Arthur Miller’s Secret Son

I love my kids, but it was great to have an uninterrupted block of time to give some attention to edits of Love You to Pieces, my anthology on parenting disabled children.  Of course, I got distracted.  First, I had to check in on Koshien and see how Tokushima’s representative team, Tokushima Shogyo, was doing (they lost).  Then, I went to get the mail and flipped open to an article about Arthur Miller’s secret son.  Like many others, I never knew that the great American playwright had a son with Down’s syndrome.  Miller, who spoke out on behalf of oppressed writers and refused to name names during the McCarthy witch hunt, was lauded as “the moralist of the past American century.”  He was also the father of a boy born in 1962 and institutionalized shortly thereafter.  According to various reports, he never visited his son, Daniel, and left him entirely out of his autobiography. 

When I first found out that my daughter was deaf and had cerebral palsy, I looked to literature for comfort and illumination, but there was so little about parenting children with disabilties.  Imagine if someone like Arthur Miller had seen fit to write about his son?  Interestingly, Miller had a cousin with Down syndrome and his sister’s son has cerebral palsy.  Almost everyone has a disabled family member, or knows someone who is disabled, so it seems very odd that there hasn’t been more writing about families dealing with special needs.  Could this be the last big taboo?

4 thoughts on “Arthur Miller’s Secret Son

  1. Wasn’t it considered a social taboo of sorts? A shame game? Very few break the conventions until others set an example… like Rose Kennedy I think it was with her sister/daughter(?)… as she started that summer camp at their estate for her and those like her. Did Miller ever stand up for anyone outside of his group? writers etc? I’m not sure, but so few did back then… and also, the national media has never been known to campaign against these social taboo’s… they usually avoid the topic… though they might mention it in passing… as if it didn’t really exist.. if they didn’t want to see it. This relates to all issues as well… avoidance of truth.

  2. Pearl S. Buck wrote a memoir about her mentally retarded child in 1950, which would seem to have set a precedent.

  3. Not to be ‘sexist’, as I am a male… but these are examples of ‘mothers’ setting examples for others by their own actions, not males…

    …and not males that stood so much in the limelight… fame is a challenge some wear better than others. Everyone has their lessons in life presented to them in different ways, repeatedly if necessary, as some learn faster than others.

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