Wilhelm Stekel, Miller may not be a systematic theoretician, but her extensive clinical experience has provided her with several important insights that I believe may be useful, particularly to parents of anxious children.

    I suppose it's fairly obvious by now that there can be many causes of anxiety. Legitimate dangers, sleep deprivation, repressed thoughts or desires, negative reinforcements coincident with pleasurable activities, isolation, and lots of other things can factor into fearfulness. Similarly, we now know that various drugs, meditation techniques, cognitive "re-learning," and gradual desensitization can all help combat these feelings, at least sometimes. It's often forgotten, though, that there are other, simpler techniques that people often use, knowingly or unknowingly, to calm themselves or others down. They may turn on the TV, take a walk, call a friend or even have some ice cream. Perhaps the most common palliative used by parents to allay their children's anxieties is one that comes very naturally. We hug them, sit them on our laps, tell them we love them to pieces, and so on. Most parents don't need to be taught these techniques: we come by them almost biologically. It is interesting to note, however, that this most basic of anti-anxiety medicines is, to a certain extent, inconsistent with all the others because it indicates complete acceptance of the sufferers' current condition. While desensitization, meditation and the rest suggest a certain level of dissatisfaction with the anxious individual, at least in his/her present state, the concentrated care provided by the simple comfort-giver is pure and unconditional. It says "I love you, and I'm fine with you no matter what." There's no rush to distract, improve matters, make things different. Furthermore, Miller suggests that many of those advocating other means to improved mental health are themselves frantic: in the case of stressed parents, it may be that their children are spooking them because they're unable to deal with their own unresolved anxieties. And this may be a result of the fact that their own parents didn't manage things quite right when they were kids.

    While Miller's book isn't specifically a how-to book for parents, but rather a general primer on the importance of looking into one's own childhood for clues to one's current psychological make-up, I believe there are important lessons for parents here. Her position seems to imply that when a `gifted' (i.e. sensitive) child is frightened, perhaps won't go to school, is afraid of the dark, or can't be alone, rushing in with `cures' may just make things worse. The results of such attempted interventions will be familiar to many parents: "You know that you have to go to school." "But I can't go to school, my head hurts too much!" "What do you think is so horrible about school anyways?" "I don't know!" "Well, you must not be breathing correctly or you'd feel better." "I CAN'T!" Etc. Miller's work suggests the merits of an alternative approach: that of acceptance--not only of the child, but even of the condition itself. What she has noticed in her adult patients (and herself) is that where that sort of unconditional acceptance was lacking in childhood, the life of the grown-up is likely to have been difficult, or worse. A feeling of dissatisfaction, incompetance and unhappiness may have haunted the adult.

    What will be amazing to some (and, surprisingly, what Miller doesn't really go into in her book) is how nicely this apparently basic lesson works for both kinds and their parents during the child-rearing years. A number of our friends, (some, like me, freaked out pseudo-therapists themselves) have discovered along with us that in many cases, if we will do no more than sit quietly with a troubled child, making no attempts to distract her, guide her meditations, help her breathe, convince her of the harmlessness of the feared item, or otherwise re-tool, within minutes, everything will be fine. Not only our children, but we too have to "let it be." If we can just look our kids in the eye, tell them how much we love them, and wait out these storms with them, we'll be amazed how unlikely they are to actually fall to pieces. In any event, Miller illustrates quite scarily that if we can't do this, we're failing in basic parenthood, and our children will suffer as adults. For what it's worth, this has been an important lesson for me. In spite of her anecdotal approach, I believe Alice Miller is on to something that not only will be helpful for many unhappy individuals, but that many parents desperately need to learn.
    ...more info
  • Why not just kill your mother?
    After hearing good things about the book I had hoped for some insight on how to change the approval seeking patterns developed from living in family where being good worked alot better than being authentic. Instead I got heavy handed criticism of "mothers" who warp their children through thier own selfish motivations. Some people may have parents who were intentionally cruel, but mine were just sad, depressed and inept. I spent so much effort defending them from this author's wrath, and perhaps anger at her own mother, that if there was any insight in this book about on how I might change my patterns of behavior I couldn't see it. ...more info
  • Good Concept, but Unfocused
    The title is a little misleading: It is not about "gifted children" in the sense we would think of it in the U.S.. The "gift" is the defense some children build to protect themselves from overbearing parents. A lot seems to be lost in the translation from German. A good book for making it's point, but written by a therapist for other therapists who suffer from the same syndrome. After making her point in the first few chapters the author wanders off into a confusing web of irrelevnce. This book is apparently an excerpt from a larger book. As far as it goes in explaining the suppressed personality problems it is good, and can provide a lot of insight for people who had overbearing parents, but provides little help with the problem....more info
  • Things you have never dared to admit
    It is a book that will help you get over the bitter taste in your mouth after admitting to yourselves that your parents have not been perfect and that a lot of difficulties you are facing today derive from the first year of your life. After reading this you will also be a better parent yourself. ...more info
  • Understanding at 73
    This book was recommended to me by my psychiatrist. Before I read it I expected it to be a book about me. It, is however, a book for everyone. It helped to open my eyes to a better understanding of how I have managed to suppress my childhood experiences, taking everything out on myself by not acknowledging how my early life was a strong part of why I have had so many personal disappointments. I, in turn, affected my children by my own insecurities and unresolved issues. SAA ...more info
  • Exceptionally Dense and Clear
    Highly recommended for personal insights. Densely packed with information clarifying difficult concepts.

