I have checked out the website about the book “The body never lies” by Alice Miller, and I learnt that it is noted by a number of reviewers to be very helpful for those who have suffered abuse from parents at a young age to experience self-healing and freedom from repression of guilt, shame and self-hatred. One reviewer, Stephen Khamsi, wrote that one way of healing is to allow ourselves to feel our pain and our powerlessness so that we can, paradoxically, become less pained and more powerful.
“Sadly, many of us were unloved, neglected and abused. The remedy? While there are no simple answers, we do know that the body is healed when one admits to personal truths and to real feelings. But how do we admit to such truths and to such feelings? We need to feel our pain and our powerlessness so that we can, paradoxically, become less pained and more powerful. We need to admit to our “negative” emotions and change them into meaningful feelings. And we need to see through poisonous pedagogy in order to embrace and to embody integrity, awareness, responsibility, and loyalty to oneself. Our greatest personal task is to learn the difference between love and attachment…to extend our love when it’s right, but to break off attachments when they are destructive. Our greatest therapeutic task is to locate an enlightened witness—a mature and helpful individual, who can be fully present without judging, is indispensable in this process of psychological integration and personal liberation.”
It reminds me of what Peter Rollins also said in his video “Crucified Identities” that we need to embrace our pains and brokenness, not so that we can be destroyed by these emotions, but rather so that the sting is no longer there.
I also like what this reviewer, Norm Lee, wrote about how Alice Miller challenged the mistaken notion about the religious and societal expectations on people to obey the so-called fourth commandment, which has put much guilt and pressure on people who grew up under abusive parenthood.
Dr. Miller wants the reader to understand and accept that parents who abused us do not deserve our love and honor, regardless of a Moses-imposed commandment to do so. As we all must know, love is one thing that cannot be enforced. Like Sgt. Joe Friday, the body, in its wisdom, rejects illusions. It accepts only the facts, as higher morality is inherent not in the mind, but in our bodies. She takes to task all those friends and relatives and preachers and therapists who say, “Forgive your mother, forgive your father; they did the best they knew how. She changed your diapers, he sacrificed for you, and above all they loved you.” Miller will not hear it: forgiveness is a crock and a trap, laid to continue the dependency, and preserve the hope, that somehow, sometime, we will finally bask in the love that was so long ago denied us. Reading Alice is like hearing someone whisper, “I know the secret you are hiding in your past, the feelings of hurt and fright and shame and humiliation at the abusive treatment you suffered at the hands of your parents. And I’m asking you – urging you, challenging you – to come out of that dark closet and face up to it.”
As noted by another reviewer, Lucien Lombardo, the role of a parent is actually:
“Parents should honor and empower their children, so that they, their children and their children’s children will live their own truths over long and authentic lives! ”
I think it would also help people to know that the ten commandments may have originated not from “God” but from ancient Egyptian myths. According to Wikipedia, many historians have concluded that the ten commandments were based on an earlier document called the Egyptian Book of the Dead.
“The Book of the Dead was written circa 1800 BCE. 2 The Schofield Reference Bible estimates that the Hebrew Exodus from Egypt and the provision of the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai occurred in 1491 BCE., some three centuries later. Many religious liberals, historians, and secularists have concluded that the Hebrew Scripture’s Ten Commandments were based on this earlier document, rather than vice-versa.”
(From “A possible origin of the Ten Commandments“)
Jesus also challenged the conventional idea of biological father and mother, when he said to the Jews “For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother”. From Matthew 12:46–5
So in the kingdom of God, biological relations do not identify us. Rather we are identified simply as members of the same human family, for in Christ we are all one; neither male nor female, and so on.
I think this book is helpful also to enable us to understand that how our parents treat us do not define who we are, but rather their abusive behaviour is a reflection of their own wounded psyche, which they need to work on in their own lives. As this saying also noted:
“The way people treat you is a statement about who they are as a human being. It is not a statement about you.”