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The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self

4.09  ·  Rating Details ·  10,370 Ratings  ·  500 Reviews
Why are many of the most successful people plagued by feelings of emptiness and alienation? This wise and profound book has provided thousands of readers with an answer—and has helped them to apply it to their own lives.Far too many of us had to learn as children to hide our own feelings, needs, and memories skillfully in order to meet our parents’ expectations and win the ...more
Hardcover, 144 pages
Published July 22nd 2008 by Basic Books (first published 1979)
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Aug 26, 2007 Missreb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
for the people who seem to have it all yet hunger for so much.

this is not the psychopop of twelve-step, i-got-in-touch-with-my-anger-today, neurosis-no-more books. "gifted" here has nothing to do with what your school counselor/teacher told was gifted or talented. rather, the original german word refers to the ability to empathize and meet the needs of a parent figure--at the loss of your true self. while this gift might enable one to survive his/her childhood, the gifted person's unmet need to
Aug 19, 2010 Cari rated it liked it
Shelves: mental-illness, 2010
Miller presents a solid theory with some difficult truths, but at time the narrowness of her idea turns into a sort of tunnel vision with sweeping generalizations that are far too much. She gets carried away with herself and disregards other influences, other options. I always bristle at any theory that attempts to explain everything with a single reason or cause, especially in the complicated matters of psychology or human emotion. Regardless, the clarity of her presentation makes this an easy ...more
howl of minerva
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

-Philip Larkin, This Be The Verse

Not the facile pop-psychology I was expecting, rather a book with some penetrating insights. As other reviewers note, "gifted" in this context does not refer necessarily to academic or artistic gifts (though these are common in the patient group Miller describes), rather a kind of emotional sensitivity.

Briefly, Miller de
Tina Hertz
Jul 13, 2012 Tina Hertz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I read this in my mid-30s and at the time, I found this to be the most helpful book I had ever read. Narcissism is fully explained - though many may think that is just another word for self-centeredness - in its many complexities. The title is misleading and apparently renamed for marketing purposes. The child who is victimized by the Narcissist is gifted because they deal with such heavy challenges and become over-sensitive to others' needs, always eager to please, while suppressing their own s ...more
Mar 06, 2009 Ryan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent book for learning more about yourself, how you became the way you are, and also as a possible source of help regarding the causes and cure of any emotional difficulties you may have. It will also help you better understand the people around you and how they came to be the way they are. It is a good source of psychological knowledge. Alice Miller shows very clearly how the way our parents raised us when we are children formed us psychologically.

Alice Miller wrote her second b
Susan Ellinger
Apr 17, 2008 Susan Ellinger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read a lot a really helpful books that my therapist has recommended to me in the past six months or so. This book is amazing and straight to the point. I would recommend it for anyone that has issues w their parents that they want some perspective on or anyone concerned about possibly passing on the legacy of their own difficulties to their children, however inadvertently. I will read all of Alice Miller's books after reading this one.
Erin Rouleau
Ignore the title. This is a book for anyone struggling with their childhood. And not only those who were abused or not, it's basically anyone that had tough things happen in their childhood that weren't dealed with appropriately. I would think everyone would fall into this category. The book was written for therapists, but a lot of patients end up reading it.

The author believes that depression really comes from the separation of your real self with other words, kids who grow up in
Feb 10, 2011 Hadrian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Hadrian by: Alison Bechdel, and an essay on David Foster Wallace
The title here is a bit of a misnomer - 'Gifted Child' in this sense does not necessarily mean a child of academic gifts, but one with an attuned empathetic sense, and thus susceptible to emotional abuse. When this sense is combined with a deficiency or disorder on the part of the parent - anxiety, manic-depressive, etc., the child has to go to extreme lengths.

This creates two 'selves' - the 'true self' - that is, the child's own 'genuine' personality and needs, and the 'false self', complying,
Jul 23, 2011 Willa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 52-books-in-2011
I liked this book better than I expected to. I had read good things about it; apparently the author's insights on childhood were important in developing psychological understanding in the 70's and later. But I was afraid it was going to be a sort of polemic against parents. Rather, it was more a warning for therapists -- she makes the point that therapists often go into the field because of unresolved issues in their own past and if they are not careful, ie, if they don't have therapy to work th ...more
May 21, 2007 Jan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the best book I have ever read. Do not be fooled by the title--the original title of the book was "Prisoners of Childhood," and I believe the publisher talked the author into changing the title so that proud parents would want to buy the book. As a marketing ploy, it worked. But it's really not about "gifted children" in the contemporary sense, which is often about ratings and education. It is about the most important issue of our time: raising children.
This book is both brilliant and full of schlock. I know people with the problems she described, people who were never going to be loved for who they were, so either buried themselves in achievement or cut off important parts of themselves. These childhood traumas have crippled them in adulthood. The thing about these people, though, is that their parents were fundamentally flawed and repeated these actions over and over again. Unlike in Miller's book, these were not one-off events.

