My Love For Alice

| November 8, 2010

Alice Miller changed my life.

I know that sounds a bit dramatic, but for the psychology folk out there, take note.  Alice Miller is absolutely, without a doubt, a must read.  Even if you have never studied psychology or counseling and never plan to, as long as you have been a child, (and I think it’s fairly safe to say that most of us were once children) I promise you will find her work at the very least fascinating, even if you don’t end up having the same life altering experience I had.  I remember browsing around Barnes & Nobles’ psychology section a couple years ago, no doubt procrastinating on actually reading my assigned work for my counseling courses, when I stumbled upon Alice Miller’s most well known book, “The Drama of the Gifted Child.”  I joined the other B & N customers on the floor reading their various selections, and at that moment, my journey began.  From the very first page, from the very first sentence, I was hooked.  In fact I was probably hooked just from the art work on the front cover (see my posted image at the top), which I later discovered was done by Alice Miller herself.  There was something deep and sorrowful from the abstract picture on the front, that drew me in immediately.  I remember I was killing time before meeting up with a friend, and it was one of the few moments in my life where I was actually disappointed to have to put a book down to go be social.  I didn’t have the time or money to make the purchase that day, so I went back a couple weeks later and sealed the deal.  At long last, I finally had acquired my first Alice Miller, which turned out to be my first of many.  People in my life who I am close with know her as an icon for me, in fact I’m pretty sure they’re all tired of hearing me bring her up in conversations, which I can’t seem to resist doing.  But it’s safe to say she’s taken on an almost biblical level of importance for me.  If there was a church that prayed to the God of Alice Miller, I would not only be there, I would probably be begging to lead a few sermons.

So after all this hype, what is Alice Miller all about?

Radishes.  She has done in depth research into the untold story of radishes.  Just wanted to make sure I haven’t lost you.

I hope you’ll explore her writing at some point, since I’m not sure I could do her justice.  But to summarize, she writes about children and the relationships between children and parents.  She was a psychoanalyst for many years, until she became cynical of the intentions and motivations of many psychoanalysts and instead, began writing about her own experiences with uncovering her unconscious and getting in touch with the pain, anger, and deep loss she felt as a child.  She first discovered her unconscious experiences through her abstract paintings (see “Pictures of a Childhood“) and then decided to embark on a mission to help others get more in touch with their past hurts.  If you’re in the helping professions, whether it is as a nurse, a social worker, a therapist, a psychologist, a psychoanalyst, a daycare worker, or even a dog walker(!), you should definitely check her out.  She not only changed my own life and how I viewed my own past experiences, she transformed my work as a psychotherapist.

And the best part?  Teachers College Gottesman Library not only has has several of Miller’s books in the collection, linked above.  So, head over to TC Library and check her out.  You never go to TC Library?  It’s too cold to make it outside?  Like a true psychotherapist, I don’t mind getting around a little resistance.  So, I will offer you this final gem and leave you with no good excuse not to check her out: Google Books has the majority of her novel “For Your Own Good” online for your instant and free viewing pleasure.

As a recent graduate from the mental health counseling program here at TC, I just began a new position as a Family Therapist.  When I met one of my new co workers last week, naturally one of the first questions out of my mouth was, “Have you read any Alice Miller?”

My co-worker’s response:

“Alice Miller saved my life.”

Let Alice save yours too!