Breaking Down the Walls of Silence

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  • Alice Miller

    Alice Miller (1923 - 2010) was a psychologist and author, noted for her work on child abuse in its many forms, including physical abuse, emotional abuse and child sexual abuse. Miller studied and wrote about the effects of poisonous pedagogy upon children and lasting into adulthood, and the resulting effects on society as a whole.

    Source: Wikipedia

    The Drama of the Gifted Child, (1979)
    For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence (1983) (full text available on line for free)
    Thou Shalt Not Be Aware: Society's Betrayal of the Child (1984)
    Pictures of a Childhood: Sixty-six Watercolors and an Essay (1986)
    The Untouched Key: Tracing Childhood Trauma in Creativity and Destructiveness (1988)
    Banished Knowledge: Facing Childhood Injuries (1988)
    Breaking Down the Wall of Silence (1990)
    Paths of Life: Seven Scenarios (1998)
    The Truth Will Set You Free: Overcoming Emotional Blindness (2001)
    The Body Never Lies: The Lingering Effects of Cruel Parenting (2005)
    Free From Lies: Discovering Your True Needs (2009)

    From: For Your own Good - Afterward to the Second Edition (1984)

    This text was not originally part of the book. It was written four years after the book's first publication.

    WHEN Galileo Galilei in 1613 presented mathematical proof for the Copernican theory that the earth revolved around the sun and not the opposite, it was labeled "false and absurd" by the Church. Galileo was forced to recant and subsequently became blind. Not until three hundred years later did the Church finally decide to give up its illusion and remove his writings from the Index.

    Now we find ourselves in a situation similar to that of the Church in Galileo's time, but for us today much more hangs in the balance. Whether we decide for truth or for illusion will have far more serious consequences for the survival of humanity than was the case in the seventeenth century. For some years now, there has been proof that the devastating effects of the traumatization of children take their inevitable toll on society - a fact that we are still forbidden to recognize. This knowledge concerns every single one of us, and - if disseminated widely enough - should lead to fundamental changes in society; above all, to a halt in the blind escalation of violence. The following points are intended to amplify my meaning:

      • All children are born to grow, to develop, to live, to love, and to articulate their needs and feelings for their self-protection.

      • For their development, children need the respect and protection of adults who take them seriously, love them, and honestly help them to become oriented in the world.

      • When these vital needs are frustrated and children are, instead, abused for the sake of adults' needs by being exploited, beaten, punished, taken advantage of, manipulated, neglected, or deceived without the intervention of any witness, then their integrity will be lastingly impaired.

      • The normal reactions to such Injury should be anger and pain. Since children in this hurtful kind of environment are forbidden to express their anger, however, and since it would be unbearable to experience their pain all alone, they are compelled to suppress their feelings, repress all memory of the trauma, and idealize those guilty of the abuse. Later they will have no memory of what was done to them.

      • Disassociated from the original cause, their feelings of anger, helplessness, despair, longing, anxiety, and pain will find expression in destructive acts against others (criminal behavior, mass murder) or against themselves (drug addiction, alcoholism, prostitution, psychic disorders, suicide).

      • If these people become parents, they will then often direct acts of revenge for their mistreatment in childhood against their own children, whom they use as scapegoats. Child abuse is still sanctioned - indeed, held in high regard - in our society as long as it is defined as child-rearing. It is a tragic fact that parents beat their children in order to escape the emotions stemming from how they were treated by their own parents.

      • If mistreated children are not to become criminals or mentally ill, it is essential that at least once in their life they come in contact with a person who knows without any doubt that the environment, not the helpless, battered child, is at fault. In this regard, knowledge or ignorance on the part of society can be instrumental in either saving or destroying a life. Here lies the great opportunity for relatives, social workers, therapists, teachers, doctors, psychiatrists, officials, and nurses to support the child and to believe her or him.

