4. Why is spanking always wrong?
AM: Spanking is always an abuse of power. It is humiliating and it creates fear. A state of fear can only teach children to be
distrustful and hide their true feelings. They learn from their parents that violence is the right way of resolving conflicts and that they are
bad or unworthy and thus deserve correction. These children will soon forget why they were spanked. They will submit very quickly, but later in
life, they will do the same to weaker persons. By spanking we teach violence. The child's body has learned the lesson of violence from their
parents over a long period and we cannot expect it to suddenly forget these lessons at the behest of religious values, which the body doesn't
understand anyway. Instead, it retains the memory of being spanked.
5. Many despicable acts are committed in the name of parental love. How would you define real parental love?
AM: I love my children if I can respect them with their feelings and their needs and try to fulfill these needs as well as I can. I
don't love them if I see them not as persons equal to me but as objects that I have to correct.
6. You speak of child abuse in our cultures as a forbidden issue. Why is this so? What is needed to change this state of affairs?
AM: The issue is forbidden because most of us were spanked in childhood and we don't want to be reminded of that. We learned as children
that spanking is harmless. We had to learn this lie in order to survive. Now, as adults, we don't want to know the truth, that in fact spanking is
harmful. It is interesting that when you say "don't spank your child" people become aggressive with you. They become even more
aggressive if you say "you were spanked yourself and suffered as a child, you were forced to deny your pain in order to survive". They
would rather kill you than admit the truth and feel the pain of having been humiliated and unloved when they were spanked by someone five times
bigger than themselves. These aggressive reactions are understandable. Imagine how you would feel if you went out on the street and suddenly
somebody five times bigger than you beat you in a rage and you didn't even understand why. A child cannot bear this truth, it must repress it. But
an adult can face up to it. As adults we are not so alone, we can look for witnesses, and we have a consciousness we didn't have when we were
7. You say that hatred is better than the adoration of abusive parents, because it is a sign of our vitality. With regard to their
parents many people find themselves trapped in a chain of self-deception (they idealize them). How can we direct hatred, rage and anger at the
proper recipient (and not at ourselves or our partners)?
AM: We can try to become emotionally honest with ourselves and find the courage to confront the reality of our childhood. Unfortunately
there are not many people who really want to know what happened in the first years of their lives. But their number seems to be growing. Some
years ago we created forums in different languages on the Internet. They are called ourchildhood. Adults who were abused as children and who want to know more precisely what happened to them and how they
actually feel about it can share their memories with other survivors in a safe environment and get more and more in touch with their true
histories. Thanks to the compassion of these feeling witnesses they achieve more emotional clarity that helps them to change the way they treat
their own children. Of course, they become more authentic with their partners once they understand better the causes of the strong emotions that
were previously repressed.
8. One of the basic psychological truths is that persons emotionally deprived in childhood hope all their lives to receive the love
denied to them. Why is it so hard to accept that we weren't important to anyone? Many even prefer to commit suicide instead.
AM: Yes, you are quite right. Some prefer to commit suicide or willingly accept a chronic illness and some prefer to become dictators
over whole nations, or serial murderers, and to show to others what they learned as children (violence, cruelty, and perversion), rather than
acknowledge their early deprivation. The more deprived and mistreated people were in their childhood, the more they stay attached to their
parents, waiting for them to change. They also seem to be stuck with their fear. This fear of the tormented child makes any kind of rebellion
unthinkable, even if the parents are already dead.
9. While we are on the subject, Slovenia is famous for its high percentage of suicides. How would you tackle this problem?
AM: Suicide is always the consequence of denied suffering in childhood, as is depression. I have written an article about depression, which you
can read on my website. There I refer to many examples of very successful stars, such as Dalida for instance, the famous Egyptian singer, who in
their lives got everything they wanted and were admired and famous. But in the middle of their lives they became depressive and many committed
suicide. In all these cases it was not the present that made them suffer, it was the denied traumas of their childhood that made them feel
miserable because they were never consciously acknowledged. The body was left alone with its knowledge.
