FOR YOUR OWN GOOD - Alice Miller
11 [Pages 98-119 in the print edition]

All this does not mean that children should be raised without any restraints. Crucial for healthy development is the respect of their care givers, tolerance for their feelings, awareness of their needs and grievances, and authenticity on the part of their parents, whose own freedom--and not pedagogical considerations--sets natural limits for children.

It is this last point that causes great difficulty for parents and pedagogues, for the following reasons:

  1. If parents have had to learn very early in life to ignore their feelings, not to take them seriously, to scorn or ridicule them, then they will lack the sensitivity required to deal successfully with their children. As a result, they will try to substitute pedagogical principles as prostheses. Thus, under certain circumstances they may be reluctant to show tenderness for fear of spoiling the child, or, in other cases, they will hide their hurt feelings behind the Fourth Commandment.
  2. Parents who never learned as children to be aware of their own needs or to defend their own interests because this right was never granted them will be uncertain in this regard for the rest of their life and consequently will become dependent on firm pedagogical rules. This uncertainty, regardless of whether it appears in sadistic or masochistic guise, leads to great insecurity in the child in spite of these rules. An example of this: a father who was trained to be obedient at a very early age may on occasion take cruel and violent measures to force his child to be obedient in order to satisfy his own need to be respected for the first time in his life. But this behavior does not exclude intervening periods of masochistic behavior when the same father will put up with anything the child does, because he never learned to define the limits of his tolerance. Thus, his guilt feelings over the preceding unjust punishment will suddenly lead him to be unusually permissive, thereby awakening anxiety in the child, who cannot tolerate uncertainty about the father's true face. The child's increasingly aggressive behavior will finally provoke the father into losing his temper. In the end, the child then takes on the role of the sadistic opponent in place of the grandparents, but with the difference that the father can now gain the upper hand. Such situations, in which the child "goes too far," prove to the pedagogue that disciplining and punishment are necessary.
  3. Since a child is often used as a substitute for one's own parents, he or she can become the object of an endless number of contradictory wishes and expectations that cannot possibly be fulfilled. In extreme cases, psychosis, drug addiction, or suicide may be the only solution. But often the child's feeling of helplessness leads to increasingly aggressive behavior, which in turn convinces parents and educators of the need for strict countermeasures.
  4. A similar situation arises when it is drilled into children, as it was in the anti-authoritarian upbringing of the sixties,* to adopt certain ways of behavior that their parents wished had once been allowed them and that they therefore consider to be universally desirable. In the process, the child's real needs can be totally overlooked. In one case I know, for example, a child who was feeling sad was encouraged to shatter a glass when what she most wanted to do was to climb up onto her mother's lap. If children go on feeling misunderstood and manipulated like this, they will become genuinely confused and justifiably aggressive.
    *This was a recent direction taken in German child-rearing methods, loosely based on permissive child-rearing in the United States.

In contrast to generally accepted beliefs and to the horror of pedagogues, I cannot attribute any positive significance to the word pedagogy. I see it as self-defense on the part of adults, as manipulation deriving from their own lack of freedom and their insecurity, which I can certainly understand, although I cannot overlook the inherent dangers. I can also understand why criminals are sent to prison; but I cannot see that deprivation of freedom and prison life, which is geared wholly to conformity, subordination, and submissiveness, can really contribute to the betterment, i.e., the development, of the prisoner. There is in the word pedagogy the suggestion of certain goals that the charge is meant to achieve--and this limits his or her possibilities for development from the start. But an honest rejection of all forms of manipulation and of the idea of setting goals does not mean that one simply leaves children to their own devices. For children need a large measure of emotional and physical support from the adult. This support must include the following elements if they are to develop their full potential:

  1. Respect for the child
  2. Respect for his rights
  3. Tolerance for his feelings
  4. Willingness to learn from his behavior
    1. About the nature of the individual child
    2. About the child in the parents themselves
    3. About the nature of emotional life, which can be observed much more clearly in the child than in the adult because the child can experience his feelings much more intensely and, optimally, more undisguisedly than an adult
There is evidence among the younger generation that this kind of willingness is possible even for people who were themselves victims of child-rearing.

