Am Anfang war Erziehung by Alice Miller

By Alice Miller

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I was still in contact with the Jewish friends who had come from Egypt; we used to live in the same hotel, seeing each other, going into each other’s rooms, and chatting and having meals together sometimes. When I started to go to the university, this was the first opportunity to meet a true mixture of people, some Jews and some non-Jews; I must say, personally, I always had good relationships with all of them. ’ I said I didn’t mind, that I was ready to meet her parents. ’ So that was the first time, and I must say, the unique time in which somebody told me that I was excluded from something because of being a Jew.

If we take the British schools—even though it’s so difficult to speak in terms of ‘the British’… But there is a British spirit… Indeed. Now, in very general terms, one could argue that while the British have given predominance to the presence of the analyst in the process of the cure (and that has produced enormous progress in psychoanalytic technique), the French have focused their attention on the absence of the analyst… There are reasons for that. Your distinction is quite accurate. For the British, there is no question: psychoanalysis is a treatment.

Nevertheless, when you ask them where does it come from, what are you going to do with the brain, they are very embarrassed and their answers are very poor. The British are clever: they don’t bother with the problem. They go forward, not just in any direction; they go forward in a very precise direction. Freud, in the same paper of 1926, after having postulated these drives, says: the most difficult problem the child will have to solve is the Oedipus complex—his relationship to his parents. When you talk about the Oedipus complex, people think, ‘aha, yes, we know what he’s talking about’.

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