I think it is
Jul 27, 2015 Thomas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A succinct and insightful book about the effects of child abuse. While childhood mistreatment may give kids certain gifts - such as increased empathy and greater achievement - these strengths come at a great cost. Only by confronting and honoring their pasts can these children rise above their unmet needs. Alice Miller writes with conviction and compassion, and I most enjoyed how she emphasizes the hope all of us gifted children should have: we can all lead fulfilling and meaningful lives, with ...more
Στην αρχή ενθουσιάστηκα, στο τέλος λίγο με έχασε. Συνολικά όμως διαφωτιστικό και ενδιαφέρον βιβλίο.
Christine Palau
"It's a seminal work in my field," Dr. Paul Weston (HBO's "In Treatment") said in response to Frances, the daughter-diagnosed-narcissist, when Frances asked her therapist, Paul (the brooding Gabriel Byrne), if he's ever heard of, "The Drama of the Gifted Child."

Naturally, I downloaded the book the next day.

Self-help it is not. Well, not exactly; and I mean that in a good way. But it is a quick read, and only $5 on Kindle!

If you're even thinking of having kids, you must read it, or not, because
Feb 18, 2008 Karson rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just finished this quick little read. This is a specific kind of book for a specific type of person at a specific point in their specific lives. If the time or the person isn't a great fit, you might hate this book and think it is useless, but if the timing is right, then you might love it. It's about learning about yourself and where you came from. To a certain extent we are all trying to better understand who we are and where we came from. Some people do it more obviously then others. Even if ...more
Hanan Kato
Jan 16, 2013 Hanan Kato rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First things first, misleading title. "Prisonners of Childhood" is more accurate.
This book is an eye opener! I've read some of it a few years back and just now have gotten to reading it fully. The gist of it is that parents' expectations of their children can be projected in such a way on them, that it robs them from their "true feelings" and "true self", trying to become the "perfect" child that will meet their parents approval and gain their love.A lot of times, the children ignore/shut off/re
Dec 31, 2007 Dennis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The only defense we have against mental illness is the discovery of the truth of our childhood."

Should be required reading for every psychologist. I liked it even more when, in the third section of the book, the author used Hermann Hesse as an example! I learned something about my favorite author--and, more importantly, gained some highly valuable insights that I hope I can put into practice in integrating my own self.
Jan 20, 2011 Rachel rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
To be fair, I'm going to start with the caveat that I'm not a huge fan of Freud, on whose theories of psychoanalysis Alice Miller seems to rely quite heavily in constructing her own. But while I admit my personal bias against the foundation for her psychological theory, I still believe the construction of her general arguments to be weak as well. She seems to depend far too heavily on isolated instances as evidence of the childhood "abuses" that have crippled her patients in their adulthood, whi ...more
Feb 10, 2014 Chriso rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Holy crap, this book. It kind of blew my mind apart, to be honest. I found myself relating to it so much that I returned my library copy after buying a copy for myself; primarily so I could go at it with a highlighter and dog-ear a ton of the pages. I read this book after reading about it in Alison Bechdel's 'Are You My Mother' and thinking it sounded like something I needed to check out. In some ways, it was like opening Pandora's Box. But since I am dedicated to self-work and to asking myself ...more
Athiban Vasanth
This was my first book on Alice Miller. She is the one to initiate exploring my past life and pique my interest in psychology. I consider her to be one of the giants in psychoanalysis even better than Freud and Jung. She set the bar so high in her field that even psychotherapists now do not match her. DSM manuals published now are worthless once you start reading her work.

"A person reading Alice Miller's book is far ahead in healing himself than meeting an average therapist"(that's my quote !).
My dislike of this, and Miller's other book Breaking Down the Wall of Silence, has little to do with the content and message than the constant referrals she makes to her OWN books, and the general conceited air her writing style takes on.

Other than that, I found the book rambling, repetitive, and containing very few concrete examples of the concepts she's trying to get across.

I do believe that most of what she's saying has merit, but the way the book was written didn't give me much confidence
Jul 05, 2011 Lori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another self-help book that I read in my early-20s, and it was instrumental in helping me understand many of my problems. It didn't "heal" me or change me, but it was a major step in self-recognition.
Feb 06, 2016 Kyley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars. This book is very dated and rather dense/dry, but there's some sharp insights here about childhood baggage and the importance of actually looking at the stuff you carry around with you.
Christine Marie
Dec 29, 2016 Christine Marie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall, it is well worth the read, even if one (like myself) does not entirely subscribe to the psychoanalytic perspective.