But liberation from centuries of constraint can scarcely be expected to take place in a single generation. The idea that we as parents can learn more about the laws of life from a newborn child than we can from our parents will strike many older people as absurd and ridiculous. Younger people may also be suspicious of this idea, because many of them have been made insecure by a mixture of psychological literature and internalized "poisonous pedagogy." A very intelligent and sensitive father, for example, asked me if I didn't think it was taking advantage of children to try to learn from them. This question, coming from someone born in 1942 who had been able to rise above the taboos of his generation to an extraordinary degree, showed me that we must be mindful of the misunderstanding and new insecurity that can result from reading books on psychology.

Can an honest attempt to learn be considered an abuse? If we are not open to what the other person is telling us, genuine rapport is hardly possible. We need to hear what the child has to say in order to give our understanding, support, and love. The child, on the other hand, needs free space if he or she is to find adequate self-expression. There is no discrepancy here between means and ends, but rather a dialectical process involving dialogue. Learning is a result of listening, which in turn leads to even better listening and attentiveness to the other person. In other words, to learn from the child, we must have empathy, and empathy grows as we learn. It is a different matter for parents or educators who would like the child to be a certain way or think they must expect him to be that way. To reach their sacred ends, they try to mold the child in their image, suppressing self-expression in the child and at the same time missing out on an opportunity to learn something. Certainly, abuse of this sort is often unintentional; it is not only directed against children but--if we look more closely--pervades most human relationships, because the partners frequently were abused children and are now showing unconsciously what happened to them in childhood.

Antipedagogical writings (by Braunmuhl and others) can be of great help to young parents as long as they do not interpret them as instructions on "how to be a parent" but use them to expand their knowledge; they can then find encouragement to abandon their prejudices and look at things in a new way.

The Last Act of the Silent

Drama: The World

Reacts with Horror


It is difficult to write about child abuse without taking on a moralizing tone. It is so natural to feel outrage at the adult who beats a child and pity for the helpless child that, even with a great deal of understanding of human nature, one is tempted to condemn the adult for being cruel and brutal. But where will you find human beings who are only good or only cruel? The reason why parents mistreat their children has less to do with character and temperament than with the fact that they were mistreated themselves and were not permitted to defend themselves. There are countless people like A.'s father who are kind, gentle, and highly sensitive and yet inflict cruelty on their children every day, calling it child-rearing. As long as child beating was considered necessary and useful, they could justify this form of cruelty. Today such people suffer when their "hand slips," when an incomprehensible compulsion or despair induces them to shout at, humiliate, or beat their children and see their tears, yet they cannot help themselves and will do the same thing again next time. This will inevitably continue to happen as long as they persist in idealizing their own childhood.

Paul Klee is renowned as a great painter of magical and poetic canvases. His only child may have been the one person who was familiar with his other side. Felix Klee, the painter's son, told an interviewer (Brückenbauer; February 29, 1980): "He had two sides; he was full of fun, but he was also capable of playing his part in my upbringing by giving me an energetic whipping." Paul Klee made wonderful puppets, presumably for his son, of which thirty are still preserved. His son relates "Papa constructed the stage in a doorway of our small apartment. He admitted that when I was in school he sometimes put on a performance for the cat...." Yet the father performed not only for the cat but for his son as well. In view of this, could Felix hold against his father the beatings he was given?

I have used this example to help readers free themselves from clichés about good or bad parents. Cruelty can take a thousand forms, and it goes undetected even today, because the damage it does to the child and the ensuing consequences are still so little known. This section of the book is devoted to these consequences.

The individual psychological stages in the lives of most people are:

  1. To be hurt as a small child without anyone recognizing the situation as such
  2. To fail to react to the resulting suffering with anger
  3. To show gratitude for what are supposed to be good intentions
  4. To forget everything
  5. To discharge the stored-up anger onto others in adulthood or to direct it against oneself
The greatest cruelty that can be inflicted on children is to refuse to let them express their anger and suffering except at the risk of losing their parents' love and affection. The anger stemming from early childhood is stored up in the unconscious, and since it basically represents a healthy, vital source of energy, an equal amount of energy must be expended in order to repress it. An upbringing that succeeds in sparing the parents at the expense of the child's vitality sometimes leads to suicide or extreme drug addiction, which is a form of suicide. If drugs succeed in covering up the emptiness caused by repressed feelings and self-alienation, then the process of withdrawal brings this void back into view. When withdrawal is not accompanied by restoration of vitality, then the cure is sure to be temporary. Christiane F., subject of an international bestseller and film, paints a devastatingly vivid picture of a tragedy of this nature.

