Breaking Down the Wall of Silence: The Liberating Experience of Facing Painful Truth


Miller incorporates psychohistorical analyses of Hitler, Stalin, and Ceausescu to reveal the links between the horrors of their childhoods and the horrors they inflicted on the world. She pleads for an awareness of society’s role in child abuse and for recognition of the victim.

Eminent psychotherapist Alice Miller continues her study of the roots and results of child abuse, an inquiry begun in such bestselling works as The Drama of the Gifted Child and Thou Shalt ...

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Miller incorporates psychohistorical analyses of Hitler, Stalin, and Ceausescu to reveal the links between the horrors of their childhoods and the horrors they inflicted on the world. She pleads for an awareness of society’s role in child abuse and for recognition of the victim.

Eminent psychotherapist Alice Miller continues her study of the roots and results of child abuse, an inquiry begun in such bestselling works as The Drama of the Gifted Child and Thou Shalt Not Be Aware. Miller looks at why society suppresses the truth and how we can break the cycle.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Feminist Review
“This is a beautiful, fierce, necessary book written by an emotionally intelligent lioness who continues her efforts to break through the wall—one brick, one book— at a time. I highly recommend it.”

Chicago Tribune
“Makes many provocative and persuasive points about the long-term effects of child abuse, the interdependence between society and child-rearing and, finally, the individual’s need to confront memories, however painful.”

San Francisco Chronicle
“The applicability of Miller’s concepts—especially during these divisive times—is what makes her message so cogent for American audiences.”

Moving Worlds
“A penetrating look at how to break the cycle of child abuse in today’s world.”

New Age Journal
“Miller charts valuable territory.”

South Bend Tribune
“What Miller has to say is enlightening…This is not a book that can be read through once and put aside. The reader can return again and again as new truth is recognized.”

Science News
“A moving argument for awareness and condemnation of child abuse."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465015047
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 12/8/2008
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Pages: 186
  • Sales rank: 1,461,809
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Alice Miller has achieved worldwide recognition for her work on the causes and effects of childhood traumas. She is the author of many books, including The Truth Will Set You Free, Banished Knowledge, Thou Shalt Not Be Aware, and For Your Own Good. She lives in Switzerland.
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Table of Contents

Foreword vii

Part 1 Openings and Glimpses

1 Eve's Initiative 3

2 Out of the Prison of Confusion 9

3 The Psychiatrists' Campaign Against the Act of Remembering 17

4 Blindman's Buff and the Flight from Facts in Psychoanalysis 31

Part 2 Facts

5 Child Sacrifice as "Tradition" 47

6 The Monstrous Consequences of Denial 53

Adolf Hitler's Path to Genocide 53

Nicolae Ceausescu's Vision of Redemption 69

7 The Mistreated Child in the Lamentations of Jeremiah 87

Part 3 Giving Up Hypocrisy

8 The Liberating Experience of Painful Truth 101

9 Protecting Life After Birth 113

Afterword to the Paperback Edition 121

Appendix A Wars and Dictators 129

Appendix B A Law Against the Business of Tyranny 137

Appendix C A Letter to Alice Miller 143

Appendix D Ten Reasons Not to Hit Your Kids 145

Bibliography 149

Index 151

About the Author 165

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 16, 2010

    Proceed With Caution

    A quick perusal of other reviews elsewhere is indicative. I'd heard from colleagues that Miller had become a broken record in her later books; that she was herself stuck in the all-or-nothing, all-right-or-all-wring, all-good-or-all-bad absolutism of her native German culture; and that she had never grasped what the other big names in the Second Wave of mass market trauma theory have grasped.

    Claudia Black, Janet Woititz, John Bradshaw, Pia Mellody, Bruce Perry and Bessel van der Kolk (more or less the "Adult Children of Alcoholics" gang) all appear to undertstand that forgiveness of the perp's behavior is =not= the issue. Forgiveness of the perp's =own= history of abuse =is= a significant factor in recovery for the adult abused as a child. Interestingly, the "ACA gang" owes much of its understanding of what's required to heal from direct personal or professional experience in the trenches with tens of thousands of what we called "AMaCs" (adults molested as children) in the '90s.

    Miller made mistakes, but she also played a =major= role in recharting the developmental course of psychotherapy from the dogmatic, Freudian, psychoanalytic belief in the "naturally naughty child" to modern trauma theory. (Sadly, Freud's contemporary, Pierre Janet, stuck with his guns about molestation, incest, invalidation, battering and all that, and gave the French a =century's= head start on the German and English speakers. Janet's late-19th-century work was not translated into English until the 1970s and '80s, however.)

    Miller almost fell into the same trap as Laura Davis, Ellen Bass, Judith Lewis Herman, Dianna Russell, Yvonne Dolan and other militant feminist therapists of the '70s and '80s: Revenge, retribution and reprisal. (It was SOP in the '80s to arrange confrontations and litigations against one's parents. Mercifully, the awful lessons learned -- including severe RE-traumatization of the victims -- led to more mature, considered, pragmatic, functional and effective interventions.)

    Regardless, the mental health professional who understands all this will get plenty of value from Miller's work, even including her later rants such as this. Miller's =gift= is that she identifies so strongly with the victims that her emotion-saturated, verbal descriptions are just what the doctor ordered for those having difficulty working through the issues that very likely led them in the direction of becoming psychotherapists to begin with. And if =we= have not crossed the raging river of "unprocessed material," how are =we= supposed to play "Moses" for anyone else?

    Non-professionals, however, will be far better served by reading Miller's earlier =Prisoners of Childhood=, =The Drama of the Gifted Child=, =For Your Own Good= and/or =Thou Shalt Not Be Aware=.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Alice Miller represents the most advanced philosophers of our time.

    In the twenty-first century Alice Miller should not need to lecture any longer but because of the everlasting consequences of a dysfunctional culture Miller needs to be read again and again until our society realizes how correct she is and how imperative it is to take care of our emotional health, not only at the personal level but at the national and international level as well.

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