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Betrayal Trauma

Betrayal Trauma

The Logic of Forgetting Childhood Abuse

Jennifer J. Freyd

ISBN 9780674068063

Publication date: 02/06/1998

This book lays bare the logic of forgotten abuse. Psychologist Jennifer Freyd's breakthrough theory explaining this phenomenon shows how psychogenic amnesia not only happens but, if the abuse occurred at the hands of a parent or caregiver, is often necessary for survival. Freyd's book will give embattled professionals, beleaguered abuse survivors, and the confused public a new, clear understanding of the lifelong effects and treatment of child abuse.


  • A century of observation leaves no doubt that some traumatized people develop amnesia for the event and may not recall their experiences. How can we understand this?...Freyd calls the social context in which the trauma occurs. The relationship between the victim and the perpetrator is central to her theory. "In order to survive in cases of core betrayals (abuse by a trusted caregiver on a dependent victim) some amount of information blockage is required."...In one of the most ingenious and original sections of the book, Freyd puts her hypothesis to the test by reanalyzing data from four recently published studies of adults with histories of childhood sexual abuse. In each case, she finds that those who were abused by close relatives were more likely to have forgotten the abuse...[This book is] a thoughtful and impassioned treatise by a survivor who has transformed her own betrayal trauma into an investigation of the psychology of memory.

    —Judith Lewis Herman, American Journal of Psychiatry


  • Jennifer J. Freyd is Professor of Psychology at the University of Oregon.

Book Details

  • 240 pages
  • 5-1/2 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press