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Spotlight: Who was Alice Miller?

Alice Miller on Childhood Trauma

“Contempt is the weapon of the weak and a defense against one’s own despised and unwanted feelings.” –Alice Miller

Food For Thought

Alice Miller On Childhood Trauma

Alice Miller (1923–2010) was a Swiss psychologist and psychoanalyst. For over two decades, she practiced and taught psychoanalysis.

But in 1980, she decided to retire from that path in favor of pursuing the answer to a new question: What are the lasting effects of childhood trauma on the adult mind?

During Miller’s career, she had “observed people denying their childhood traumas, idealizing their parents and resisting the truth about their childhood by any means.”

She came to the conclusion that unaddressed childhood traumas echo in the back of the mind and are the root cause of emotional problems we experience as adults. She extended this theory a step further and found that if people do not resolve these early traumas, then directly or indirectly, they will repeat their traumas onto others.

“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.”

Miller’s discoveries teach us how to explore, understand, and study our personal childhood histories.

Childhood is an area we are often told not to reflect on, as it no longer matters. But examining this time of your life is crucial in order to gain compassion for yourself, learn to love yourself, understand others, and find and connect more deeply with those you love (or want to love).

Alice’s work is also central in how we encounter and come to terms with anger and aggression.

“Genuine forgiveness does not deny anger but faces it head-on.”

Society would have us believe that these are base emotions, never to be entertained. In reality, these feelings are often the starting point of self-knowledge and accurate thought. To build a more peaceful world, the individual must come to terms with, and transmute, that aggression.

Two of her recommended works to start with are:

Her ideas on ‘childism’ illuminate why so much of the world is trapped in a dystopia. (And the fact that this isn’t considered a word or a real “ism” may be an even stronger reason to support the idea.)

In a way, it’s the most invisible “ism” that plagues us, causing violence and strife, but the spotlight on evil never seems to start with childhood, where it’s often perpetrated.

The startling truth present in her works is that few people will care about you as much as you must learn to care for yourself. Nobody will have enthusiasm for your self-care. You must become enthusiastic about caring for yourself. Nobody will have the patience with you that you must develop for yourself.

For more on Alice Miller — and to learn about two other interesting geniuses — tune in below. ⤵️

Mission Daily

Three Terrifying Theories

In this episode, we cover three little known theories from three geniuses. Here is a sneak peek:

“One of the best-kept historical secrets is that practically all the material and social technologies fundamental to civilization were developed before the imposition of a dominator society.” -Riane Eisler

“Contempt is the weapon of the weak and a defense against one’s own despised and unwanted feelings.” -Alice Miller

“Ineluctably, the insults inflicted in one war call forth new wars of retaliation, which may be waged within months of the original conflict or generations later.” –Barbara Ehrenreich

🎧 Listen to the Episode 🎧

Deep Dive

Thou Shalt Not Be Aware

“Wherever I look, I see signs of the commandment to honor one’s parents and nowhere of a commandment that calls for the respect of a child.” –Alice Miller

Alice Miller had her finger on the pulse of society, the family, and individuals. Future anthropologists will look back at her work and say, “these are the answers to almost all of humanity’s problems.”

Read: Thou Shalt Not Be Aware: Society’s Betrayal of the Child

The Story

Will To Power

It was the wild west on Wall Street, and the young stockbroker used all the same tricks and maneuvers as his white peers. And rather than keeping a low profile, he proved himself to be a prodigious self-promoter and was soon famous throughout the country.

He knew society would never give him permission to become rich. So he did it without their blessing.

Over the next decade, he would teach himself how to craft business deals, use insurance laws to his advantage, and court, or sometimes even buy, the press. By 1852, he had become the first known African-American millionaire…

Read The Story.


Cows Have Accents

Like humans, cows have regional accents.

And as humans, how the heck did we figure this out?

Farmers started to notice that their cows have different moos depending on where the herd came from. More here. 🐄

Turns out birds also have accents. 🦅

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Happy Hump Day!

Give yourself a pat on the back… you made it halfway through the week!

See you all again tomorrow! 🤗

This was originally published on March 6, 2019 as The Mission’s daily newsletter. To subscribe, go here.

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Spotlight: Who was Alice Miller? was originally published in The Mission on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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