Alice Miller, a psychoanalyst who repositioned the family as a locus of dysfunction with her theory that parental power and punishment lay at the root of nearly all human problems, died at her home in Provence on April 14. She was 87. ...Wow, this woman was the missing link between Freud and Oprah, and I had never heard of her!
All children, she wrote, suffer trauma and permanent psychic scarring at the hands of parents, who enforce codes of conduct through psychological pressure or corporal punishment: slaps, spankings or, in extreme cases, sustained physical abuse and even torture.
Unable to admit the rage they feel toward their tormenters, Dr. Miller contended, these damaged children limp along through life, weighed down by depression and insecurity, and pass the abuse along to the next generation, in an unending cycle. Some, in a pathetic effort to please their parents and serve their needs, distinguish themselves in the arts or professions. The Stalins and the Hitlers, Dr. Miller later wrote, inflict their childhood traumas on millions. ...
The book also stirred the general public, selling more than a million copies. Its central argument was easy to grasp and, for many readers, offered a tempting explanation for their sorrows and failures.
Dr. Miller is often credited with turning the attention of therapists to child abuse, both physical and sexual, but also with encouraging millions of adults to regard themselves as victims.
Daphne Merkin, assessing Dr. Miller’s book “The Truth Shall Set You Free” in The New York Times Book Review in 2002, wrote that Dr. Miller “could be said to be the missing link between Freud and Oprah, bringing news of the inner life, and especially the subtle hazards of emotional development, out of the cloistered offices of therapists and into a wider, user-friendly context.”
This woman seems to have been a huge source of bad ideas. Now the daytime TV talk shows are filled with quacks who are trying to turn America into a nation of victims, blaming their parents for their adult problems. I bet she never had any scientific data to support any of her claims.