If one is feeling the pain, and not allowing people to subject them to the strictures of Therapy, Recovery, or Religion, then they will demand redress, they will live for redress, they will live only for redress.  This universal denial of the child’s experience is what Alice Miller wrote about in her early books, and its what led her to denounce all therapy as simply the application of pedagogy.

She was not talking about dysfunctional families or about child abuse.  She was talking about everybody, and how the entire society denies the experience of the child.  She was not promoting Liberal Pedagogy, or anything like Lloyd de Mauss’s Helping Mode Family, as she had already laid out in no uncertain terms her opposition to all pedagogy and she had done an outstanding job of showing how Liberal Pedagogy, from Rousseau forwards, was not different from the other kind.

Liberal Pedagogy is rather like Humane Execution.  It exists to justify its use.


Miller was not promoting any version of the Good Family either, as she defended Franz Kafka from a detractor by mockingly referring to Bourgeois Family Happiness.

Alice Miller how ever was not able to progress from this juncture to redress.  Instead she held out the hope that some sort of therapy would be different from every other sort, and so she went against her own advice.  Very little of what she wrote after that is of much worth.

1.  The lightest form of Redress is a prohibition on disinheritance.  All this really does is eliminate parental discretion.  Other than this, it costs them nothing.  This should apply in all cases.  So laws will need to be changed.

In the mean time, anti-disinheritance contracts can be drawn up.  People can be asked to sign the contract, for its own worth, but also to show support for the law being changed.

I am starting to see evidence that people are coming to see disinheritance as the culmination of familial abuse.  So then for that reason it should be prohibited.  A Vancouver law firm talks about it in the context of dysfunctional families and says that these are the bulk of its business.  A Toronto law firm, where the laws are not as favorable, talks about it as “The Family War”.

Of course we all know about Jose and Kitty Menendez, two extremely controlling parents who were bragging that they were going to disinherit their boys in order to make them start towing the line.  The first trial ended in a hung jury.  At the second trial the prosecutor said, “But you were old enough to join the Marine Corp.  Instead of doing that you executed your parents in order to get the inheritance.”  Going into the Marine Corp is what this prosecutor had done himself.  In his family and culture, that was an honorable option.  But in the Menendez family this would not have been honorable conduct.  Joining the Marine Corps would have been seen as the actions of screw ups.  In the Menendez Family the proper path was always to graduate from a prestigious university, and then go into business and make lots and lots of money.

I take no position on these sorts of options.  I’ve never sought any of these sorts of things for myself.  Rather I’m simply showing the degree of denigration involved.  Being poor is fine.  Doing the kinds of things that poor people do, may not be so bad.  But the Family System should not have the power to denigrate.  Where it exists, it must be neutralized.

What this is all about is the Self-Reliance Ethic.  This is what the Family System is trying to impose and this is where the conflict lies.  So the way to neutralize it is to always side with the child and always hold the parents responsible.

Remember, most of these people are self righteous burghers.  The threat of public exposure will terrify them.  What this is is a political fight.  Its got nothing to do with my childhood or yours, and the Recovery Movement and Psychotherapy trying to claim that it does is simply a red herring.  This is about the world we live in now and will live in in the future.

So make the contract and ask people to sign it is a show of good will and support.  Then also put together intervention teams.  No one should have to face down the Family System alone, it has to be done with intermediaries.  The first action is always to try and get them to sign the contract.  Doesn’t matter if it pisses them off.  Its supposed to.  Makes no difference what excuses they give, wouldn’t dream of disinheriting, already signed something else, this is a private matter.

The whole point of this is that the Family System is going to be cracked open, and this is only one of the ways.  The more people who sign it, the easier it will become to find ways to sue the ones who don’t, and the easier it will come to eventually get the laws changed.

It will tend to be easier to get poor people to sign it than it will be rich people.  This is fine, as it makes for putting pressure on the rich and it helps in polarizing all sorts of other issues.

Some will say that the inheritance money should go to the public.  Maybe at some point this could be.  But initially its easier to do it like this.  We want the sons and daughters of the rich to be on our side, not on the side of the Family System.

Makes no difference how old the child is, once a case is opened, people are told that they should sign the contract.  Its treated like a collections job.  Once a case is opened, its never closed.

I know that this has no effect on people without money.  But fact is, the greatest ability to denigrate is usually found in families which are able to stay solvent and do own something.  They are the ones held up as the model to emulate.  Tearing that down is what this is about.

Once the Family System is held accountable, it will be much easier to make the case for a universal safety net to cover anyone still in need and left out.

This will go a long way towards reversing societal attitudes about parenthood.

2.  There is some threshold needed to go to the next stage of Redress.  Some talk of abuse.  But I feel that the next stage should not require demonstration of abuse, rather, animosity is enough.

Remember, the purpose of this is to take apart the Family System, by destroying the Self-Reliance Ethic, by always siding with the child.

So if there is animosity, then additional financial obligations are imposed.  Senility is not a defense, as senility is a usual development in someone who has lived a life of Bad Faith and Denial, and may very well have tried to use a child for their adult identity.
So if there is animosity then their may be a requirement to put assets into trust to assure that they are not squandered.  How tight the purse strings are will depend on how high the level on animosity and what degree of familial dysfunction can be demonstrated.

