Books by Alice Miller,
Publishers' summaries provided by Alice Miller.
Body Never Lies - The Lingering Effects of Cruel Parenting
New York: W.W. Norton &
World-renowned therapist Alice Miller has
devoted a lifetime to studying the cruelties inflicted on children. In
The Body Never Lies Miller goes further, investigating the long-range
consequences of childhood abuse on the adult body.
Using numerous case histories gleaned from her practice, as well as
examining the biographical stories of celebrated writers such as
Marcel Proust, Virginia Woolf, Friedrich Nietzsche, and others, Miller
shows how a child's emotional traumas, repressed humiliation, and
bottled rage can manifest themselves as serious adult health problems.
In discussing the lives of these literary giants, Miller explores the
known or, in some cases, unknown traumas that haunted each author's
childhood. More important, Miller connects the writers' painful
childhoods with their later afflictions, which included depression,
anorexia, cancer, and even insanity.
While examining everything from parental spanking to sexual abuse and
emotional blackmail, Miller exposes the societal pressures that
converge to harm children. She explains that we have so many societal
mechanisms to prevent us from feeling anger or rage against our
parents that we tend never to confront our own feelings. To combat the
debilitating effects of such jarring and often contradictory emotions,
Miller explores the benefits of using a therapist as an
"Enlightened Witness" to reaffirm the patient's repressed
reactions to a forgotten childhood experience.
Miller also discusses how institutionalized
religion itself can contribute to the crushing guilt that prevents us
from being healthy and conscious adults. She urges society to realize
that the Fourth Commandment -"Honor thy father and thy
mother"- offers immunity to abusive parents. Indeed, she argues,
it is healthier not to extend forgiveness to parents whose tyrannical
childrearing methods have resulted in unhappy, and often ruined, adult
In a stirring rejection of the "Poisonous Pedagogy" that
pardons even the most brutal parenting, Miller examines the cyclical
nature of violence and abuse. Parents and guardians who abuse their
children, both physically and mentally, leave them embarrassed and
hurt. The inability of most children to properly express such feelings
causes them to perpetuate the cycle by lashing out at their family,
friends, and, above al1, their own children, who will inevitably do
Throughout The Body Never Lies, Miller offers a
calm and encouraging voice. Indeed, The Body Never Lies, through its
illuminating and provocative insight, affords us a unique
understanding of the immense healing powers of the adult self and the
Truth Will Set You Free - Overcoming Emotional Blindness and Finding
Your True Adult Self
New York: Basic Books,
Drawing on the latest research on brain
development, Miller speaks out against the increasing popularity of
childhood corporal punishment and demonstrates how spanking and other
disciplinary traumas are encoded in the brain, stunting our ability to
overcome them. Our bodies retain memories of humiliation, causing
panoply of physical ills and dangerous levels of denial. This denial,
necessary for the child's survival, leads to emotional blindness and
finally to mental barriers that cut off awareness and the ability to
learn new ways of acting. If this cycle repeats itself, the grown
child will perpetrate the same abuse on later generations, warns
In this stunning new contribution to her life's
work, Miller not only invites us to confront our own pasts, but
reveals how each of us can liberate our present as adults and as
New York: Basic Books, 1981, Paperback under the title The
Drama of the Gifted Child, in UK, The Drama of Being a Child.
The common bond unifying the three studies in
this volume is a concern with the factors operative in loss of
the self and the routes leading towards the achievement of true
identity, The Drama of the Gifted Child (and "gifted"
here means "sensitive", "aware") has its roots in
an intuitive apprehension of the parents' needs by the child at a very
early stage. The child adapts to those needs by learning not to feel
his most intense feelings, once he has realized that those
feelings are considered undesirable. Although these
"prohibited" feelings cannot always be avoided at a later
stage, they remain split off. This means that the most vital part of
the true self is not integrated into the personality. The result is
emotional insecurity and impoverishment (loss of self), either
expressed in the form of depression or fended off via
grandiosity. The examples cited sensitize us to the mute,
inarticulate suffering of the child and help us to penetrate the
idealizations serving to conceal that suffering. It also opens our
eyes to the tragedy of the parents; their unavailability and
inaccessibility prove to be the fruit of their availability as
Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-rearing and the Roots of Violence
New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1990.
