Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Gifted Child Part 2: Symptoms (of a Lost Self)

Here I want to provide some quotes from the book, ``The Drama of Gifted Child,'' by Alice Miller, that I introduced in my previous post [Trauma of Gifted Child]. I start with the following quote that describes the symptoms:

... there are large numbers of people who suffer from narcissistic disorders, who often had sensitive and caring parents from whom they received much encouragement; yet, these people are suffering from severe depression. ...
... According to prevailing, general attitudes, these people---the pride of their parents---should have had a strong and stable sense of self-assurance. But exactly the opposite is the case. In everything they undertake they do well and often excellently; they are admired and envied; they are successful whenever they care to be---but all to no avail. Behind all this lurks depression, the feeling of emptiness and self-alienation, and a sense that their life has no meaning. These dark feelings will come to the fore as soon as the drug of grandiosity fails, as soon as they are not ``on top,'' not definitely the ``superstar,'' or whenever they suddenly get the feeling they failed to live up to some idea image and measure they feel they must adhere to. Then they are plagued by anxiety or deep feelings of guilt and shame. [Reza: In my view, and as I explained before on this blog, there is a difference between ``guilt'' and ``shame'' that I wish the author would have taken into consideration for this discussion.] ...
... They recount their earliest memories without any sympathy for the child they once were, and this is more striking since these patients not only have a pronounced introspective ability, but are also able to empathize well with other people. Their relationship to their own childhood's emotional world, however, is characterized by lack of respect, compulsion to control, manipulation, and a demand for achievement. In general, there is a complete absence of real emotional understanding or serious appreciation of their own childhood vicissitudes, and no conception of their true needs---beyond the need for achievement. ---pp. 6-7, The Drama of Gifted Child

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