Leaving Neverland and the childhood trauma myth

The ‘Michael Jackson conversation’ we’ve all been having has been infuriating, physically painful and exhausting. The really upsetting thing isn’t whether people believe or don’t believe, it’s a particular rationale repeatedly given by fans.

Every time I hear someone say that the reason they don’t believe the survivors is because “Michael didn’t have a childhood, that’s why he wanted children around him all the time”, I am flabbergasted. This is one of those sound bytes that sounds like it makes sense, but just doesn’t follow.

Many people unfortunately miss out on their ‘childhood’ and have trauma – whether that is because of abuse, child star status, or having to work in a garment factory in a developing country. There are well known common psychological consequences to that: risk of mental health issues, substance abuse/self medication, elevated fight or flight responses are all the list. What is NOT on the list is trying to recreate your childhood by surrounding yourself with children. No matter how rich you are. That is not a clinical thing. It just isn’t, a thing.

People may have their reasons for believing or not believing given the cultural significance of Michael Jackson. And we are entitled to think what we think based on limited information. But if we do dismiss survivors, it can’t be on the basis of an argument that is patently absurd. It is just too callous.


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