The War of Annihilation
against the Self

The Lost Opportunity of Puberty

Parents often have such success with the numerous methods they use to subdue their children that they don't encounter any problems until the children reach puberty. The "cooling off" of feelings and drives during the latency period abets parents in their desire to have model children. In the book The Golden Cage by Hilda Bruch, parents of anorexic daughters describe how gifted, well-mannered, successful, well-adjusted, and considerate these children had been. The parents cannot understand the sudden change; they are left helpless and uncomprehending by an adolescent who seems to be rejecting all norms and whose self-destructive behavior cannot be modified by logical arguments or by the subtle devices of "poisonous pedagogy."

At puberty, adolescents are often taken totally by surprise by the intensity of their true feelings, after having succeeded in keeping them at a distance during the latency period. With the spurt of biological growth, these feelings (rage, anger, rebelliousness, falling in love, sexual desire, enthusiasm, joy, enchantment, sadness) seek full expression, but in many cases this would endanger the parents' psychic balance. If adolescents were to show their true feelings openly, they would run the risk of being sent to prison as dangerous terrorists or put in mental institutions as insane. Our society would no doubt have nothing but a psychiatric clinic to offer Shakespeare's Hamlet or Goethe's Werther, and Schiller's Karl Moor would probably face the same fate. This is why drug addicts attempt to adapt to society by struggling against their authentic feelings, but since they cannot live entirely without them in the storm of puberty, they try to regain access to them with the help of drugs, which seem to do the trick, at least in the beginning. But society's views, which are represented by the parents and which the adolescent has long ago internalized, must prevail: the consequences of having strong, intense feelings are rejection, isolation, ostracism, and threat of death, i.e., self-destruction.

The drug addict punishes himself for seeking his true self--certainly a justifiable and essential goal--by destroying his own spontaneous feelings, repeating the punishment that was inflicted on him in early childhood when he showed the first signs of vitality. Almost every heroin addict describes having initially experienced feelings of hitherto unknown intensity, with the result that he becomes even more conscious of the vapidity and emptiness of his usual emotional life.

He simply can't imagine that this experience is possible without heroin, and he understandably begins to long for it to be repeated. For, in these out-of-the-ordinary moments, the young person discovers how he might have been; he has made contact with his self, and as might be expected, once this has happened, he can find no rest. He can no longer act as though his true self had never existed. Now he knows that it does exist, but he also knows that ever since early childhood this true self has not had a chance. And so he strikes a compromise with his fate: he will encounter his self from time to time without anyone finding out. Not even he will realize what is involved here, for it is the "stuff" that produces the experience; the effect comes "from outside" and is difficult to bring about. It will never become an integrated part of his self, and he will never have to or be able to assume responsibility for these feelings. The intervals between one fix and the next--characterized by total apathy, lethargy, emptiness, or uneasiness and anxiety--bear this out: the fix is over like a dream that one can't remember and that can have no effect on one's life as a whole.

Becoming dependent on an absurd compulsion is likewise comprehensible in terms of the addict's previous history: since dependence has typified his entire previous life, he is hardly aware of it as such. A twenty-four-year-old woman who has been addicted to heroin since age sixteen appears on TV and explains that she supports her habit by means of prostitution and has to take drugs to be able "to put up with those animals." She makes a very sincere impression, and we can appreciate and sympathize with everything she says. Only the matter-of-factness with which she regards this vicious circle as the only possible way of life for her puzzles us. This woman obviously cannot imagine a different life, free of her addiction, because she has never known anything like a free decision. The only life she has ever known has been one dominated by a destructive compulsion, and this is why she is unable to grasp the absurdity of such a path. It will not surprise us to learn that she continues to idealize both parents, as is frequently the case with drug addicts. She feels guilty for being so weak, for disappointing and disgracing her parents. She also says "society" is to blame--which of course cannot be denied. But the real predicament, the conflict between her search for her true self and the necessity of adapting to the needs of her parents, cannot be recognized as long as she continues to protect her parents from self-reproach. The concrete example of Christiane F.'s life story can help us to understand this predicament.

