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The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self, Revised Edition
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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:

  • Another tiny view in the quest for freedom from self
    Dr. Alice Miller takes us on a journey from her subtley unique perspective, of the thoughts and programs that enslave us all. This easy to read book sheds much needed light on the crippling mindsets we inherit from our upbringing. These mindsets lead to a bewildering array of behaviors and automatic responces that baffle, hurt and enslave us and the ones closest to us. A good read....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
  • An important book on the way to self discovery
    Alice Miller highlights in this book the importance of looking into one's own history in order to understand our psychological makeup and become free of behaviors that otherwise hinders us in being ourselves. I have come to understand irrational and debilitating aspects of my own behaviors, that stemmed from childhood traumas, and seen how these can be liberated once they are experienced emotionally. It is not done over night and not by just reading this book alone.

    The book is however a great encouragement and at the same time through stories and examples gives an understanding of where to look and clues to some of the behaviors that previously were simply confusing and puzzling. I wished I had read this book 19 years ago, when I first encountered therapy as it would have been an added help in understanding the process that I had started on. Another powerful book on this subject is "The Narcissistic Family".

    All in all a highly recommended book, as understanding the human 'machine' is vital in order to become free, as Gurdjieff would say....more info
  • A Poor Substitute for Religion.
    I was given this book by my psychologist to deal with my "so-called" manic depression. I trust science (the pills). I trust religion rooted in tradition. I don't trust Alice Miller. Sorry, but my existence requires more depth than blaming all the problems in the world and in my life on my parents, specifically my mother, and how they failed to live up to Miller's idealistic, goofy, and hockey expectations. She's peddling snake oil folks....more info
  • True insight doesn't require many words or jargon
    The shortest and best book I've read on the subject of childhood trauma. This book is controversial because it is terrifying to admit that love can be lied about. If you prefer to mask raw emotion and grief with intellectual diversions or chemicals, this book is not for you....more info
  • Wonderful, Insightful. It describes half the journey
    As others have said, if you take this book word for word then all you need is therapy and you'll be fine. Therapy is half the solution to a happy life. I believe combining the benefits of therapy to understand some of the 'learned feelings' that are a fallout from childhood, with some intellectual research into society and human nature, and a bit of understanding of the power of positive thinking is important. I find myself now quite well off in the latter two having done a lot of introspection into my life and trying to understand others behaviours, which leads to acceptance and reduces damaging expectations. Optimism is something I have always had. But having gotten to this point there was something missing: that is the ability to feel joy in some of the things I do in life. I trace this back to my childhood where in the absence of sufficient validation I was unable to appreciate self created joy. If no-one feels that joy with you (even if the opportunities are there), then how do you know?. To this point I would have given the book 5 stars for its thorough dealing with the topic, but I given it four because the book implies that a therapist is necassary to revisit these feelings. But the objectivity of the therapist can be a hindrance to some. Its here I feel that introspective meditation exploring all the same feelings may be beneficial, and may be enough for some people in lieu of therapy. If you know where to go, you can conceivably do it yourself too, or have it as a useful accompaniement to expensive therapy....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
  • Is the Law Written in Your Heart???
    My intention and heart when posting this review are focused on the hope of reducing cruelty and increasing compassion for those who suffer silently in the face of childhood abuse with little understanding from those around them. Painful situations can be a good barometer, however, to help contribute to awareness that something is wrong and inspire change and action.

    Alice Miller changed the name of this book from "Prisoners of Childhood" to "Drama of the Gifted Child" because she states the way children adapt in the face of childhood abuse is truly gifted. They adapt in ways that help them survive situations that may push the child past his or her ability to cope. The child therefore develops survival strategies that aid in his ability to adapt. In Miller's book, "For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence", she discusses an author named Sylvia Plath. She said that Plath kept her suffering to herself because she did not have anyone that she felt it acceptable to express her difficulties. Sylvia received the message in her childhood to communicate primarily happy thoughts and experiences, therefore her letters while away from home only contained information about how well things were going for her. Miller writes that Sylvia did, however, write down her painful experiences and feelings in poetry that she kept to herself. The following is a poem she wrote:

    "You ask me why I spend my life writing?
    Do I find entertainment?
    Is it worthwhile?
    Above all, does it pay?
    If not, then, is there a reason?...
    I write only because
    There is a voice within me that will not be still" (Miller, 1989, p. 254).

