Children, at a young age, are able to empathize with their mother*. This can be good or bad because what the mother feels, the child will feel as well. *Note that mother is just a term used for whomever the child has a lot of proximity with at a young age.
The drama comes when a mother projects her own desires on to the child expecting them to fill that gap. Children, being attuned to what they need to do get their mother’s love, can drive themselves to achieve. They seek love through analog of praise for achievement. This drive for achievement can lead to narcissism.
Narcissism manifests itself as grandiosity and depression. Grandiosity when one’s achievements lets them feel superior to everyone else. Depression when they can never achieve as much as they need to. These two go hand in hand.
Miller says the key to “fixing” these symptoms is to recognize that the love one received as a child was in large part because of their achievements. And, feeling the suppressed emotions that created this facade for the parent. As it turns out, this is hard to do, as childhood memories of abuse are suppressed and displaced.
Ok, so that’s the quick summary.
Truth is I don’t know if I’m smart enough to have understood all of this book. Yet, it did resonate with me. I found shades of myself all over the pages of this book and it was gut wrenching.
For a short book, it’s dense. I felt like I was using every once of my brain to try and understand it. Maybe I’m not so gifted after all.
I want to give this another read. In part for comprehension and just to let the messages Miller was delivering sink in further. Maybe when I’m closer to having kids so I can stress about not screwing them up.