The Drama of the Gifted Child p.96

Possibly, the child’s actual seduction did not take place the way Freud’s hysterical patients related it. Yet, the parents’ narcissistic cathexis of their child leads to a long series of sexual and nonsexual seductions, which the child will only be able to discover with difficulty, as an adult in his analysis (and often not before he himself is a parent).

A father who grew up in surroundings inimical to instinctual drives may well be inhibited in his sexual relationships in marriage. He may even remain polymorphous perverse and first dare to look properly at a female genital, play with it, and feel aroused while he is bathing his small daughter. A mother may perhaps have been shocked as a small girl by the unexpected sight of an erect penis and so developed fear of the male genital, or she may have experienced it as a symbol of violence in the primal scene without being able to confide in anyone. Such a mother may now be able to gain control over her fear in relationship to her tiny son. She may, for example, dry him after his bath in such a manner that he has an erection, which is not dangerous or threatening for her. She may massage her son’s penis, right up to puberty, in order ‘to treat his phimosis’ without having to be afraid. Protected by the unquestioning love that every child has for his mother she can carry on with her genuine, hesitating sexual exploration that had been broken off too soon.

What does it mean to the child, though, when his sexually inhibited parents make narcissistic use of him in their loneliness and need? Every child seeks loving contact and is happy to get it. At the same time, however, he feels insecure when desires are aroused that do not appear spontaneously at this stage in his development. This insecurity is further increased by the fact that his own autoerotic activity is punished by the parents’ prohibitions or scorn.

 

Alice Miller – The Drama of the Gifted Child p.96

How to Talk to Your Kids about Your Divorce p.213

In instances of parental alienation, one parent sometimes purposely invents incidents of abuse or neglect at the hands of the other parent, and, tragically, the child begins to believe that these events took place. The child will swear up and down that a parent abused him even if prior to the other parent discussing it, he had no such memory.

A significant body of research demonstrates that children are extremely suggestible. The way that they view situations, and even the memories that they have, can be influenced by a variety of factors. The children themselves can believe wholeheartedly that situations happen, even if there is no evidence for this. The work of Elizabeth Loftus shows that false memories can be implanted in children just by having them hear an adult describe a situation that never took place. Later, the children are convinced that this event actually transpired.

There was a huge controversy in the world of psychology in the 1990s when some therapists stated that they could help clients recover repressed memories of abuse. While there is certainly evidence for repression, there is also evidence that false memories can be planted with enough suggestion, so many of these clients were being led to believe that abuse occurred when it did not. The therapists were not malicious; they genuinely felt they were helping clients realize what had happened to them.

 

Samantha Rodman – How to Talk to Your Kids about Your Divorce p.213