From 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.
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Clancy argues the controversial position that survivors of childhood sexual abuse are victimized not only by their abusers, whose acts often leave them more confused (due to incomprehension) than frightened, but also and inadvertently by well-intentioned health professionals, whose interpretations of abusive experiences are often more traumatic than actual events and effects. Well-meaning practitioners emphasize abuse’s violence, fear, and threats, which “do not characterize the experiences that most victims have.” Challenging the traumatogenic model’s assumptions and origins, Clancy questions the “repression” concept of “recovered” memories as oddly selective compared to conceptions of other major traumas. Skillfully interweaving case studies, statistics, and technical data, she disputes that abusive acts destabilize neurobiology as in other traumas. Positing that the trauma model damages victims with inaccurate predictions and ineffective treatments, she recommends tracking consequences via cognitive, behavioral, and developmental pathways because “what hurts most victims is not the experience itself but the meaning of the experience—how victims make sense of what happened . . . how these understandings make them feel about themselves and others.” --Whitney Scott