Author(s): Christine A. Courtois
Occasionally a book for psychotherapists instantly becomes a classic. Not only do clinicians recognize the excellence and importance of the book, but their clients respond enthusiastically to the accurate portrayal of their experiences and the model for healing. With the publication of Healing the Incest Wound, such a classic was born. Incest is not a rare aberrant happening, but a common childhood experience for a substantial minority of children. Since incest is generally hidden and denied, the victims are left to cope with their reactions in an atmosphere that contradicts their reality. Yet all incest is not the same; for instance, one-time fondling by an uncle has different effects from rapes repeated over many years by a stepfather. The book describes these variations and the symptoms, short-term aftereffects, and long-term secondary elaborations of incest from four theoretical perspectives: traumatic stress, developmental, feminist, and loss. The author not only comprehensively discusses the salient issues of incest therapy but also illustrates these with numerous case studies, showing how incest survivors can heal and build a core of self-respect and dignity.