    Miller explores the idea that if Sylvia had been welcomed to express her feelings, instead of encouraged to repress and deny their existence, she may never have taken her life. Adolf Hitler, Miller writes, was raised in a similar way. Hitler and all of the leading figures of the Third Reich were prevented from experiencing, expressing, and acknowledging their feelings and pain in childhood. Miller points out that Hitler never had anyone in his life he could share his feelings. He was told it was inappropriate to express pain. Miller found when she began researching the roots of the breeding grounds of Hitler's hatred that it was not due to hardcore abuse, but he was raised with a way of disciplining a child that is grounded in obedience to authority and unquestioning acquiesce. His was not a nurturing childhood and it worked to suppress his feelings and vital life energy. Miller states that this method of raising a child places importance on obedience, duty, and learning to obey the commands of others: rather than a focus on lessons in compassion and a concern for humanity.

    This method of child-rearing is found within the homes of fascist dictators, but it is also found within the majority of households throughout the world today. This model has been passed down without examination or awareness from generation to generation. This model carries with it a number of implied assumptions built on the assumption of the right to dominance. Miller outlines the values and the implied constructions of reality within this damaging way of raising a child and covers these areas in this book. To prevent abuse and bullying, Miller explores the idea that there is a need for greater awareness of the ways in which power systems maintain their legitimacy and the underlying assumptions that construct this way of thinking in an effort to decrease apathy and encourage a climate of safety and security for all people. We live in a world where power is abused too often, therefore Miller conveys that we need to teach our children how to listen to their intuitive voice that tells them what is right and wrong. If we raise children to think for themselves when needed, instead of following others like a flock of sheep without question, we are in a better position to combat abuse. Alice Miller conveys in her book "For Your Own Good" that when Adolf Hitler stated one of the keys to his success in the mass murder of millions of people he said: "IT ALSO GIVES US A VERY SPECIAL, SECRET PLEASURE TO SEE HOW UNAWARE THE PEOPLE AROUND US ARE OF WHAT IS REALLY HAPPENING TO THEM.... WHAT GOOD FORTUNE FOR THOSE IN POWER THAT PEOPLE DO NOT THINK" and I would suggest feel as well (Miller, 1989, p. 63, p. xviii). Miller's books help create awareness of how power systems are legitimized so that people are in a better position to choose to set a climate in their relationships, families, and communities that treats every person with the respect and dignity they deserve just by virtue of being human if they wish.
    ...more info
  • 4 Stars--for earlier version
    Interesting range of views here. First of all, this version of the book is a significanly revised version of the book originally entitled "Prisoners of Childhood." I, for one, think Alice Miller changed the book for the worse.

    The original book describes sensitivity of "gifted" children who resonate with the emotional/psychological energy of their neurotic (or worse) parents and don't have the developmental capibility to cope appropriately. And yes, the book is primarily about narcissism.

    The new version, however, became about all "abused" children, which deflated--and devalued--the dynamics of which I felt she had described more effectively in the earlier version. I wonder if the revision was so she could get on the "co-dependence" bandwagon of the 90's--and sell more books!! (but then, that's my cynical side...)

    This book profoundly "resonated" with me when I first read it in the earlier version--and I think the book still has relevance in that version. I do not, like some reviewers here, think that Miller was primarily advocating blame (of mothers, primarily); if anything, she was stressing personal responsibility to cease to be a "prisoner of childhood" but through honest exploration that childhood--which is probably the most difficult and painful process a person can go through. To continually blame without getting past it, as I think Miller would agree, never accomplishes anything--one is still a prisoner.

    This book is (was) a skillful proponent of psychoanalytic theory and practice--and like another reviewer, changed my life in leading me in a direction that has shown to be remarkably productive....more info
  • A strong start to finding yourself and inner peace
    I have read this book and given it to others over the years so much that I have to keep buying copies.

