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

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The bestselling book on childhood trauma and the enduring effects of repressed anger and pain

Why are many of the most successful people plagued by feelings of emptiness and alienation? This wise and profound book has provided millions 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 their "love." Alice Miller writes, "When I used the word 'gifted' in the title, I had in mind neither children who receive high grades in school nor children talented in a special way. I 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." But merely surviving is not enough. The Drama of the Gifted Child helps us to reclaim our life by discovering our own crucial needs and our own truth.

136 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1979

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About the author

Alice Miller

36 books839 followers
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 in Warsaw where she survived World War II. In 1953 she gained her doctorate in philosophy, psychology and sociology at University of Basel in Switzerland. For the next 20 years Miller studied and practiced psychoanalysis.

Her first three books originated from research she took upon herself as a response to what she felt were major blind spots in her field.

However, by the time her fourth book was published, she no longer believed that psychoanalysis was viable in any respect. Miller extended trauma model to include all forms of child abuse, including those that were commonly accepted (such as spanking), which she called poisonous pedagogy, a non-literal translation of Katharina Rutschky's Schwarze Pädagogik (black or dark pedagogy)

Drawing upon the work of psychohistory, Miller analyzed writers Virginia Woolf, Franz Kafka and others to find links between their childhood traumas and the course and outcome of their lives.

In 1979, she stopped practicing as a psychoanalyst after having studied and practiced psychoanalysis for 20 years and became critical of both Freud and Carl Jung.

She has continued to write and lecture on psychological issues.

Her most recent book, Pictures of My Life, was published in 2006; an informal autobiography in which the writer explores her emotional process from painful childhood, through the development of her theories and later insights, told via the display and discussion of 66 of her original paintings, painted in the years 1973 to 2005.

She died in April 14th 2010 in Saint-Rémy de Provence, France.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,587 reviews
Profile Image for howl of minerva.
81 reviews399 followers
June 7, 2015
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 describes the narcissistic personality disturbance. Here narcissistic is used not in the broad sense of vain, being in love with yourself etc. This narcissism is an internalisation of the great expectations of one's parents, the consequent lasting feelings of inadequacy and drive to greater and greater successes (that leave one hollow). Narcissus did not fall in love with himself, but with a false reflection of himself.

The twin manifestations of narcissism are grandiosity and depression. Each is a defence against the other. Grandiosity arises as a person feels their achievements render them superior to everyone else. Depression strikes when they realise they will never achieve as much as "necessary" to support their ego, or that all achievements are empty. Both these manifestations can be traced back to a failure to express one's true self and an idealisation of a false-self instilled by parental desires, pride, ambition, vicarious status-seeking etc. Grandiosity is characterised by contempt for others (who have not, as a casual example, read as many books or displayed as brilliant intellectual and artistic accomplishments). Depression is characterised by contempt for oneself, when one does not (cannot) meet one's own expectations. Anything less than world-historical greatness (and perhaps even that) is seen as failure, that is, pathetic mediocrity. Notably, parents do not have to be physically abusive to have these effects. A small child, entirely dependent on its parents for all its needs, will do anything to ensure their attention and will take careful note of the smallest expressions of admiration or derision. Thus a keen sensitivity as a child instils a cripplingly powerful super-ego.

Miller claims that the key to these feelings is the realisation that one was loved as a child not for who one was, but (in large part at least) because of one's achievements. This leaves the child always desperate to achieve more, to safeguard their parents' love. One's own personality, desires, needs and emotions are suppressed to create a projected perfection which attracts love and awe. Recognition of this allows the patients to be who they are for the first time and to experience their own emotions - both positive and negative. It is remarkably difficult for some people to even contemplate negative thoughts towards their parents. Childhood memories of abuse are among the most strongly suppressed or displaced. Miller references Ingmar Bergman who described in great detail the violent abuse his brother faced at his father's hands, but had no recollection of any mistreatment to himself. (Of course, it seems rather unlikely that he went through his childhood entirely unscathed).

This is all pretty simplified, the book is brief and well worth reading particularly if you see aspects of yourself or someone you know in the above. Though some of the book passed me by there were sentences that gutted me like a fish...

As I look forward to becoming a parent myself within the next few months (against Larkin's advice, if you know the rest of the poem) I can only hope to not fuck up my child, or at least to fuck them up as little as possible. That is, to avoid projecting my own desires and fantasies and personal conception of success onto them and to allow them to flourish as their own person.
Profile Image for Cari.
280 reviews149 followers
August 28, 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 read, and Miller's ideas have a great foundation, doubtless a benefit to many, many people.

(There were, however, times when I felt an equally apt title would have been, "Yes, you really are fucked up, no matter what you think, and it's all mommy's fault!" I'm fairly certain that my parents' toilet training techniques contribued nothing to why I'm a hot mess. In fact, I'd be willing to bet their success in that endeavor has significantly aided me in my quest to be anything other than a filthy hermit. Just sayin'. That part made me choke on my tea.)

