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The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search…
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The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self (original 1979; edition 1997)

by Alice Miller

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1,385125,497 (4.01)25
Member:caroleriley
Title:The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self
Authors:Alice Miller
Info:Basic Books (1997), Paperback, 136 pages
Collections:Psychology
Rating:
Tags:Psychology, Family, Psychotherapy

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The drama of the gifted child by Alice Miller (1979)

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» See also 25 mentions

English (11)  German (1)  All languages (12)
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
The title here is a bit of a misnomer - 'Gifted Child' in this sense does not necessarily mean a child of academic gifts, but one with an attuned empathetic sense, and thus susceptible to emotional abuse. When this sense is combined with a deficiency or disorder on the part of the parent - anxiety, manic-depressive, etc., the child has to go to extreme lengths.

This creates two 'selves' - the 'true self' - that is, the child's own 'genuine' personality and needs, and the 'false self', complying, totally obedient, utterly withdrawn, willing to lie in order to present a false happy image. The true self is subsumed to the lie, or the false self. The personal needs are neglected.

Now what's the problem with all this, you ask? If a child is intelligent enough to perform on their own, and emotionally intelligent enough to perceive what their parents want, they may yet be ignored or blindsided in order for the parent to perform their own needs first, and the child's as secondary or auxiliary.

Such a book is extremely uncomfortable to read. Perhaps for many it hits too hard. Although there have been some (many?) superseding advances in developmental environmental psychology as well as the epigenetics of mental disorder and abuse, this is still a fascinating read. ( )
  HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
Alice Miller nails it. Children who are prevented from developing an authentic self by narcissistic or otherwise harmful and inadequate parenting will find validation, solace, and guidance through the resulting pain, anger, and confusion. I wish the author had used a less misleading title. ( )
  jettstream | Jul 22, 2011 |
Alice Miller wrote the original version of this book 30 years ago. This book is updated but the premise is the same. Adults with repressed or unconscious childhood memories are unable to find their “true” selves, feel they are loved only for what they accomplish or how they behave (not for themselves), and suffer lasting emotional impairment and depression.

To heal the emotional pain requires facing the original cause (parents’ needs and behaviors), recognizing childhood feelings and loneliness, and learning to deal with those repressed emotions.

Adults who feel depressed, lonely or out of sorts with their emotional health may find this an interesting theory and want to do a “look back” to their own childhood. And because the future is in our hands, this little book would be a good read for young expectant (or new) parents to ponder.

“For their development, children need the respect and protection of adults who take them seriously, love them, and honestly help them to become oriented in the world. When these vital needs are frustrated and children are, instead, abused for the sake of adults’ needs by being exploited, beaten, punished, taken advantage of, manipulated, neglected or deceived without the intervention of any witness, then their integrity will be lastingly impaired.”

Criminal violence may obviously be traced to childhood abuse – but there is much deep and unrecognized pain which stems from the insidious pressures of our own childhoods. Miller offers us much food for thought about ourselves, our children, and the entire future of the world. Recommended to those interested in child development, parenting and psychotherapy. ( )
2 vote -Cee- | Jan 23, 2011 |
Paperback - I found this book very interesting. I could relate to some of it but some of the ideas are just too out there for me to accept. ( )
  Fernandame | Aug 12, 2010 |
I was unable to discuss with my father any problems or difficulties I was facing because his inevitable response would be something like, "Stop whining!" or "You're just making excuses!"While reading this book and reflecting on how adversely severe the effects of my relationship with him have been on my life, I could still hear him listening to my thoughts and telling me that I am just making excuses, that I had an easy childhood, that if I feel that I am still suffering from wounds and disabilities as a result of the relationship I had with him, then it's because it's my fault, because I was too weak, just not good enough, just not able to live up to his properly high standards.My father was a bloody hypocrite. ( )
  RhydTybyans | Apr 20, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Alice Millerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ward, RuthTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Experience has taught us that we have only one enduring weapon in our struggle against mental illness: the emotional discovery of the truth about the unique history of our childhood.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0465016901, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:24:15 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Publisher's description: 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.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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