In this book, Alice Miller opens our eyes to the
devastating effects of education and care purporting to have the
"child's best interests" in mind. She does this first by
analyzing what she calls the "pedagogic approach", and
secondly by describing the childhood of a drug addict, a political
leader (Adolf Hitler), and a child-murderer.
Her book succeeds in conveying not just factual
(and hence uninvolving) information, but also an emotional awareness
of the way in which psychoses, drug addiction, and crime represent a
deferred and indirect expression of experiences undergone in early
infancy. For a child to develop naturally, she needs respect from her
caregivers, tolerance for her feelings, awareness of her needs and
sensibilities, and authenticity on the part of her parents. This
authenticity manifests itself in an upbringing style in which it is
the personal freedom of the parents - and not educational dogma - that
imposes natural limits of the child.
Tu Propio Bien (Spanish Edition)
Barcelona: Tusquets, 1998
Shalt Not Be Aware: Society's Betrayal of the Child
New York: Farrar, Straus and
Child abuse is beginning to be recognized as
something more significant than an isolated family affair. The title
of this book, first published in Germany in 1981, spells out the
unspoken commandment that such abused children - indeed, all of us -
have been obeying since early childhood. We have all been made to feel
from our earliest days that we are to blame for anything
shameful that happens to us, so that our awareness of these inflicted
Alice Miller demonstrates that this
centuries-old tradition also finds expression in Freud's notions of
the "Oedipus complex" and "infantile sexuality" -
his drive theory - which put the blame on the child. Freud maintained
that his patients who claimed to have been sexually molested as
children were only "fantasizing" as a defense against their
own sexual desires for their innocent parents. This theory helped to
conceal the fact that sexual abuse of children occurs frequently and
results in later emotional disturbances in the victims of such abuse -
because they are not allowed awareness of it.
In fairy tales, works of literature, and dreams,
Alice Miller maintains, the truth about childhood can emerge,
precisely because it is not recognized as such. Detailed examples from
Kafka, Flaubert, Beckett, and Virginia Woolf offer proof of her thesis
and illustrate her understanding of human creativity.
of a Childhood
New York, Penguin USA, new edition 1996.
In Pictures of a Childhood, Alice MiIler
explores the connection between childhood and that creative activity
which "somehow permits us to give form to the chaos within and
thereby master our anxiety."
Having realized in the early seventies a
lifelong desire to paint, Dr. Miller found an unfamiliar world
emerging from her paintings: not the "nice" world of her
childhood, to which she had always testified, but one of fear, despair
Meditating on her spontaneously executed
watercolors - sixty-six of which are reproduced here in full color -
and their implications, Dr. Miller offers an analysis of the roots of
creativity in the authentic self's struggle for survival.
Untouched Key: Tracing Childhood Trauma in Creativity and
New York: Anchor-Press, 1992
As in her former books, Alice Miller again
focuses on facts. She is as determined as ever to cut through the veil
that, for thousands of years now, has been so meticulously woven to
shroud the truth. And when she lifts that veil and brushes it aside,
the results are astonishing, as is amply demonstrated by her analyses
of the works of Nietzsche, Picasso, Kollwicz, Keaton and others. With
the key shunned by so many for so long - childhood - she opens rusty
locks and offers her readers a wealth of unexpected perspectives.
What did Picasso express in
"Guernica"? Why did Buster Keaton never smile? Why did
Nietzsche heap so much opprobrium on women and religion, and lose his
mind for eleven years? Why did Hitler and Stalin become tyrannical
mass murderers? Alice Miller investigates these and other questions
thoroughly in this book. She draws from her discoveries the conclusion
that human beings are not "innately" destructive, that they
are made that way by ignorance, abuse, and neglect, particularly if no
sympathetic witness comes to their aid. She also shows why some
mistreated children do not become criminals but instead bear witness
as artists to the truth about their childhoods, even though in purely
intuitive and unconscious ways.
It is Dr. Miller's goal to encourage these
sympathetic witnesses, to lend them support, and to inform them about
the world-wide and ignored plight of children, for she thinks that
only by confronting the truth that has been avoided from time
immemorial can human beings be saved from blind destruction and
self-destruction. This discovery is eloquently illustrated in the last
section of The Untouched Key, wherein the story of Abraham
and Isaac and the story of "The Emperor's New Clothes" are
retold to reveal their profound meaning.