    This book will give you some clear insights into things you may not have received along the way and how to get past those. Although it is thin, the book has an incredibly large amount of information in it. This is the kind of book you will read the first time with an expression of "Wow" on your face. It will then be something that you will be drawn back to read again and again.

    Even if you don't feel you "missed anything" along the way, the books insights and examples will provide great insights to you. It will provide great understanding of the self and others, therefore anyone can benefit from reading it.

    If you liked Fromm's The Art Of Loving you will love this book as well. The premise of this book being, we are all gifted and it is up to us to reclaim that understanding.

    EXCELLENT self-help material!...more info
  • Healing truth from the Galileo of psychoanalysis
    This is one of those books that are not for the faint of heart. So many books in the world that people think are incendiary or revolutionary, challenging and rechallenging our conception of free speech, religion, citizenship, science and technology, philosophy, economics and politics or spirituality have an attraction to us because of how they serve as metaphors for the painful realities of our personal lives under the illusions we create for public consumption, and the secrets of our inner selves we wish to uncover. We yearn to break free of something and embrace some inner truth; we just don't know what, and therefore call it some aspect of the outer world. The desires we have to be and have more than what we are, the feelings of not knowing who we truly are and never truly being loved- and the root causes of such feelings- are unveiled in this powerful, disturbing, life shifting and life-affirming book.

    Alice Miller was one of the patron saints of John Bradshaw, the man whose work heralded the age of the Inner Child that became part of the pop-psychology lexicon of the 90's. Her perspective and conclusions, scientifically, sociologically and philosophically speaking, are practically undebateable. And without even needing the true case examples from her therapeutic practice to underscore her points (which she uses with striking and original clarity and precision across gender, racial, ethnic, cultural and socioeconomic lines), her elucidation of her central thesis on the ignored emotional life of children- and the cost of having parents unequipped to give them the love they need- will undoubtedly make deep seated memories of your own childhood come to the surface.

    Why does society have such automatic and irrational contempt for the egotist? Why do individulas run to prove themselves (or immediately start thinking of themselves defensively) as the antithesis, upon seeing anyone's character asessed in such a context? Why does even the WORD "self" conjure up confused and uncomfortable feelings when used in anything but a mind-numbing spiritual context with people? What do children need beyond basic nutritional and socioeconomic concerns, and what happens to them when they grow older but do not get it? How is it possible to have more material things and personal achievements than anyone, and still have less and less confidence in who you are?

    This book can explain things about your adult life and relationships that you'd rather not have so easily and individually explained. And those who look to books like these to figure out what's wrong with their friends, lovers and parents will discover more about themselves than they may think they're ready to process. We all are not just ready but overdue for these kinds of life lessons.

    Never has a writer, perhaps before or since, put the words "childhood" and "mourning" together in one thought, such that it can create a complete paradigm shift in how one sees oneself, and sees the opportunities for happiness one's world.

