Through an intensive clinical study of forty incest victims and numerous interviews with professionals in mental health, child protection, and law enforcement, Judith Herman develops a composite picture of the incestuous family. In a new afterword, Herman offers a lucid and thorough overview of the knowledge that has developed about incest and other forms of sexual abuse since this book was first published.
Reviewing the extensive research literature that demonstrates the validity of incest survivors' sometimes repressed and recovered memories, she convincingly challenges the rhetoric and methods of the backlash movement against incest survivors, and the concerted attempt to deny the events they find the courage to describe.
There is much to commend in the book. It is gracefully written and reviews a wide literature ranging from the scientific to the pornographic and from fairy tales to the Bible...The author presents practical and helpful suggestions on how best to approach a family facing the problem of incest, the methods of strengthening the mother's position and improving the mother-daughter relationship, necessary steps to protect the victim from further physical and psychological harm, and ways of prosecuting or treating the father. There is also useful advice on psychotherapy of grownup incest victims and a discussion of the countertransference feelings in male and female therapists that are most likely to interfere with treatment or to make it detrimental.
A timely book of striking humanistic political and theoretical significance...I also find Herman's book an eloquent expression of feminist concerns about the oppression and sexual exploitation of woman at her most vulnerable stage of development. It is indeed Herman's trenchant feminist analysis that makes this book not just another research report, but rather a profound critique of female socialization in this society...This book is written in a clear, scholarly, and highly readable style. Although the book's message is passionate, the author maintains a measure of objectivity. She avoids harangues or polemics and relies on facts and observations in organizing a convincing presentation. I found this to be an absorbing, thought-provoking book which deserves to attract a wide readership among mental health professionals and the lay public.
Father-Daughter Incest is an exciting addition to the growing literature of child sexual abuse. It offers the best hope to date of appealing to a broad range of clinical professionals who have not yet examined the current rediscovery of incest. The book is startling, sobering, challenging, and in many ways inspiring. Most important, it is compatible; it is considerate of the needs, fears, and vulnerabilities of readers across the entire spectrum, from those who have experienced incest to those who would deal with it professionally....[It] is a fascinating, profoundly moving clinical and cultural expedition into the heartland of incest.
The book is evenhanded, logical, well researched, and thoroughly gripping. It may have taken a while to get to, but it was truly hard to put down...Herman's thesis [is] that incest is the furthermost extension of male domination in a patriarchal society whose men do not share equally in child raising...The bulk of Dr. Herman's book, apart from her considerable historical analysis, is an anecdotal and statistical study of 40 incest victims and their families. She compares these families with 40 families in which the father had been merely seductive...In summary, this is an excellent book that weaves together theory with the very practical therapeutic guidelines. Most fascinating is the way Dr. Herman brings to life the family dynamics of an incestuous family. In the end, the family members take on a mythic quality, like characters in a Grimm's fairy tale. Father-Daughter Incest should be required reading for anyone treating a victim of incest.
Herman's work is valuable to everyone who has been the victim of such incest because it offers help; it is valuable to those whose families are shattered by its occurrence because it offers a means for reconciliation, and it is valuable to specialists who seek to assist their victim-clients.
Herman's rethinking of incest is profoundly, passionately feminist...Her book, the result of years of psychiatric work with incest victims, is undeniably painful, but it is also full of hope.
In a well-researched and readable book, Judith Herman--an American psychiatrist--presents a clear and compelling feminist analysis of father-daughter incest.
Judith Lewis Herman's fine book is one of the most important contributions to psychiatric knowledge of the last decade...As an exemplary model of feminist scholarship, [it] is a rigorous sociopsychological reconceptualization of our clinical assumptions about incest...Herman offers a sophisticated, detailed, and clinically relevant discussion of treatment and issues for victims and their families...Father-Daughter Incest is an eloquent, illuminating, and empathic analysis of an extraordinarily complex and troubling phenomenon. It should be required reading for all mental health professionals and trainees.
This is an extremely readable survey of father-daughter incest today. The author describes the incestuous family from several points of view, including the dynamics typical of the incest family, and of the seductive father family; the traditional values of American society that promote the possibility of abusive family conduct; the political structure of our society that fails to assist the victim and favors the perpetrator; and the legal-enforcement-treatment system, which is too heavily funded or prepared to work with incest/seductive families...The comprehensiveness of the book, and the well thought out presentation, make this one of the most thorough pieces of literature on the subject...The subject matter, statistics and legal information is accurate and well presented for easy reference. This book should be mandatory reading for any professional or paraprofessional who works with women, children and families.
- 336 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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