Knowledge: Facing Childhood Injuries
New York: Anchor-Press, new edition 1997.
Cruelty to a "bad child" will make
that child into a bad adult and later create a bad world, unless an
enlightened witness comes to the rescue. A child respected and taken
seriously will create a different world; our biological mission is not
to destroy, but to protect human life. "It is not true that evil,
destructiveness, and perversion inevitably form part of human
existence, no matter how often this is maintained. But it is true that
we are daily producing evil and, with it, an ocean of suffering for
millions that is absolutely avoidable. When one day the ignorance
arising from childhood repression is eliminated and humanity has
awakened, an end can be put to this production of evil." (Alice
Miller, Banished Knowledge).
Down the Wall of Silence
New York: Penguin USA, new edition 1997.
Psychohistorical analyses of such brutal tyrants
as Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Nicolae Ceausescu show the obvious
links between the horrors of their childhoods and the horror they
inflicted on the world.
Dr. Miller pleads for a course of remembrance
and recognition on the part of the victim, and for awareness and
condemnation of child abuse on the part of society. She advocates
getting access to and articulating long-denied emotions so that
healing may take place. In her extensive new preface for this edition,
Alice Miller discusses the increasing attention being paid to
childhood abuse since the book's original publication. She also
reveals personal details about her own life that explain her special
interest in childhood and emotional growth, the kind of growth that
can encourage survivors to face the truth and to heal, thereby
preventing future abuse from taking place.
Drama of the Gifted Child
New York: Basic Books, new edition, revised and updated, 1997.
The first publication of The Drama of the
Gifted Child (1979) and of this book are separated by fifteen
years of experience - the author's experience with her own
self-therapy and with other recent therapy methods, and finally her
knowledge of the life histories of the several thousand readers who
have written to her. The research into childhood she has undertaken in
this period has led to a further fine-tuning of her earlier findings,
as is documented and illustrated here with an abundance of examples.
The author examines the consequences of
repression at the personal and social level, the causes of the
physical and psychological harm done to children and how this can be
prevented, and finally the new methods at our disposal for dealing
with the consequences of infant traumas.
Drama del Nino Dotado (Spanish translation)
Barcelona: Tusquets, 2009
of Life: Seven Scenarios
New York: Pantheon Books, 1998.
Here are seven "life stories" of
characters who, in recounting their lives to one another, invite us to
think back over our own lives and see what has formed us and how we
may yet become free.
How do our first experiences of pain and love
affect our future? This is the key question. Alice Miller shows us
people who have suffered great loneliness in childhood and who now, in
adulthood, despite their yearnings for contact and communication, are
still trapped in inner isolation. But encounters with others who had
the good fortune to grow up in loving families open them to new worlds
in which they too can learn to change.
As we watch, some manage to speak the truth, to
free themselves of old fears and defensive myths, to trust. The
luckiest come to love and be loved-by partners, friends, and their own
children, whom they can then free from the curse of having to relive
their parents' inner traumas.
of Life: Six Case Histories
New York: Basic Books, 2008.
Several poignant scenarios and two essays of reflection focus on a
range of issues - from birth, motherhood, and partnership to hatred,
cults, and the Holocaust. In this updated tenth anniversary edition,
Alice Miller offers new reflections on the transformative power of
Rage to Courage: Answers to Readers' Letters
New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2009.
Collected for the first time, Alice Millerís most helpful,
therapeutic, and invaluable answers to hundreds of readersí letters.
The renowned childhood researcher, psychotherapist, and best-selling
author Alice Miller has received, throughout her long and
distinguished career, countless personal letters from readers all over
the world. In From Rage to Courage, Dr. Miller has assembled
the most recent, producing an insightful work that illuminates the
issues and consequences of childhood abuse.
from Lies: Discovering Your True Needs
New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2009.
Practical and perceptive, Millerís work explains what we can
expect from therapy, how we can identify the causes of our own pain,
and why subconscious pain, unaddressed for decades, manifests itself
later as depression, self-mutilation, primal inadequacy, and chronic