As will be shown in further entries, Daniel Mackler likes to censor criticism about him. In April 13, 2008 a woman, “Mimsy,” entered Mackler’s forum and took issue with Mackler’s essay “An Analysis of the Limits of Alice Miller.” Due to the fact that the same year Mackler closed his forum, I believe that Mimsy’s response to Mackler’s attack on Miller is worth reproducing here. Mimsy wrote:
New poster here.
Reading through I wanted to add some ideas that I didn’t see in other comments.
I mainly want to say that I think it’s totally reasonable of Alice Miller to be unresponsive to your [Daniel Mackler’s] essay and even dismissive.
Here is a woman who has spent much of her life swimming upstream, going against the flow, fighting against the going paradigm. Simultaneously, she is trying to heal her own wounds; she must feel awfully vulnerable much of the time. So here she is trying to stand up to constant criticism while at the same time carrying around all these unhealed wounds.
And here you come along and attack her, yet again. It’s true that you also say how much you have learned from her, how influential she has been for you. But your primary purpose with the essay seems to be to harp on how she’s NOT PERFECT.
Sorry for the all caps shouting, but I want to make a point that by writing your essay with this accusatory tone, you are practicing exactly the same sort of critical, judgmental behavior that you say is so damaging. Somehow you expect this wounded, damaged soul, Alice Miller, to be immune to your criticism; for her not to be sensitive to your attacks.
In my experience, people go deaf when they feel attacked. They don’t respond with an open-minded desire to learn. I imagine, given her life history and the fact that her theories are probably subject to constant criticism—at the same time that they are also praised by many—, she’s sensitive. Who wouldn’t be?
If I were you, I’d go back and try to read your essay with a mind to how it might feel to be Alice Miller and read your words.
Given the feelings that your essay might invoke in her, imagine her trying to remain detached and un-triggered by old wounds. No matter how successful you might be in remaining detached when people make comments, this doesn’t mean she should be able to be equally detached. She’s under constant fire, from all sides; she’s getting old, and probably worn out from the battle. Despite all her efforts, and all her insights, she hasn’t been able to truly get the healing she needs. She’s also a woman in a field where most of the heavy hitters have been men. Getting recognition and not being heard as “shrill” is a battle women have to face on top of everything else.
And you might think here about the fine line between detachment and dissociation, which you’ve mentioned elsewhere on other topics. I think there might be a little bit of a disconnect inside you about your ability to remain “dispassionate” and take on criticism, and recognizing that others (such as Alice Miller) may be still so painfully connected to the old wounds that they cannot be dispassionate.
Can you cut her some slack? Not be so hard on her? She’s done amazing things. No one is perfect. Life is a series of course corrections.
And perhaps you might even consider what parts of your own unhealed wounds you are projecting onto her in your demands for perfection. Are you insisting that she be the perfect mother you never had? I would perhaps question your motives in writing your essay as a “critique,” rather than simply saying “Here’s what I learned from Alice Miller’s amazing work. And here are some ways that I think maybe we could go even further.”
Can you imagine writing what you did, extending her theories, going beyond where she went without attacking her in the process? If you were able to do this, I think she would feel validated, appreciated. You would be building on what she did do, what she did accomplish, rather than focusing on the areas where she was human and failed to be perfect.
If you choose to re-read your essay with an eye toward greater compassion toward Alice Miller, you might notice that using “Limits” in the title started off on the wrong foot to get her to listen to you with an open mind. You might do some word counts to see how often you use language that most people would perceive as critical if they were on the receiving end. Try to put yourself in her shoes.
And I realize you didn’t write the essay as a direct letter to her, and maybe never thought about whether she’d ever read it. You were processing your own needs, which is cool.
I think it’d be an interesting, and revealing, exercise for you to try to say what you think about her in a non-judgmental way.
(After I congratulated her for her courage
in the forum she responded:)
I just find it maddening that out of all the millions and billions of authors out there who write about “problem children” and ADD and ADHD and labeling this and that and blaming children for behaviors that are clearly results of how they were treated by their parents… out of all these screaming, howling voices blaming the least powerful people in the world for their own misery… one voice goes against the tide and says, “No. You’re wrong. The children are not to blame; it’s the parents who are at fault.” Finally, one lone voice in the wilderness, against the eons of shaming and humiliation! And not only does she speak out, but she manages to make herself heard! And have some influence! Hallelujah! And so I look around for people who are trying to put some of Alice Miller’s ideas to work, and I google around, and lo and behold, here’s a website that appears to be all about Alice Miller and her principles. Cool!
And then what do I see? Criticism. The same shit (forgive me) that poisoned our childhoods that we’re all struggling so mightily to overcome, is being used against the very woman who has tried so hard to raise our awareness on the subject in the first place.
Gah! It makes me want to tear my hair out at the injustice of it. And your analogy of Newton [Newton’s genius despite his character flaws] is good, that’s a useful way to think of it.
Anyway, I don’t want to be all ranty. I just have been reading a lot of blogs in the last year or so (had never really known about them before that) and am getting really, really tired of the whole idea that criticism is necessary and a good thing.
And of course this is my own personal soapbox because criticism is my very own personal pet demon that tortures me every minute of my damn life. So I have strong feelings about it, which others may not share.
(On April 23 of the same year another
woman replied in Mackler’s forum:)
Cesar wrote: “I totally lost interest to defend Dennis’ book from being removed in the Wikipedia article because I changed my mind.”
Daniel Mackler and Dennis Rodie have really got it in for Alice Miller—like a couple of baying hounds snapping at her heels—but your position is ambiguous, Cesar. I think you would be wise to distance yourself from the fruitcakes unequivocally.
(I responded [edited]):
My position was indeed ambiguous in the past, but not in the present. What I said above is true: in my book Whispering Leaves, which I’d like to publish in Spain, there’s no critique of Alice Miller. She and deMause are my two intellectual and emotional guides. But I do criticize deMause for reasons that I already explained in Dennis’ forum ad nauseam, and in the Wikipedia talk page (Satanic Ritual Abuse and other deMausean lunacies, like believing in 9/11 conspiracy theories).
In the past I desperately needed communication with people on many subjects. You can see that I almost have 400 posts in this forum. Alas, one of the terrible realities I have come up in life is that you cannot compel anyone to make a jump to a superior psychoclass.
Most people are totally stagnated in their psychoclasses: be it an almost psychotic one, a neurotic, a cultish or living with blind spots due to cognitive resistances—like those child advocates who don’t want to look into the sane side of deMause’s data because they are postmodern cultural relativists. For Dan and Dennis child abuse in the Third World, like bringing here millions of homeless kids, is a subject they will never see with due guts; I mean, by taking tough political action. At the bottom line they are de facto siding Third World parents and they will continue to do so until they die.
It is not that I’ll distance myself from Dan and Dennis but that, using a metaphor I’ve used before in this forum, we as “amphibians” have reached the shore thanks to the leading efforts of the first mutant, Miller (psychogenically, most humans are still navigating their passage in the Ocean). Unfortunately, most Miller readers stay near the beach and are afraid to explore the inland (psychohistory).
So I don’t plan to distance myself from them. We are already distanced by space: I left the shore when I learnt about psychohistory back in 2006. They will remain there until they die. Here, way above inland, I shall deal only with those who have the nerve to reach this stage.
Note of 2 November 2011:
Daniel Mackler never responded to Mimsy, Danielle or me. And that was my last post in his forum.