Two quotes from the book that I really liked:

"The true opposite of depression is neither gaiety nor absence of pain, but vitality--the freedom to experience spontaneous feelings." [p. 61:]

"...I can understand my suicidal ideas better now, especially those I had in my youth...because in a way I had always been living a life that wasn't mine, that I didn't want, and that I was ready to throw away." [p. 62:]
Profile Image for Missreb.
5 reviews3 followers
August 27, 2007
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 express without fear her true feelings and wishes lingers like a virus that wreaks a quiet havoc on one's sense of self throughout adulthood if untreated. this book offers the start of such treatment, best summed-up in a word: hope.

thanks to this book, i have a lot of hope. not to mention a keener understanding of a lot of the characters in my life--the good, the bad, and the ugly. we gifted types are everywhere.
Profile Image for Fergus, Quondam Happy Face.
971 reviews17.6k followers
March 18, 2023
Let us stay, rather, on Earth...
Where the unfit contrarious moods of men recoil away
And isolate pure spirits, and permit
A place to stand and love in for a day -
With Darkness and the Death Hour rounding it.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I wrote this review a bit too fast. I AM a gifted child who is STILL sacrificed on my own altar of ridiculously high expectations! I shoulda "stayed, rather, on Earth."

My parents, like these kids did, helped me BUILD that altar. It was a smoke screen covering the Truth.

An altar of self-immolation, and the REAL Reason I burned out at retirement, just like so many other frantically-driven managers.

Yikes - OK. Here's what I wrote a year or so ago...

"This wonderful book details the inner spiritual death suffered by little kids who are conveniently SACRIFICED ON THE ALTAR OF PARENTAL EXPECTATION - and thus of vicarious parental ambition.

An awful story, if it applies to any of you.

These kids, now grown up, relive their childhood nightmares of being put in a spiritual coffin by their controlling guardians.

And the result is a meaningless life of ‘going through the motions of living’ WITHOUT ever knowing their true selves.

And this awful outcome is now more and more the Rule rather than the Exception in our conveyer-belt lives. (I thought it would touch a real nerve when applied to the car wreck of my own life.) But in fact, it did not...

You see, in the spring of my thirteenth year I made a conscious decision to relive the memories of my early childhood to such an extent that they - as the record of my real self, likely soon to be submerged as I entered the regimental high school system - would henceforth be indelibly stamped on my mental identity.

I would generally walk the LONG way home from my nearby elementary school (no junior high back then!) and gradually tease these buried memory threads into my conscious wakeful mind.

And in such a way I amassed an inner archive of detail of the Living Self that had experienced them.

I musta been prescient. The adult world was waiting in the wings to do a number on my inner child!

But with this inner archive, I was later able to more or less easily restore my real self - after the arduous and uncompromising night of neuroleptic drugs eventually lightened into a jagged, broken dawn.

And talking on Goodreads helped enormously!

So, no - this book didn’t apply to me. "

So went my cock 'n bull story!

Like bally heck! I shoulda known better to have sent it to my sister, who knew I AM a "gifted child." She didn't quibble about my illusion. But she KNEW I DIDN'T KNOW the real story. I just didn't get it...

Till I read Eliza Morgan's book The Beauty of Broken again. In it, she baldly says our real life won't begin till we see WE ALL are broken people. A direct hit on my OCD.

So to those of us to whom the calamitously deleterious memories of vicarious adult ambition resulted in your spiritual death...

While your true self may remain a closed book to you...

Your vitality will be reborn, if you follow this book’s many stories into deep mourning for your lost inner child.

And REALLY start over at Square One, for it's there, in our murky beginnings, that we must shine the Bright Light of Reason.

And Right Now is ALL we have, you know...

For it's only in the Bright Light of Reason -

That we will see our Childhood Devils as a part of the too-real Stark Reality we live in today.
Profile Image for Tina Hertz.
11 reviews2 followers
July 14, 2012
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 self-knowledge, emotions and needs.
The book described my life in extraordinary detail, it was a catharsis to see expressed what I never could have spoken. There were a few details that did not match my life for sure, but on the whole, this book freed me.
The book describes the extraordinary behaviors, symptoms, resulting characteristics in both the Narcissist and the victim.

Too you can't explain away a person with just one cause, and no one is a pure Narcissist, nor should anyone be a total victim.

The biggest drawback to the book is that after reading it, being enlightened and more aware of Narcissistic behavior and the stunted growth of the victims...you then say: then what?
Alice Miller never ever talks about forgiveness or how to overcome being victimized, stuck in indignation. Learning the exercise of gratitude and forgiveness is the only way to beat the despair of self-pity.

Today if I read it, I might take exception to the Freudian slant, to her constant complaining, to her utter atheistic outlook - but at the time I read this book, I was in no shape to weigh those kinds of things.
Profile Image for Michael Perkins.
Author 6 books357 followers
October 22, 2021
Those who have experienced insecure or disorganized attachment to their parents as a result of absent or authoritarian parenting, may experience the impact for the rest of their lives. Such parenting can interrupt the bonding process, depriving a young child of the opportunity to feel safe and loved, and ultimately of developing a healthy sense of well-being. As they grow into adulthood, they may try to compensate for that lack of a healthy sense of self by seeking praise and accolades from devotees in the outside world— sometimes at all costs. It becomes almost a matter of survival.


In his book Humankind, the author treats the terms placebo and nocebo as psychological outlooks. Placebo is positive and encouraging and nocebo is the opposite. These insights complement Alice Miller's book.

My mother was nocebo. My parents were married young and lived through The Great Depression as adults. My dad went to college and medical school during this time and was drafted the day after he finished his medical residency at Boston General Hospital. After the War, they set up my dad's solo medical practice in the small New Hampshire mill town they were from. While my father did the doctoring, my mother ran the business side. After 17 long years, my dad's mid-life crisis resulted in the radical move of our family to the SF Bay Area when I was 7.

