THE UNTOUCHED KEY: Tracing Childhood Trauma in Creativity and Destructiveness by Alice Miller

THE UNTOUCHED KEY: Tracing Childhood Trauma in Creativity and Destructiveness

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That childhood experiences are the key to adult actions is Miller's recurring theme, and here she says it again--as clearly and passionately as always. Miller has been a psychoanalyst for more than 20 years, so it comes as no surprise that she looks to childhood for the sources of adult anxiety and destructive behavior. Where she departs from traditional psychoanalytic thought--and the gap grows broader with every book--is in insisting that the influential events of infancy and childhood are real events, not displacements or projections, not symbols or fantasies. She has developed this thesis eloquently in earlier books--For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence (1983) among them--looking at the childhoods of antisocial personalities (including Adolph Hitler). In this volume, she studies the childhoods of artists and intellects like Picasso, Kathe Kollwitz, Buster Keaton, and Nietzsche. Her findings help to explain why some children, although abused or neglected, become creative adults, while others repeat the pattern of pain and cruelty. Almost always in the former picture is one sympathetic adult. Miller's talent is to take the complexities that shape a human being and present them in simple--sometimes deceptively simple--terms. The reader will look with new eyes at the paintings of Picasso, the films of Buster Keaton, indeed the work of any favorite artist.

Pub Date: April 2nd, 1990
Publisher: Doubleday