Can Facing Up To Our Childhood Suffering Free Us From Depression?

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My main reason for starting this website was to help myself to process what happened to me as a child, gain insight and hopefully achieve some kind of carthasis. (I will be publishing an article about the benefits people with mental health issues can derive from blogging about their psychological condition and associated issues on this site very soon).

My own depression, linked to my childhood experiences, had been extremely severe for many, many years, necessitating hospilizations, electroconvulsive therapy, and industrial strength medication potent enough to incapacitate an average sized elephant.

, the world renowned psychologist and expert on the damage that can be done to individuals during their childhood, and its implications for their adult lives, states, unequivocally, that, if we are suffering from depression linked to our childhood, traumatic experiences, it is imperative that we start to understand, and to process mentally, the harm that was done to us when we were children.

Miller states that one reason we may not accept and acknowledge our childhood suffering and the responsibility our parents have for having inflicted this, or for having failed to protect us from it, is that we may still be idealising our parents. She goes on to say that it is necessary for us to overcome this psychological defence mechanism and attempt to recall, as fully as possible (in a therapeutically safe environment) how we were badly treated as children and how this made us feel at the time.

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Above : Alice Miller

Only by getting in touch with these feelings, Miller explains, and then by acknowledging the psychological suffering our parents caused us when we were young and helpless, and, furthermore, by not being afraid to healthily express our pent up feelings of anger and rage, can we finally, perhaps after decades, free ourselves from our depressive state.

Putting it simply, Miller is of the view that by denying we were ill-treated, out of misguided loyalty to our parents, and by continuing to repress the rage that this treatment caused, we perpetuate our psychological illness. We must, then, according to Miller, unblock our original feelings.

In order to help us to get back in touch with these repressed feelings, we should ask ourselves if our parents would treat us now as they did then. If the answer to this question is ‘no’, Miller explains, then it begs the question : ‘were they taking advantage of our helplesness, vulnerability and dependency to behave as they did, at the time, with impunity?

 As well as getting in touch with our repressed rage, Miller counsels us, we should also try to reconnect with the fear and deep sadness we felt as children, as well as with our childhood sense of helplessness and isolation. Then, by processing these authentic, original feelings, cathartically and under the supervision and with the support of a suitably qualified and experienced psychotherapist, can we recover our mental health and equilibrium.

NB. Those who share Miller’s views should only undertake such a process under the care and supervision of a properly qualified expert in the field.

 David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE (FAHE).

 

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