      • Till now, society has protected the adult and blamed the victim. It has been abetted in its blindness by theories, still in keeping with the pedagogical principles of our great-grandparents, according to which children are viewed as crafty creatures, dominated by wicked drives, who invent stories and attack their innocent parents or desire them sexually. In reality, children tend to blame themselves for their parents' cruelty and to absolve the parents, whom they invariably love, of all responsibility.

      • For some years now, it has been possible to prove, through new therapeutic methods, that repressed traumatic experiences of childhood are stored up in the body and, though unconscious, exert an influence even in adulthood. In addition, electronic testing of the fetus has revealed a fact previously unknown to most adults - that a child responds to and learns both tenderness and cruelty from the very beginning.

      • In the light of this new knowledge, even the most absurd behavior reveals its formerly hidden logic once the traumatic experiences of childhood need no longer remain shrouded in darkness.

      • Our sensitization to the cruelty with which children are treated, until now commonly denied, and to the consequences of such treatment will as a matter of course bring to an end the perpetuation of violence from generation to generation.

    • People whose integrity has not been damaged in childhood, who were protected, respected, and treated with honesty by their parents, will be - both in their youth and in adulthood - intelligent, responsive, empathic, and highly sensitive. They will take pleasure in life and will not feel any need to kill or even hurt others or themselves. They will use their power to defend themselves, not to attack others. They will not be able to do otherwise than respect and protect those weaker than themselves, including their children, because this is what they have learned from their own experience, and because it is this knowledge (and not the experience of cruelty) that has been stored up inside them from the beginning. It will be inconceivable to such people that earlier generations had to build up a gigantic war industry in order to feel comfortable and safe in this world. Since it will not be their unconscious drive in life to ward off intimidation experienced at a very early age, they will be able to deal with attempts at intimidation in their adult life more rationally and more creatively.


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  • Andrew Vachss

    Andrew Vachss

    Andrew Henry Vachss (born October 19, 1942) is an American crime fiction author, child protection consultant, and attorney exclusively representing children and youth. He is also a founder and national advisory board member of PROTECT
    His website is

    Before becoming a lawyer, Vachss held many front-line positions in child protection. He was a federal investigator in sexually transmitted diseases, and a New York City social-services caseworker. He worked in Biafra, entering the war zone just before the fall of the country. There he worked to find a land route to bring donated food and medical supplies across the border after the seaports were blocked and Red Cross airlifts banned by the Nigerian government; however, all attempts ultimately failed, resulting in rampant starvation. After he returned and recovered from his injuries, Vachss studied community organizing in 1970 under Saul Alinsky. He worked as a labor organizer and ran a self-help center for urban migrants in Chicago.  He then managed a re-entry program for ex-convicts in Massachusetts, and finally directed a maximum-security prison for violent juvenile offenders.

    As an attorney, Vachss represents only children and adolescents. In addition to his private practice, he serves as a law guardian in New York state. In every child abuse or neglect case, state law requires the appointment of a law guardian, a lawyer who represents the child\'s interests during the legal proceedings.

    Source: Wikipedia


    The Burke series


       1. Flood (1985)
       2. Strega (1987)
       3. Blue Belle (1988)
       4. Hard Candy (1989)
       5. Blossom (1990)
       6. Sacrifice (1991)
       7. Down in the Zero (1994)
       8. Footsteps of the Hawk (1995)
       9. False Allegations (1996)
      10. Safe House (1998)
      11. Choice of Evil (1999)
      12. Dead and Gone (2000)
      13. Pain Management (2001)
      14. Only Child (2002)
      15. Down Here (2004)
      16. Mask Market (2006)
      17. Terminal (2007)
      18. Another Life (2008)


    Other novels

       1. A Bomb Built in Hell (1973)
       2. Shella (1993)
       3. Batman: The Ultimate Evil (1995)
       4. The Getaway Man (2003)
       5. Two Trains Running (2005)
       6. Haiku (November 3, 2009)
       7. The Weight (2010)
       8. A Bomb Built in Hell (2012)
       9. That's How I Roll (2012)

    Short story collections

       1. Born Bad (1994)
       2. Everybody Pays (1999)
       3. Proving It (2001) Audiobook collection.
       4. Dog Stories Online collection.
       5. Mortal Lock (2013)