I only figured out recently that these experiences did not foster resilience in my mother, rather she may have had PTSD as a result. She was agoraphobic and had a very negative outlook. Her attitude was "why bother?" She was always advising us to give up, to quit. Not the message you need from a parent. My father finally came out, in a letter to me, and admitted she was crippled by fear. He made the mistake of covering for her at all costs at the expense of the children.

If you are nocebo, you're going to be sad, negative, and pessimistic, which turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy. My mom's perspective, and my dad's unconditional support of her, did profound damage to the children that ended in tragedy. This is no way to live.


A few insights from the book....

"Where there is no parental respect for a child's feelings, he will seek refuge from his pain in ideologies. Nationalism, racism, and fascism are in fact nothing other than ideological guises of the flight from painful, unconscious memories of endured contempt."

"It is among the commonplaces of education that we often first cut off the living root and then try to replace its natural functions by artificial means. Thus we suppress the child’s curiosity, for example (there are questions one should not ask), and then when he lacks a natural interest in learning we offer him special coaching for his scholastic difficulties."

"We could make great progress in becoming more honest, respectful, and conscious, thus less destructive, if religious leaders could acknowledge and respect these simple psychological laws. Instead of ignoring them, they should open their eyes to the vast damage produced by hypocrisy, in families and in society as a whole."

"A child has a primary need from the very beginning of her life to be regarded and respected as the person she really is at any given time."


Winston Churchill had bad parents but didn't fully realize it.

His biographer, William Manchester explains....

“My mother,” Churchill writes, “always seemed to me a fairy princess: a radiant being possessed of limitless riches and power. She shone for me like the Evening Star.” In reality Lady Randolph, the American-born Jennie Jerome, was a beautiful, shallow, diamond-studded panther of a woman who neglected him shamefully. Later, when Winston grew to manhood, she found him “interesting,” but she didn’t like children.

His perception of his father was even more distorted...

In Amid These Storms Churchill wrote: “The greatest and most powerful influence in my early life was of course my father…. He saw no reason why the old glories of Church and State, of King and country, should not be reconciled with modern democracy; or why the masses of working people should not becomes the chief defenders of those ancient institutions by which their liberty and progress had been achieved.” History’s verdict is very different. Randolph was a shallow political demagogue whose star briefly crossed the parliamentary firmament in the mid-1880s, when he became Chancellor of the Exchequer and then, within six months, owing to his extraordinarily bad judgment, plunged out of sight.

Emotionally abandoned by both, young Winston blamed himself. Needing outlets for his own welling adoration, he created images of them as he wished they were, and the less he saw of them, the easier that transformation became. His suppressed resentment at their neglect had to be directed elsewhere. Thus he became a difficult child and a wretched student. All his life he would be plagued by spells of depression—“Black Dog” as he called them. Love, he had come to believe, was something that had to be earned, and he sought it in achievement, becoming a creature of ambition and raw energy.


The author Hermann Hesse is another stunning example.

He was highly repressed as a child by his hard-line parents. (Both his parents and grandparents were missionaries). They saw their son as obstreperous and thus to be brought to heel.

His father wrote:

"Hermann, who was considered almost a model of good behavior in the boys’ house is sometimes hardly to be borne. Though it would be very humiliating for us [!], I am earnestly considering whether we should not place him in an institution or another household. We are too nervous and weak for him, and the whole household [is] too undisciplined and irregular. He seems to be gifted for everything: he observes the moon and the clouds, extemporizes for long periods on the harmonium, draws wonderful pictures with pencil or pen, can sing quite well when he wants to, and is never at a loss for a rhyme."

The parents instilled tremendous guilt into their gifted son for not conforming, a guilt which he never entirely escaped. In Hermann Hesse's story, “A Child’s Heart” about his fundamentalist parents we read: "If I were to reduce all my feelings and their painful conflicts to a single name, I can think of no other word but: dread. It was dread, dread and uncertainty, that I felt in all those hours of shattered childhood felicity: dread of punishment, dread of my own conscience, dread of stirrings in my soul which I considered forbidden and criminal."


I told my story in this review.....

Profile Image for Faezeh Nourikakhki.
21 reviews36 followers
May 25, 2019
کتاب خیلی خوبی حرف بود. حرف اصلی کتاب این بود که باید دست از توهم و توجیه برداریم و قبول کنیم آسیب دیدیم. قبول کنیم که خودمون و دیگران به خصوص پدر و مادر در دوران کودکی بهمون آسیب زدند و جرات کنیم این آسیب رو افشا کنیم بدون ترس از دست دادن و دوست داشته نشدن.
کتاب میگفت ریشه تمام گرایشهای افراطی دقیقا همین ترسه و تلاش برای اینکه آسیب دیدگیمون رو مخفی کنیم.
یکی از بحثهای اصلی دیگه ی کتاب هم این بود که پدر و مادری که به آسیبهاشون آگاه نشدن از بچه هاشون برای مخفی کردن این آسیبها استفاده میکنند و اکثر بچه ها برای از دست ندادن حمایتهای والدین تا آخر عمرشون گاهی اجازه میدن که ازشون سواستفاده بشه و بعد دوباره همینها رو به بچه ی خودشون منتقل میکنند.
ارزش خوندن داشت البته برای کسایی که با خود خود خودشون هنوز کنار نیومدن.
Profile Image for Rachel.
227 reviews8 followers
January 20, 2011
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, while dismissing more pronounced examples of abuse as too extreme for the case she wishes to make. Furthermore, it seems that her entire exploration of the "gifted child" -- not one who is overly bright, but rather a child who is able to empathize with his parents as they struggle through their issues -- is based on her own mama-drama rather than on more objective studies. It seems that Miller is grasping at examples to justify her own childhood frustrations. While surely cathartic, this doesn't strike me as a sound basis for a psychological treatise.

