Luisa Passalacqua Marco Puricelli

Alice Miller on family, power and truth

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This article explains how the childhood history of politicians and their followers can shed light on some national and international historical and current events characterized by dictatorship, violence, genocide. The excursus starts from the theory of Alice Miller, a former psychoanalyst, to highlight the connection between childhood traumas and large-scale violence and the psychological mechanisms that make a traumatized child a violent dictator or an enabler. Similarly to how Miller did, this text raises the question of the relationship between clinical practice and religion, particularly when it comes to forgiveness for the abuses suffered in the family. Bringing forward the criticism that Miller makes of bourgeois psychoanalysis as well as psychotherapy as an institution, we come to conceive a different role of the therapist in the micropolitical context in which the child’s drama is embedded, a role that presupposes a new awareness of power dynamics in the family, as they risk being repeated in the consulting room. Consequently, sooner or later the professional is called to take a «political» stance with respect to the dynamics that lead the patient into therapy.


  • childhood
  • dictatorship
  • enabling
  • witness
  • family
  • power
  • truth
  • politics


Article first page

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