She invented characters and their conversations. But in this seeming fiction, I have recognized experiences of her childhood and life that Alice had shared with me. According to Oliver Schubbe, those two weeks of therapy were not enough time to deal with her severe trauma from the Holocaust and the war. Alice's reason for dropping out was that her physical pain had decreased.
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But her relationship with her son never improved. She made a fatal choice at that moment: against her son, against her Self — and for denial and delusiveness. The person who went into the world after that, even with her own website, vehemently repressed the truth and had a grandiose sense of superiority. Three years later, in , she asked me to be her therapeutic helper — no therapeutic boundaries, no pay, and not a word, ever, about Oliver Schubbe.
Full of compassion for her, I had no clue that I became involved in a wicked game of deception.
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It would have required sincere therapeutic work to find out what had gone wrong, not the adulation of a devoted supporter. Although Alice knew of course about dissociation, she refused the idea of parts and disregarded how to communicate with them. She was not curious at all about the IFS work I had done; she disparaged the process of unburdening. Focused on her childhood, she banned communication with her adult life experiences and all her parts; thus, she could not integrate her genocide and war traumas.
Alice had shared with me early on that she had survived the Holocaust with false papers; it was possible for her because she did not look Jewish. She also spoke fluent Polish, whereas her father only spoke Hebrew and could not have survived outside of the Jewish ghetto. Alice once told me that she had also managed to provide false passports for nine other people. She sounded proud of this accomplishment and of saving her own life, and the lives of others.
I deeply admired her resourcefulness and courage. Initially, she talked more about her Holocaust experiences and shared things that the public did not know. Once, after such a conversation, she called me when I had arrived home and wondered why she had told me so much about herself. Then she added: "But it's up to you what you do with it.
But I also felt that she gave me permission to talk about it at a certain point. In the chapter "Margot and Lilka" in "Paths of Life," two women talk about their escape from the ghetto; in their statements, I see recollections of what happened to Alice, which is supported by Oliver Schubbe's account. The character Margot shares that, while other parents helped their children escape the Nazis and entrusted them to Christian families, her father was like a child, refused to see the danger and took no responsibility either for himself or anyone else.
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Margot tells Lilka: "When I decided to leave the Jewish ghetto and escape to Warsaw, I was nineteen, too, but I had to hide my plan from my parents. They would have stopped me from going. The other character, Lilka, shares the following experience of how she arrived in Warsaw with a false identity: "On the way from the station to my lodgings, I saw Jewish families being herded along the streets with small bundles in their arms.
My heart heaved with indignation, but I couldn't show it. I pretended that those poor hunted creatures were no concern of mine, and I imitated all those other Poles whose blank faces showed no sign of protest or dismay. As you know, all the barbarity in full view of everyone on the streets was tolerated in silence by most of the Polish population, as if it was something quite normal. So I learned to bite back my feelings as well. That afternoon, I banished them from my heart for a long time to come. When Martin was in his forties and in therapy, his mother finally shared some of her experiences of the war years with him.
When the war started in , Alice had to enter the ghetto of the small town where she lived with her family. Soon, she had a relationship with the underground organization, which gave her a connection to Poles outside of the ghetto. Thus, she could escape the ghetto and her ordeal of denial of self began: she changed her name. Alicija Englard became Alicija Rostovska, who survived the Holocaust and saved her mother's and her sister's lives, too. Out of shear fear of death, Alice could not know anymore who she was, Martin writes.
She had to impose on herself complete self-control. She was not only afraid to be recognized, but also afraid of her own aliveness, of not being able to control herself sufficiently. Men who walked the streets on the lookout for Jews they knew, or for people who looked Jewish, or had "sad eyes," were a constant, deadly danger. If they discovered people, they would take them to the Gestapo where they were shot.
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In "Paths of Life," the character Margot describes what Alice had told me in a conversation: how jewelry helped her pay off a blackmailer; another time, when she had nothing left to give anymore, she was on the way to the Gestapo together with another victim, who had some money. They could pay the blackmailer and got away at the last moment.
Martin tells how once, when Alice got a haircut, a close friend from school recognized her; but Alice coldly had to tell her that she did not know her, and that this must be a misunderstanding — in order to avoid being turned in to the Gestapo. For about three years, Alice lived with the constant strain of mortal fear, of being discovered and of having to find new places to hide away when she or her mother were detected.
Although her mother looked Jewish, and made hiding her extremely difficult for her daughter, Alice still managed to find places for her. Alice emailed once: "My mother made me take care of her when she was 46 years old; several times, she put my life in mortal danger; and she addressed the worst reproaches against me on the day when I saved her life. Alice worked as a teacher in the underground to earn money. Martin suggests that she also may have had to pay another price for her survival as she was a very beautiful woman.
During the Warsaw uprising of the Polish resistance in the summer of , Alice crossed the river Vistula with her sister to the Russian side, which was liberated territory. Until the end of the war, she worked as a nurse in a military hospital. She never talked about this experience with me, nor is it mentioned in "Paths of Life.
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After the war, Alice received a grant and emigrated to Switzerland, studied at the university and got her PhD in philosophy, psychology and sociology. She married a Catholic Polish man, who had come along with her — and, frightfully, had the same name as her blackmailer during the war and was very antisemitic. Added September He not only had the same name — he was that man, Andreas Miller. This unhappy marriage lasted from until the divorce in , when breast cancer motivated Alice to free herself.
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By then, she had been trained and worked as a psychoanalyst and undergone psychoanalysis twice. From then on, she lived her own, independent life. She began to write and to paint. Her first book, "The Drama of the Gifted Child," rejected at first by a psychoanalytic paper, became an international bestseller. Alice became famous, successful, and with time amazingly rich.
Many regarded her as THE expert on therapy and how to treat children lovingly. Her son Martin considers the years when she wrote her first three books as the happiest, most unburdened and freest time in his mother's life, when she was connected with her Self; only during this time did they have a good connection. As she wrote her first three books, he was her thoughtful, insightful sounding board and a very important supporter.
But as Alice became famous, the ghosts of her war past raised their ugly heads; fame triggered the trauma of persecution; their relationship deteriorated.
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These talks though nurtured Martin's interest in psychotherapy; he changed profession and became a psychotherapist. When he would not follow Alice's ideas and suggestions, she cut him off. Martin suffered to the brink of suicide, as his mother never escaped these ghosts, nor recognized her destructiveness.
Her arrogant, self-righteous demand to dominate and control close personal relationships destroyed most of them. Not only denial of Self and deception played a role in this, but also her conceit and her obsession to not reveal anything about herself and her life that she did not want others to know.
Alicija Englard, Alice's birth-name, was born in in Poland into a lost world: Jewish life in its various cultural and religious ways, as it then flourished in Poland and Europe — but was destroyed by virulent antisemitism and the atrocities of Nazi Germany. Her grandfather Abraham Englard was the wealthy owner of a household supply store; the beginning of her life, she spent in his apartment house where three generations lived under one roof. She would tell me: "Now, at the end of my life, it's eerily like it was at the beginning: Lots of people looked curiously into my crib, but I could not have real, close relationships with all these people who came and went.
In my old age, because of my fame, I am again in a position where many people take notice of me — but I cannot have real relationships with them. Her grandparents Abraham and Sarah Englard were deported and murdered in Treblinka in Alice did not share this about her grandparents with me, nor did she mention her childhood name, nor talk about the family members, who appear in Martin's book. But she talked often about how much she resented, from a young age, her orthodox religious origins.
Because she was a girl, her grandfathers did not talk to her nor address her by her name, which made her feel invisible and unimportant.