I might be able to forgive all that, had the writing been more compelling or better organized. I cannot excuse the poor construction of this text, or Miller's failure to adequately support her points or tie together the various threads of her argument. Without a conclusion, her complaints fall flat and her thesis remains unsound. I'm not really sure of what, if anything, she's believes she has proven, or what substantial evidence she has given to back her claim. I come away feeling that a parent can't possibly do right by their child, as any attempt at a reprimand is considered borderline abuse. Miller might have done better to include suggestions for positive parental models or success stories, to better indicate the goals of her methods or the point of this book. Her other texts may be more compelling, but this one is a definite must-miss.
Profile Image for Firdevs.
17 reviews93 followers
June 28, 2018
Fazla çıkarım yapamadığım bir kitaptı. Şunuda söylemeliyim ki kişisel gelişim sevmiyorum ben.
1 review
March 7, 2009
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 book, For Your Own Good, as a continuation of this book, and I think the detailed examples and analysis she provides in the second book will be very interesting to anybody who likes Drama of the Gifted Child.

Another thing that I found helpful was to re-read Drama of the Gifted Child some time after reading For Your Own Good, to see how much more I was able to learn from it after having some time to react emotionally to what I had read the first time. I learned so much that I was inspired to keep re-reading her books periodically to continue learning more and more.

Initially Alice Miller's claims about the extent of damage done to us by our parents seemed exaggerated to me, and I felt that one should not say such things about parents. After recovering somewhat from my parent's punishment of me for saying the truth to them about themselves during my childhood, I am now able to realize that it is true that the most commonly practiced child-rearing practices devastate us psychologically, and that I need to re-discover what my parents did to me during my childhood and how I felt about it in order to recover my psychological health.

For those who have the ability to heal from the traumas they suffered by feeling the repressed feelings from those traumas, Alice Miller's books provide enough information to provoke a long-term emotional healing process. This healing improves your psychological health, and, she claims, will eventually lead to the re-discovery of your true self, your untraumatized soul. I hope this is true.

Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Thomas.
1,462 reviews8,569 followers
December 17, 2015
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 effort and kindness to ourselves.

Miller does make some generalizations in The Drama of the Gifted Child, as I doubt all feminist women with piercings or angry male politicians faced childhood abuse. However, considering this book's publication date, I forgive her. I read this book at quite the fitting time in my personal life, so expect it to make an appearance in my future memoir/writing.
Profile Image for Terri.
272 reviews
April 16, 2019
"The voice of parents is the voice of gods, for to their children they are heaven's lieutenants.” - William Shakespeare

Psychology writer and therapist Alice Miller's classic book is a must read for anyone who has a interest in psychology and childhood trauma/abuse. Written in 1978, it is brilliant and life-changing at little over one-hundred pages.

The author, Alice Miller was forced to live in Warsaw as a Jewish girl living under a false name in World War Two. She was a victim of the holocaust and never recovered completely from it as her father died in the Warsaw Ghetto. Alice was never able to completely talk about her devastating experience with her friends and family. She spent her life and career trying to understand how the German people could have followed Hitler and went along with his murderous plans.

In her outstanding book, she delves into childhood and how your parents behavior has shaped you. It is very painful in that she insists that the reader must accept their parents behavior and accept it for what it really is. She also makes you examine your own parenting. I really liked that part where she discusses children having to repress their own needs to appease their parents. She also comes down very hard on society and believes that all criminals were infants/children who were emotionally, sexually or physically abused and repressed it. An unwanted child leads a life of despair and furthermore is most likely incapable of love.