A few things I liked:

(1) I really appreciated her mapping out the lengths one may take to repress knowledge and unknowingly contribute to intergenerational trauma. Tying point A to point Z together was achieved in a very easy-to-follow way without elitist terminology or jargon that could cloud understanding. It is that mapping that continuously draws me back to psychoanal
Bruno Arine
Feb 01, 2017 Bruno Arine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bit less technical than other books on the subject (e.g. The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists: Coping with the One-Way Relationship in Work, Love, and Family), and not as resourceful. But the comparison is unfair; that treats about the concept of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, the people affected by it and their children, while this one focuses specifically at children whose parents messed up (even if with the best of intentions). The author Some of the author's patients described my fam ...more
Evren Bay
Jan 03, 2016 Evren Bay rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: parenting
Alice Miller, Yetenekli Çocuğun Dramı kitabını, aslında daha çok psikoterapistlere rehberlik etmek üzere kaleme almış. Daha önce bu alanda pek okuma yapmadıysanız, dili biraz ağır ve karmaşık gelebilir. Miller, Ingmar Bergman, Hermann Hesse gibi bazı yazar ve sanatçıların eserlerini ve onlarla ilgili belgeleri (günlükler/mektuplar/rüyalar/röportajlar) incelemiş.

Miller, bireysel ve toplumsal sorunların kaynağını ailede aramamız gerektiğini söylüyor, hatta demokrasimizin geleceğini (!) bireysel ol
Jan 06, 2014 Chrystal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
Alice Miller states that when she uses the word 'gifted' in the title, she had in mind "neither children who receive high grades in school nor children talented in a special way. [She] simply meant all of us who have survived an abusive childhood thanks to an ability to adapt even to unspeakable cruelty by becoming numb...Without this 'gift' offered us by nature, we would not have survived."

I would like to give this book only 1 star for the pain it caused me in unlocking repressed memories from
Alice Miller fue una psicoanalista que renunció a su consulta para dedicarse a escribir libros explicando las conclusiones de sus investigaciones. Utiliza términos sencillos, sin demasiados tecnicismos.

El tema principal del libro son los abusos sufridos en la infancia. Aunque a algunos puede confundirlos el título, este libro no trata sobre niños con un cociente intelectual alto, sino de aquellos que fueron capaces de sobrevivir a una infancia abusiva porque desarrollaron ciertos mecanismos de
Dec 02, 2012 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not entirely sure what to rate this. Rating it purely as a book, I'd probably give it three stars. Many of Miller's ideas are fascinating, though it's hard not to feel like her idealized version of parenting is something that couldn't possibly actually exist anywhere in this universe. People just aren't THAT flawlessly self-actualized, be they parents or otherwise. If EVERYTHING a parent does, EVER, seemingly constitutes manipulation of his or her child, then.....well, the world's just about ...more
Tom Burkhalter
Mar 30, 2012 Tom Burkhalter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In 1994 a friend of mind recommended this book to me. I was going through a rough patch -- divorce, change of residence/state, change of occupation, all those major stressors -- and this book was more than a help, it made me see myself and my personal struggle in a new light.

I can't and won't try to summarize this book in a few trite sentences. Suffice it to say that Dr. Alice Miller is a pioneering psychologist with great insight into the human problem. Dr. Miller states her objective, in the i
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Madison Mega-Mara...: #61 The Drama of the Gifted Child by Alice Miller 1 2 Jun 08, 2014 07:31PM  
Drama of the Gifted Child 9 54 Sep 07, 2011 09:02PM  
  • Psychoanalytic Case Formulation
  • In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's Development
  • Becoming Attached: First Relationships and How They Shape Our Capacity to Love
  • Neurosis and Human Growth: The Struggle Towards Self-Realization
  • The Interpersonal World Of The Infant: A View from Psychoanalysis and Developmental Psychology
  • The Narcissistic Family: Diagnosis and Treatment
  • The Family Crucible: The Intense Experience of Family Therapy (Perennial Library)
  • Understanding the Borderline Mother: Helping Her Children Transcend the Intense, Unpredictable, and Volatile Relationship
  • The Dance of Intimacy: A Woman's Guide to Courageous Acts of Change in Key Relationships
  • Between Therapist and Client: The New Relationship
  • The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are
  • Trapped in the Mirror: Adult Children of Narcissists in Their Struggle for Self
  • Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers
  • Children of the Self-Absorbed: A Grown-Up's Guide to Getting over Narcissistic Parents
  • Healing the Child Within: Discovery and Recovery for Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families
  • Living with Intensity
  • Why Is It Always About You? : The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism
  • We've Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy & the World's Getting Worse
Psychologist and world renowned author, who is noted for her books on child abuse, translated in several languages. In her books she departed from psychoanalysis charging it with being similar to the poisonous pedagogies, which she described in For Your Own Good.

Miller was born in Poland and as young woman lived in Warshaw where she survived World War II. In 1953 she gained her doctorate in philo
More about Alice Miller...

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“Experience has taught us that we have only one enduring weapon in our struggle against mental illness: the emotional discovery and emotional acceptance of the truth in the individual and unique history of our childhood.” 65 likes
“The grandiose person is never really free; first because he is excessively dependent on admiration from others, and second, because his self-respect is dependent on qualities, functions, and achievements that can suddenly fail.” 57 likes
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