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Drama of the Gifted Child-Revised Edition: The Search for the True Self [Hardcover]

Alice. Miller
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)

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Book Description

22 Aug 1994
Why are many of the most successful people plagued by feelings of emptiness and alienation? This wise and profound book has provided thousands of readers with an answerand has helped them to apply it to their own lives. Far too many of us had to learn as children to hide our own feelings, needs, and memories skillfully in order to meet our parents expectations and win their love. Alice Miller writes, When I used the word gifted in the title, I had in mind neither children who receive high grades in school nor children talented in a special way. I simply meant all of us who have survived an abusive childhood thanks to an ability to adapt even to unspeakable cruelty by becoming numb Without this gift offered us by nature, we would not have survived. But merely surviving is not enough. The Drama of the Gifted Child helps us to reclaim our life by discovering our own crucial needs and our own truth.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 150 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; Completely Rev. and Updated / edition (22 Aug 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465016944
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465016945
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 13.2 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,102,254 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Rare and compelling in its compassion and its unassuming eloquence...her examples are so vivid and so ordinary they touch the hurt child in us all (NEW YORK MAGAZINE) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Alice Miller has achieved worldwide recognition for her work on the causes and effects of childhood traumas. Her books include "The Drama of the Gifted Child," "Banished Knowledge," "Breaking Down the Wall of Silence," "Thou Shalt Not Be Aware," and "For Your Own Good." She lives in Switzerland. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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EXPERIENCE has taught us that we have only one enduring weapon in our struggle against mental illness: the emotional discovery of the truth about the unique history of our childhood. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
167 of 170 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wise & Perceptive Book That Changed My Life! 14 Feb 2005
Alice Miller's "Drama Of The Gifted Child," was originally published as "Prisoners Of Childhood; The Drama Of The Gifted Child," in 1981. I read the book over 20 years ago, and recently reread it. I find that it is just as relevant, wise and perceptive today as it was then. Ms. Miller was a practicing psychoanalyst, who gave up her work with patients to write books, for the layperson, primarily dealing with early childhood abuse. In a new Forward, Miller continues to disavow psychoanalysis. Although I am not in agreement with her on this, she continues to be one of my heroes.

Ms. Miller, who writes an elegant and easily understandable prose, discusses here the issue of children raised by a narcissistic parent(s). She explains that this book is not about high I.Q. children, but about those who were able to survive an abusive childhood because they developed an adequate defense system. At a very early age the child intuitively apprehends the parent's needs. Since the parent, especially the mother, is the child's soul source of survival, the child strives to please, fearing disapproval, or abandonment. Thus, the child sublimates his needs for the parent's. Roles reverse and the child frequently takes on the parent's responsibility as emotional caregiver. This impedes the growth of a child's true identity, and a "loss of self" frequently occurs. The child adapts by not "feeling" his own needs, and develops finely tuned antennae, focusing intensely on the needs of the all important other. Ms. Miller writes, "An abused child, (emotionally), does not know it is being abused, and in order to survive and avoid the unbearable pain, the mind is provided with a remarkable mechanism, the 'gift' of 'repression,' which stores these experiences in a place outside of consciousness.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finding the true self and then becoming it 28 Nov 2007
By Ken
This book is written with very deep insight, compassion, eloquence, clarity and power. Alice Miller speaks of the vital importance for us to discover our own personal truth that puts us in touch with our true self. As Ms. Miller states it can be very painful to discover our real feelings since many of us have repressed hurt feelings from childhood trauma that we have buried and we have hid these feelings not only from our parents but from ourselves as well.

What I have learned from this remarkable book is that we hide these feelings from our parents so they will `love' us, but it's not our true self that they love since it is these hidden feelings that are the manifestations of who we really are. In its place we give our parents an image of ourselves so as to make them happy. This fulfills their needs but we hide our own since we fear that the expression of our own needs will lead to parental rejection and correspondingly to a loss of their love.

When we hide and suppress these childhood unacknowledged needs then the basis of all our future relationships will be determined by these unrequited needs and they become the unconscious motivations that drive us throughout our adult lives.

