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Judith Lewis Herman
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £18.95
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Book Description

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.

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Product Description


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. -- Judith Blitman, M.D. "American Journal of Psychiatry"

About the Author

Judith Lewis Herman, M.D., is Psychiatric Director of the Women's Mental Health Collective, Somerville, Massachusetts.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 11431 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (1 Nov. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #435,685 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
I read this book when I was starting to get to grips with my Father's betrayal of my trust. Twenty years later I wrote Sexual Abuse & Incest (Little Book Series of Emotional Health for Emotional Wealth)which is based on my training and professional experience and the lives of so many women trying to survive. If your Father or Step-Father touched you or spoke to you inappropriately then please do read Herman's important book. She changed my life and she might just be able to help you change yours.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Unflinching Eye. 21 Nov. 2013
By j abbot
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book is comprehensive and well organized. The author thinks and writes clearly and with conviction. I would recommend this account to anyone wishing to understand the nature of incest imposed by fathers upon daughters. Victims will gain a clearer insight into what was done to them, and should be helped by understanding the true nature of their experience, as opposed to the notions of society and the lies of the perpetrator.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative but dated in places 19 Sept. 2008
By Sue C
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Up until 1986, there were only 13 peer reviewed articles on incest in the professional journals. Nobody knew much about the subject.

This book was written in the 80s, when the subject was first discussed publically, by lay people as well as professionals. For the time, this book was innovative and groundbreaking.

Since then, knowledge and understanding have moved on. Much of what the author says is still true but if you want more up to date thinking, look at her later books, such as Trauma and Recovery from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror, also available from Amazon.

Judith Lewis Herman is regarded as the international authority on the subject.
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11 of 18 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This book starts with the history of written knowledge that Incest has always existed but has remained a very taboo subject. It then goes on to describe different types of offenders and suggests why they might abuse their children. As an incest victim myself, I found the book to be a little too impartial and it did not offer much support to the victim. At times the book was very heavy going but I stuck it out to the end hoping for a positive outcome, which unfortunately didn't arrive.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
78 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insight for those who don't understand 13 Mar. 1998
By A Customer - Published on
As a text about the 'whys' and ways of incest, this is among the best. It explains why children go along with the parent, why they do not report it, and in some cases, may even want to continue the sexual relationship once it has begun. This is hard for some to understand, but you need to remember that a child will accept what they perceive as love from a parent any way they can get it. This is one of the best texts on incests that i have read.
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Understanding the past in order to survive the present and thrive in the future 15 Nov. 2008
By Jennifer Cameron-Smith - Published on
I think that there are three separate (and possibly overlapping) audiences for this book.

First, those professionals who work with incest survivors will find the results of knowledge gained from Dr Herman's experience studying this particular field of sexual abuse and working with those directly affected. Secondly, those who work with abuse victims in any care-giving capacity will find some guidance through the minefield of taboo and denial that tends to accompany this topic. Thirdly, this book is invaluable to some of the survivors who themselves can deal face the reality of the past while trying to understand that it isn't their fault and they are not necessarily alone in the conflicting feelings they have experienced.

Dr Herman's work in this area is well-presented and relatively easy to follow. By relying on facts, by incorporating case studies, and through referring to the history of the various incest taboos and practices, Dr Herman makes it easier for sufferers and caregivers alike to discuss the undiscussable.

One could wish that such studies were not necessary, and that no parent ever abused their position of power and authority. One could also wish that care and help was readily available to each child who has suffered at the time that the abuse was first experienced. By opening the topic to discussion and through publishing books which deal with behaviour in context and the consequences for individuals, families and communities, society is better equipped to help sufferers become survivors. Or so I hope.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every father-daughter sexual abuse survivor should read this 5 Aug. 2013
By Sammy Miller - Published on
I'm a Father-Daughter incest survivor. My father molested me. My mother knew it was going on and didn't protect me. I never understood why, until now. I took more from this book than from all the therapy I've had and materials I've read over the years. For the first time in my life I feel that my finding peace is possible.

I'd like to share three gems from the treasure chest that this was for me as examples.

*If you cannot say no, then you cannot say yes.

*Sexually abused daughters are taught from early in the incest that they don't have the right to protect themselves.

*Father-daughter incest is never about sex; it's about dominance and abandonment.

Read the book. For the love of all things beautiful, read the book. I hope that if you do you might begin to find your own peace, too.
29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars in depth 22 Mar. 2004
By A Customer - Published on
Joyce Barrows,
This book is an in depth detailed account of child molestation/incest and the ramifications of the act and the future of the child put under such a devestating stress. I personally am a fan of memoirs, enjoying the real more so than the imagined. This book offers the real life accounts of people when they were children and the pain that they must have had to endure. It is also a moving book, similar to that of Nightmares Echo by Katlyn Stewart and Beauty For Ashes by Joyce Meyers. Though this book is a bit more clinical
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dealing with incest 25 Jan. 2012
By an apt word - Published on
Deeply disturbing to read, disquieting to have lying about in the house, but a hugely important book in terms of serving the women who have held their incest secrets for far too long. What are you going to do if/when someone close to you tells you their incest secret? This book will help you decide on an appropriate response. "Denial has always been the incestuous father's first line of defense" Herman notes. Will you believe the father or the daughter?
The author met Lisa Hirschman first in 1975 when they were beginning their clinical practice and saw multitudes of women who had experienced incest. Most of those women patients had remained silent. Herman and Hirschman credit the women's liberation movement with finally having changed our cultural bias to favor the victim. There are two traditional beliefs at play which favored the abuser: 1. He did no harm, he says, and 2. He was not to blame.
On the question of harm, sociologist James Ramey writing in a 1979 SIECUS newsletter, expressed more concern for the harm of official recognition and punishment of incest than for the act itself. Men's magazines continue to make this point as do those few psychoanalytic holdovers in the field of psychiatry. These arguments ignore the question of power in the parent-child relationship.
The authors do a good job of explaining the culture in terms of patriarchal domination. The homes studied were very traditional homes with full-time mothers. These mothers had spent a significant period of time being ill, were often separated from social supports, had larger families than average (3.6 children each), and experienced very little power in the domestic relationship. Often the fathers abused alcohol. Mothers and daughters were alienated. Almost all the fathers were feared in their homes; but viewed outside it, they were seen to be good-tempered, amiable, if not downright meek. These men knew they were least likely to be opposed in their own homes by their own daughters and exploited that reality. They were often charming to their daughters who felt like "Daddy's little princess."
The author discredits the psychoanalytic bias which had portrayed daughters as seductive. Homes with overt incest as well as homes with covert incest--seductive fathers who stopped short of intercourse--were often homes where rivalry existed between mothers and daughters for father's attention. Mothers and daughters were deeply alienated. My own reflexive response had been, `How could a mother not know?' which turns out to be the question the victims had as well. Herman came to the same conclusion as Karen Horney in stating that only when the women had overcome their bitterness towards their mothers could they respect women including themselves.
Read the book to learn how to get through the crisis of disclosure and help to restore families.
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