Children

The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self, Revised Edition

The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self, Revised Edition

Alice Miller

Language: English

Pages: 136

ISBN: 0465016901

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Why are many of the most successful people plagued by feelings of emptiness and alienation? This wise and profound book has provided thousands 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.

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dependent on the supporting pillars of success, achievement, “strength,” and, above all, the denial of the emotional world of his childhood. Although the outward picture of depression is quite the opposite of that of grandiosity and has a quality that expresses the tragedy of the loss of self in a more obvious way, they have many points in common: • A false self that has led to the loss of the potential true self • A fragility of self-esteem because of a lack of confidence in one’s own

insight. A person seeking help is all too ready to give up his own pleasure in discovery and self-expression and accommodate himself to his therapist’s concepts, out of fear of losing the latter’s affection, understanding, and empathy, for which he has been waiting all his life. Because of his early experiences with his mother, he cannot believe that this need not happen. If he gives way to this fear and adapts himself, the therapy slides over into the realm of the false self, and the true self

comparison with whom they can now feel very strong. What child has never been laughed at for his fears and been told, “You don’t need to be afraid of a thing like that”? What child will then not feel shamed and despised because he could not assess the danger correctly? And will that little person not take the next opportunity to pass these feelings on to a still smaller child? Such experiences come in all shades and varieties. Common to them all is the sense of strength it gives the adult, who

concealed from his consciousness. The suffering that was not consciously felt as a child can be avoided by delegating it to one’s own children—in much the same way as in the ice-cream scene I have just described: “You see, we are big, we may do as we like, but for you it is ‘too cold.’ You may enjoy yourself as we do only when you get to be big enough.” So it is not the frustration of his wish that is humiliating for the child, but the contempt shown for his person. The suffering is accentuated

valleys of childhood virtues, unable to believe that this break, too, must be made, this bond also broken, (p. 127)* And in his story “A Child’s Heart” 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

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