Katy Byrne’s recent piece, Make it stop!, was brilliant. As a psychotherapist myself, I appreciate her clarity — that the invasion of Ukraine has us “staring at the shadow of humanity” even as we would ignore or deny our own darkness and that of others. At the same time, she managed to honor the human condition and shine light on our capacities to learn communication skills and repair our psychological and emotional wounds.
Alice Miller, mentioned therein, was the famous Polish-born war survivor, psychotherapist and writer. She and I had an on-going email connection and my family visited her at her home in St. Remy-de-Provence during a trip to France in 1997. She was wonderful and welcoming.
More recently I became aware of her son Martin Miller’s book (The True Drama of the Gifted Child) and film (Who’s Afraid of Alice Miller?). Sadly, Martin alleges that his mother survived the war by dissociating, by denying her Jewish heritage, by forging a false identity, and by living an entirely false life thereafter.
Yet all of this brings us back to Katy’s points about power, dictators, destruction and the invasion of Ukraine. She notes that people rarely make fundamental changes without anguish … so it’s uplifting that she ended with hopeful thoughts about insight, enlightenment, empathy and caring about the common good. Hopefully we’re witnessing now as most of the world rallies to support Ukraine.