    Graphic novels and series

       1. Hard Looks (1992-93) Ten-volume series.
       2. Batman: The Ultimate Evil (1995) Two-volume graphic novel.
       3. Cross (1995) Seven-volume series with James Colbert.
       4. Predator: Race War (1993) Five-volume series; (1995) Single-volume graphic novel, collection of 1993 series.
       5. Alamaailma (1997) Finnish graphic novel, illustrating two of the \"Underground\" short stories from Born Bad.
       6. Hard Looks (1996, 2002) Single-volume trade paperback.
       7. Another Chance To Get It Right: A Children\'s Book for Adults (1993, 1995) (Reprinted with additional material, 2003)
       8. Heart Transplant (2010)
       9. Underground (forthcoming, October 2014)


       1. Placebo (in Antaeus, 1991)
       2. Warlord (in Born Bad, 1994)
       3. Replay (in Born Bad, 1994)


       1. The Life-Style Violent Juvenile: The Secure Treatment Approach (Lexington, 1979)
       2. The Child Abuse-Delinquency Connection — A Lawyer\'s View (Lexington, 1989)
       3. PARADE Magazine Articles (1985-2006)
       4. Other Articles and Essays

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  • Rien Verdult & Gaby Stroecken

    Rien Verdult

    Rien & Gaby are psychotherapists from Belgium, specialized in the treatment of emotional problems rooted in early childhood. They also focus on prenatal psychology; life before and during birth. For that reason they often give lectures about this aspect of life. They are very much influenced by the works of Arthur Janov and Alice Miller. Their website is mainly in Dutch, not very often updated but the news section does provide a list of recent lectures.

    Their books haven't been translated in English, but several articles in English are freely accessible online:

    The Misrecognized Child in Ourselves (PDF - 148 pages)

    Gaby Stroecken
    The misrecognition of the Child in ourselves begins early in life. At conception, during the period spent in the womb, at birth and in the first years of life, the vulnerable child runs the risk of finding its natural expectations misinterpreted and disregarded. As children, in the womb or newly born, we are entirely dependent on our parents. Our natural desires lead us to expect that we will be received with love and attention, respected in our vulnerability and have our needs, including our affective needs, punctually met: we expect recognition.

    Caesarean birth: Psychological aspects in babies (Rien Verdult, PDF - 15 pages)

    Caesarean birth can be seen as a traumatic birth for the baby with immediate and long term consequences. C-section is a trauma because of its abrupt and sudden interruption of the biologically programmed vaginal birth process. Shock, bonding deficiencies and invasion/control complex are the major symptoms of the trauma.

    Baby therapy is based on the new paradigm about prenatal and perinatal life. Babies are aware before and during birth and can be traumatized. The treatment of caesarean born babies consists of two aspects: regressively re-experiencing the traumatic aspects of the c-section and the processing of vaginal birth. In exploring the traumatic aspects of the c-section so called trauma sites are gently touched by the therapist. The baby can get activated and within the safety of a containing relationship, catharsis can take place. By supporting the baby to release his emotional pain the reprocessing of the c-section birth takes place in small steps. Baby have a knowledge about how they should have been born vaginally. Through a process of vaginal birth simulation the baby descends in the birth canal, rotates in the pelvis. Than the expulsion takes place and the baby ends up in the arms of his mother. Results of baby therapy show that babies benefit from the treatment.