    Alice Miller's books have helped me find a true path back through my life to who I was, how I became who I am. This is not a self help book with pointers, nor is it an easy read. Some people who read it and call it outdated or fluff, I feel sad for them that they could not see the wisdom in finding out who one really is inside.

    The book itself does not point you in a direction... is frees your mind to realize the direction you came from. It's amazing. I wish everyone in the world understood the value of Miller's writings... if people of the world found peace with who they are, the viscious cycles of humanity could end, and true happiness for our world could begin....more info

  • Critically important
    I cannot stress enough how important this book is if one is at all interested in truly understanding the genesis and repair of childhood emotional damage, in many forms.

    With stunning insight Alice Miller has helped me personally understand more about my own inner dynamics than I could have ever understood had I not found her work. Read it - it will change your life....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
  • 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
  • always there
    I read this book for the first time when it was first published and it had a great impact on me and on understanding how I had grown. It was painful but at the same time healing. I continue reading it and it continues having those characteristics. Thanks...more info
  • A Begining
    This book was a start for me. A beginning that I thought I would never find my way to. I saw clearly, both of my parents narcissistic needs. There was no mistaking it. How I lived in the shadow of their bad marriage, their generational cultural trap, & the same mindless use of poor excuses for absolute obedience. A must read for anyone contemplating being a parent. I reclaimed my childhood anguish & anger. Never realizing that I had "swallowed" it for so long. Never knowing that I had rightful needs until now....more info
  • I Preferred To Have Saved My $$$
    I've many things to do on my day off, Sunday 03~08~09
    So I'll make my review short-n-sweet: The book honestly wasn't too much to brag about. It's written almost in textbook style which I loathe with a passion. I enjoy a more creative style of writing when relaxing at home after or before work.
    It wasn't what I expected overall, and decided to make some good use of it and donate it to the local library. So if your in the Hudson Valley area [in NY], simply request it sent to one of the libraries there. They will send it right over--this way you can save your cash.
    I don't recall the copyright of "The Drama of the Gifted Child", however it seems to me it was written sometimes in the ancient 60's area. {You know, that BORING style of writing!!! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK !!!!} ...more info
  • Wheat & chaff
    On the one hand, I'm grateful to this book for opening my eyes to a valuable perspective--this was my first book on narcissism in child rearing. On the other, as a skeptical person I could have benefited more had the author adopted a different style or tone, plus there's definitely at least one way in which she goes off the deep end--i.e. by accepting "recovered memories," such as in the case of her patient who "remembered" being raped at age 3 months by parents and their friends. Generally the author strikes me as a less than a critical or skeptical observer, and because she imputes enormous power and importance to her theory (e.g. Nazism and by implication WWII would never have happened if only Germans had been more sensitive as parents), this makes me view her as even more partisan.

    The book also has a couple distracting oddities: One is that often it very clearly presumes the reader is a therapist (suggesting the author recycled the text from another use without thoroughly adapting it). Also the author employs an extremely awkward convention of using "mother" to mean either parent--unreasonably expecting the reader to be able to bear this ever in mind--and switches dizzyingly between "he" and "she" according to context; i.e. whether she is discussing the behavior of an individual as a patient or therapist or parent.

    Anyway, as my first book on the subject I found it worthwhile and appreciated that it was brief. Apparently Al Gore describes this as his favorite book. Makes you wonder....more info

