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Alice Miller

  • ... problems cannot be solved with words, but only through experience ...

  • The child has a primary need to be regarded and respected as the person he really is at any given time, and as the center — the central actor — in his own activity.

  • One can only remember what has been consciously experienced.

  • Every child has a legitimate narcissistic need to be noticed, understood, taken seriously, and respected by his mother. In the first weeks and months of life he needs to have the mother at his disposal, must be able to use her and to be mirrored by her.

  • It is precisely because a child's feelings are so strong that they cannot be repressed without serious consequences. The stronger a prisoner is, the thicker the prison walls have to be, which impede or completely prevent later emotional growth.

  • The true opposite of depression is not gaiety or absence of pain, but vitality: the freedom to experience spontaneous feelings.

  • Contempt is the weapon of the weak and a defense against one's own despised and unwanted feelings.

  • If a mother respects both herself and her child from his very first day onward, she will never need to teach him respect for others.

  • That probably greatest of narcissistic wounds — not to have been loved just as one truly was — cannot heal without the work of mourning.

  • Emotional access to the truth is the indispensable precondition of healing.

  • ... someday we will regard our children not as 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.

    • Alice Miller,
    • preface, For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence ()
  • The free expression of resentment against one's parents represents a great opportunity. It provides access to one's true self, reactivates numbed feelings, opens the way for mourning and — with luck — reconciliation.

    • Alice Miller,
    • "Unintentional Cruelty Hurts, Too," For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence ()
  • It is very difficult for people to believe the simple fact that every persecutor was once a victim. Yet it should be very obvious that someone who was allowed to feel free and strong from childhood does not have the need to humiliate another person.

    • Alice Miller,
    • "Unintentional Cruelty Hurts, Too," For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence ()
  • An unacknowledged trauma is like a wound that never heals over and may start to bleed again at any time.

  • I sincerely believe that we not only have the right to know what is good and what is evil; we have the duty to acquire that knowledge if we hope to assume responsibility for our own lives and those of our children. Only by knowing the truth can we be set free.

Alice Miller, Polish psychologist, writer

(1923 - 2010)

Full name: Alice Rostovski Miller.