It is only by getting in touch with these lost needs that we can begin to discover those missing parts of ourselves. This is just the beginning to true "self discovery" that is, it is the beginning to discovering and becoming who we truly are so that, eventually, we can become who we are truly destined to be.

A fine book indeed.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Important book on the way to self discovery 9 Aug 2007
By Aeneas
Alice Miller highlights in this book the importance of looking into one's own history in order to understand our psychological makeup and become free of behaviors that otherwise hinders us in being ourselves. I have come to understand irrational and debilitating aspects of my own behaviors, that stemmed from childhood traumas, and seen how these can be liberated once they are experienced emotionally. It is not done over night and not by just reading this book alone.

The book is however a great encouragement and at the same time through stories and examples gives an understanding of where to look and clues to some of the behaviors that previously were simply confusing and puzzling. I wished I had read this book 19 years ago, when I first encountered therapy as it would have been an added help in understanding the process that I had started on. Another powerful book on this subject is "The Narcissistic Family".

All in all a highly recommended book, as understanding the human 'machine' is vital in order to become free, as Gurdjieff would say.
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65 of 72 people found the following review helpful
This is one of those books that are not for the faint of heart. So many books in the world that people think are incendiary or revolutionary, challenging and rechallenging our conception of free speech, religion, citizenship, science and technology, philosophy, economics and politics or spirituality have an attraction to us because of how they serve as metaphors for the painful realities of our personal lives under the illusions we create for public consumption, and the secrets of our inner selves we wish to uncover. We yearn to break free of something and embrace some inner truth; we just don't know what, and therefore call it some aspect of the outer world. The desires we have to be and have more than what we are, the feelings of not knowing who we truly are and never truly being loved--and the root causes of such feelings--are unveiled in this powerful, disturbing, life shifting and life-affirming book.
Alice Miller was one of the patron saints of John Bradshaw, the man whose work heralded the age of the Inner Child that became part of the pop-psychology lexicon of the 90's. Her perspective and conclusions, scientifically, sociologically and philosophically speaking, are practically undebateable. And without even needing the true case examples from her therapeutic practice to underscore her points (which she uses with striking and original clarity and precision across gender, racial, ethnic, cultural and socioeconomic lines), her elucidation of her central thesis on the ignored emotional life of children--and the cost of having parents unequipped to give them the love they need--will undoubtedly make deep seated memories of your own childhood come to the surface.
Why does society have such automatic and irrational contempt for the egotist?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A depressing read but with enormous value.
I'm still trying to absorb the book's impact. Reading this book has made me realise and understand just how difficult and how much hard work is required if you want to get in touch... Read more
Published 5 days ago by robin
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good!
I read it twice and recommended it to many friends.Very easy to understand,no jargon,just simple words to explain complex concepts.
Very good approach!
Published 2 months ago by Nass
5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating
Great service. fascinating book and a must read for health professionals and those who had challenging childhoods.A must read -everyone should read it.
Published 3 months ago by Simmo
5.0 out of 5 stars There was drama....
...then Alice Miller gently sits with you as she describes the drama of YOUR childhood. Miller has a writing style, akin to a wise Aunt / Nan, which guides and explains through... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Babyblue1982
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT
Alice Miller always hits the nail on the head. Being a child is not always easy, but she writes about issues in a clear and understandable way.
Published 3 months ago by jennifer yates
5.0 out of 5 stars required reading
This is required reading for anyone remotely wishing to be concious of the real distance we have come from loving and nurturing our children...
Published 4 months ago by Rob
5.0 out of 5 stars Angel
Outstanding book. My only criticism is that it is written in quite a simplistic style which put me off at first but the content is so meaningful and absorbing that i completely... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Angela Akrill
5.0 out of 5 stars Humanistic Kev
Alice Miller clearly knows her stuff and I can relate to so much of this book. It is also helping me in my studies.
Published 12 months ago by kevin feighery
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Book
Alice Miller is a fantastic author and really helps one understand the inner workings of the mind. I think it would do everyone some good to read this book!
Published 13 months ago by Rupert
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow, just wow.
Without getting too deep I went to see a therapist as I was quite unhappy with various aspects of my personality and life. She told me to get this. Read more
Published 14 months ago by J. White
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