    The fault levied on any psychologist on her level- and there are very, very few- is that this kind of thinking all but demands the kind of narcisstic modern solipsism she seems to diagnose as symptomatic of the illness. (She refers to the dynamic not as an illness, however, but a "tragedy"; keeping us again, I believe, in tune with the ancient Greek mythic/philosophical reference inherent in the old title for this book, "The Drama of the Gifted Child".) Such blanket criticism of psychology books in general could only be concluded with one of this quality from a misreading of the text; the kind of misreading that usually comes when she has hit a nerve the likes of which one didn't expect, may be afraid of and couldn't imagine beforehand. Nonetheless, taking our culture's preoccupation with the self into consideration, there is still nothing of lasting value one could do in the world without at least endeavoring to answer the existential questions of soul, love, freedom, loss and pain- and the true self- that this book demands you to do in a new way for practically the rest of your life.

    I gave it four stars instead of five because it was too short. I didn't want it to end. And the idea that she could 1) prove her point, 2)deeply affect me by making me dream dreams that I've never dreamed before, 3)access undramatic but painful memories of childhood events that I forgot happened but have been behind more than half of the seemingly unrelated choices I've made in my adult life, and 4) feel a usually suppressed rage and grief give way to a new sense of purpose and a release of joyful energy and optimism- all in a little more than a hundred pages- still makes me queasy. In other words, read this as a five and a half star review! Then buy the book, put down the most recent bash on modern politics and the latest neo-spiritual mind candy on the bestseller's list, and begin a real journey....more info

  • The Death of the True Self
    It is rare to read about abuse and trauma and their life-long consequences in poetic prose. Alice Miller writes as though she has experienced the slow death of the True Self that comes with all forms of abuse - from beatings and berating to smothering and doting. Indispensable. Sam Vaknin, author of 'Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited'....more info
  • The Gifted Child
    This book is NOT about ALL people. It is about gifted (in this case that means sensitive) children that are misused to feed their parents narcissism. Most children are not that sensitive and hence not suseptible to that specific abuse.

    It is possible to be gifted and not be sensitive, but those traits do trend together.

    I agree that reading this book is an emotional experience for those former children, but that is a necessary part of the healing process.

    This book pioneered the idea examine this from the child's perspective, and any subsequent critics need to consider this.

    I heartily recommend this book for those that have been affected, and the others should give their copy to the library, grateful not to have needed it....more info
  • Who am I, really?
    When I read this book (which was originally published in German in 1979) for the first time in the early eighties, it completely swept me off my feet. Here was an analysis that explained why I was in search of my 'true self', why I felt my achievements were 'empty', why I felt empathy for others and antipathy for myself. The idea proposed by Alice Miller, in a nutshell, was that there are children who are able to feel and ease the emotional insecurity of their mothers (the 'gift' of the title), thus gain her love but in the process deny their own desires. These children grow up to become helpers in various roles, including therapists - like Alice Miller herself. They develop sensors for the subconscious signals of the needs of others. The problem is, they subconsciously deny themselves the pursuit of their own needs, and consequently cannot become who they 'are'. Which makes them prone to the illnesses which, according to the Freudian theory, go with suppressed desires - depression and grandiosity (the latter being just a way of keeping depression at bay).

    Alice Miller's ideas are based on her experiences as a psychotherapist who practiced for 20 years, and her own self-analysis. Her reasoning draws on some basic Freudian ideas: if the subconscious is brought to consciousness, the illnesses caused by the suppression can eventually be contained; the life of a person is rooted in her childhood and childhood experiences shape who a person 'is'. In the last part of her book she adds a theory derived from her work experience: when children whose needs have been denied in their childhood grow up and have children of their own, they can 'get rid' of their pain by inflicting the pain on their own children. She calls it the vicious circle of disdain, and the handing down of destructive attitudes from one generation to the next like a chain reaction.

    How do I see 'The Drama of the Gifted Child' almost 20 years after reading it for the first time? I continue to be convinced that the general argument is true. Alice Miller captures very well the emotional consequences of denying one's own desires in the service of a person whose love is so overpoweringly important that it demands the sacrifice of one's 'true' self. Hermann Hesse's life and works provide her with excellent examples to illustrate this, by the way. On some cornerstones of her argument, however, I have my doubts now. Firstly, the idea of a 'true self', chiseled in stone if you so want, does not sit very well with me any more. Secondly, her thesis completely omits the role of fathers (quite un-Freudian, by the way), and what I saw as a refreshingly new point of view 20 years ago, looks like a major shortcoming to me now. Thirdly, having read up on some developmental psychology, I do not believe any longer that early experience inexorably shapes our lives. Finally, I think humans are so complex that there can not be a simple mechanism such as a handing down of certain attitudes: there are just too many exceptions from the rule.

