Top positive review
8 people found this helpful
A very important book, insufficient by itself.
on September 21, 2003
I read this book once, several months ago, and now I'm reading it again, more carefully. The first time, I found myself constantly fighting to continue reading in spite of what seemed to me to be Miller's unbearably arrogant self-righteousness. I fought my way past that, and past some of Miller's patently absurd opinions, because I believed in my gut that there was something extremely important to me (and to the world) buried in this stream of psychobabble. I found that Miller's concepts of childhood abuse and it's effects (and I mean childhood starting at one minute past-partum) were astoundingly insightful, although they didn't apply to me since my mother has always been unconditionally loving. I returned the book to the person who had recommended it and went on with my life as usual.
Elsewhere in these Amazon.com reviews, "A reader" claimed that, "For you to really use the material in this book, you must be willing to look into yourself and into your past. If your defense mechanisms are out in force (or if you don't realize that you even have defense mechanisms), then you will not be able to see what you have to do. (In fact, some of your defense mechnisms are there specifically to prevent access to the very content you need to get to.)
"A reader" nailed the problem. Last week I discovered, with the help of a therapist I recently started seeing, that my life is riddled with narcissistic patterns. When I asked if there was any literature I could read about "narcissism", I was dumbstruck when he said the best description is given in a series of books by someone named Alice Miller. When I went to a bookstore and leafed through the book I had already read several months previously, I was dumbstruck again to see the words "narcissism" and "grandiosity" and "depression" sprinkled through the pages. I had read the pages before, and I had thought I understood them, but they never really applied to me and I forgot them easily. I was in denial.
It's interesting that Miller's book was seemingly useless to me before an insightful therapist somehow made a crack in my defense mechanisms. However, I suspect that it was my first reading of Miller's book that propelled me into therapy (that led me back to the book). Now I wonder why a casual acquaintance loaned me that book in the first place. There seems to be more to the psyche than meets the eye. One wonders how far it goes.
On my first reading of "Gifted Child", I thought Miller seriously underestimated the potentially positive, and in some cases lifesaving, contributions to a person's growth attributable to social interactions beyond the immediate family or therapist. In general in "Gifted Child" as well as in "Thou Shalt Not Be Aware", Miller seemed to focus on destructive, cultish effects of social group interactions. I suspect that her ideas about social effects are incompletely developed and overly pessimistic. I base that suspicion on my own repeated interactions with ordinary people who willingly pay close attention to my words solely in order to understand my point of view, without passing judgement on me, and without being motivated by any overt or hidden agenda. That kind of interaction can be described as a "loving" one, in some sense, and I think Miller would not disagree. I suspect such interactions are not uncommon and are perhaps essential for both personal and societal health. We are a social species. I regret that Miller seems curiously unimpressed by that fact and uninterested in its implications. Childhood abuse is her main concern, and for excellent reasons. But a view of the world through pathologist's glasses can not be an unbiased view.