  • Alice Miller Tells It Like It Is
    Ah. Are you An Adult Survivor of Child Abuse?
    If so, you can very much benefit from this book. It can make clear issues that are painful and difficult to look at (for us survivors). And you are NOT alone! We are not alone.
    If you are doing therapy, the book can help you to more quickly process through. It has for me.
    There is clarity most literature in the "field" of psychology lacks. However, you really need grounding in psychoanalytic theory to fully understand what Alice is talking about.
    If you lack that understanding, the book could be frustrating in places.
    With that kind of background this book is beautiful and cuts through the psychobabble so often trouted as wisdom by those hiding from their own shadows.
    God bless your seeking, and enjoy!...more info
  • A Book that Works
    Alice Miller's soft but certain voice is able to shed light on issues between parents and children creating insights in the reader as helpful as any talk therapy. More than worth reading for an adult still unable to put away childhood neglect and move on. ...more info
  • Right material, right time
    I read this book in my youth at what ended up being just the right time. For me, Alice Miller's summation about gifted children and how they 'parent to protect' wasn't about blaming Mum. Its truths were instead an aha moment and putting shape to what can occur when the 'perfect achiever-child' suppresses his or herself as a caring mechanism. Quite the contrary to feeling like a victim, it was empowering ...providing impetus to begin anew and soar with conscious choice going forward. The book doesn't pretend to provide answers for everyone, or every situation. Ultimately, we must choose for ourselves....more info
  • child abuse
    I tend towards looking deeply into whatever I'm involved in. The deeper the better - not necessarily comfortable or pleasant but getting down to the 'ugly' truth is paramount to me. Alice's books take me to the depths and the source of suffering in this world. Political unrest, religious persecution, corporate corruption, etc. I believe are sourced by child abuse. If reading Alice really pisses you off that might be a clue to the depth of the damage done to you.

    If you think you are not abused - others might be but not you or your family - I want to know what planet you came from.

    I use to believe that in the sea of compassion there were or might be islands of abuse and maltreatment - now I see that we live in a sea of abuse and there might be an island of compassion somewhere; I hope anyway.

    The books beginning with DRAMA OF THE GIFTED CHILD, after her 'awakening' are the best. Before then she was a full fledged psychotherapist and that is a pejorative....more info
  • Finding the true self and then becoming it

    This book is written with very deep insight, compassion, eloquence, clarity and power. Alice Miller speaks of the vital importance for us to discover our own personal truth that puts us in touch with our true self. As Ms. Miller states it can be very painful to discover our real feelings since many of us have repressed hurt feelings from childhood trauma that we have buried and we have hid these feelings not only from our parents but from ourselves as well.

    What I have learned from this remarkable book is that we hide these feelings from our parents so they will `love' us, but it's not our true self that they love since it is these hidden feelings that are the manifestations of who we really are. In its place we give our parents an image of ourselves so as to make them happy. This fulfills their needs but we hide our own since we fear that the expression of our own needs will lead to parental rejection and correspondingly to a loss of their love.

    When we hide and suppress these childhood unacknowledged needs then the basis of all our future relationships will be determined by these unrequited needs and they become the unconscious motivations that drive us throughout our adult lives.

    It is only by getting in touch with these lost needs that we can begin to discover those missing parts of ourselves. This is just the beginning to true "self discovery" that is, it is the beginning to discovering and becoming who we truly are so that, eventually, we can become who we are truly destined to be.

    A fine book indeed.
    ...more info
  • One of the Best Books Ever Written
    This is one of the best books ever written and one of the most powerful tools for one's self-discovery, to be free from narcissism. Miller has provided strong insights into this book, which encouraged and forced us to face the truth from our childhood, and why we hid our true selves as children.

    We are all living in a narcissist society, and we have learned our narcissist traits to some degree. For us to get rid of these traits, we must seek to be free from the deadly emotional influences that shaped our lives. This book is one of the keys for which we will acquire to be free.

    I would strongly recommend "The Drama of the Gifted Child" for those who seek for the truth about themselves....more info
  • Know Yourself
    If you have troubles with depression, relationships, substance abuse or alcoholism this book may be a powerful tool to help you understand where those problems came from and how you can overcome them. So many very accomplished people, especially those in the helping professions, have come from backgrounds of child abuse. This abuse may have only taken the form of: "I love you not for who you really are, but for those things that you do that make the family look good and that make me look like I am a good parent." That is a very powerful message and the vulnerable child may develop an "as if" personality. That is, they will actually mold themselves in such a way as to please their spouse, their boss, their teacher or whomever else they are relating to at the time. This pattern may lead to superficial success, but ultimately results in misery for the victim of child abuse and ultimately for those around them. Maybe this is where Shakespeare discovered the command "To Thine Own Self be True." The path mapped out by Alice Miller is not an easy one, but it is definitely worth working through. It is probably the most practical and valuable of her works and those like it....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
  • A book that could yield a new definition of freedom
    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

  • 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