Tuesday, 1 June 2010


Alice Miller died a couple of weeks ago in her 80's. As a psychoanalyst and then as a writer she is best known for her fierce championing of the rights of children and her brilliant books. In her book entitled Breaking Down the Wall of Silence, she looks at the childhood of Hitler, Stalin, and other tyrants and finds there the roots of their later tyranny. To a large extent, the oppression we receive in childhood, is first repressed as a memory and acted out in adult life in the personal and in the social and political realms. Today the actions of Israel in intercepting the convoy for Gaza are in the headlines. All these actions and the decisions around them and all of Israel's policies towards Gaza are done by the children and grandchildren of the Holocaust. It is no wonder, from the perspective of Alice Miller and her lifelong work; that they created in Gaza a giant concentration camp. What we cannot heal; we enact. It is the tragedy of human history. I often feel that the work we do in individual healing is so small compared to the collective trauma, however healing creates a different resonance in the field. I hope the ripples can spread.

1 comment:

  1. I am so happy to have stumbled across this little blog piece. The work of Alice Miller (maybe in a way like that of Gita Sereny) teaches intellectual rigor and compassion, which is such a starting point towards understanding and healing. Recently I say Carole Churchill's Seven Jewish Children and was so moved by its insight into psychological/ emotional impacts of Jewish history. It's confusing that so many Jews and Israelis took this to me an anti-Jewish piece, because to me it's so supportive and actually loving. It's like when your lover points out something really intense and painful about you, and your first reaction is defensive and angry..... I have no conclusion especially, but to say that The Wall, Gaza, all the horrific episodes, do so resonate with a lived historical pain. I write this as a Jew. I hadn't realized Alice Miller had died. Thank you for your writing.