When you read this book, you will come face to face with your own childhood and start the journey to your own story. This is a book you might find yourself reading and processing, a few times over the years. This is a four plus star book.
Profile Image for Irou Li Cherry.
56 reviews15 followers
August 3, 2020
Θα το θέσω κάπως μπακαλίστικα. Ας υποθέσουμε ότι υπάρχουν δύο κατηγορίες ενηλίκων. Αυτοί που είχαν ευτυχισμένα παιδικά χρόνια και αυτοί που δεν. Σε ποιους απευθύνεται τούτο εδώ το βιβλίο? Σε όλους! Αλλά πιο πολύ σε αυτούς που υποθέτουν ότι είχαν ευτυχισμένα παιδικά χρόνια αλλά κάτι τους βρωμάει.
Ωπ! Μα που κρύβονται αυτοί?
Είναι αυτά τα παιδιά που όπως πολύ χαρακτηριστικά αναφέρεται σε ένα παράδειγμα του βιβλίου:
"ζούσα σε ένα σπίτι από γυαλί, μέσα στο οποίο η μητέρα μου μπορούσε να κοιτάξει οποιαδήποτε στιγμή ήθελε. Μέσα σε ένα γυάλινο σπίτι, όμως, δεν μπορείς να κρύψεις τίποτα χωρίς να σε ανακαλύψουν, εκτός κι αν το κρύψεις κάτω από το έδαφος. Αλλά τότε δεν μπορείς πια να το δεις ούτε κι εσύ".
Δεν έχει σημασία αν είσαι ή αν σκοπεύεις να γίνεις γονιός ή όχι. Γιατί, μάντεψε! Έχεις ήδη ένα παιδί!
Πρόκειται για ένα βιβλίο που διαβάζεται πανεύκολα. Με πολλά παραδείγματα, γραμμένο απλά και κατανοητά. Θεωρώ ότι αξίζει να διαβαστεί από όλους. Η κυρία Miller έχει κάνει εξαιρετική δουλειά εδώ.
Και αν εν τέλει ανακαλύψεις κάτι τρομακτικό, να θυμάσαι ότι, όπως λέει και ο φίλος μας ο Tom στον Τρυποκάρυδό του: "ποτέ δεν είναι αργά για να ζήσει κανείς ευτυχισμένα παιδικά χρόνια".
Profile Image for Mohammad Mirzaali.
465 reviews88 followers
August 13, 2019
تعریف یک کتاب خوب گمانم این است: «کتابی که با خواندنش جهان را جور دیگری می‌بینیم». کتاب آلیس میلر از همین دست کتاب‌ها ست؛ اثری که مهم‌ترین اختلالات روانی را با کودکیِ هر فرد و به رابطه‌اش با والدین مرتبط می‌کند و از مخاطبانش می‌خواهد با خشم و انزجار و غم‌های آن دوران مواجه شوند تا اسیر آن نمانند
Profile Image for Erin.
548 reviews32 followers
January 21, 2009
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 yourself...in other words, kids who grow up into a false self to please their parents are depressed over this separation of self. This all happens via illusions towards your childhood and not dealing with the truth and most importantly not mourning the loss.

Obviously, I'm paraphrasing, but it's a good book, and very direct/short. The one complaint I have so far is that she gives advice for confronting your childhood as an adult, but she doesn't give advice on how to raise kids even though she shares a lot of the don'ts.


So after finishing this book, I still found it good and it had great food for thought. But there wasn't a lot of hopefulness in it, and I felt like it was lacking constructive examples of how to take her advice and confront and mourn things that went wrong in your own childhood. Maybe I'm dense, because confronting and mourning should be pretty straight forward, but I would have still appreciated some more insight in how to do it. Also, this was a book written for therapists and not patients so that could have something to do with the lack of hands on advice.
Profile Image for Susan Ellinger.
4 reviews1 follower
April 18, 2008
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.
Profile Image for Antigone.
500 reviews741 followers
March 7, 2019
At slightly over a hundred pages, this slim volume addresses the effects of narcissistic parenting and is one of the more highly-regarded works on the subject within the treatment community.

Alice Miller, a Swiss psychologist with twenty years in clinical practice, had come to reject traditional forms of analysis and broke from the theories of Jung and Freud - concluding the standard approach to such emotional injuries left too much power in the parent's court. The primary caretakers (most frequently mothers) were not being held to account for the damage they themselves had suffered and had unconsciously passed on. Holding the perpetrator inviolate, she felt, made it virtually impossible for victims to come to terms with the who and why of their experience and the reality of their plight. The "gifted child" she refers to is the child whose natural gifts were forced underground at an early age because they threatened the parent. Recovery, as Miller perceives it, lies in resurrecting that oppressive dynamic and feeling (frequently for the first time) what could not be felt in childhood without the terrifying loss of a mother's love. Such emotions might include deep pockets of rage, fear, frustration, despair, and a clear sense of danger.

I think this is invaluable material for anyone weighing the prospect of entering therapy. Miller does not sugarcoat the process. Few will describe so precisely what it is for an adult not only to recover those childhood traumas but to re-experience them as that child did, in all their nightmarish proportion. Such an emergence of raw, infantile emotion can prove profoundly shocking to the adult mind. Unhinging. Disabling. And once that Pandora's Box is opened? There's really no way to close it again. This book, in all its fierce revelation, makes an excellent case for the importance of finding the right therapist from the outset - even if it means interviewing five or seven or twelve.

Where I take issue with Miller, and I do take issue here, is in her passionate insistence on the existence of a "true" self. If we are to accommodate influence, distortion, solipsism, and the ever-shifting nexus of authenticity itself, then I suspect a nature can only ever be temporarily true and, if sought on a psychic map, will forever be sailing North, South, East and West, to a bewildering variety of foreign locales - each of which will require the re-establishment of anchorage and the reassessment of our definition of "true." That's my sense of it, anyway, and stands as a minor complaint in the grander scheme of a useful book.

