Chance to Survive

Friday, August 7, 2009

New Site

  • There was a mother who at the core was emotionally insecure, and who depended for her narcissistic equilibrium on the child behaving, or acting, in a particular way. This mother was able to hide her insecurity from the child and everyone else behind a hard, authoritarian, and even totalitarian facade.

  • This child had an amazing ability to perceive and respond intuitively, that is unconsciously, to this need of the mother, or of both parents, for him to take on the role that had unconsciously been assigned to him.

  • This role secured "love" for the child - that is, his parents' narcissistic cathexis. He could sense that he was needed and this, he felt, guaranteed him a measure of existential security.

from The Drama of The Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self by Alice Miller, page 8.

Enlightened Witnessing

Alice Miller identified the importance of having an Enlightened Witness. Because society betrays the child and her or his experience, no single factor is more important than the presence of this Enlightened Witness, to acknowledge the pain that is felt. In these forums we want people to be able to find this witness.

To do so, we have borrowed some ideas from Adult Children of Alcoholics about meeting safety and prohibiting cross talk. Of course they have to be adapted for the online environment. But these forums are not otherwise related to the 12 step groups, or the concepts represented therein.

The Child's Perspective and Safety

Safety and ideology are not the same. Alice Miller denounced Liberal Pedagogy just like she did Poisonous Pedagogy. She supports the perspective and experience of the child, not those who assume a parental position or use the parental voice.

Drama of the Gifted Child raises the issue that people will often have children to avoid facing their own pain, to avoid doing their own healing. This is a radical idea, and its implications may often be divisive. Miller shows how people resort to a parental voice or a parental perspective in order to avoid facing their own childhood pain. This applies to the Liberal Pedagogues just as much as to the Poisonous Pedagogues.

People need to come to their own realities. So they need safe places where they will not be lectured at or invalidated. Its not a particular ideology which makes a place safe. Rather its a set of social rules, a kind of ritual code, which prohibits invalidation, and even prohibits discussion.

The 12 step recovery groups, like Co-Dependents Anonymous and Adult Children of Alcoholics, are some of the places where this has developed. Although we try for safety, some groups will be more safe than others. So we need more groups.

Once the members of a group start to believe that they are all like minded, then very soon, suspicion, fear, and paranoia will follow. You cannot make a safe place by trying to tell people how they should think, or by believing that your group is more enlightened than the rest of the population. Ideology creates blindness. Spirituality creates blindness, but only when it has become ideology.

What creates safety is not a belief in like mindedness. Rather it is a ritualized code of conduct which says that when people share they will not be invalidated. This is based on the premise that people have to come to their own realities and that you are willing to trust them to do so and that you will not judge them but you will only support them. The personal materials that people share can never be open for discussion, and people are not to be asked to provide more information or clarification.

In F2F groups you are not to say anything at all. But online we have to modify this some. You can only say what is 100% supportive and affirmative. You cannot try to alter their thinking in any way shape or form. The purpose of the response is to let them know that they were heard by someone who cares. Otherwise, the response should not even be submitted. People learn by reading the shares of others, and by the supportive responses they get. Under no circumstances should they be subjected anything like a parental correction.

Suggested Reading

The Forums, come and join us!

We have just moved to a new site, Invision Power Boards. Looks like this will meet all our technical requirements. Just use any email account and pick yourself a handle and your can register.

When Awareness is not a Choice ( Invision )

This is a google group and you can join and submit posts now. Your email address will not be revealed. Nonmembers are not able to read posts, and search engines cannot find them.

When Awareness is not a Choice ( Google )

This is less developed. It is a Microsoft Multiply group. You will have to register using an email address, and then you pick a handle. You can submit posts and they will go up under your handle, but your email address will stay concealed. People can send Private Messages, unless you block them. What information you might exchange beyond that is up to you because you are adults. You can join this and start submitting posts now. Nonmembers are not able to read posts and search engines cannot find them.

When Awareness is not a Choice (Multiply)

I'm also experimenting with MSN Windows Live. You can join this and start posting now.

When Awareness is not a Choice (MSN Windows Live)

When using MSN Windows Live it is more efficient if you use an MSN / Hotmail account. If you don't already have one you can register here:

MSN / Hotmail Sign Up

For philosophical discussions and to post resources pertaining to the works of Alice Miller

Beyond Ideologies


Alice Miller

Daniel Mackler

ACA Community Forums

An essay coming soon:

Alice Miller and Existentialism

Stay tuned to this site as more resource links will be going up.