The Drama Of The Gifted Child Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: The Drama Of The Gifted Child will help you unearth your sad, suppressed memories from childhood and teach you how to confront them so you can avoid passing them on to your children, release yourself from the pains of your past, and finally live a life of fulfillment.

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The Drama of the Gifted Child Summary

All you have to do to be happy is follow the right path, right? School, work, family, and you’ve got it made. Why, then, do we sometimes still feel miserable even after accomplishing these things?

Most people have a hard time connecting with their own emotions once they become adults. But those ups and downs are supposed to make life worth living!

The key to solving these problems lies in your childhood. You might see it nostalgically as a time of freedom and play, but there are a lot of unconfronted demons there as well. These explain why you feel empty. 

Whether it was an overcontrolling mother or an emotionally inept father, how you were raised affects how you think and feel now. That’s what Alice Miller explores in her book The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self.

Here are 3 lessons to help you understand your childhood trauma:

  1. Depression is common in gifted kids because their expectations of themselves are so high.
  2. Not taking care of childhood trauma can have lasting effects on future generations as it gets passed down.
  3. You can change the world for the better by becoming your true self.

Have a troubled past that’s haunting you? Don’t fear, just read and start learning!

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Lesson 1: Gifted kids expect a lot of themselves which can lead to depression later in life.

Do you ever wonder why so many of the greatest creative minds struggle with mental illness? You’d think that if they had all that success and intelligence they would be happy, right?

Unfortunately, a sense of grandiosity, while good for creating, can also be a sign of repressed emotions from childhood, which can cause depression.

Many elite performers had demanding parents. This made them expect a lot of themselves, which is why they achieved greatness. But it also made them sacrifice their feelings, which leads to mental illness.

At some point, these people, whose self-worth comes from their striving for greatness, reach their peak. Then they can only go down, and they tend to do so rapidly.

Researchers studied this to discover that manic depression is correlated with intense pressure to perform and with parents who withhold love if their children fail. Because it’s impossible to avoid failure entirely, these kids never learned how to deal with the emotions that come with failure.

In other words, depression comes from repressing emotions. It happens when the child inside gets to a point when they can’t win acceptance with accomplishments any longer.

And when these kids grow up to have their own kids, these things can begin to affect them too.

Lesson 2: Childhood trauma can get passed down through generations if it isn’t addressed.

Parents want the best for their children. They even want their kids to have better lives than they did. This is especially true for parents who themselves had a troubled, emotionally-repressed childhood

But in trying to give their kids better lives than they had, these adults can actually end up doing more harm than good. By working to help their kids feel the love they never did, they actually end up putting new kinds of stress on them without knowing it.

The problem with trying to give your kids everything is that they eventually start to notice that you want them to be happy all the time. That means they’ll try to not show “negative” emotions like pain just to please their parents. 

And these patterns just put them right into the negative feeling-repression cycle that their parents went through.

This means that adults need to heal their own psychological troubles before raising their own kids. If they don’t, they’ll just give the same problems to their offspring.

Solving these issues involves accepting emotions as normal, even the “bad” ones. Then, parents must learn to accept their kids just as they are, weaknesses and all.

One woman contacted the author needing guidance with some struggles she was having trying to love her kids. Once the author helped her work through what she was dealing with, she understood the negative effect that her mom’s conditional love had had on her. 

This epiphany led her to finally start loving and accepting her kids as she’d always wanted to but never could.

Lesson 3: Become your true self and you can change the world.

Enough with the negatives of being a gifted child. Now let’s look more at how to stop this cycle and the possibilities for not only the individual that does, but everyone else around them. 

The first step is to understand that it is possible to get over a difficult, emotion-suppressed past. You just have to learn how to confront it head on instead of avoiding it like you’ve been trained to do. 

This might require therapy and mourning your lost self, but the positive effects are worth the effort. 

For one, you’ll be able to start living a fulfilling life instead of constantly having to deal with the struggle within that you’re so tired of. You’ll be able to be happy or sad and to cry or laugh without any limitations or mental struggles.

The other benefit is that the people around you will start to be able to live to the fullest too. Imagine a woman with shameful feelings toward her submissive mother. Overcoming her repressed past might help her stop trying to compensate for her mom’s timidity by dominating her husband.

Even political leaders might be able to be more accepting of minorities if they’d deal with their troubled pasts.

Most of all, remember that the key in all of this is to embrace who you are on the inside, flaws and all. Once you do, you’ll be on the path to becoming your true best self, and allowing those around you the freedom to do the same.

The Drama Of The Gifted Child Review

The Drama Of The Gifted Child has made me realize that I was a gifted child — and I’m still dealing with some of the effects. However, I don’t blame anyone, and I’m grateful for this resource to help me figure out those struggles!

Who would I recommend The Drama Of The Gifted Child summary to?

The 35-year-old who was abused by her father when she was a kid, the 49-year-old that struggles with depression, and anyone that is a parent or will be a parent in the future.

Last Updated on July 22, 2023

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Luke Rowley

With over 450 summaries that he contributed to Four Minute Books, first as a part-time writer, then as our full-time Managing Editor until late 2021, Luke is our second-most prolific writer. He's also a professional, licensed engineer, working in the solar industry. Next to his day job, he also runs Goal Engineering, a website dedicated to achieving your goals with a unique, 4-4-4 system. Luke is also a husband, father, 75 Hard finisher, and lover of the outdoors. He lives in Utah with his wife and 3 kids.