On re-reading Miller’s Drama of the Gifted Child

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The general theme: respect your child’s feelings, let the child develop and mature to become independent, love unconditionally. Parents, especially mothers, unconsciously or otherwise, use the child to fulfill their needs, and use conditional love as their weapon (rationalized as ‘socialization’) A child who resists is rejected or withdrawn from and can’t help but re-enact the relationship. There is no clear separation of subject/object (child’s fear that rejection of object will destroy it).

Symptoms: denial, anger, breakdown, passive suffering, active abandoning of lover/child, projection/ introjection (conformity, intellectualization), lack of feeling

Healing: through connection with real feelings, re-experiencing and mourning the loss of idealized parent (Kubler-Ross’s denial/ anger/ mourning stages of healing), accept yourself as good and bad and respect the other as independent person, free yourself of obsession to please others. When child becomes extension of mother, the more he achieves, the less free he is.

Depression ends when self-esteem is based on authenticity of your own feelings (not achievements or qualities). Must mourn what you have missed. Can only respect other’s feelings when respect your own.

Perversion and/or radical politics is unconscious re-enactment of parental rejection (now social rejection).

Perversion allows real arousal, connecting with childhood arousal which shocked mother. Acting out anonymously allows abandoning without fear of abandonment or need for commitment, avoiding the anxiety of conditional love of parent.

Political radicalism shifts anger from parent to society. Must live through disillusionment and mourning for lost ideal parent and politics. Protest as reaction is not enough. If your will remains at the leave of protest, it remains dependent on that which it protests against (parent or political system).

Double bind: mixed messages from primal love object lead to repressed rage.

Despising others less accomplished is really despising the insecure child within.

Myths external expression (using emotions (unconscious) more than reason (cconscious)) of internal dramas: Oedipus/Orestes deny guilt, suffer, Furies destroy and then become Eumenides (workers of grace)

The Alice Miller piece from New Age Journal (1986) was excellent - Hitler a vicitim of child abuse; the family the main perpetuator of social violence; we’re doomed to repeat the past; those who persecute others are warding off knowledge of their own fate as victims; we repress the knowledge/feelings of our own humiliations as children and lose capacity to take others’ suffering seriously… She ends up coming down against prostitution as an obsession to have degrading sex, and against sado-masochism as re-enacting childhood abuse. Completely neutral on gay/straight. Better parenting would solve our political problems