The Search for the Self and Self-destruction through Drugs


For the first six years of her life, Christiane lived in the country on a farm, where she spent the whole day with the farmer, fed the animals, and "romped in the hay with the others." Then her family moved to Berlin, and she, her sister, who was a year younger, and her parents lived in a two-and-a-half-room apartment on the twelfth floor in Gropius City, a high-rise housing development. The sudden loss of a rural setting, of familiar playmates, and of all the free space that goes with living in the country is in itself hard enough for a child, but it is all the more tragic if the child must come to terms with this loss all by herself and if she is constantly faced with unpredictable punishment and beatings.

I would have been quite happy with my animals if things with my father hadn't kept getting worse. While my mother was at work, he sat around at home. Nothing had come of the marriage agency they wanted to open. Now he was waiting for a job to turn up that was to his liking. He sat on our worn-out sofa and waited. And his insane fits of rage became more frequent.

My mother helped me with my homework when she came home from work. For a while I had trouble telling the letters H and K apart. One evening my mother was taking great pains to explain the difference to me. I could scarcely pay attention to what she was saying because I noticed my father getting more and more furious. I always knew exactly when it was going to happen: he went and got the hand broom from the kitchen and gave me a trouncing. Now I was supposed to tell him the difference between H and K. Of course, by that time I didn't know anything anymore so I got another licking and was sent to bed.

That was his way of helping me with my homework. He wanted me to be smart and make something of myself. After all, his grandfather had had loads of money. He'd owned a printing company and a newspaper in East Germany, and more besides. After the war, it had all been expropriated by the GDR. Now my father flipped out whenever he got the idea I wouldn't make it in school.

There were some evenings I can still remember down to the last detail. One time I was assigned to draw houses in my arithmetic notebook. They were supposed to be six squares wide and four squares high. I had one house finished and was doing just fine when my father suddenly came and sat beside me. He asked me where the next house should go. I was so scared I stopped counting the squares and started guessing. Every time I pointed to the wrong square, he pasted me one. All I could do was bawl and couldn't answer at all anymore, so he went over to the rubber plant. I knew very well what that meant. He pulled the bamboo stick supporting the plant out of the flowerpot. Then he thrashed my behind with the stick until you could literally peel off the skin.

I was even scared at mealtimes. If I spilled anything, I got smacked for it. If I knocked something over, he tanned my behind. I hardly dared to touch my glass of milk. I was so scared that I did something wrong at almost every meal.

After supper I'd ask my father quite sweetly if he wasn't going out. He went out quite often, and then we three females could finally breathe deep sighs of relief. Those evenings were marvelously peaceful. Of course, then when he came home late at night, there could always be another catastrophe. Usually he had had something to drink. Then any little thing sent him off on a rampage. It might be toys or clothes we had left lying around. My father always said the most important thing in life was to be neat and tidy. And if he found any untidiness when he came home, he'd drag me out of bed in the middle of the night and give me a beating. My little sister got the tail end of it, too. Then my father threw our things on the floor and ordered us to put them all away again neatly in five minutes. We usually didn't manage it in that short a time and so we got another licking.

My mother usually stood at the door crying while this was going on. She hardly ever dared to stand up for us, because then he would hit her, too. Only Ajax, my dog, often tried to intervene. He whined shrilly and had very sad eyes whenever one of us was being given a beating. He was the most likely one to bring my father to his senses, because he loved dogs, as we all did. He yelled at Ajax once in a while, but he never hit him.

I somehow loved and respected my father in spite of it all. He towered above other fathers in my eyes. But more than anything else I was afraid of him. At the same time I found it quite normal that he was always hitting us. It was no different at home for other children in Gropius City. Sometimes they even had a black eye, and so did their mothers. Some fathers would lie on the street or the playground in a drunken stupor. My father never got that drunk. And sometimes on our street, furniture would come flying out of the high-rise windows, women would cry for help and the police would come. So we didn't have it all that bad....

Probably what my father loved more than anything else was his car, a Porsche. He polished it almost every day that it wasn't in the shop. I don't think anyone else in Gropius City had a Porsche. Anyway, there definitely wasn't anyone else with a Porsche who was out of work.

