Tuesday, September 27, 2011

admiration vs. love

I never expected to encounter these welcomed lines by Alice Miller that mirrored the hidden motivations of my heart.
Alice Miller Notes:
“Others are there to admire him, and he himself is constantly occupied, body and soul, with gaining that admiration. This is how his torturing dependence shows itself. The childhood trauma is repeated: he is always the child whom his mother admires, but at the same time he senses that so long as it is his qualities that are being admired, he is not loved for the person he really is at any given time. In the parents' feelings, dangerously close to pride in their child, shame is concealed— lest he should fail to fulfill their expectations...

It is thus impossible for the grandiose person to cut the tragic link between admiration and love. In his compulsion to repeat he seeks insatiably for admiration, of which he never gets enough because admiration is not the same thing as love. It is only a substitute gratification of the primary needs for respect, understanding, and being taken seriously —needs that have remained unconscious.

The grandiose person is never really free, first, because he is excessively dependent on admiration from the object, and second, because his self-respect is dependent on qualities, functions, and achievements that can suddenly fail...

This combination of alternating phases of grandiosity and depression can be seen in many other people. They are the two sides of the medal that could be described as the "false self," a medal that was actually once given for achievements...

An actor, for example, at the height of his success, can play before an enthusiastic audience and experience feelings of heavenly greatness and almightiness. Nevertheless, his sense of emptiness and futility, even of shame and anger, can return the next morning if his happiness the previous night was due not only to his creative activity in playing and expressing the part but also, and above all, was rooted in the substitute satisfaction of old needs for echoing, mirroring, and being seen and understood. If his success the previous night only serves as the denial of childhood frustrations, then, like every substitute, it can only bring momentary satiation.

In fact, true satiation is no longer possible, since the right time for that now lies irrevocably in the past. The former child no longer exists, nor do the former parents. The present parents—if they are still alive—are now old and dependent, have no longer any power over their son, are delighted with his success and with his infrequent visits. In the present, the son enjoys success and recognition, but these things cannot offer him more than they are, they cannot fill the old gap. Again, as long as he can deny this with the help of illusion, that is, the intoxication of success, the old wound cannot heal. Depression leads him close to his wounds, but only the mourning for what he has missed, missed at the crucial time, can lead to real healing.” Chapter on "The Grandiose Person" -- Alice Miller

* False Self: A child who had to attend to a chaotic family of origin and the constant demands generated by this chaos, missed out on developing his or her true self. He or she had to adopt a false self in order to survive. For example, a boy grew up as a substitute husband to his mother, because the father had a paranoid personality disorder. That child had no chance to live out his childhood, because he was required to take on the role of an adult before his time. There is much more I could write about this interesting theory, but for now I only have time to give you a glimpse.”


upsi said...

I can relate completely to your journey of recovery. Thanks for sharing this excerpt from Alice Miller.

So nice to hear from you!

All the best,

Reflector said...


Thank you. It was thanks to your generosity that I was able to read Alice Miller.

Many thanks for such kindness and thoughtfulness,