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Sexual Abuse by Health Professionals: A Personal Search for Meaning and Healing [Paperback]

Susan Penfold


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Book Description

7 April 1998
The author of this book is a psychiatrist, and the survivor of sexual and emotional abuse by the psychiatrist who was her therapist. She employs two voices in the writing of her book: the first part of each chapter is a narration of her own experiences as a victim of abuse; the second part, an account of her journey as a psychiatrist towards understanding the meaning of the abuse and how to heal from it. Her journey includes having a second, very different, experience of therapy; listening to the stories of other survivors of abuse by health professionals; reading published accounts of such abuses; making her story public to professional and general audiences; being a member of a group dedicated to combating sexual abuse by therapists; talking to colleagues who have treated victims of abuse by health professionals; culling ideas from the literature on trauma and abuse; and treating patients who are themselves survivors of abuse by health professionals.Her book is a powerful blend of the personal and the professional that penetrates the 'conspiracy of silence' that still holds sway and prevents victims from getting the compassion, understanding, support, and financial and legal aid that they deserve.

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About the Author

P. Susan Penfold is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gratitude for this remarkable book 5 Sep 2005
By Grace Tower - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
SEXUAL ABUSE BY HEALTH PROFESSIONALS is an amazing combination of the personal and the professional. Not only does Dr. Penfold have the courage to come forward and describe her abuse in great detail under her own name, she also provides a professional framework for this type of abuse, including an explanation of the problem, the process, and the effects of professional sexual exploitation. This helps the unexploited reader understand the scope of the problem and the complex manner in which it occurs. In addition, it helps those victimized by health professionals understand that (1) it can happen to absolutely anyone; (2) victims are not to blame; and (3) recovery is possible. I read SEXUAL ABUSE BY HEALTH PROFESSIONALS during my recovery from therapist sexual abuse and, more than anything, it helped me stop blaming myself. Thank you, Sue.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a life-saver 5 Sep 2005
By starfish - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Dr. Penfold's book was invaluable when I became a victim of therapist abuse. For one thing, it's very difficult to find material in book form on the subject. Who wants to admit to being used?! Two, its gut-level honesty helped enormously to relieve my own shame about having been duped and exploited, and to channel that into healthy outrage. Three, the fact that Dr. Penfold had been a victim herself--and was a highly educated, intelligent, and sensitive person--helped me see how easily anyone can be victimized in fiduciary relationships, where trust is an essential component of the "therapeutic" process. Finally, her painfully realistic assessment of current attitudes towards victims helped give me a clear idea of what I was up against legally. Power imbalances and old-boy (girl) CYA practices still overwhelmingly determine outcomes--but taking a stand against bullies brings immeasurable returns in self-esteem! Thanks, Dr. Penfold, for helping expose such disgusting, arrogant predators in the mental-health field. I LIVE, thanks in part to warriors like you!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An extraordinary work 4 Sep 2005
By Gary R. Schoener - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Dr. Susan Penfold has made a major contribution with this book. Unfortunately, published by an academic press, I don't think that it has gotten the attention it deserves. She is not unique in being a professional who herself was abused by someone to whom she had gone for help -- but she is unusual in that she has had the courage to come out of the closet and talk about the experience in this remarkable book. For those who think "this can't happen to me, read on....." The book is important because it combines Dr. Penfold's personal experience with a thorough look at the "bigger picture" - that is, what is known about this type of abuse. It is especially invaluble for both those who have been victimized or who know someone who has, but also a very useful guide to those who treat victims of professional abuse. We regularly recommend it.

Gary Schoener, Licensed Psychologist, Minneapolis
5.0 out of 5 stars this book is vital to victims of abuse 10 May 2013
By dean brown - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I found that this book addressed virtually every aspect of the unprofessional care to which I feel I was subjected by a psychiatrist. The book will help anyone who wants to know whether their experience with psychiatry was normal or abnormal. It will help victims of abuse regain their sanity.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read...I recommend 2 April 2013
By Noelle - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I unfortunately experienced sexual abuse by one of my doctors and I found this book very helpful in my recovery. It is written by a psychiatrist who was sexually abused by her psychiatrist while she was in medical school. The book starts out with her sharing her experience, strength and hope. Then it gives statistics of the sexual abuse in the medical the therapudic professions and gives healing advice for those who have been victims. I found her experience to be parallel to my own and felt the book was very healing. I highly recommend it for anyone who is thinking about seeing a doctor who is in a vulnerable position. I was amazed at how prevalent this is in our society. I think many should be informed.
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