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162 of 164 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wise & Perceptive Book That Changed My Life!
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...
Published on 14 Feb 2005 by Jana L. Perskie

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Please decide for yourself
I went to look for this book at amazon while reading Eleanor D. Payson's "the Wizard of Oz and other Narcissists". Reading Payson's book was a revelation to me, and she cites Alice Miller a lot in her book. Which made me curious. But reading a few pages of Alice Miller, I felt dragged down into murky waters by all the doom and gloom of her description of early childhood...
Published on 17 Feb 2010 by Phoenicia


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162 of 164 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." Although, later in life, these "prohibited" feelings and needs cannot always be avoided, they remain split off and the most vital part of the true self is not integrated into the personality. The results are often depression, and tremendous insecurity.
Alice Miller makes her readers aware of the unexpressed sufferings of the child and the tragedy of the parent(s) own illness. As she frequently states, "any parent who abuses a child," knowingly or otherwise, "has himself been severely traumatized in his childhood, in some form or another."
Gifted children are often the products of emotional abuse by a narcissistic parent. However, if the child's great need for admiration is not met, for his/her looks, intelligence or achievements, he/she falls into severe depression. Miller says one can only be free from depression "when self-esteem is based on the authenticity of one's own feelings and not on the possession of certain qualities."
Children need a great deal of both emotional and physical support from the adult. According to Miller, this adult support must include the following elements in order for a child to develop to his or her full potential: "Respect for the child; respect for his rights; tolerance for his feelings; willingness to learn from his behavior."
Miller also writes about the "origins of grandiosity as a form of denial and its relationship with depression." Another interesting chapter deals with the "process of parental derision" and how it results in humiliation and possible psychic trauma of the child.
Alice Miller's extraordinary book, along with consistent psychoanalytic psychotherapy, has assisted many to understand their past, modify behavior, forgive, and finally, best of all, to heal. I cannot recommend "The Drama Of The Gifted Child" highly enough.
JANA
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finding the true self and then becoming it, 28 Nov 2007
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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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Important book on the way to self discovery, 9 Aug 2007
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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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Specific insights for hard-to-acknowledge problems, 1 April 1998
By A Customer
Miller's book is concise and straightforward, asserting that parental expectations for children--however benign or well-meaning--inevitably suppress the child's real self, leading to the ongoing "dramatic" performance of an identity throughout the child's life that is not driven by his/her own feelings. The lists of common behaviors that might be signs of this drama are helpful, and provoke moments of self-recognition that can be both painful and illuminating. My one reservation about Miller's argument is that this suppression of children's true selves is often demonstrated using examples of truly abusive parents, including several accounts of incest and violence. This undermines her overall understanding of the drama tendency as an almost universal property of family life.
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64 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Journey of Journeys laid out by the Guide of Guides, 2 Feb 2003
This review is from: The Drama of Being a Child : The Search for the True Self (Paperback)
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? Why do individulas run to prove themselves (or immediately start thinking of themselves defensively) as the antithesis, upon seeing anyone's character asessed in such a context? Why does even the WORD "self" conjure up confused and uncomfortable feelings when used in anything but a mind-numbing spiritual context with people? What do children need beyond basic nutritional and socioeconomic concerns, and what happens to them when they grow older but do not get it? How is it possible to have more material things and personal achievements than anyone, and still have less and less confidence in who you are?
This book can explain things about your adult life and relationships that you'd rather not have so easily and individually explained. And those who look to books like these to figure out what's wrong with their friends, lovers and parents will discover more about themselves than they may think they're ready to process. We all are not just ready but overdue for these kinds of life lessons.
Never has a writer, perhaps before or since, put the words "childhood" and "mourning" together in one thought, such that it can create a complete paradigm shift in how one sees oneself, and sees the opportunities for happiness one's world.
The fault levied on any psychologist on her level- and there are very, very few- is that this kind of thinking all but demands the kind of narcisstic modern solipsism she seems to diagnose as symptomatic of the illness. (She refers to the dynamic not as an illness, however, but a "tragedy"; keeping us again, I believe, in tune with the ancient Greek mythic/philosophical reference inherent in the old title for this book, "The Drama of the Gifted Child".) Such blanket criticism of psychology books in general could only be concluded with one of this quality from a misreading of the text; the kind of misreading that usually comes when she has hit a nerve the likes of which one didn't expect, may be afraid of and couldn't imagine beforehand. Nonetheless, taking our culture's preoccupation with the self into consideration, there is still nothing of lasting value one could do in the world without at least endeavoring to answer the existential questions of soul, love, freedom, loss and pain- and the true self- that this book demands you to do in a new way for practically the rest of your life.
I gave it four stars instead of five because it was too short. I didn't want it to end. And the idea that she could 1) prove her point, 2)deeply affect me by making me dream dreams that I've never dreamed before, 3)access undramatic but painful memories of childhood events that I forgot happened but have been behind more than half of the seemingly unrelated choices I've made in my adult life, and 4) feel a usually suppressed rage and grief give way to a new sense of purpose and a release of joyful energy and optimism- all in a little more than a hundred pages- still makes me queasy. In other words, read this as a five and a half star review! Then buy the book, put down the most recent bash on modern politics and the latest neo-spiritual mind candy on the bestseller's list, and begin a real journey.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Books Ever Written, 6 Nov 2007
This is one of the best books ever written and one of the most powerful tools for one's self-discovery, to be free from narcissism. Miller has provided strong insights into this book, which encouraged and forced us to face the truth from our childhood, and why we hid our true selves as children.

