I am deeply moved by the presentation of my colleague Camilla in the academy on saturday. She took on a very difficult and taboo theme of child abuse and presented it in a very interesting way on stage. A frontal and brutal experience with words, movements and facts.
“Childism” — what is that? “A belief system that constructs its target group, ‘the child,’ as an immature being, produced and owned by adults who use it to serve their own needs and fantasies. In essence, it’s that children are property. Puppets of adults. We do with them what we want.”
Childism is the book of Elisabeth Young-Bruehl — a psychoanalyst and biographer of Hannah Arendt and Anna Freud. I discovered her work today. I am really impressed.
She describes this process as “abuse.” Not because she was beaten — she wasn’t. But because “I had no choice but to comply totally with the needs and feelings of my mother and to ignore my own.” The result, she says, was a powerful repression that kept her from knowing the truth about herself — for decades.
“Many people suffer all their lives from this oppressive feeling of guilt, the sense of not having lived up to their parents’ expectations. This feeling is stronger than any intellectual insight they might have, that it is not a child’s task or duty to satisfy his parents’ needs. No argument can overcome these guilt feelings, for they have their beginnings in life’s earliest periods, and from that they derive their intensity and obduracy.”
This description and these words go deep into my system, my beliefs, and my experiences. Very strong feelings to investigate further particularly through my research.