Physical as well as psychological abuse of the child is not only harmful but highly dangerous. Not only for the individual but under certain circumstances for whole nations. ~ A. Miller, Ph.D
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It is now clear that what a child experiences in the first few years of life largely determines how his brain will develop and how he/she will interact with the world throughout his life. —Ounce of Prevention Fund
Our brains are sculpted by our early experiences. Maltreatment is a chisel that shapes a brain to contend with strife, but at the cost of deep, enduring wounds.” —Teicher
According to the World Health Organization, ‘World Report on Violence and Health’, children who grow up in a violent environment are more likely to be victims of child abuse. Those who are not direct victims have some of the same behavioral and psychological problems as children who are themselves physically abused. As many as 275 million children worldwide are exposed to violence in the home.
The disastrous, adult behaviors of Hitler and Stalin were the results of their childhood. They are prime examples of what can happen when children grow up in an abusive environment. Both were brutally traumatized by their fathers early in life. Two people, countless millions affected. Children are abused all over the world. They are not able to defend themselves, suppressing natural reactions to the abuse. Out of all the countries in the world, only 29 have banned corporal punishment of children. Psychologist, Alice Miller, author of 13 book, dedicated her life’s work to raising awareness about the consequences of child abuse (physical abuse, emotional abuse and sexual abuse.) Her research is being confirmed by recent discoveries in neuroscience. Child abuse profoundly affects the developing brain. An excerpt from:
Adolf Hitler: How Could a Monster Succeed in Blinding a Nation?
By Alice Miller, Ph.D.
The Führer once told his secretary that during one of the regular beatings given him by his father he was able to stop crying, to feel nothing, and even to count the thirty-two blows he received. In this way, by totally denying his pain, his feelings of powerlessness, in other words, by denying the truth – Hitler made himself into a master of violence and of contempt for human beings.
The result was a very primitive person, incapable of any empathy for other people. He was mercilessly and constantly driven to new destructive acts by his latent feelings of hatred and revenge. After millions had been forced to die for this reason, those feelings still haunted him in his sleep. Hermann Rauschning reports nocturnal paroxysms of screaming on the Führer’s part, along with “inexplicable counting”, which I trace back to the counting he did during the beatings of his childhood. Hitler did not invent fascism; he found it, like so many of his contemporaries prefigured in the totalitarian regime of his family.
The National Socialist version of fascism, however, does bear unmistakable traces of Hitler’s childhood. But his early experience was by no means an exception. Thus, neither Gerhart Hauptmann nor Martin Heidegger nor many other celebrated intellects of the day were able to see through Hitler’s madness. To do so, they would have had to be able to see through the madness of their own upbringing.
Hitler could make Europe and the world into the battlefield of his childhood because in the Germany of that time there were millions of people who had experienced the same kind of upbringing he had. Although not necessarily conscious of the fact, they took the following principles to be self-evident:
- Not life but order and obedience are the highest values.
- Only by means of violence can order be created and preserved.
- Creativity (embodied in the child) represents a danger for the adult and must be destroyed.
- Obeying one’s father absolutely is the highest law.
- Disobedience and criticism are unthinkable because they are punished with beatings or the threat of death.
- The living, vital child must be turned as early as possible into an obedient robot, a slave.
- Undesirable feelings and real needs must therefore be suppressed as vigorously as possible.
- Mothers must never protect their children from punishment by the father but after each incidence of torture must preach to them to honor and love their parents.
Wherever I look, I see signs of the commandment to honor one’s parents and nowhere of a commandment that calls for the respect of a child. Alice Miller, Ph.D
World Health Organization, ‘World Report on Violence and Health’, ed. by Krug, Etienne G., et al., Geneva, 2002.
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