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For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  1,628 ratings  ·  78 reviews

For Your Own Good, the contemporary classic exploring the serious if not gravely dangerous consequences parental cruelty can bring to bear on children everywhere, is one of the central works by Alice Miller, the celebrated Swiss psychoanalyst.

With her typically lucid, strong, and poetic language, Miller investigates the personal stories and case histories of various self-d

Paperback, 284 pages
Published January 1st 1985 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1980)
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Larry Strattner
Feb 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
My mother used to say,"We are all victims of victims." If you reflect on this continuum, as Alice Miller does, you realize that many of her case study examples are as immediate today as they ever were since violence is a trait passed down through experience and it is so unerringly inserted deep in the mind of an abused child that it remains almost invisible until an opportunity presents itself for it to blossom horribly within its unwitting host.

Ms. Miller's logic and her view of the roots of vi
Aimee J Martin
Apr 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is an older book written in 1980 that I came across sitting on the floor of a dusty, old used book store. I snagged it for $3 and it was $3 well spent.

This book focuses on the origins of violence and hidden cruelty in child-rearing and the roots of violence.

Amazingly, this book was written in 1980 and expresses that 'everyone should read this book who is troubled by what is happening to our world and to our children..' Wow.. I would love to hear what Alice Miller has to say now in 2010.
Katrina Dreamer
Jun 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
I read this for a class on ancestry. My teacher recommended it because I have German ancestry, and this book was one of the most illuminating I've read in a long time. It helped me understand my upbringing in the light of German culture, and the culture my great-grandparents, grandparents, and even ancestors earlier, were raised in.

I highly recommend this book for anyone with German, or even Scandanavian or European roots.
Aug 27, 2008 rated it it was ok
On recommendation from my therapist. Luckily for me, this copy was heavily marked up so it was easy to skip around to the juicy bits.

"A child conditioned to be well-behaved must not notice what she is feeling, but asks herself what she ought to feel."

May 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
After having it on my shelf for years, I finally read this book, truly amazing. Psychoanalyst Alice Miller explains clearly [even in translation:] what it does to a person's psyche to have been routinely punished by a caregiver for any reason and for no reason. This is her explanation for Hitler and those who collaborated with him and it is convincing. She quotes extensively from 19c [German:] child-rearing manuals warning the parent to establish his/her dominance over the child in the very firs ...more
Margaret Lozano
Jul 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Alice Miller seems to be a bit of a polarizing figure, which isn't too surprising, since she manages to basically upend the entire history of pedagogy in her work. This is the first of her books I've read, but I was so fascinated that I decided to dig a bit deeper, and discovered that likely one reason her books are challenging to find (in English, at least), is probably because of her complicated relationship with her son, Martin Miller, who is also a psychotherapist.

Much of Martin's life seem
Elizabeth George
Alice Miller is a German psychologist whose works have been translated into English. This book explores the nature of child-rearing over time and what child-rearing produces in the victims of what she refers to as "poisonous pedagogy." It's not a book in which anyone is blamed but rather a book in which she explores the way in which child-rearing can ultimately lead to violence in adulthood. As such, it's completely fascinating. It opens your eyes to the negative impact some parents have on thei ...more
Sue Lyle
Jan 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In my opinion the best of Alice Miller's writing, it provides a well researched analysis of child rearing manuals over the centuries and their impact on our attitudes and behaviour towards children. It shows us that values change and that we can change if we want to. I would make this compulsory reading for all would-be teachers.
Jul 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
Those that most need to read it...won't
Sep 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Although this book was written in the historical context of an older generation of parents and children, Miller intuits important psychological insights that are supported by current research. The writing and choice of case studies sometimes seems overwrought, and a large section is devoted to Adolf Hitler's childhood and the impact of Nazism (which came as a surprise to me), yet many of Miller's insights can be applied to a more general population. A worthwhile read for those interested in psyc ...more
Apr 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone, especially anti-oppression folks
Recommended to Bethtub by: Billy Keniston
This is 'must read' material for anyone looking to quell oppressive dynamics. It changed my life and capacity to see various oppressions stemming from personal experiences, as well as how they model each other (i.e. how men relate to women, adults to children, white people to people of color, so on)
Sep 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, thought
Finally someone breaking up with the old, with the same old fairy tales based on belief and employing logic when empirical observation is plagued by confirmation bias.
Sep 29, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: parents, those interested in history
So far the entire first third of the book is excerpts from writings about 'parenting' from Germany around 1770-1800. Shows how horrible parents were supposed to raise their kids. I am having a hard time getting through reading all of it - not only because it is sickening - but because Miller hasn't begun writing herself or getting to the point yet. The second half should get better and to the point (I would expect!), but I am not there yet.

