Book Review: The Drama of the Gifted Child: the Search for the True Self

Review by David Yarian, Ph.D.

The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self by Alice MillerThe Drama of the Gifted Child: the Search for the True Self
Alice Miller

A 50 Greatest Self Help Book

This book is a sort of underground classic, the kind of book passed from friend to friend. It's a small book filled with large ideas and a profound message of hope and compassion.

I first read this book maybe twenty years ago and I am still recommending it to people. The Drama of the Gifted Child is a book which can help you shift how you view your childhood and yourself.

Miller poignantly describes how young children earnestly desire to help their parents -- to offer them their "gifts". She shows what happens when distracted, self-centered or narcissistic parents routinely accept their young child's offer: children become enscripted into "adult" roles, taking care of or comforting bewildered and underfunctioning parents.

This may have profound implications for the developing child, who loses his or her innocent ability to meet the world with playful curiosity and becomes preoccupied with meeting the needs of others. In fact, the child may come to assume that his or her fundamental loveableness depends on taking care of others. This is a terrible bargain for a young child to make, long before they are able to calculate the cost.

The Drama of the Gifted Child offers a message of liberation from this childhood entrapment, giving you, the reader aha! experiences as you come to view your early family life in new and fresh ways. Alice Miller has reintroduced thousands of now-adult children to their misplaced childhoods, allowing for the experience of childhood playfulness and curiosity once again.