|menu/||THE IMPACT OF ABUSE|
change the world
essential role of an enlightened witness in society
And in the childhood of the murderers who later became dictators, I
have always found a nightmarish horror, a record of continual lies and
humiliation, which upon the attainment of adulthood, impelled them to
acts of merciless revenge on society. These vengeful acts were always
garbed in hypocritical ideologies, purporting that the dictator's exclusive
and overriding wish was the happiness of his people. In this way, he
unconsciously emulated his own parents who, in earlier days, had also
insisted that their blows were inflicted on the child for his own good.
This belief was extremely widespread a century ago, particularly in
I know how easy it is to dismiss this interpretation of the Holocaust, but I honestly haven't yet found a better one. Besides, the case of Hitler shows that hatred and fear cannot be resolved through power, even absolute power, as long as the hatred is transferred to scapegoats.
On the contrary, if the true cause of the hatred is identified, is
experienced with the feelings that accompany this recognition, blind
hatred of innocent victims can be dispelled. Sex criminals stop their
depredations if they manage to overcome their amnesia and mourn their
tragic fate, thanks to the empathy of an enlightened witness. Old wounds
can be healed if exposed to the light of day. But they cannot be repudiated
They will not need to avenge themselves violently for their wounds,
or to poison their systems with drugs, if they have the luck to talk
to others about their early experiences, and succeed in grasping the
naked truth of their own tragedy. To do this, they need assistance from
persons aware of the dynamics of child abuse, who can help them address
their feelings seriously, understand them and integrate them, as part
of their own story, instead of avenging themselves on the innocent.
The less these criminals know about themselves. the more
dangerous they are to society. So I think it is crucial for the therapist
to grasp the difference between the statement, "every victim ultimately
becomes a persecutor," which is false, and "every persecutor was a victim
in his childhood," which I consider true. The problem is that, feeling
nothing, he remembers nothing, realizes nothing, and this is why surveys
don't always reveal the truth. Yet the presence of a warm, enlightened
witness - therapist, social aid worker, lawyer, judge - can help the
criminal unlock his repressed feelings and restore the unrestricted
flow of consciousness. This can initiate the process of escape from
the vicious circle of amnesia and violence.
© 1997 Alice Miller
My father's brow suggested a certain weightlessness, something supernal; Aldo's brow hung heavy, ready to pop. Everyone was out to get him. Such paranoia was lovingly encouraged by the Italian village elders of his youth. In such environments, the Evil Eye is as familiar as an aunt and always welcome.
Brawls, murders, feuds, vendette - the boredom of rural life calls for such blockbusting entertainment. The Cosa Nostra began as such a pantomime. Myths must be acted out for the sake of continuity, after all.
And my stepfather was a survivor - subject to his elders' grotesque abuses, but a survivor. A dangerous ambition anchored him. He was to rise from nothing to nothing that looked like shimmering everything: a trick of mirrors. His degrees were genuine, but as much of a front as Gotti's plumbing business. Slaughtered goats were delivered to the doorsteps of his detractors. Trouble of any description could always be arranged.
When the US Drug Enforcement Administration attempted to (correctly) nail him for involvement with the exportation of seven hundred tonnes of cocaine, he simply laughed - he sat back in his chair and shook his head and laughed. As he predicted, they found his records unimpeachable, they could not touch him. He made sure his tracks were always covered. Paranoiacs are as perceptive as poets, never indifferent to their fellow men.
The detail ruled him.
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