Extracts from Miller's 'The Drama of Being a Child'

Here are some extracts that resonated with me from 'The Drama of Being a Child' by Alice Miller, which I found an illuminating - if difficult and occasionally dated - read:

'In order to become whole we must try, in a long process, to discover our own personal truth, a truth that may cause pain before giving us a new sphere of freedom. If we choose instead to content ourselves with intellectual 'wisdom', we will remain in the sphere of illusion and self-deception.'

'When a woman has had to repress (her) needs in relation to her own mother, they will arise from the depth of her unconscious and seek gratification through her own child, however well-educated she may be. The child feels this clearly and very soon forgoes the expression of his own distress.'

'The difficulties inherent in experiencing and developing one's own emotions lead to mutual dependency, which prevents individuation... Under these circumstances he cannot separate from his parents, and even as an adult he is still dependent on affirmation from his partner, from groups, and especially from his own children.'

'People who have asked for my assistance... have usually had to deal with a mother who was extremely insecure... The child, most often an only child or the first-born, was seen as the mother's possession.'

'In the majority of cases, it is a great relief to a patient to see that she can now recognise and take seriously the things she used to choke off... Now she can realise how she still sometimes tries to persuade herself, when she is scared, that she is not; how she belittles her feelings to protect herself, and either does not become aware of them at all, or does so only several days after they have passed.'

'For the person who, as a child, had to hide her true feelings from herself and others, this first step into the open produces much anxiety, yet she feels a great need to throw over her former restraints. The first experiences do not always lead to freedom but quite often lead instead to a repetition of the person's childhood situation, in which she will experience feelings of agonizing shame and painful nakedness as an accompaniment to her genuine expression of her true self. With the infallibility of a sleepwalker, she will seek out those who, like her parents, certainly cannot understand her. Because of her blindness caused by repression, she will try to make herself understood to precisely these people.'

'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.'

'One is free from (depression) only when self-esteem is based on the authenticity of one's own feelings and not on the possession of certain qualities.'

'The true opposite of depression is neither gaiety nor absence of pain, but vitality - the freedom to experience spontaneous feelings. It is part of the kaleidoscope of life that these feelings are not only happy, beautiful or good, but can reflect the entire range of human experience, including envy, jealousy, rage, disgust, greed, despair, and grief.'