After skipping some of the graphic part in the beginning
Rhonda Rae Baker
This should be required reading for everyone...I am overwhelmed with how much truth is spoken on these pages!

I've been around long enough to realize and to witness that so much of what is said here is how circumstances unfold for many lives.

Oh that we, as a society, will wake up and look around us. This type of abuse is everywhere and we much look into our past and that of our parents to see what pattern have been unconsciously repeated.

This could save your life and that of your children...but m
Jul 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those in guided counseling
Good book to stir up suppressed issues, however it is at high risk for facilitating inaccurate memories.
Aug 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I love Alice Miller's books. Her psychoanalytic perspective along with her anecdotal analysis of famous historical people makes for great reading.
Mischa Daanen
Mar 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Pedagogy fills the needs of parents, not of children.

Ohh and don’t punish or hit your children or they’ll become either addicts or fascists.
Sep 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
This was the book that started my journey to adulthood. I healed tremendously while reading and pondering this book's message.
Mar 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really wanted to give this five stars, because I think this is a very important book. However, I found it to be a bit too dry and academic at times--and I find the subject deeply fascinating, so I would imagine if I had trouble getting through it at times, it could be quite off-putting to someone with less inherent interest. Perhaps it's a side effect of the translation.

That said, this IS a very important book, one that could have the power to revolutionize the entire world if people were actu
Feb 21, 2019 rated it liked it
"The way we were treated as small children is the way we treat ourselves the rest of our life."

I've been on a quest for awhile, searching for good parenting books, reading about child abuse and it's later effects, and most recently I came across this book by Alice Miller. For Your Own Good is an interesting book. Miller's expertise in the area is obvious throughout the book, and I will be looking for more books by her. 

I liked that Miller talked about the parenting techniques of the past and how
Efthimios Nasiopoulos
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Alice Miller continues where she left off in Drama of a Gifted Child. This book has given me more empathy for the wounded child in adult men and women. The idea of raising a child with respect and boundaries and giving them to safety and freedom to express all of the feelings within them is a great start to giving them a head start in a life where one requires access to their whole self to truly live a fulfilled life. If we grow, repressed from certain emotions and grow up wit ...more
Bob Galinsky
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book explains Donald Trump, who had an abusive father, and why so many people follow him and other abusive leaders. The key insight is that some people believe their parents that abuse is "for their own good", and they associate abuse with love, because to admit that their parents don't love them would be devastating.
Jul 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
I read passages of this several years ago... can't quite remember why, although I do remember it hanging around my bedroom with a bookmark in it for a long time - and that I found the parts I did read... well, maybe not enjoyable, but certainly illuminating.
Nov 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
All I Need To Know I learned In Kindergarten (And How To Undo It).
Apr 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psych
This book should be required reading for everyone.
Jan 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
One of my child rearing bibles. I am opposed to spanking, I don't just choose not to do it myself. I am apalled by the entire concept, and this book explains why better than I can.
Jul 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
So far this is an amazing book with great helpful incite about what I am working on and dealing with in my life. Thank you Anne for your recommendation
Oct 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Mind blowing -- amazing insight into trauma
May 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
A fascinating idea on how child abuse and later aggression and criminality are related. The psychoanalytical angle is really well presented and argued for, combined with a shining empathy for the people concerned.
The writer partly takes on the challenge coming from a more scientific approach of data collection and statistical analysis, and I felt that although she didn't dismiss these points, she more or less escaped giving a full account. (I.e. why do some abused children not turn into murdere
Bryon Brandt
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Warning: Read this book when you have time to be gentle with yourself.
And have time to process whatever is stirred while reading it.

Reading it in bits, is probably best.

Please look out for, and stand up for, those that need help, and can't defend themselves.

This book is a reminder of why I'm a fan of the Underdog, and so quickly coming to their aid.
If we wait too long, it can be too late.
With too much lasting harm.
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Eliminating guilt for your childhood experiences 1 12 Jul 04, 2010 12:25PM  

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Librarian Note: There is more than one author by this name in the Goodreads database.

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

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When you work at Goodreads, it's pretty tough to keep that Want to Read shelf under control. (And let's be honest, most of us don't even t...
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“For the human soul is virtually indestructible, and its ability to rise from the ashes remains as long as the body draws breath.” 10 likes
“Theoretically, I can imagine that someday we will regard or children not add creatures to manipulate or to change but rather as messengers from a world we once deeply knew, but which we have long since forgotten, who can reveal to us more about the true secrets of life, and also our own lives, than our parents were ever able to.” 10 likes
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