    • De Stem van het Jonge Kind. Over de affectieve rechten van het prenatale en jonge kind (Gaby Stroecken, 1997)
    • Het Miskende Kind in Onszelf. Invloeden van de kindertijd op het latere leven. (Gaby Stroecken, 2001)
    • De Mythe van de Gelukkige Kindertijd. Zoektocht naar het miskende kind in onszelf . (2006)

    From De Mythe van de Gelukkige Kindertijd (The Myth of the Happy Childhood - translated by Dennis Rodie):

    We are convinced that in our struggle against our discomfort, against our inner void, against our emotional and relational problems, we have eventually only one means at our disposal: searching for the truth about our childhood. The discovery of our personal truth can be confrontational and painful. It means we have to let go of the constructed illusion, to which we have clung. We have to leave our holy belief of a happy childhood and expose a myth. Revealing our childhood is absolutely necessary for our own comfort and that of others in our environment. This is a painful process. The repression to the unconscious has created fatal work. The earlier and the more painful the disownment has taken place, the bigger the chance it is that we remember a ‘happy and carefree childhood. The bonding with our parents causes this selective loss of memory. The American psychotherapist Jean Jenson (1997) writes: ‘If more than a small minority wants to be motivated to explore the past, then we should first realize that almost every adult in our society has experienced damage and that our child-rearing practice will at least send the proverbial ‘happy childhood’ to the land of fables. With our book we want to reach out to that minority that wants to experience a process of self-revelation. We can ask ourselves: is all that digging in the past useful? Wouldn’t we be better off to leave the past alone? We are convinced that the paste tense always keeps a current value. We can’t undo our past, but we can work our way through the stored experiences in our body, about what is neglected or what is happened to us. That’s what this book is about: “We have to leave the invisible and so cruel prison of the childhood and transform ourselves from unconscious victim of the past into a responsible human who knows his/ her own past and lives with that” (Miller, 1995).

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  • Jean Liedloff

    Jean Liedloff

    Jean Liedloff (1926 – 2011) is an American author, best known for her 1975 book The Continuum Concept. She was born in New York. As a teenager, she accomplished the Drew Seminary for Young Women and began studying at Cornell University, but began her expeditions before she could graduate. During a diamond hunting expedition to Venezuela, she came into contact with an indigenous people named the Yequana. Over time, she became fascinated with the Yequana, and made a decision to return to Venezuela to live with them. She wrote her book The Continuum Concept in an attempt to document the Yequana way of life, in particular their style of child rearing. From 1968 to 1970, Liedloff was editor of The Ecologist.
    A website has been created by members of the Liedloff Continuum Network (LCN) to educate and serve the public:

    From The Continuum Concept:
    In the maternity wards of Western civilization there is little chance of consolation from wolves. The newborn infant, with his skin crying out for the ancient touch of smooth, warmth-radiating, living flesh, is wrapped in dry, lifeless cloth. He is put in a box where he is left, no matter how he weeps, in a limbo that is utterly motionless (for the first time in all his body's experience, during the aeons of its evolution or during its eternity in the womb). The only sounds he can hear are the wails of other victims of the same ineffable agony. The sounds can mean nothing to him. He cries and cries; his lungs, new to air, are strained with the desperation in his heart. No one comes. Trusting in the rightness of life, as by nature he must, he does the only act he can, which is to cry on. Eventually, a timeless lifetime later, he falls asleep exhausted.
    He awakes in a mindless terror of the silence, the motionlessness.

    He screams. He is afire from head to foot with want. with desire, with intolerable impatience. He gasps for breath and screams until his head is filled and throbbing with the sound. He screams until his chest aches, until his throat is sore. He can bear the pain no more and his sobs weaken and subside. He listens. He opens and closes his fists. He rolls his head from side to side. Nothing helps. It is unbearable. He begins to cry again, but it is too much for his strained throat; he soon stops. He stiffens his desire-racked body, and there is a shadow of relief. He waves his hands and kicks his feet. He stops, able to suffer, unable to think, unable to hope. He listens. Then he falls asleep again.

    When he awakens he wets his nappy and is distracted from his torment by the event. But the pleasant feeling of wetting and the warm, damp, flowing sensation around his lower body are quickly gone. The warmth is now immobile and turning cold and clammy. He kicks his legs, stiffens his body, sobs. Desperate with longing, his lifeless surroundings wet and uncomfortable, he screams through his misery until it is stilled by lonely sleep.

