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The Trauma Myth: The Truth About the Sexual Abuse of Children--and Its Aftermath
     

The Trauma Myth: The Truth About the Sexual Abuse of Children--and Its Aftermath

3.7 3
by Susan A. Clancy
 

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Few would argue that the experience of sexual abuse is deeply traumatic for a child. But in this explosive new book, psychologist Susan Clancy reports on years of research and contends that it is not the abuse itself that causes trauma—but rather the narrative that is later imposed on the abuse experience. Clancy demonstrates that the most common feeling victims

Overview

Few would argue that the experience of sexual abuse is deeply traumatic for a child. But in this explosive new book, psychologist Susan Clancy reports on years of research and contends that it is not the abuse itself that causes trauma—but rather the narrative that is later imposed on the abuse experience. Clancy demonstrates that the most common feeling victims report is not fear or panic, but confusion. Because children don’t understand sexual encounters in the same ways that adults do, they normally accommodate their perpetrators— something they feel intensely ashamed about as adults. The professional assumptions about the nature of childhood trauma can harm victims by reinforcing these feelings. Survivors are thus victimized not only by their abusers but also by the industry dedicated to helping them. Path-breaking and controversial, The Trauma Myth empowers survivors to tell their own stories, and radically reshapes our understanding of abuse and its aftermath.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
As a graduate student at Harvard, Clancy (Abducted: How People Come to Believe They Were Kidnapped by Aliens) was warned by a respected psychiatrist not to challenge the "dominant theoretical framework" regarding sexual abuse, which "fosters and supports the notion that sexual abuse involves fear, force, and coercion" (she's even been accused by peers of hurting victims with her research). But in consequent research on the traumatic effects of sexual abuse, spanning 10 years, Clancy and colleagues found that victims seldom reported "fear, shock, force, or violence at the time the abuse occurred." Rather, trauma arises in the act's aftermath, when victims who were betrayed by trusted authority figures (90 percent of children victims know their abuser) blame themselves for failing to resist effectively-failing to register the "fear" or "violence" in the moment, which always involves more complex factors and feelings than the popular framework accounts for. The shocking body of statistics on sexual abuse-involving one in five women and one in 10 men, at an average victim age of 10 years-and growing attention to PTSD could garner broad interest for this nuanced psychological study.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780465020881
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
12/15/2009
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
1,129,535
File size:
257 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Susan A. Clancy is a psychology associate at Harvard and Research Director of the Center for Women’s Advancement, Development and Leadership at INCAE. She is the author of Abducted. She has been featured in Scientific American, Psychology Today, and the New York Times, and has appeared on Larry King Live, CNN, and more. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Managua, Nicaragua.

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The Trauma Myth: The Truth About the Sexual Abuse of Children--and Its Aftermath 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Clancy takes the results of 200 newspaper-ad-responders who identified themselves as having been sexually abused and were willing to participate in a study about memory. She had these 200 people fill a questionnaire about their experiences. Her conclusions from this limited study, of a dubiously representative sample of people who'd been sexually abused, is that for most children sexual abuse is not traumatizing but 'merely confusing' and that it is only when society interprets those events as traumatizing and wrong, do children find it traumatic because they begin to feel shame and guilt for 'benefits' (i.e. coersion and rewards--some of us might call these 'grooming' but Clancy calls it 'benefits). It is not clear whether Clancy speaks about children at all, really, or only about children-turned- adults: she doesn't touch at all on children as children (not does she interview any), or of thier immediate reactions, such as bed-wetting, sexual-replay, learning difficulties, attention issues, fears and phobias, dissociaiton, etc--she relates to those adults she recruited and their perceptions of their experiences as they 'look back' and reply to her questionnaire). From those recruits' responses about 'confusion', lack of fighting their offenders, or not telling anone about it, she concludes that most sexual abuse does not involve pain, threat, or force (how does she make THAT conclusion?); that most children do not 'fight' (how does that imply that it is not traumatizing?); and that for those children who were not violently hurt or threatened, the sexual touching is not traumatizing. Not until society makes them realize that it 'should've been'. Her overreaching generalizations are unfortunate, as is her sensationalized title of 'the traume myth'--implying that childhood sexual abuse is not traumatic, but that it is a myth! She ignores the realities of children who often know that they CANNOT fight the adult who is molesting them (interestingly, Clancy does not use the words "molester" or "pedophile" or even "Sexual offender" anywhere in her text, only 'adults' and 'offender'), especially if this person is a family member whose care they need. Children need to comply to survive, and must find ways to manage their 'confusion' (or worse). They almost always do not tell, even if they aren't threatened--because they KNOW what is done is wrong. And yet, to Clancy the non-fighting and not 'asking to stop' are somehow indicative that the molestation was not traumatic. It would be good if she interviewed some children. They might've told her and/or showed her otherwise. With 40% of maltreated children having suffered sexual abuse from the hand of adults in their lives (and over 90% of those by their caretakers!), her claim is irresponsible, pesudo-scientific, and misleading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago