Friday, April 27, 2012
Paths of Life: Seven Scenarios by Alice Miller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
There are few books that have succeeded in changing my way of thinking. One of them was The Confidence Course by Walter Anderson. This groundbreaking book exposes the breadth of child abuse in the world committed under the guise of discipline. "Man hands down inhumanity to man," wrote Philip Larkin. And psychoanalyst Alice Miller- who left the Psychiatrists association for their refusal to let go of Freud's abuser-forgiving "Oedipus Complex"- shows in stark detail how "every smack is a humiliation," and we force ourselves to think we deserved it, because the truth- that our beloved parents hit us out of frustration or anger- is too much to bear.
I was blessed with a good childhood. I was never spanked or slapped that I remember. However, I learned that one expresses his anger by shouting, frightening his loved ones, slamming doors and punching walls, from my alcoholic father. It's a behavior I struggle with. I avoid confrontations, because I am afraid of what my fists will do. When I was five, a playmate hit me in the head with a chunk of asphalt because he wanted the car I was playing with. My mother had to pull me off of him. Ever since then I have fought battles with temper. I've trained in MMA to have an outlet for it.
This short book will help you decode your own behavior, with a little introspection. And when you unravel it, you can begin to change it from the roots.
Its revelations are also stunning: not every abused child goes on to become a criminal, but every violent criminal studied has revealed a litany of abuses that "they deserved." And they take it out on the rest of us until the day they die. Miller does not absolve the violent of their behavior, but shows us how to reduce it in future generations. We have yet to listen.
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