Editor’s note: The following article was submitted by the Lovefraud reader who comments as “Pearl.”
Someone on this blog once mentioned a book by Alice Miller and Andrew Jenkins, and it caught my attention. So now I’m reading The Truth Will Set You Free—Overcoming Emotional Blindness and Finding Your True Adult Self.
Even though I’m only about halfway through the book, I wanted to share parts of it because it is so important to what a lot of us are working on—forgiving ourselves and trying to understand why this (fraud) happened to us. I know this won’t apply or appeal to everyone, but it might help some of you as it has me. Miller’s ideas help me understand why I was susceptible and forgive myself for my blindness—my inability to spot a “bad guy.”
Miller focuses on childhood—on how corporal punishment (spanking/whipping) and humiliation—cause a type of blindness in adulthood that can lead to being manipulated and UNABLE TO SEE THROUGH LIES. She emphasizes that the kind of parenting and education aimed at breaking a child’s will and making that child into an obedient subject by means of overt or covert coercion, manipulation and emotional blackmail leaves long-lasting imprints on the way we think and relate to one another as adults.
Here is the cycle as she sees it:
- Traditional methods of upbringing, which have included corporal punishment, lead a child to DENY suffering and humiliation. (Can anyone related to having a high pain threshold? Where did I get that bruise or cut—I don’t remember getting it? Ever feel humiliated at being spanked, paddled or whipped as a child? Ever experience a parent being insensitive to suffering?)
- This denial, although essential if the child is to SURVIVE, will later cause emotional blindness.
- Emotional blindness produces “barriers in the mind” erected to guard against dangers. This means that early denied traumas become encoded in the brain, and even though they no longer pose a threat, they continue to have a subtle, destructive impact. (The memory of how to respond to such crappy behavior from our parents and authority figures is still there.)
- Barriers in the mind keep us from learning new information, putting it to good use, and shedding old, outdated behaviors.
- Our bodies retain a complete memory of the humiliations we suffered, driving us to inflict unconsciously on the next generation what we endured in childhood, unless we become aware of the cause of our behavior, which is embedded in the history of our own childhoods.
As children, some of us learned to suppress and deny natural feelings. Some of us lived in a world where our feelings were ignored and denied.
All the beaten child remembers is FEAR and the face of the ANGRY parent, not why the beating was taking place. The child may even assume he had been naughty and deserved the punishment. Miller writes that in the absence of a witness who can empathize with us in childhood and genuinely listen to us, we have no other way of protecting ourselves from the pain but to close our minds to it.
In a bid to blot the fear and pain of our abused younger self, we erase what we know can help us, we can fall prey to the seductiveness of sects and cults, and FAIL TO SEE THROUGH ALL KINDS OF LIES.
Having this information helps me understand why I was “ripe for the picking.” It also goes a long way toward helping me forgive myself and move on in the healing process.