Of course, in those days I didn't have any idea of what was wrong with my father and why he was always going on a regular rampage. It only dawned on me later when I used to have talks with my mother about my father. I gradually figured out a thing or two. He simply wasn't making it. He kept trying to get ahead and was always falling flat on his face. His father despised him for it. Grandpa even warned my mother against marrying such a good-for-nothing. My grandpa had always had great plans for my father.... My most fervent wish was to grow up quickly, to be grown-up like my father, to have real power over other people. In the meantime I tested out what power I did have....

Nearly every day [my girl friend and I], together with my little sister, played a game we had learned. When we got out of school we collected cigarette butts from ashtrays and trash cans. We smoothed them out, stuck them between our lips, and puffed on them. If my sister wanted to have a butt too, she got her hand slapped. We ordered her to do the housework--to do the dishes and dust and whatever else our parents had told us to do. Then we got out our doll carriages, locked the apartment door behind us, and went for a walk. We kept my sister locked in until she had finished the work. [ Christiane F.: Autobiography of a Girl of the Streets and Heroin Addict]

Christiane, who is beaten often by her father for reasons she does not understand, finally begins to act in ways that give her father "good reason to beat her." By so doing, she improves his character by making an unjust and unpredictable father into one who at least punishes justly. This is the only way she has to rescue the image of a father she loves and idealizes. She also begins to provoke other men and turn them into punitive fathers--first the building superintendent, then her teachers, and finally, during her drug addiction, the police. In this way she can shift the conflict with her father onto other people. Because Christiane cannot talk with her father about their conflicts or settle them with him, she relegates her fundamental hatred for him to her unconscious, directing her hostility against surrogate male authority figures. Eventually, all the child's bottled-up rage at being humiliated, deprived of respect, misunderstood, and left alone is turned against herself in the form of addiction. As time goes by, Christiane does to herself what her father had done to her earlier: she systematically destroys her self-respect, manipulates her feelings with the use of drugs, condemns herself to speechlessness (this highly articulate child!) and isolation, and in the end ruins body as well as soul.

When I read Christiane's account of her childhood, I sometimes was reminded of descriptions of life in a concentration camp. The following scenes are two examples:

At first we did it to harass other kids: we'd grab a kid, shut him in an elevator, and push all the buttons. We held on to the second elevator so the first one had to jiggle its way up to the top, stopping at every floor. They often did the same thing to me, especially when I was coming back with the dog and had to get home for supper on time. Then they pushed all the buttons, so it took forever to get to the twelfth floor, and Ajax got terribly nervous.

It was mean to push all the buttons when someone was in a big hurry. He would end up peeing in the elevator. But it was even meaner to take a kid's wooden spoon away from him. All the little kids always took a long wooden soup ladle out with them, because that was the only way we could reach the elevator buttons. Without the ladle, you were completely helpless. If you lost it or the other kids took it away from you, you had to walk up the eleven flights of stairs. Of course, none of the other kids ever helped you out, and the grown-ups thought you just wanted to play in the elevator and make it break down.

One time one of my [pet] mice ran into the grass, which we weren't allowed to walk on. We couldn't find it again. I was a little sad, but I was comforted by the thought that the mouse would like it much better outside than in the cage.

My father picked that evening to come into my room and look into the mouse cage. He asked in a funny voice : "How come there are only two? Where's the third one?" I didn't even notice there was anything wrong when he asked in such a funny way. My father never did like the mice and he kept telling me I should give them away. I told him the mouse had run away outside on the playground.

My father looked at me as though he had gone crazy. Then I knew he was going to go on one of his wild rampages. He shouted and started right in hitting me. He kept on hitting me, and I was trapped on my bed and couldn't get away. He had never hit me like that before, and I thought he was going to kill me. Then, when he started letting my sister have it too, I had a few seconds to get free and I instinctively tried to get to the window. I think I really would have jumped from the twelfth floor.

But my father grabbed me and threw me back on the bed. My mother was probably crying in the doorway again, but I didn't even see her. I didn't see her until she threw herself between me and my father and started pummeling him.

He was beside himself. He knocked my mother down onto the floor. All of a sudden I was more afraid for her than for myself. I went over to them. She tried to escape into the bathroom and bolt the door. But my father was holding her by the hair. As usual, there was wash soaking in the bathtub, because so far we hadn't been able to afford a washing machine. My father stuck my mother's head into the tub full of water. Somehow or other, she managed to get loose. I don't know whether he let her go or whether she got herself free.

