In 1979, Swiss psychologist Alice Miller wrote the book “the drama of the gifted child”.
At the beginning of the book, Alice Miller gives us the key to childhood trauma and its impact on adult life:
“Experience teaches us that, in the fight against psychic illnesses, we only have, in the long run, a single weapon: emotionally find the truth of the unique and unique history of our childhood”.
The author analyses the causes that may lead to what is known as the loss of identity. Many people, in their childhood, suppress their emotional needs and more intense feelings, such as anger, anguish, fear, and pain in order to get affection and acceptance from their parents.
This attitude, according to which the person behaves as he thinks he is expected of it, supposes, in the long run, the annihilation of his own personality: he is no longer himself but adopts the role that others want him to represent.
This attitude is usually presented in people with a very high emotional burden, who, in the absence of affection, understanding, acceptance or recognition by the parents, develop a defense mechanism that is based on the denial of the necessity of these faults.
The person becomes extremely complacent. It begins to coincide with the child model that his parents expect him to be, and it is this model that his parents accept and cherish, not the true one, so the needs of acceptance and affection will never be truly satisfied.
These children become young adults, capable of taking responsibilities that do not belong to them. Thus, the attitudes considered as defective are immediately eliminated, they do not feel jealousy, envy, anger, fear and they can develop an entire art to divide feelings.
These children do not manifest tantrums and do not demand to be spoiled or pampered, become receptive but not demanding, so their parents will not notice or fulfill their needs.
This causes you to start looking for your needs elsewhere, so you must get acceptance from new people. For this, a person must necessarily know what is expected of oneself.
This is where the skill that these people develop comes into play since they specialize in getting involved in the mind of their interlocutor, to know what is expected of oneself and what role to play.
These problems begin when a person ends up in a world where she/he needs to constantly pretend to be someone that he/she is not, in order to get illusory acceptance and affection from those around him/her.
This irritates them, generating attitudes or actions of protest as a wake-up call, if this alert is not well understood it will generate reprisals from his fellow beings, because the parents will see this situation as a deviation of the character of his son, which must be punished and corrected (“I do not understand what happens to him, my son is not so”).
This situation will increase the feeling of not being accepted and the tendency to pretend. Persons are immersed in a hostile world where they understand that they are punished for being authentic because they aren’t loved as they are (“I am not up to it, I am not worthy of affection”), so they must be different from what they are.
Their high emotional charge produces a hypersensitivity that does not play in their favor. If they are constantly subjected to aggression and limited to freely express their feelings, then their emotions will turn against you, they become a constant scourge, a burden not worth carrying so that they are eradicated, buried somewhere in the unconscious. They often have nightmares where emotions are represented by some threat that haunts them.
From time to time, they will try to covertly let out certain “clues” about their true opinion or sensitivity to situations, so that an atmosphere of acceptance would help them to reveal themselves freely and to get out of this slavery. But,their hypersensitivity makes them very “picky” and are easily obfuscated by any attitude of rejection, falling into their initial attitude.
Over time, this can develop a compulsion to repetition, where every time they try it will fail, turning away the desire to try again and reinforcing the problem, which turns into a vicious circle.
This is how their inner world close, hide, and become more and more difficult to recognize who they really are, and easier to interpret a role or adopt a character that don’t belong to them, since without an inner self, they become a perfect mirror for their interlocutors, which increases their ability to know what others want.
This constant pretense that gradually triggers the loss of identity, that is, of the true self, and the non-acceptance will redound in a loss of self-esteem, both will add to the lack of satisfaction of the affective needs and could reveal a strong depression.
If these torments are experienced during the bad experiences of their childhood, the person will not abandon the idea that their emotions are a scourge.
Given this, it is seen as a defense mechanism, to evade any situation that compromises some sentimental bond, to any hint of possible bad experience the person will avoid the situation, and if it is not possible, then simply blocks their feelings: “I will not allow them to harm me”.