    'The Drama of the Gifted Child' is a powerful book and it is worth reading even after 20 years. It is not a scientific book in the sense that it contains testable findings, it presents a practitioner's conclusions gained from personal experience. You may call it an informed speculation, or an interim report from 'the search for the true self' as it is subtitled....more info
  • A Disappointing Book
    As a licensed clinical social worker and marriage and family therapist, I see a lot of clients who have been abused by their parents. It is horrific to have to live through the trauma of abuse and it is difficult for some people to move forward in their lives.

    Alice Miller's background of Object Relations and Freudian beliefs are insufficient to deal with such a complex and difficult area. This is especially true in light of modern developments in medication and analysis.

    I believe in the resilience of the human spirit and this is my main objection to Miller's book. It fits right into the palm of the 'victims' movement'. She blames parents for all that is wrong with their children and encourages survivors to access the pain that stems from their parents' cruelty and contempt. She also encourages survivors to mourn the loss of their childhood. By mourning this loss she believes that the cycles of abuse can be broken.

    I think that a good therapist can work with a client to understand the impact of abuse and to mourn the loss of a childhood. These are very important goals in therapy. However, a good therapist will focus on the strengths that clients' bring through the door and foster these strengths by helping clients to utilize good coping mechanisms and moved forward. All people have the capacity to change at some level if they want to badly enough.

    Mourning is important as well. Sometimes, however, medication is indicated. What is most important is that the client and therapist develop a good rapport and the client trust the therapist. This will foster the client's ability to access deep feelings and share them in session.

    A strength-based psychodynamic therapy is more helpful than the outdated beliefs that Alice Miller puts forward in this book. Relying on this book alone is not sufficient. I encourage professionals and survivors to find updated texts or memoirs to balance out Miller's belief system....more info
  • Very Disappointing ... There're better books out there for Co-dependency
    Most of the information is very "theoritical" and "limited" -- author focus mainly on her own analysis of her mother and her relationship with her. ... In a nutshell, the message is that a dysfunctional mother'll pass her emotioanal issues to her daughter(s), and in turn, the daughter(s) may pass that onto her offspring(s). ... ...more info
  • An Extremely Brave and Insightful Work
    I am on my second reading of "Drama" and am finding it even more riveting. It seems written for me personally. Miller takes on the reigning Freudian methodology with the heretical insight that even well-meaning parents can contribute to the suppression of their children's true selves. It is common knowledge that Freud initially determined that his "hysterical" female patients had often been sexually abused by men in positions of trust and power in their lives, but that the medical society of the time refused to believe this. In order to not be thrown out of the Viennese Medical Society, Freud came up with ingenious but destructive theories (Oedipal complex, etc.) to explain his patients' symptoms. Miller takes us back to the truth - that early childhood trauma and betrayal causes peculiarly destructive symptoms in adult life, and that the situation is further complicated by the psychological process of denial and suppression. The victims even feel positive about their tormentors, so that they can survive (the "Stockholm syndrome"). Miller relates this process to the now well-documented "post-traumatic stress syndrome", but argues that it is even more difficult to understand and undo when the trauma happens not to fully formed adults, but to pre-verbal children, who can only feel the pain, but cannot express its cause. The memories can be suppressed, but the feelings and their effects cannot be eradicated without witnessing them as an adult. This is a very liberating discovery for one who has been traumatized as a child, and leads to methods of recovery that provide hope for adult sufferers. Interestingly, in the preface to the 1994 edition, Miller enthusiastically credits the methods of J. Konrad Stettbacher with helping her overcome her own symptoms of childhood abuse. In the 1996 version, this forward is omitted, as is any reference to Stettbacher's work. I wonder if that is because Miller has changed her mind about his methods, or if there was some kind of proprietary struggle? In any event, "Drama" is a seminal work, and will likely reverberate in the psychotherapy community for a long time to come. A must-read for anyone struggling with the effects of their childhood - and who isn't? Give a copy to your shrink, your parents, your kids, your significant other...but be prepared for some interesting dinner conversations!...more info
  • Somewhat Disappointing
    This book has one or two extremely important insights, however in the many years since the original hardcover publication they have become fairly widely disseminated. As a result, when I read this book, my reaction was "Is this all there is?". For today's reader, there is a lack of exploration of these insights and importantly, the summary of the book here on amazon.com is misleading in saying that it provides guidance on how to overcome the damage done in childhood. This last point is what I was looking for in the book and it says little other than suggesting a route to explore within traditional pyschotherapy....more info
  • The best psychological book I have ever read
    It is not only the content that is excellent but also her writing style. It is objective and not sentimental like lots of books on psychological topics. It reveals repetitive patterns that you learnt during childhood and that you pass on to your children and also experience it with your partner. Most people have a kind of "dark room" where they unconsciously hide negative feelings that only their children will experience. The only critical point is I do not believe that psychoanalysis is the only way of solving these problems, I am sure that other treatments do help as well. Anyway, a fantastic book, I nearly read it four times....more info
  • A classic in serious need of revision
    Miller clearly states in her 1990 preface that her entire psychological orientation has radically changed since writing this book. Yet, she has opted to leave Drama in its original form. Considering the constrictions "orthodox" psychoanalytic theory place on thought, I would love to see the drama free of these colorings.