My father disappeared into the living room. He was white as a sheet. My mother went and got her coat. She left the apartment without saying a word.

That was without a doubt one of the most awful moments of my life when my mother simply walked out of the apartment without a word and left us alone. My first thought was, Now he's going to come back and start hitting me again. But everything was quiet in the living room except for the television, which was on.

No one seriously doubts that the inmates of a concentration camp underwent terrible suffering. But when we hear about the physical abuse of children, we react with astonishing equanimity. Depending on our ideology, we say, "That's quite normal," or "Children have to be disciplined, after all," or "That was the custom in those days," or "Someone who won't listen has to be made to feel it," etc. An elderly gentleman man I once met at a party told me with amusement that when he was a little boy his mother had swung him back and forth over a fire she had lighted specially for the purpose of drying his pants and breaking him of the habit of wetting them. "My mother was the most wonderful person you'd ever want to meet, but that's the way things were done in our family in those days," he said. Such lack of empathy for the suffering of one's own childhood can result in an astonishing lack of sensitivity to other children's suffering. When what was done to me was done for my own good, then I am expected to accept this treatment as an essential part of life and not question it.

This kind of insensitivity thus has its roots in the abuse a person suffered as a child. He or she may be able to remember what happened, but in most cases the emotional content of the whole experience of being beaten and humiliated has been completely repressed.

This is where the difference lies between treating an adult and a child cruelly. The self has not yet sufficiently developed for a child to retain the memory of it or of the feelings it arouses. The knowledge that you were beaten and that this, as your parents tell you, was for your own good may well be retained (although not always), but the suffering caused by the way you were mistreated will remain unconscious and will later prevent you from empathizing with others. This is why battered children grow up to be mothers and fathers who beat their own offspring; from their ranks are recruited the most reliable executioners, concentration-camp supervisors, prison guards, and torturers. They beat, mistreat, and torture out of an inner compulsion to repeat their own history, and they are able to do this without the slightest feeling of sympathy for their victims because they have identified totally with the aggressive side of their psyche. These people were beaten and humiliated themselves at such an early age that it was never possible for them to experience consciously the helpless, battered child they once were. In order to do this, they would have needed the aid of an understanding, supportive adult, and no such person was available. Only under these circumstances would children be able to see themselves as they are at that moment--namely, as weak, helpless, downtrodden, and battered--and thus be able to integrate this part into the self.

Theoretically, a child beaten by his father could afterwards cry his heart out in the arms of a kind aunt and tell her what happened; she would not try to minimize the child's pain or justify the father's actions but would give the whole experience its due weight. But such good fortune is rare. The wife of a child-beating father shares his attitude toward childrearing or is herself his victim--in either case, she is rarely the child's advocate. Such an "aunt" is therefore a great exception, because the battered child is very unlikely to have the inner freedom to seek her out and make use of her. A child is more likely to opt for a terrible inner isolation and splitting off of his feelings than he is to "tattle" to outsiders about his father or mother. Psychotherapists know how long it sometimes takes before a child's resentment, which has been repressed for thirty or forty or even fifty years, can be articulated and relived.

Thus, it may well be that the plight of a little child who is abused is even worse and has more serious consequences for society than the plight of an adult in a concentration camp. The former camp inmate may sometimes find himself in a situation where he feels that he can never adequately communicate the horror of what he has gone through and that others approach him without understanding, with cold and callous indifference, even with disbelief,* but with few exceptions he himself will not doubt the tragic nature of his experiences. He will never attempt to convince himself that the cruelty he was subjected to was for his own good or interpret the absurdity of the camp as a necessary pedagogical measure; he will usually not attempt to empathize with the motives of his persecutors. He will find people who have had similar experiences and share with them his feelings of outrage, hatred, and despair over the cruelty he has suffered.
*William G. Niederland's book Folgen der Verfolgung (The Results of Persecution) (1980) presents a penetrating analysis of the uncomprehending reception given former inmates as reflected in psychiatric diagnoses.

