For those unfamiliar with her or her thinking I’ve summarized her thinking in two sentences (as I understand it, or perhaps just the area of interest to myself). First, individuals when they become parents, all too often, seek to answer their own psychological neediness by “feeding” off the child, rather than answering the child’s own psychological needs – this pattern can last for generation upon generation. Secondly, children only know they are entitled to their emotions if an adult mirrors these emotions. I believe these two ideas to be extremely powerful. The first one shows a way out from the phenomenon of generations of dysfunctional families. The second promises the possibility of training “witness for soul” therapists as opposed to the hit or miss current system, in which capable therapists are essentially individual accidents.
Dear Alice Miller,
Some ten years back, I read and studied quite a number of your works. Since that time I have, on my own, studied, thought and written about sociopaths. I don’t recall much mention of sociopaths in your works but I don’t expect you to believe they are born, not made. However, I don’t actually know that, this is just a surmise. I’m very curious to know your view of sociopathy, if you have a chance to answer this.
I don’t see a contradiction between your thinking and the existence of genetic sociopaths. Quoting my blog, “When one considers all the seemingly conscienceless and subtracts the attachment disordered, the narcissistically rigid, and the hideously abused and needy, there is still a core of the emotionally/morally colorblind, a.k.a. the Cleckley sociopath (from Cleckley’s Mask of Sanity), a.k.a., the Charlie Carewe sociopath (from the actress Mary Astor’s The Incredible Charlie Carewe).” http://pathwhisperer.wordpress.com/past-notes/.
I, and others, see sociopaths as developmentally arrested psychologically — but up through puberty they go through most of the same psychological developmental stages. So following this line of thought, I would say that Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer were serial killers due to psychological abuse, their sociopathy simply made them extremely skillful at it. Unclaimed and left in the hospital, as I recall from their bios, they screamed for their primal birthright, loving maternal attention, until their tear ducts dried and their psyches came to realize that help was not on the way. This vast, unplacated, infantile rage then went subterranean to reappear again and again throughout life but now with an adult’s capabilities and, in their cases, a sociopath’s talents.
Perhaps you would be interested in my posts on incest, I believe I have adopted your view of psychological cause and effect: http://pathwhisperer.wordpress.com/2009/03/08/incest-dad-represents-self-in-court-cross-examines-daughter/ & http://pathwhisperer.wordpress.com/2009/03/18/post-redux-josef-fritzl-and-reflections-on-incest-52308/.
I look forward to your reply.
The Path Whisperer
For more information on Alice Miller and her writings: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_gw_3_12?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=alice+miller+prisoners+of+childhood&sprefix=alice+miller&sprefix=alice+miller&sprefix=alice+miller&sprefix=alice+miller, http://www.alice-miller.com/index_en.php.