10. How do you think morality and ethics come about? Why does someone become immoral?
AM: Never by preaching, only by experience. Ethical values are not transmitted by words, not even by the most holy words, only by
experience. Nobody is born wicked. It is ridiculous to think, as people thought in the Middle Ages, that the devil put a wicked child into the
family which should correct it by spanking, so that it could become a decent person. A tormented child will become a tormentor and certainly a
cruel parent unless in childhood he/she found a helping witness, a person with whom they could feel safe, loved, protected, respected and thanks
to these experiences learn what love can be. Then such a child will not become a tyrant; he/she will then be able to respect other people and have
empathy for them. It is very significant that in the childhood of all the dictators I have examined, I didn't find even one helping witness. The
child thus glorified the violence it had endured.
11. Religious education teaches us to forgive our tormentors. Should we really forgive them? Is it in fact possible to do so?
AM: It is understandable that we want to forgive and forget and not to feel the pain, but this outcome doesn't work. It turns out sooner
or later that this is not an outcome at all. Take the many sexual abusers among the people of the Church. They have forgiven their parents for
sexual abuse or other abuses of their power. But what are many of them doing? They are repeating the "sins" of their parents because
they have forgiven them. If they could consciously condemn the deeds of their parents they wouldn't be urged to do the same, to molest and to
confuse children by forcing them to stay silent - as if this was the most normal thing to do and not a crime. They just deceive themselves.
Religions can have an enormous power over our minds and force us to many kinds of self-deception. But they have not the slightest influence on our
body, which knows perfectly well our emotions and insists on our honesty.
12. Is compassion for Milosevic or Saddam Hussein acceptable?
AM: I have always had compassion for children but never for an adult tyrant. Here, I have sometimes been misunderstood, especially when
I described the childhood of Adolf Hitler. Some readers didn't understand that I could feel compassion for the infant but never for the adult
Hitler, who became a monster exactly because he denied how he suffered from being severely humiliated by his father (who by the way was an illegal
child of a Jew). (See For Your Own Good). As a
child, Adolf Hitler was of course unable to defend his dignity but he also remained submissive in adulthood. He feared and honored his father his
whole life, suffered from attacks of panic at night, and his unconscious hatred was directed at all Jews and half-Jews.
13. The fiercest adorers of their parents are those who were the most emotionally deprived by them. There is a very cruel mechanism at
work here and it produces a very pessimistic vision of life. Is there hope for the badly wounded?
AM: I don't think that my view is pessimistic. On the contrary, I think that if we can understand how the cycle of violence functions we
can share our knowledge with others and cooperate in putting a stop to it. But if we believe that people are born with genes that make them
violent we can't change anything. Although this opinion is highly pessimistic and feeble-minded, it is shared by many so-called intelligent
individuals. I have never got an answer to my question why so many "genetically" defective persons should have been born under the rule
of Hitler in Germany or of Milosevic in Serbia. The reasons for these misleading ideas are always the same: people prefer to believe in genes than
to see how their parents treated them and to feel the pain. But by feeling the pain they could liberate themselves from the compulsion to repeat
and thus become responsible adults. This statement is by no means pessimistic.
14. Is there hope for those who don't find a witness?
AM: An informative book can also function as a witness. The more we speak and write about this problem, the more witnesses will be
available in the world, well-informed witnesses who can help children to feel respected and safe and help adults to bear their truth. Denial not
only urges us to repeat, it also consumes a great deal of energy. Illnesses, eating disorders and substance addictions are the consequences.
15. "Positive thinking" can be just as harmful as religious injunctions to forgive and love those who hate us. Should we avoid
new age self-help manuals?
AM: Yes, you are right. "Positive thinking" is in no sense a remedy, as it is a form of self-deception, it is a flight from
the truth and cannot help because the body knows better. In my recently published article on my website, "What is Hatred?" I explain
this point more extensively. I do the same in my latest book, which will soon be published in your language.
16. What are the political consequences of your writing?
AM: They could be beneficial indeed if politicians were not afraid of confronting the truth of their childhood. Emotionally, most of
them are two-year-old children who were never loved and respected as the persons they were, with their feelings and needs, even if some of them
were admired for their skills. They deny their frustrations of the past and are looking for loving parents in the persons of their voters. The
more money they get for the election campaign, the more they feel loved. But as this "love" can never make up for the absence of love
that the child of a strict, cold demanding and resentful mother had to suffer, the struggle for love can never stop. And thousands of people will
pay the price.