When there is some sort of abuse and when there is need, then there can also be some degree of early distribution.  I feel that the concept of Restorative Justice is useful here.  The tangible threat of an abuse law suit may be enough to get even senile-suicidals to accept that they have to sign the documents.  Their own lawyer may be the best one to talk sense into them.

3.  Where there is clear evidence of abuse there should be criminal prosecution.

Now, having introduced all of this, one also comes to see two other matters.  First there has to intervention into the lives of children today.  Yes this also means starting with the anti-disinheritance contract.  Lets say its in honor of the heroism of Lyle and Erik Menendez.

But it also means protecting children, emancipating them.

You cannot pass laws, even pass international laws, and expect to govern the emotional dynamics of the relations between parents and children.  Further, anything you do which promotes the Good Family / Liberal Pedagogy  ( Natural Child, Empathy, Attachment Parenting ), only glorifies parenthood and causes children to be used.  Such doctrines are pronatalist.

So the attitudes about parents have to be changed, reversed.  The way to do this is to emancipate children, change their social and civil status.  No longer are they allowed to be property.  Parents are not longer exonerated, they are held responsible.  They just have to accept this, they cannot put it on the child.

No child should ever be trapped in a familial domicile.  Their should always be other places to go.  In fact, they should not be spending excessive times in familial domiciles.

There need to be extensive programs of all types for them, programs of the highest quality.

In the US we still don’t have state funded day care.  When it is talked about it is always in the context of being able to get mothers into the work force and off of welfare.  Clearly this is the wrong approach.  I am told that in France stated funded day care exists for the benefit of the child.  The idea is that it is so good that without it the child would be deprived.

The second additional item is that we as adults have to find ways to live which do not replicate the oppression of the Family System.  We need to look at the reactionary ideas and neuroticisms in our own thinking.  We need to scrutinize the things which attract us to what Alice Miller mockingly called Bourgeois Family Happiness, and instead find other ways.

What will it take to make all of this happen.  First there have to be people who are cognizant of substantial animosity with their parents.  There are lots of such people.  These people need to stop trying to repress anger, stop trying to find “inner peace”, stop Recoverying and Therapizing, and stop practicing Live and Let Live.  Instead develop a revolutionary consciousness and jump into what is going to be a fight for a political and economic power shift.


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Replies to This Discussion

BO to Forum, more on Redress and Self-Reliance

I am convinced that if we attack on the issues of inheritance and parental responsibility, then the Self-Reliance Ethic will collapse.  That is, all the issues surrounding money, taxes, employment, and property will change.  Everything based on some presumption of sloth, all the premises of Social Darwinism, everything tied to Original Sin, and everything known as Subjectification, will fall.  Capitalism will fall.  The exoneration of the Family System and of the State will fall.  The enforcement of criminal law will be radically changed.

You can pass all the laws against Child Abuse that you want.  But that will never penetrate the emotional dynamics of the parent child relationship.  New pedagogy books will still be written, and people will still use the parental role in order to stay in denial.  They will use children to stay in denial.  They will still use the Therapy and the Recovery Movement to stay in denial.

If on the other hand you emancipate children by giving them social, civil, and economic standing, and if you hold parents responsible in all situations, then the entire society will change.

I am of a middle class neurotic background.  So I too have a history in the conservative thinking of the Recovery Movement.  I am doing my very best to learn to articulate a different view and to emancipate myself.  I seek comrades, those who want to jump with both feet and get into the fight.  I seek comrades, as I don't want to be alone.

Those who have such potential are those who are cognizant of the animosity between themselves and their parents, and with the entire edifice of the Family System, and who want to find ways to fight back. 

I have faced persecutions in venues to numerous to mention.

I draw solace and support from the words of Prosecutor Alice Vachss,
"Some things are so sad, there is just no response ... except to fight."

I am someone who has been harmed so severely, lost so much, been so impacted, that I must conceal.  I cannot give up more about myself than I already am.  But I submit to you, that I actually am giving up more of myself, in terms of my intentions, than most people ever would.  Most people have very little insight into their own intentions.  I am someone who has no choice, except to fight.  One learns to win the bigger battles, not by Live and Let Live, but by first learning to win the smaller ones.


About Recovery

If Recovery means all the things of therapy, like forgive and forget, finding inner peace, just going on with your life, relying on yourself, healing, and eventually coming to be capable of nothing except social conformity, then I am bound to oppose it.  It continues all the that the Family System tries to impose.  It tries to make one believe that one is responsible for ones own problems and that it is one's duty to solve them.  It makes one believe that its all just stuff inside of one's own head.  I am bound to oppose this with all my abilities.

But if instead recovery means fighting back, finding ways to defeat the Family System, finding allies and finding attack points, learning to use interdependent power strategies, learning to see how our society subjectifies, and then finally finding more allies and rebuilding one's own life while at the same time building a different type of world, then sure its fine.  But I would still call it something other than recovery.

about Alice Miller's body of work and the subject of Psychotherapy

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