The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self / Edition 3by Alice Miller
Pub. Date: 12/28/1996
Publisher: Basic Books
As charming performers who skillfully reflect their parents expectations, far too many children grow into adults driven to greater and greater achievements by an underlying sense of worthlessness. Never allowed to express their true feelings, and having lost touch with their true selves, they act out their repressed feelings with episodes of depression and compulsive behavior. They in turn inflict the same legacy of repression on their own children.
This poignant and thought-provoking book shows how narcissistic parents form and deform the lives of their children. The Drama of the Gifted Child is the first step toward helping readers reclaim their lives by discovering their own needs and their own truth.
Table of Contents
The Drama of the Gifted Child and How We Became Psychotherapists 1
The Poor Rich Child 4
The Lost World of Feelings 8
In Search of the True Self 14
The Therapist's History 19
The Golden Brain 24
Depression and Grandiosity: Two Related Forms of Denial 27
The Vicissitudes of the Child's Needs 27
Healthy Development 28
The Disturbance 30
The Illusion of Love 33
Depression as the Reverse of Grandiosity 37
Depression as Denial of the Self 40
Depressive Phases During Therapy 52
Signal Function 53
Suppression of Essential Needs 53
The Accumulation of Strong, Hidden Feelings 54
Confronting the Parents 55
The Inner Prison 56
A Social Aspect of Depression 62
The Legend of Narcissus 66
The Vicious Circle of Contempt 69
Humiliation for the Child, Disrespect for the Weak, and Where It Goes from There 69
Working with Contempt in Therapy 82
Damaged Self-Articulation in the Compulsion to Repeat 83
Perpetuation of Contempt in Perversion and Obsessive Behavior 85
"Depravity" as "Evil" in Hermann Hesse's Childhood World 95
The Mother as Society's Agent During the First Years of Life 103
The Loneliness of the Contemptuous 106
Achieving Freedom from Contempt and Respecting Life 111
Works Cited 121
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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This book spoke to me directly and compassionately. The various case studies cover a wide range of similar childhood deficits that have led to painful adult insecurities. The "gifted" child (in the title) has the gift of adaptation to his or her childhood environment, but that gift can ultimately deprive the child of his or her true self. Alice Miller shows us how talk therapy and revisiting the past with the clarity of an adult mind can totally liberate us from our childhood prison and how we can finally become the person we were always meant to be. The author tells us how and why this is possible in astonishingly simple terms. Through her words and wisdom, we can at last "get" our past and (hurray!) can finally get over it. Most likely, this book will speak to many people who don't yet realize that you have to first look back before you can look ahead.
This book obviously isn't light reading, but it may be the most insightful book I have ever read regarding personal development. The author's theory is that the basis for all future development is the Parent (especially Mother)/Child relationship. Children need the love of their parents and they will do whatever it takes to get it, subverting their own desires, needs, and even personality. The child will then spend the rest of his or her adult life seeking this unconditional love and acceptance, impacting future relationships with other adults, as well as with his or her own children. This book is written for therapists, by a therapist, but it is not too technical for the layperson to understand. I found that although the book was very short, it took me a long time to read because the concepts are so enlightening that they require contemplation. I have found this material extrememly useful for understanding myself, and I believe reading it has allowed me to become a better parent to my daughter.
Alice Miller writing helps to understand that every individual has an ethical responsibility to look deep within himself (or herself) and become more conscious of how his past is affecting his relationship with himself and others. This inner journey, discovering the truths about our childhoods and not recreating the bad elements in our current relationships is a form of psychological growth through which we can protect the world from further violence.
This book gave me the answers that I was searching for my entire life. It opened the door to my emotional block and allowed me to heal the pain from neglect, emotional and physical abuse. I've read all of Alice Miller's books, but this one was the key. She had the words I needed to hear and she expresses a passion for helping children past and future. Due to Alice Miller , I now know that I have the capacity to love my children and appreciate them as loving human beings that have so much to give us if we would open our eyes and see what is right in front of us. I encourage everyone who is going through childhood trauma to read this book, and I hope it helps them as much as it has helped me.
Alice Miller's compassion for the 'inner child' helped me ease towards feeling compassion for myself, and the repressed child suffering inside me. This book prompted me to seek help and has undoubtedly aided in my search and recovery. I wish everyone had a copy of this book.
It is rare to read about abuse and trauma and their life-long consequences in poetic prose. Alice Miller writes as though she has experienced the slow death of the True Self that comes with all forms of abuse - from beatings and berating to smothering and doting. Indispensable. Sam Vaknin, author of 'Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited'.
Very informative from the self help perspective. This book is cited in later books about the Inner Child. At times confusing as it switches between relating to the self and to practitioners. I'm glad I read it.
This book really opened my eyes to how as children, we are often forced to repress our anger, frustration, and rage, especially in response to childhood abuse (whether physical, mental, or sexual). This abuse usually comes from our parents and in idealizing them and believing that our abuse was "for our own good" (the title of another book by Dr. Miller), we push aside our emotions as children only to have the emotions resurface as adults.