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For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence [Kindle Edition]

Alice Miller , Hildegarde Hannum , Hunter Hannum
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

For Your Own Good, the contemporary classic exploring the serious if not gravely dangerous consequences parental cruelty can bring to bear on children everywhere, is one of the central works by Alice Miller, the celebrated Swiss psychoanalyst.

With her typically lucid, strong, and poetic language, Miller investigates the personal stories and case histories of various self-destructive and/or violent individuals to expand on her theories about the long-term affects of abusive child-rearing. Her conclusions--on what sort of parenting can create a drug addict, or a murderer, or a Hitler--offer much insight, and make a good deal of sense, while also straying far from psychoanalytic dogma about human nature, which Miller vehemently rejects.

This important study paints a shocking picture of the violent world--indeed, of the ever-more-violent world--that each generation helps to create when traditional upbringing, with its hidden cruelty, is perpetuated. The book also presents readers with useful solutions in this regard--namely, to resensitize the victimized child who has been trapped within the adult, and to unlock the emotional life that has been frozen in repression.

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Dr Miller's books, refreshingly free of jargon, read like picturesque fiction (RUTH RENDELL)

All too believable... Her thesis is icily simple. (NEW STATESMAN AND SOCIETY)

Book Description

* A challenge to the child-rearing practices of punishment and coercion, by the acclaimed author of THE DRAMA OF BEING A CHILD.

* 'This book can change lives' - Maurice Sondak.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderfully enlightening book 24 Aug. 2000
By hilary
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Alice Miller shows us the roots of our own pain and struggle by explaining how methods of child rearing (what she terms "poisonous pedagogy")brought about the behaviour of Adolf Hitler and others. A difficult book to read, because of the pain it evokes, but truly enlightening as it shows how all cruelty, wars, destruction of our environment, criminality, and terrorism actually stem from the abused child's need to deal with its childhood and the way it was treated by parents, teachers, ministers and other care givers, all for its "own good".
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Subversive and necessary 10 Jan. 2010
An absolutely extraordinary look at how the mind of a child is formed and influenced and the part played by both verbal and physical coercion. This book has become more influential than any other over the years - I read it first some twenty years ago - and influenced how I raised my children, how I treat other people, and the direction of my work and sense of purpose. Genuinely life-changing, Alice Miller's classic reflects a simple truth that consumer society ignores to all our detriment - children, and the society we raise them in, most decidedly make the future (politics, survival of the species and all) in which we will all live or die together. Is there any more important subject?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Alice Miller digs into the psycho-history behind the mental-illness cases she deals with, turning her lights on the legacy of parent education from medieval through early-modern times. And to a large degree Miller lays the blame for traditions of mental illness on Christian theology. If children were presumed to be born evil, then the struggle to raise them could be something like exorcizing demons. How should a God-fearing parent proceed? The examples Miller cites from parenting literature are many and disturbing. In a 1740s "Essay on the Education and Instruction of Children", J. Sulzer, argues that the first necessary step was for children to learn that the world of adults had an established order, which could not be altered by wailing protests or selfish demands. Second, they must learn to obey the authors of that order:
"The second major matter to which one must dedicate oneself beginning with the second and third year is a strict obedience to parents and superiors and a trusting acceptance of all they do. These qualities are not only absolutely necessary for the success of a child's education, but they have a very strong influence on education in general. They are essential because they impart to the mind orderliness per se and a spirit of submission to the laws. A child who is not used to obeying his parents will also not willingly submit to the laws and rules of reason once he is on his own ..., since he is already accustomed to act in accordance with his own will. Obedience is so important that all education is actually nothing other than learning how to obey." (p.12)

Perhaps Miller aims indiscriminately at religion in general. She is focused on cases of abuse, like a policeman who sees crime all day. Her call for compassion is not the whole answer for parents, but it is crucial for a saner world.

--author of Correcting Jesus: 2000 Years of Changing the Story
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An Unscientific Theory 28 Aug. 2014
By Colin W
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Before I criticise Alice Miller's (AM) book let me say first that it is very well written with avoidance of unnecessary jargon. Also, her condemnation of abusive and selfish child-rearing methods should be welcomed by everyone.
She puts forward the theory that adult neuroses and antisocial behaviour (including the holocaust) is due to 'toxic pedagogy'. This is the abusive manner in which child rearing has often been done with a lack of respect for the child as an autonomous person. This abuse is repressed and forgotten by the child who often idealises his/her parents and upbringing. The child's anger emerges in adulthood and is directed to their children or, in the case of Hitler, to the Jews.
My objection is that AM's theory is not presented as a hypothesis or conjecture to be criticised and tested, but as a fact. I think this renders it unscientific. In case anyone thinks that a scientific basis is not possible here, AM asserts twice that her observations are lent scientific validity by the fact that they can be made repeatedly and can be verified or refuted even by non-professionals. I also think that in such an important area a scientific basis is essential.
What is AM's scientific approach? Presumably, it is her experience in analysing clients. But we are given no detailed description of her methodology. Two hundred years ago, the great Scottish philosopher David Hume established two important results:
1. No amount of positive evidence can justify a universal theory.
2. No amount of positive evidence can make a universal theory probable,
Theories, such as the one presented in this book, cannot be accepted unless they are subject to severe, critical testing. i.e. tests designed to find any flaws in the theory.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Raise your children for their sake, not your own. 14 Sept. 2010
By Rel
This book confronts our culture's tendency to rationalize raising children in a manner that is convienent for the parents, but often not in a manner that is in the best interests of children. Sometimes I feel you need to take the author with a grain of salt, but she's basically spot on.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Highly recommended
Published 7 months ago by Lord Vauge
5.0 out of 5 stars For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of...
good research material
Published 10 months ago by Mr Robert Messam
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
This was a great book and the story was just as I thought it was going to be enjoyed it very mutch
Published 22 months ago by colin wingeatt
5.0 out of 5 stars this is for your own good
If you want to know why the world is in the state it is in, why we are held to ransom by politicians, corporations, banks, why nature is devalued and destroyed, and why the rich... Read more
Published on 11 Feb. 2013 by martart99
5.0 out of 5 stars Violence is Power
Alice breathroughs with pickaxe and shovel to emerge through the madness.

German historical archetypes are illuminated as attachment gone wrong. Read more
Published on 2 April 2010 by Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles
5.0 out of 5 stars highly recommendable
In my opinion almost everybody can benefit from reading this book. I think it is probably one of the most important non-fiction books written in the last 100 years. Read more
Published on 8 Aug. 2009 by Hella Hirschfelder
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent insight into childhood
This book gives an excellent insight into many people's childhood, including myself's. The book is well written but seems to re-cover the same ground on many occasions. Read more
Published on 15 July 2005 by D. Hopkins
5.0 out of 5 stars Another eye-opener from the master
When you listen to the music of Bach, one is consistently amazed at its beauty and power regardless of the piece's length, instrumentation or meaning. Read more
Published on 2 Feb. 2003 by Earl Hazell
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