    Suddenly he is lifted; his expectations come forward for what is to be his. The wet nappy is taken away. Relief. Living hands touch his skin. His feet are lifted and a new, bone-dry, lifeless cloth is folded around his loins. In an instant it is as though the hands had never been there, nor the wet nappy. There is no conscious memory, no inkling of hope. He is in unbearable emptiness, timeless, motionless, silent, wanting, wanting. His continuum tries its emergency measures, but they are all meant for bridging short lapses in correct treatment or for summoning relief from someone (it is assumed) who will want to provide it. His continuum has no solution for this extremity. The situation is beyond its vast experience. The infant, after breathing air for only a few hours, has already reached a point of disorientation from his nature beyond the saving powers of the mighty continuum. His tenure in the womb was the best approximation he is ever likely to know of the state of well-being in which it is his innate expectation that he will spend his lifetime. His nature is predicated upon the assumption that his mother is behaving suitably and that their motivations and consequent actions will naturally serve one another.

    Someone comes and lifts him deliciously through the air. He is in life. He is carried a bit too gingerly for his taste, but there is motion. Then he is in his place. All the agony he has undergone is nonexistent. He rests in the enfolding arms, and though his skin is sending no message of relief from the cloth, no news of live Oesh on his flesh, his hands and mouth are reporting normal. The positive pleasure of life, which is continuum-normal, is almost complete. The taste and texture of the breast are there; the warm milk is flowing into his eager mouth; there is a heartbeat, which should have been his link, his reassurance of continuity from the womb; moving forms are visible that spell life. The sound of the voice is right too. There are only the cloth and the smell (his mother uses cologne) that leave something missing. He sucks and, when he feels full and rosy, dozes off.

    When he awakens he is in hell. No memory, no hope, no thought can bring the comfort of his visit to his mother into this bleak purgatory. Hours pass and days and nights. He screams, tires, sleeps. He wakes and wets his nappy. By now there is no pleasure in this act. No sooner is the pleasure of relief prompted by his innards than it is replaced, as the hot, acid urine touches his by now chafed body, by a searing crescendo of pain. He screams. His exhausted lungs must scream to override the fiery stinging. He screams until the pain and screaming use him up before he falls asleep.

    At his not unusual hospital the busy nurses change all nappies on schedule, whether they are dry, wet or long wet, and send the infants home, chafed raw, to be healed by someone who has time for such things.

    By the time he is taken to his mother's home (surely it cannot be called his) he is well versed in the character of life. On a pre-conscious plane that will qualify all his further impressions, as it is qualified by them, he knows life to be unspeakably lonely, unresponsive to his signals and full of pain.
    But he has not given up. His vital forces will try for ever to reinstate their balances as long as there is life.

    Home is essentially indistinguishable from the maternity ward except for the chafing. The infant's waking hours are passed in yearning, wanting and interminable waiting for rightness to replace the silent void. For a few minutes a day his longing is suspended, and his terrible skin-crawling need to be touched, to be held and moved about, is relieved. His mother is one who, after much thought, has decided to allow him access to her breast. She loves him with a tenderness she has never known before. At first, it is hard for her to put him down after feeding, especially because he cries so desperately when she does. But she is convinced that she must, for her mother has told her (and she must know) that if she gives in to him now, he will be spoiled and cause trouble later. She wants to do everything right; she feels for a moment that the little life she holds in her arms is more important than anything else on earth.

    She sighs and puts him gently in his cot, which is decorated with yellow ducklings and matches his whole room. She has worked hard to furnish it with fluffy curtains, a rug in the shape of a giant panda, a white dresser, a bath and a changing table equipped with powder, oil, soap, shampoo and hairbrush, all made and packed in colours especially for babies. On the wall there are pictures of baby animals dressed as people. The chest of drawers is full of little vests, Baby-Gros, bootees, caps, mittens and nappies. There is a toy woolly lamb stood at a beguiling angle on top and a vase of flowers - which have been cut off from their roots, for his mother also 'loves' flowers.