    Be that as it may, virtually every first-born baby boomer can profit from this book! Our fathers were largely absent. Our mothers were forced into social straightjackets that stunted their humanity. The false selves this environment produced has left a legacy of emotional pain that continues to fuel the therapy industry. As Miller contends, our only hope lies in "the emotional discovery and emotional acceptance of the truth in the individual and unique history of our childhood."

    This book calls us to this historical, and personal, task....more info

  • Finally, validation and hope
    I read this book based on the many strongly positive customer reviews, and I'm not sure I can add anything to the (mostly) eloquent advocacy already posted here, but I will try. Alice Miller has voiced EXACTLY, PRECISELY, and COMPLETELY the realizations I have experienced in the past 30 years of personal construction/reconstruction after a devastating childhood. God, what a RELIEF!!!!! She beautifully smashed open what I have found to be the most potent taboo in human society. In doing so, she has given me powerful validation -- I could not have imagined how powerful -- and a strong tool for recognizing therapists who simply cannot handle the parental issues I have so desperately wanted to deal with for 3 decades. (I had one therapist who did not realize she was -- literally -- curling up in fetal position as I began setting forth my "mother issues," and another [who had even gone through analysis] whose therapeutic manner curdled like milk; I could all but see her mind racing over the way she parents her own children, her subconscious fleeing at lightspeed, absolutely unable to really hear me over the noise in her own head.)

    I have one academic critique: I suggest that many therapists are still holding onto unidentified and unresolved parental issues not only because they are so deeply afraid of their parents, but because they are so horribly afraid of BEING INADEQUATE PARENTS. I think we're up against something very biological here, the incredible drive to be good parents (I can only speak to this based on observation; I fortunately live in a time where I was able to choose not to have children that I would subsequently screw up with my own profound mental illness), hence the depth and entrenchment of the taboo against deep and close examination and criticism of the damage that parents do, accidental and otherwise.

    This slim, impassioned, almost poetic volume has revolutionized my life already, and it has been only 24 hrs since I completed reading it for the first of what will be many times. I can also understand why some people would want to set it on fire.

    Read it and decide for yourself. May it give you as much strength and hope in your struggle as it has given me. I am about to buy another 5 copies to distribute to friends....more info

  • thoughtful if stereotypical
    My therapist told me I should read this book. I suppose she feels I "fit" Miller's idea of a child who never got to feel her own emotions because she had to fight so hard to win the approval and love of her parents. Some of the passages really did seem to speak to me personally, but not everything. I feel like Miller wants to say that ALL children in American society are raised this way, and I'm not sure I agree.

    However, if you watch Bravo's "Sports Kids Moms and Dads," or the other Bravo show about moms and their beauty pageant children, it really helps to have read Miller in order to understand WHY these kids are willing to lead such abnormal lives in pursuit of frivolous or difficult dreams.

    In general, this book is well-written and not very science-y. Sometimes, when you read it, you want to see MORE clinical studies and less anecdotal evidence. Otherwise, it's worth a read. Especially if you, like me, are a twentysomething struggling to discover yourself....more info