The abused child does not have any of these options. As I have tried to show in the example of Christiane F., she is alone with her suffering, not only within the family but also within her self. And because she cannot share her pain with anyone, she is also unable to create a place in her own soul where she could "cry her heart out." No arms of a "kind aunt" exist there; "Keep a stiff upper lip and be brave" is the watchword. Defenselessness and helplessness find no haven in the self of the child, who later, identifying with the aggressor, persecutes these qualities wherever they appear.

A person who from the beginning was forced, whether subjected to corporal punishment or not, to stifle, i.e., to condemn, split off, and persecute, the vital child within himself will spend his whole life preventing this inner danger that he associates with spontaneous feelings from recurring. But psychological forces are so tenacious that they can rarely be thoroughly suppressed. They are constantly seeking outlets that will enable them to survive, often in very distorted forms that are not without danger to society. For example, one person suffering from grandiosity will project his own childish qualities onto the external world, whereas another will struggle against the "evil" within himself. "Poisonous pedagogy" shows how these two mechanisms are related to each other and how they are combined in a traditional religious upbringing.

In addition to the degree of maturity and those elements of loyalty and of isolation involved in the case of a child, there is another fundamental difference between abuse of children and of adults. The abused inmates of a concentration camp cannot of course offer any resistance, cannot defend themselves against humiliation, but they are inwardly free to hate their persecutors. The opportunity to experience their feelings, even to share them with other inmates, prevents them from having to surrender their self. This opportunity does not exist for children. They must not hate their father--this, the message of the Fourth Commandment, has been drummed into them from early childhood; they cannot hate him either, if they must fear losing his love as a result; finally, they do not even want to hate him, because they love him. Thus, children, unlike concentration-camp inmates, are confronted by a tormentor they love, not one they hate, and this tragic complication will have a devastating influence on their entire subsequent life. Christiane F. writes:

I never hated him but was just afraid of him. I was always proud of him, too. Because he loved animals and because he had such a terrific car, his '62 Porsche.

These remarks are so moving because they are true: this is just the way a child feels. Her tolerance has no limits; she is always faithful and even proud that her father, who beats her brutally, never would do anything to hurt an animal; she is prepared to forgive him everything, always to take all the blame herself, not to hate him, to forget quickly everything that happens, not to bear a grudge, not to tell anyone about it, to try by her behavior to prevent another beating, to find out why her father is dissatisfied, to understand him, etc. It is rare for an adult to have this attitude toward a child unless the adult happens to be the psychotherapist, but for a dependent, sensitive child, what I have just described is almost the rule. And what happens to all this repressed affect? It cannot simply disappear from the face of the earth. It must be directed toward substitute objects in order to spare the father. Here again, Christiane's account gives us a concrete example when she describes life with her now divorced mother and her mother's boyfriend Klaus:

[Klaus and I] got into fights with each other too. About little things. Sometimes I started it. Usually it was because of my playing my records. For my eleventh birthday my mother had bought me a record player, just a cheap little one, and I had a few records--Disco-Sound and teeny-bopper music. And evenings I would put one on and turn the thing up so loud it would break your eardrums. One night Klaus came into my room and said I should turn the record player down. I didn't do it. He came back again and snatched the arm off the record. I put it back on and stood in front of the record player so he couldn't get at it. Then he grabbed me and pushed me aside. When that man touched me, I freaked out.

The same child who submitted to the most incredible beatings from her father without any attempt to defend herself now immediately "freaks out" when "that man" touches her. Analysts often hear about similar situations from their patients. Women who suffer from frigidity, or who begin, during analysis, to have feelings of disgust when their husbands touch them, often rediscover very early memories of sexual abuse by their fathers or other men in the family. As a rule, when these feelings begin to emerge, they are accompanied by little show of feeling; for the time being, strong affect is reserved for the present partner. Only gradually does the patient experience the whole range of disappointment with her beloved father: shame, humiliation, rage, indignation.

It frequently occurs in analysis that just before the memory of being sexually molested by the father is allowed to break through into consciousness, the patient covers it up by remembering similar scenes with men less closely related.

Who are these men? If it was not her own father, why didn't the child resist? Why didn't she tell her parents about it? Is it because she has already gone through it with her father and as a result has automatically become practiced in keeping silent? The displacement of "bad" affect onto people she is indifferent to enables her to preserve a "good" relationship with her father on a conscious level.

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