Profile Image for Hosna.
23 reviews8 followers
January 30, 2019
نوشتن ریویو برای این کتاب کار خیلی سختیه. این‌که از کجاش شروع کنم، این که بگم زندگی مکتوب من رو آلیس میلر نوشته بود! راستش خوندنش تو بدترین حال روحی تمام زندگیم رو نمی‌دونم باید مثبت تلقی کنم یا نه. برای من که از سبک روانشناسی دوری می‌کردم، شروع کردنش سخت بود، ولی باید بگم که اصلا اصلا این کتاب رو با کتاب‌های زرد اشتباه نگیرید و مثل من پیش‌داوری نکنید. آلیس میلر من رو با بخشی از خودم آشنا کرد که اصلا به وجودش آگاهی نداشتم.
کودک درون، چیزی که سال‌ها مورد شماتت، ظلم و بی‌توجهی قرار گرفته. متوجه شدن دلیل افسردگیم و ریشه‌یابی مسائل خیلی ظریف درونم چیزی که شاید خیلی آماده‌اش نبودم ولی خوشحالم باهاش مواجه شدم.
راستش یک جاهایی خیلی حقیقت رو می‌کوبید توی صورتت. اول که کتاب رو شروع کردم به توصیه تراپیست، 20 صفحه خوندم و دیدم خب مثل این‌که کتاب خوبیه! تا این‌که کم‌کم به جاهایی رسید که من بیشتر 5 صفحه نمی‌تونستم بخونم چون اینقدر با خودم رو‌به‌روم می‌کرد و بخشی از زندگی انکارشده‌م رو نشونم میداد که تا یک هفته تو کما بودم و ازش فاصله می‌گرفتم.
این 118 صفحه خوندش برای من طول کشید، چون من ظرفیت پذیرش این همه رو یک‌جا نداشتم! من تو افسردگی این کتاب رو خوندم و اصلا نمی‌تونستم سرسری ازش بگذرم.
این کتاب رو من قرض گرفته بودم، ولی پیداش کردم (باغ کتاب نداشتش). چون می‌دونم یکی برای خودم باید داشته باشم و حتما می‌خونمش بارها و بارها، چون عین یک کتاب راهنماست برای من.
پس بهترین 5 ستاره‌ی دنیا رو بهش دادم!
و این که به یکی معرفیش کردم که امیدوارم بخونه، چون اونم اندازه‌ی من بهش احتیاج داره. و شاید این بزرگترین هدیه براش باشه.
پ.ن: حتما ترجمه کتایون زاهدی باشه. یک نسخه دیگه‌اش که اسمشم کمی فرق می‌کرد ولی همین کتاب بود رو از باغ کتاب خریدم و از ترجمه راضی
نبودم. کاورش رو هم آپلود کردم همین آبیست
پ.ن (بسیار مهم): چیزی که تراپیست به من گفت اینه که ازون کتاباست که بهتره پیش‌زمینه براش وجود داشته باشه و نخوندش بدون پیش‌زمینه و یا بدون کمک تراپیست ممکنه کج‌فهمی و پیچیدگی الکی درست کنه و اوضاع رو بدتر بکنه.
Profile Image for Avalon.
129 reviews48 followers
December 9, 2020
The Drama of the Gifted Child is one of those rare gems that isn’t afraid to cut deep into the heart of the psyche. Alice Miller, an esteemed therapist, explains that those who grew up with parents or caretakers that disrespected, neglected or abused them have developed a false sense of self. The child becomes molded into what the parents want them to be, rather than accepting the child for who he or she is. This is also true for those of us who were praised for our accomplishments rather than for who we really are.

Miller asserts that in order to reconnect with our true self, which here means our needs and emotions, we must confront and grieve the history of our painful childhood in the safety of the therapy. It is only once we allow ourselves to feel and understand our repressed emotions that we can begin to show up as our authentic self. This also allows us to break free from maladaptive generational cycles of behavior and hold space and unconditional love for our own children.

This is a fantastic and insightful book that unflinchingly peels back all of the layers. The Drama of The Gifted Child tackles a challenging and emotional subject with unparalleled clarity, grace and aplomb. At only 144 pages it manages to be both succinct and accessible. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to dive deep and get to the root of their problems once and for all.
Profile Image for Holly.
554 reviews
March 2, 2022
Seems really dated and simplistic, which, given all we've learned about depression since the advent of SSRI's, isn't all that surprising for a book almost 40 years old. I found it useful more for how it helps illustrate the evolution of psychotherapy and how it helped me understand certain things about how therapists I saw approached their practice than for any insight it offered into myself.

Re: the evolution of psychotherapy, I was struck by the focus on mothers and what they do wrong. You would think that most people have only a female parent, that fathers play almost no role in a child's life. This was really brought home to me in this passage:
In the Zurich exhibition (1977) to commemorate the centennial of [Hermann] Hesse's birth [in 1877], a picture was displayed that had hung above the little Hermann's bed and that he had grown up with. In this picture, on the right, we see the "good" road to heaven, full of thorns, difficulties, and suffering. On the left, we see the easy, pleasurable road the inevitably leads to hell. Taverns play a prominent part on this road, probably because devout women hoped to keep their husbands and sons away from these wicked places with this threatening representation.[emphasis added]

Notice how she rushes to blame "devout women" for wanting to spoil the pleasure of "their husbands and sons." Did "devout women" in 1877 have much influence over art? Were they allowed to create it? Did they have time to create it when they were also probably busy raising families? Did they write and deliver the sermons about the evils of taverns?

NO. They didn't.

And here's another thing: women both devout and otherwise had good reason to fear when their husbands went to taverns and came home drunk, because drunkenness is a contributing factor to domestic violence against both wives and children. For women who had no independent income, no vote, no say in governance, and who could lose all custody of their children if they left an abusive husband, a primary way to try to keep their children safe from violence was to try to keep their husbands out of taverns.

But sure, the real problem was that these horrible women made four-year-olds feel bad about their unconscious desires to hang out in places full of drunk male adults.

That's just some straight-up misogyny. And considering that misogyny has been one of the things at the root of my depression, a book so steeped in it isn't likely to give me a lot of relief.

