Allegiance and Childhood Narratives

The reason why allegiance become so important in children is that the narrative of the family fundamentally determines how a child (and the parents, too, but certainly the parents) sees his or her own self fitting within the larger framework of adult society.  As Alice Miller writes in The Gifted Child, “I had completed two analyses as part of my psychoanalytic training, but both analysts had been unable to question my version of the happy childhood I had supposedly enjoyed” (xii).  Thus, allegiance to the narrative of happiness can blind a person to the reality of an abusive upbringing.

Janet Geringer Woititz in Adult Children of Alcoholics talks about the role that giving up “the secrets” plays in overcoming the effects of alcoholism in a family, and then extends this to included other dysfunctional family systems (xi) – I think that a similar understanding could be applied to even larger social frameworks.  Part of the reason why Uncle Tom’s Cabin was so explosive in the antebellum United States was that it brought to light the unmentioned horrors of slavery.  Not the unspeakable horrors that couldn’t  be shared (CITATION), but the unspoken horrors that could not be openly discussed if one was to actually see slavery as an even remotely ethical or moral institution.

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