We are all living in a narcissist society, and we have learned our narcissist traits to some degree. For us to get rid of these traits, we must seek to be free from the deadly emotional influences that shaped our lives. This book is one of the keys for which we will acquire to be free.

I would strongly recommend "The Drama of the Gifted Child" for those who seek for the truth about themselves.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Quest, 19 May 2012
By 
R. J. Krzak - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Drama of Being a Child : The Search for the True Self (Paperback)
I read all of Miller's books back in the early part of the 90's. At that time I had embarked on 'my quest' to find the answers that I needed in order to make sense of my emotionally painful world. My pain, scattered like the pieces of a jigsaw, did not make sense to me and the trouble was that I alone was unable to fit the pieces together. I was in my early forties feeling very lost and desperately seeking answers; a troubled soul... a ship without an anchor cast adrift in the middle of an ocean Where do I start? Where do I go? Whom do I ask? Somehow, I found Miller's books which contained all the information that I could handle at that time. The Drama of Being a Child was the first one I read and I recall vividly the impact it had on me; it opened a door that had been shut all my life until that point. Miller made perfect sense of what had happened to me throughout my childhood and its affects. The one thing I recall that really impacted on me was the way in which society as a whole, throughout different periods of time, was still deeply grounded in the same cruel, controlling and profoundly dysfunctional ways of childrearing. Parents ruled by fear and this created a hotbed of painful emotions scarring children for life. Our parents who were raised by parents who had been raised by parents (multi-generational) had been indoctrinated by the same screwed up values and desperately needed to change. Parents must have full control of children; children were objects, not little people with feelings who needed emotional nourishment. Parents were allowed to abuse children, which in those days was considered discipline but in fact it was the ultimate betrayal of the innocents. The Drama of a Gifted child was my awakening!!! I went on to read the rest of her books, too. From that time onwards including long breaks in between reading, and with the advancement of psychology and a major shift in society's values, the market is now flooded with books which gives us a wide selection on the subject of child rearing and abuse. Thank goodness for that too! However, I would still recommend Millers's books as a starting point for those who can identify with my experience. Though some may now consider Miller's books 'outdated' reading, it was her books that opened up my understanding and gave me what I needed and all that I could really cope with at the right time. It's now some 20 years down the road and my level of understanding has grown and grown with each new book I've read. However, I take my hat of to Alice Miller for giving me that start and putting me on the right road to growth and understanding of the damaging affects of dysfunctional childrearing. Thank you Alice.

Needless to say I highly recommend 'The Drama of Being a Child' as well as Miller's other books.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The classic Alice Miller handbook, 5 Mar 2011
This review is from: The Drama of Being a Child : The Search for the True Self (Paperback)
This was the first Alice Miller book I read in the 1990's and it helped change my viewpoint on so many things,. If you read this I suggest you have a pad beside you so you can make notes to reflect back on.

This is a book I enjoyed reading and thinking about.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb and very enlightening book, 13 Dec 2010
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This review is from: The Drama of Being a Child : The Search for the True Self (Paperback)
This book was the first of Alice Miller's I read and every page was a revelation. He compassion and understanding pervades every page. So much of society sides with Parents including many hurt children who find it difficult to face their early childhood pain that there are some who would condemn Ms Miller for her honesty. This is not an easy book to read in that it pulls no punches. I also think that Ms Miller is often condemned by people for blaming Parents. I do not think it is about blame, but about responsibility. The responsibility of a Parent to understand their own childhood fully so as not to repeat the very same often ignorant hurts. Much physcotherapy operates on the principle of forgiveness of such hurt. I do not believe in this. Forgiveness tends to follow an apology. A woman is rightly able to choose to forgive or not forgive her rapist. It is her right. However a child even as an adult is expected to forgive a Parent for sometimes truly awful abuse and this is not healing. It is the very same coercian which causes much confusion and mental illness.

Alice Miller was very brave to write her books and it takes courage to read her books sometimes because it raises the pain of not being loved as a child. All I would say is that Faint Heart Never Won Fair Maiden and to read this book is to perhaps start to gain the strong compassionate heart many of us so dearly wish to find.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerfully insightful!, 14 Jan 1998
By A Customer
A powerfully insightful book on the intra-psychic 'dramas' that can shape the belief systems of the sensitive (i.e. "gifted") child. Written with an appreciation for the innermost sensitive parts of ourselves that we learn to deny. Alice Miller writes of her discoveries of herself. In so doing she is the antithesis of the detached researcher who studies such sensitive matters with intellect only, thus missing the experience itself, since it is by its nature a deeply emotional one. Yet she brings to it the experience of a seasoned, schooled, therapist while exhibiting her own gift of eloquence and efficient phrasing. A short summary of the root causes of many of our individual and societal problems.
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