The insistence here that depression MUST BE ROOTED IN SOMETHING THAT HAPPENS IN EARLY CHILDHOOD, an idea more recent research undercuts, is also a problem. I had a therapist or two who followed that dogma in ways that probably caused a lot of harm.

A therapist told me the key to my healing was to discover my early childhood trauma. I was like, "Nah, I was a pretty happy little kid; the shit hit the fan around the time my body started changing and boys started getting mean and scary in sixth and seventh grade." She flat-out told me, "You were traumatized as a child, probably through a molestation, and you have to uncover the memory of the trauma."

I actually followed the visualizations she gave me and dutifully went into a meditative state to talk to my seven-year-old self, who told me, when I asked her what was wrong, that she couldn't help me fix the problem I wanted to address because it hadn't happened yet.

When I told my therapist that, she actually got upset at me and insisted I'd just done it wrong. She told me I better uncover a memory of being molested if I wanted to get better. I had very clear memories of my early childhood (something people who have repressed memories typically lack) and I also understand female biology enough to be confident of when certain events happened to me (hint: it was adulthood) and was therefore further confident that I was right about my life and she was wrong. So I fired her.

If someone did that shit now, they'd lose their license. It's completely unethical--and with good reason. While there are certainly people who have recovered memories of being molested in early childhood--one of my good friends experienced that, and it's the only thing that explains certain aspects of his life--there are others who invented memories to please aggressive therapists like the unethical, wrong-headed person I worked with.

In any event, we now know that puberty REALLY FUCKS WITH PEOPLE'S BRAINS. Adolescents are weird. They are super anxious, and there are biological reasons for this. That anxiety can be something they don't grow out of, and there can be biological reasons for that, too. It's not automatically because their parents fucked them up.

So all in all, with its misogyny and its erroneous insistence that adult depression has to be rooted in trauma inflicted by parents on children in early childhood, I think this book does as much harm as good. I'm glad it seems dated and simplistic, since that means psychotherapy is moving on from it.
Author 1 book13 followers
December 28, 2009
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 great that Miller decided to write about these people, but she took the ideas too far. Babies should have their needs catered to and children should be respected for who they are, but they should not be allowed to "order their mothers around like paschas." It is normal for good, loving parents to need a night off, and it is necessary for them not to indulge their child's every whim. It is called parenting. Also, I do not think it is neurologically possible for someone to remember being sexually abused once at three months old.

Conclusion: This book can give you some real insight if you are willing to wade through a lot of junk.
Profile Image for Sadaf.
20 reviews
April 1, 2019
آلیس میلر توی این کتاب درباره تاثیر بزرگی که دوران کودکی روی دوران بزرگسالی داره صحبت می کنهٍ. یه جاهاییش تکرار زیاد داشت اما اونقدر تاثیر این کتاب روی من زیاد بود که بهش امتیاز 5 میدم.
این کتاب رو هر کسی باید حداقل یه بار بخونه :)
به خصوص اگر تصمیم دارین فرزندی داشته باشین قبلش حتما این کتاب رو بخونین
Profile Image for Kurisuta.
32 reviews
April 12, 2020
"Το τι κάνουν οι ενήλικες στην ψυχή των παιδιών τους είναι καθαρά δική τους υπόθεση, γιατί το παιδί θεωρείται ιδιοκτησία των γονέων του με τον ίδιο τρόπο που οι πολίτες ενός ολοκληρωτικού καθεστώτος θεωρούνται ιδιοκτησία της κυβέρνησης. Μέχρι να ευαισθητοποιηθούμε όσον αφορά τον πόνο των μικρών παιδιών, αυτή η άσκηση εξουσίας από τους ενήλικες θα θεωρείται μια φυσιολογική πλευρά της ανθρώπινης
συμπεριφοράς, αφού σχεδόν κανείς δεν την προσέχει ή δεν την παίρνει στα σοβαρά. Επειδή τα θύματα είναι «απλώς παιδιά», υπεραπλουστεύουμε το άγχος και τη στενοχώρια τους."

Μια σπαρακτική έκκληση προς τους (πλέον) ενήλικες που κακοποιήθηκαν, είτε σωματικά, είτε ψυχικά με ποικίλλους τρόπους, με αναγκαστική αναστολή των συναισθημάτων τους, για να θρηνήσουν τον εαυτό που δεν αγαπήθηκε για αυτό που ήταν, ως παιδιά
Profile Image for Pippi Bluestocking.
77 reviews11 followers
January 2, 2017
Be warned: dated, rife with gender essentialism, awkward generalizations, bad science.

Yet, the main argument (how we learn to suppress feeling and expressing emotion because of our parents' parenting) is worth a look. Although I'm guessing there are better and more recent books that incorporate the same line of reasoning.
Profile Image for Sonya.
455 reviews296 followers
April 25, 2020

