Tag Archives: Alice Miller

Alice Miller: ‘Hitler’s Childhood Helped To Cause WW2’

Hitler's_childhood_ww2

 

The terror of the Third Reich was cultivated in Hitler’s own home.’

– Florian Beierl

 

The Swiss psychoanalyst, Alice Miller, was of the view that most people repress their memories of childhood trauma and may be in such extreme denial about the way their parents mistreated them that they may actually, on a conscious level, idealize them rather than castigate them. This acts as a psychological defense mechanism : protecting the individual from the painful truth.

Nevertheless, Miller suggests, the unconscious rage they feel against their parents constantly fizzes beneath the surface looking for an outlet. This outlet takes the form of displacement (the redirecting of one’s rage onto innocent victims).

An exceptionally rare and extreme example of individuals who may act out this process of repression, denial and displacement is that of some serial killers. However, Miller provides an even more extreme example, that of the tyrant and fascist dictator, Adolf Hitler.

Indeed, Adolf Hitler, as a child, was severely physically abused by his father (Alois) who would regularly fly into uncontrollable rages and beat his son. Sometimes, Adolf Hitler’s mother would intervene in order to try to physically protect her son, only to be beaten by her husband herself as a consequence.

Hitler_as_child

  • Above: Adolf Hitler as a child.

One effect of this on Adolf Hitler is that he began to bully his sister which took the form of hitting her, just as he was hit by his father.

In modern day terms, then, Adolf Hitler’s family was highly dysfunctional, and this had a damaging psychological effect on him as evidenced not only by his bullying of his sister, but also by the fact that in his teens he became increasingly reclusive, resentful and emotionally unstable (particularly when interacting with his father).

According to Miller, Hitler’s terrible and horrific actions can be traced back to this dysfunctional childhood; according to Miller, his heinous actions as an adult were driven by a psychotic and deranged lust for ‘revenge on the world’ for his childhood suffering.

Miller also argues that many high ranking SS officers had also suffered abusive childhoods, as had other tyrants such as Mao and Stalin.

Miller’s ideas have been criticized for being overly simplistic, so she is something of a controversial figure.

 

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

 

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

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.

Alice Miller, 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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Alice Miller: The Link Between Childhood Trauma and Later Violent Behaviour

Alice miller

World renowned expert in child psychology, Alice Miller, drew strong attention to the fact that emotional and psychological abuse could have just as dramatically adverse effect on a person’s life as other forms of abuse.

She was also of the view that most individuals’ mental health conditions were as a result of being treated abusively by their parents/primary caregivers.

She also believed that people developed addiction problems and/or turned to crime due to having experienced significant parental abuse.

Emotional and psychological abuse is sometimes blatant and obvious; however, often it is subtle, insidious, hard to precisely identify or pin down. For example, much of human communication is conducted through non-verbal means such as tone of voice/intonation, facial expression and body language. The power of nonverbal communication should not be underestimated – its effects can be psychologically devastating.

alice-miller

Above: Alice Miller, psychologist. 1923-2010.

Indeed, I recall, more vividly than I would wish to, how, not yet a teenager, I would return home from school and, as I approached the front door, would sometimes catch the eye of my mother standing at the kitchen window doing the washing up. The look she would give me I can only describe as a mixture of hostility, contempt and disgust. When I rang the doorbell she would open it only ajar an inch and beat a hasty retreat, her back to me as I entered the house to be met with stoney silence and seething, palpable resentment.

Another reason why emotional and psychological abuse can be hard to identify is that the child (or, indeed, the adult reflecting upon his/her childhood) may, as a means of psychological, unconscious self-defence, be in a state of denial in regarding the abuse s/he suffered. Such a state of denial may persist well into adulthood or even for a lifetime.

This situation is tragic as the individual who is in denial may have experienced severe emotional and behavioural problems throughout his/her whole life, but, not knowing the true cause, was unable to effectively deal with his/her difficulties.

The situation is complicated further by the fact that many psychiatrists, psychologists, counsellors and therapists are themselves parents and may, therefore, be reluctant to support the idea that parents are almost always the cause of their offsprings’ psychological condition as they would then have to blame themselves for any psychiatric problems their own children had.

Controversially, Miller was against the idea of adult children forgiving their parents. She felt this would lead to the repressed anger the individual felt towards his/her parent/s being DISPLACED onto SCAPEGOATS. This repressed anger may be acted out in the form of physical violence.

Indeed, she went so far as to suggest that Adolf Hitler displaced the rage he felt towards his abusive father onto Jews, homosexuals, the mentally ill and other victims of the Holocaust; and that many wars started due to world leaders displacing their own rage, acquired during their own childhoods, onto the enemy.

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

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