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September 29 , 2010

For Your Own Good

Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence


For Your Own Good, the contemporary classic exploring the serious if not gravely dangerous consequences parental cruelty can bring to bear on children everywhere, is one of the central works by Alice Miller, the celebrated Swiss psychoanalyst.

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With her typically lucid, strong, and poetic language, Miller investigates the personal stories and case histories of various self-destructive and/or violent individuals to expand on her theories about the long-term affects of abusive child-rearing. Her conclusions—on what sort of parenting can create a drug addict, or a murderer, or a Hitler—offer much insight, and make a good deal of sense, while also straying far from psychoanalytic dogma about human nature, which Miller vehemently rejects.

This important study paints a shocking picture of the violent world—indeed, of the ever-more-violent world—that each generation helps to create when traditional upbringing, with its hidden cruelty, is perpetuated. The book also presents readers with useful solutions in this regard—namely, to resensitize the victimized child who has been trapped within the adult, and to unlock the emotional life that has been frozen in repression.

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