هر انسان بالغي بي شك "دوران كودكي" خود را با خاطرات و اثرات متنوعي سپري كرده است. خاطرات اكثر انسانها و درك آنها از خود معمولا از سه يا چهارسالگي شروع مي شود، روانشناسان معتقدند كه روان آدمي از دوران نوزادي از محيط اطراف و رفتار اطرافيان تاثير مي پذيرد. آليس ميلر روانكاو سوييسي در اين اثر به بررسي اثرات دوران كودكي بر روان آدمي و نقش آن در شكل گيري شخصيت و باورهاي مركزي انسان پرداخته است. انتظاراتي در دوران كودكي بر هر فردي تحميل مي شود و كودك ناخودآگاه براي بقا، مورد پسند واقع شدن و در نهايت بدست اوردن "عشق والدين" دست به انكار خود واقعي زده و زير نقابي از خواسته هاي والدين "خود" را پنهان مي كند.
در اين اثر تنها سخن از افرادي نيست كه در دوران كودكي تحت شكنجه هاي جسمي و رواني بوده اند، بلكه حتي افرادي كه خاطره هاي خوش بسياري از دوران كودكي خود دارند چه بسا از "خود واقعي" شان دور افتاده باشند .
ابراز "خود واقعي" هر انسان و نشان دادن آن به جهانيان از نيازهاي اساسي هر انسان است كه مي تواند در دوران رشد او كاملا سركوب و حتي از خود آگاه وي حذف شده باشد.
رها شدن تصوير ذهني انسان از بايدها و ارزشهاي والدينش قدم مهمي در يافتن و بروز "خود واقعي" اوست.
اين اثر به بيش از بيست زبان ترجمه شده و خوانندگان بسياري با مطالعه آن به حقايق بسياري در مورد خود دست يافته و روانكاوان بسياري از اين نظريه و روش براي درمان مراجعين خود استفاده كرده اند.
پ ن: خواندن اين اثر را به دوستاني كه دغدغه هايي غير از زندگي بيروني و اتفاقات روزمره دارند، به شدت توصيه مي شود
Profile Image for The Old Soul .
83 reviews13 followers
March 21, 2023
چقدر کتاب حقی بود!
به‌ نظرم همه باید یه دور بخوننش.
● آلیس میلر توی این کتاب به این می‌پردازه که ریشه‌ی همه‌ی ناهنجاری‌های روانی و رفتاری بشری توی آسیب‌هاییه که فرد توی کودکی خورده. کودک تمام احساسات خودش رو بعد از این آسیب‌ها سرکوب کرده ولی بعدن این احساسات واپس‌زده توی بدنش انباشته میشن و خودشون رو به اشکال مختلفی مثل افسردگی، خودنمایی، وسواس‌های فکری و رفتارهای انحرافی جنسی و... نشون میدن.
Profile Image for Ian D.
519 reviews57 followers
November 1, 2018
Ενδιαφέρον και ευανάγνωστο, το βιβλίο της Alice Miller εισχωρεί στα μύχια της παιδικής ψυχοσύνθεσης και καταγράφει τον τρόπο που αυτή επηρεάζει τη μετέπειτα πορεία προς την ενηλικίωση. Κατάθλιψη, διπολικές διαταρραχές, ιδέες μεγαλείου, επιθετικές και/ή αυτοκαταστροφικές συμπεριφορές, όλα δείχνουν να έχουν τις βάσεις τους σε μια δυσλειτουργική παιδική ηλικία. Μέσα από την πολυετή πείρα της ως ψυχαναλύτρια, η συγγραφέας παραθέτει απτά παραδείγματα από την κλινική της εμπειρία με γλωσσα κατανοητή και με πολλές επεξηγηματικές παραπομπές, χωρίς να γίνεται ούτε στιγμή υπερβολικά τεχνική ούτε όμως και απλοϊκή, βρίσκοντας επομένως τη χρυσή τομή μεταξύ του επιστημονικού εγχειριδίου και της λογοτεχνικής παρουσίασης που απευθύνεται τόσο σε ανυποψίαστους όσο και σε "ψαγμένους" αναγνώστες, απλούς ανθρώπους και ειδικούς, ασθενείς και θεραπευτές. Εξαιρετική δουλειά.

Κατά τη διάρκεια της ανάγνωσης υπογράμμισα κι έβαλα σελιδοδείκτες τουλάχιστον στο μισό βιβλίο, παραθέτω όμως μόνο ένα μικρό απόσπασμα που βρήκα ιδιαιτέρως σημαντικό.

"Στην πραγματικότητα οι ιδέες μεγαλείου είναι η άμυνά μας ενάντια στην κατάθλιψη και η κατάθλιψη είναι η άμυνα στο βαθύ πόνο για την απώλεια του εαυτού μας εξαιτίας της άρνησης της πραγματικότητας."
Profile Image for Marzieh Nfn.
64 reviews43 followers
August 16, 2020
تا زمانی که ما نسبت به رنج و عذاب کودکان حساسیت به خرج ندهیم، استفاده از قدرت به دست بزرگسالان همچنان یکی از جنبه های عادی زندگی انسان ها دیده خواهد شد، چون به ندرت کسی به آن توجه می کند یا آن را جدی می گیرد. از آنجا که قربانیان در این موارد فقط بچه ها هستند، رنج آنها ناچیز شمرده می شود. اما در عرض بیست سال این بچه ها تبدیل به بزرگسالانی می شوند که به شدت حس خواهند کرد باید تمام رنج های خود را به کودکانشان برگردانند. آنها ممکن است خودآگاه و با تمام قوا با ظلم و ستم موجود در دنیا مبارزه کنند، در حالیکه درون خود تجربه ظلم و ستمی را دارند که ممکن است آن را ناخودآگاه بر دیگران تحمیل کنند. تا زمانی که چنین تجربه ای در پشت تصویری خیالی از یک دوران کودکی شاد مخفی است، آنها از وجود آن آگاهی نمی یابند و در نتیجه قادر نخواهند بود از انتقالش جلوگیری کنند.
22 reviews
May 21, 2007
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.
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