Monday, August 25, 2008
Alice Miller's exploration into the culture of child-beating as an accepted parenting technique in Germany in the early part of the century unearths not only important psychological insights into how childhood abuse translates into dysfunctional adult behavior, but also explores compelling parallels between the extremely abusive home life of Adolf Hitler and the rise of the Nazi party.
P. 7 - "If there is absolutely no possibility of reacting appropriately to hurt, humiliation and coercion, then these experiences cannot be integrated into the personality; the feelings they evoke are repressed, and the need to articulate them remains unsatisfied, without any hope of being fulfilled. It is this lack of hope of ever being able to express repressed traumata by means of relevant feelings that most often causes severe psychological problems. We already know that neuroses are a result of repression, not of events themselves. I shall try to demonstrate that neuroses are not the only tragic consequence of repression."
P. 72 - "When non-Germans watched Adolf Hitler's appearances in newsreels, they were never able to understand the adulation he was given or the number of votes he received in 1933. It was easy for them to see through his human weaknesses, his artificial pose of self-assurance, his specious arguments; for them, it was not as though he were their father. For the Germans, however, it was much more difficult. A child cannot acknowledge the negative sides of his or her father, and yet these are stored up somewhere in the child's psyche, for the adult will then be attracted by precisely these negative, disavowed sides in the father substitutes he or she encounters."
P. 106 - "The greatest cruelty that can be inflicted on children is to refuse to let them express their anger and suffering except at the risk of losing their parents' love and affection. The anger stemming from early childhood is stored up in the unconscious, and since it basically represents a healthy, vital source of energy, an equal amount of energy must be expended in order to repress it. An upbringing that succeeds in sparing the parents at the expense of the child's vitality sometimes leads to suicide or extreme drug addiction, which is a form of suicide."
P. 133 - "The way we were treated as small children is the way we treat ourselves the rest of our life. And we often impose our most agonizing suffering upon ourselves. We can never escape the tormentor within ourselves, who is often disguised as a pedagogue ... Cruel enslavement of the body and exploitation of the will are the result. Drug addiction begins with an attempt to escape parental control and to refuse to perform, but the repetition compulsion ultimately leads the addict to a constant concern with having to come up with large sums of money ... a quite 'bourgeois' form of enslavement."
P. 194 - "Hitler flattered the 'German, Germanic' woman because he needed her homage, her vote, and her other services ... N. Bromberg (1971) has written about Hitler's sexual habits: " ... the only way in which he could get full sexual satisfaction was to watch a young woman as she squatted over his head and urinated or defecated in his face."