The Drama of the Gifted Child
by Alice Miller

  • Psychology
  • Ashto = 3/10
  • Jonesy = 7/10
the drama of the gifted child

What’s The Drama of the Gifted Child?

The Drama of the Gifted Child explains how the damages that took place in our childhood impact our future. We can’t change our past, but we can change ourselves. We can gain our lost integrity by looking more closely at the knowledge inside our bodies and bringing them closer to our awareness. Most people continue to live in their repressed childhood situation, fearing and avoiding dangers that haven’t been real for a long time.

History demonstrates that life is full of illusions sneaking in everywhere. Perhaps because the truth often seems unbearable to us. But to become whole, we must try to discover our own personal truth. A truth that may cause pain before giving us a new sphere of freedom.

If we choose to content ourselves with intellectual wisdom instead of emotional understanding, we will remain in the sphere of illusion and self-deception. We may remain trapped in the world of adolescence, never progressing to adulthood.


Childhood trauma

There are large numbers of people who enter therapy with the belief that their childhood was happy and protected. Therapists often face people who were praised and admired for their talents and achievements in their childhood. According to prevailing attitudes, these peoplethe pride of the parentsshould’ve had a strong and stable sense of self-assurance.

But the case is the opposite. They do well, even excellently in everything they undertake. They are admired and envied.  They are successful whenever they care to be. But behind their success, depression lurks. These dark feelings will come to the fore as soon as the drug of grandiosity fails. Whenever they get the feeling they haven’t lived up to their ideal image, they are plagued with anxiety or deep feelings of guilt and shame. What are the reasons for such disturbances in these competent and accomplished people?

SCENARIO 1 – Individuation and autonomy

In an atmosphere of respect and tolerance for her feelings, a child will be able to give up symbiosis with the mother in the phase of separation and accomplish the steps toward individuation and autonomy. To allow their child to experience healthy development, the parents ought to have grown up in a similar environment.

SCENARIO 2 – Your parents didn’t reach individuation and autonomy

Parents who did not experience this climate as children themselves deprived will continue to search for what their own parents could not give them throughout their lives.

As long as they ignore their repressed life history, a person with this unsatisfied and unconscious need will nevertheless be compelled to attempt its gratification through substitute means. The most efficacious object for substitute gratification is a parent’s own children.

Repressing the personality as a strategy

The cause of an emotional disturbance is usually found in an infant’s early adaption. Especially when the child’s needs for respect, echoing, understanding, sympathy, and mirroring aren’t fulfilled.

The consequence of this circumstance is the inability for these people to consciously experience certain feelings of their own. These people have developed the art of not experiencing feelings. A child can only experience their feelings when there is somebody who accepts, understands, and supports them fully.


A story about a child as a tool

A young couple was walking in the city with a little boy about two years old, who was running along and whining. The couple had just bought themselves ice cream bars on sticks from the kiosk, and they were licking them with evident enjoyment. The little boy wanted one too, so his mother offered him a bit of her ice cream.

The child didn’t want a bite and held out his hand for the whole bar instead, which his mother took out of reach. He cried in despair, came back, and gazed enviously at the two grown-ups. Time and time again he held out his hand, and the treasure was withdrawn again.

The more the child cried, the more it amused his parents. It made them laugh and they hoped to humour him along with their laughter too. They tossed the empty stick at him. He walked on in a deep sob of loneliness and disappointment.

It seemed clear that this little boy was not being frustrated in his oral wishes, for he was given an opportunity for a bite. It was the wish to hold the ice cream stick in his hand that was not understood. And even worse, the parents made fun of his wish. What an unfair situation when the child was opposed by two strong adults. Why did they both stand there laughing, eating so slowly and showing so little concern about the child’s obvious distress? They were not unkind or cold parents, but at this moment, they displayed a lack of empathy.

Such experiences come in all shades and varieties. What’s common to them is the sense of strength it gives to the adults who can’t control their own fears, so they control fear in another person. No doubt in 20 years time the scene will play again, but next time the boy will be in charge.

It is absolutely urgent that people become aware of the degree to which this disrespect of children is persistently transmitted from one generation to the next, therefore perpetuating destructive behaviour.


Therapy as a solution

Therapy or experiencing our truth and the post ambivalent knowledge of it will enable us to return to our world of feelings at an adult level. This ability returns our vitality and creates a sense of home.

One is totally defenceless against the manipulation from their parental figures in childhood. And the tragedy is that the parents have no defence against it if they don’t face their own history. Acknowledging the truth is the only way to stop this cycle.

Every child has a legitimate need to be noticed understood, taken seriously, and respected by their parents. It is helpful for parents to avoid projecting their own expectations, fears, and plans for the child. Because in that case, the child wouldn’t find themselves in their parents’ face, but rather their projections. This child would remain without a mirror, and for the rest of their life would be seeking a mirror in vain.


How do we learn from The Drama of the Gifted Child?

Ideally, parents should provide the necessary emotional climate and understanding accordingly to the child’s needs. The automatic natural contact with their emotions and needs will build the individual strength and self-esteem of the child. Therefore, the child may grow to experience their feelings or express their wants and needs.

The term ‘Gifted Child’ refers to children who are able to survive a difficult childhood. And The Drama of the Gifted Child helps those children to reclaim their lives by discovering their own truth and needs.

Get Your Copy of The Drama of the Gifted Child by Alice Miller