    She straightens baby's vest and covers him with an embroidered sheet and a blanket bearing his initials. She notes them with satisfaction. Nothing has been spared in perfecting the baby's room, though she and her young husband cannot yet afford all the furniture they have planned for the rest of the house. She bends to kiss the infant's silky cheek and moves towards the door as the first agonized shriek shakes his body.
    Softly she closes the door. She has declared war upon him. Her will must prevail over his. Through the door she hears what sounds like someone being tortured. Her continuum sense recognizes it as such. Nature does not make clear signals that someone is being tortured unless it is the case. It is precisely as serious as it sounds.

    She hesitates, her heart pulled towards him, but resists and goes on her way. He has just been changed and fed. She is sure he does not really need anything therefore, and she lets him weep until he is exhausted.

    He awakens and cries again. His mother looks in at the door to ascertain that he is in place; softly, so as not to awaken in him any hope of attention, she shuts the door again. She hurries to the kitchen, where she is working, and leaves that door open so that she can hear the baby, in case 'anything happens to him'.

    The infant's screams fade to quavering wails. As no response is forthcoming, the motive power of the signal loses itself in the confusion of barren emptiness where the relief ought, long since, to have arrived. He looks about. There is a wall beyond the bars of his cot. The light is dim. He cannot turn himself over. He sees only the bars, immobile, and the wall. He hears meaningless sounds in a distant world. There is no sound near him. He looks at the wall until his eyes close. When they open again, the bars and the wall are exactly as before, but the light is dimmer.

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  • Alexander Lowen

    Alexander Lowen
    Dr. Alexander Lowen (December 23, 1910 – October 28, 2008) was an American psychotherapist. A student of Wilhelm Reich in the 1940s and early 1950s in New York, he developed Bioenergetic Analysis, a form of mind-body psychotherapy, with his then-colleague, John Pierrakos (February 8, 1921 – February 1, 2001). Lowen was the founder and former executive director of the International Institute for Bioenergetic Analysis in New York City.

    Born in New York City, Lowen received a bachelor's degree in science and business from City College of New York and an LLB from Brooklyn Law School. His interest in the link between the mind and the body developed during this time. He enrolled in a class on character analysis with Wilhelm Reich. After training to be a therapist himself, Lowen moved to Switzerland to attend the University of Geneva, which awarded him an M.D. in June, 1951.

    Lowen lived and practiced for the majority of his life in New Canaan, Connecticut. He suffered a stroke in July 2006.

    In April 2007, The Alexander Lowen Foundation was founded to continue Dr. Lowen's legacy.

    Lowen died on October 28, 2008 at the age of 97.

    Source: Wikipedia


    • The Language of the Body (1958)
    • Love and Orgasm (1965)
    • The Betrayal of the Body (1967)
    • Pleasure (1970)
    • Bioenergetics (1976)
    • Depression and the Body: The Biological Basis of Faith and Reality (1977)
    • The Way to Vibrant Health: A Manual of Bioenergetic Exercises, co-author Leslie Lowen (1977)
    • Fear of Life (1980)
    • Narcissism: Denial of the True Self (1984)
    • Love, Sex and Your Heart (1988)
    • The Spirituality of the Body (1990)
    • Joy (1995)
    • Honoring the Body: The Autobiography of Alexander Lowen, M.D. (2004)
    • The Voice of the Body (2005)

    From Pleasure (1970):
    Another simple truth that should be self-evident is that an individu­al's personality is expressed through his body as much as through his mind. A person cannot be divided into a mind and a body. Despite this truth, all studies of personality have concentrated on the mind to the relative neglect of the body. The body of a person tells us much about his personality. How one holds himself, the look in his eyes, the tone of his voice, the set of his jaw, the position of his shoulders, the ease of his movements, and the spontaneity of his gestures tell us not only who he is but also whether he is enjoying life or is miserable and ill at ease. We may close our eyes to these expressions of another personality, just as the person himself may close his mind to the awareness of his body, but those who do so delude themselves with an image that has no relation to the reality of existence. The truth of a person's body may be painful, but blocking out this pain closes the door to the possibility of pleasure.

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