In this way, they develop a high control of their emotions and their body. They usually don’t cry, get upset, feel afraid or they don’t usually miss, they have an enormous capacity for performance, and they can work for days without getting distracted or sleeping too much. This becomes their weapon against their low self-esteem and best tool for getting recognition (“they can’t do what I can”), so they won’t hesitate to self-claim, despite the physical and mental damage that this causes them.
This blockage of the emotional world generates a high level of stress; and if it lasts too long, psychosomatic symptoms, such as sleep disorders, skin rash, or muscle cramps, may occur. At worst, it can even lead to panic attacks.
The bonds are observed with a supposed lack of attachment, no matter how much you love them or they get to love, they will always feel distant and not accepted. Unfortunately, they will be right, because they unconsciously know that it is not them who they accept, but the “character” that characterizes them.
They are usually antisocial in nature and do not seek companionship, but when someone approaches them they react immediately like a mirror, being the best friend you can have, due to their skills and availability. Or it may be the worst enemy you can imagine, because of their repressions that can make them very cruel and stubborn. However, they will quickly forget these ties if they are left aside.
His ability to enter the mind of others leads him to know and understand in such a way those around him that he develops an unconditional appreciation for them, it is almost impossible for him to be angry with any of them or to blame them for their faults and errors, even if he is offended or betrayed, as he understands his actions and circumstances that determined his actions: “I knew he would react like this.”
He’ll notice quickly if people lie to himself, but he’ll pretend to be deceived if he knows his counterpart needs to hide the truth. He is extremely understanding and eventually generates “Brotherly Love,” which encourages him to help his close friends, mainly to overcome their inner problems.
He will be the perfect confidant at a time of crisis, always willing to listen and advice. His psychoanalytic ability will be very useful here, and he is even likely to pretend to need help and ask a friend who knows that he feels impaired, only to reaffirm his self-confidence in him. The practice had given him a great capacity to understand the inner world.
As a counterpart to his high humanitarian quality, he is also often a skilled manipulator, although he rarely seeks the advantage of it. When he is revealed, he usually presents more than one burst of anger, usually directed at people who have rejected or assaulted him before. These attacks are short, but accurate, as they know perfectly well where to hurt. After the damage is caused, there is a serious feeling of guilt and regret that will make him hesitate to show his aggressiveness again, accentuating the repression and distancing these cycles of revelation.
This individual usually takes a long time to be alone, as he seeks to find himself, and constantly tends to feel burdened with the company of others, since they obstruct this search.
He will hardly say what he thinks or show what he feels. And, he often evades direct eye contact, for which he has developed several tricks, such as not sitting in front of his interlocutor, being distracted or being thoughtful during the session. He spends much of his time evading the direct reality around him, whether he is reading, watching television or immersing in his work.
How To Get Free?
Once the problem is identified and accepted, the process of facing your bad experiences begins, you must once and for all grieve for your injured child.
And since he thinks he is not able to tolerate more bitterness, it is necessary to make him realize that he is no longer a child and that he will have the strength to face those situations. Paradoxically, these injured children often develop great inner strength, due to years of repression, dissatisfaction, and depression, but they are not aware or convinced of this.
The process is not easy, depression is changed by a state of melancholy or grief. Emotions come back, more intense than ever, because of the time they have been repressed inside. It is not uncommon for him to tend to leave and wants to return to comfort his previous state.
Once this stage is over, it is faced with a situation of internal fragmentation :
- on the one hand, the very developed mental dimension, with a high-level maturity at work or intellectual level.
- on the other hand, the emotional dimension that has not been developed due to its negation, so that the feelings are abrupt, undefined and disordered, in a form as basic and primitive as in childhood.
The person will hesitate between one state and another, will feel uncomfortable and bewildered (“I don’t know what he should feel”), will be able to solve problems of high complexity and assume greater responsibilities than those that correspond to him, but will be burdened with normal everyday situations.
He will feel vulnerable and adrift until he finds balance.
Along the way, he will discover what pleases himself and what does not, some ability of his own will gradually begin to bond more deeply with other people or recover the lost ties. He will finally be released to begin the search for his own identity, for his true self.