Healing The Incest Wound
Reviewed by Bryan M. Knight
editionChristine A. CourtoisW.W. Norton & Company New York.
While this 748 page book contains excellent guidance for the seasonedtherapist in dealing with survivors of incest – plus a thorough index, anamazing reference section, guide to further reading and exhaustiveappendices for both incest survivors and their counsellors – its warnings of the inherent challenges and dangers in this field would likely frighten off thenovice professional.Courtois expands the definition of incest way beyond the father-daughter or brother-sister stereotype. While the emphasis is on family incest (of variouskinds including step-parents, mother-son and uncles, aunts and cousins) sheincludes, for example, betrayal by inadequately trained or mentally disturbedtherapists as well as the now infamous priestly pedophilia.And she cites a Boston Globe article to warn of the dangers awaiting young people on the Internet (giving an ironic unintended new meaning to the term‘social media’): “90,000
convicted sex offenders
on MySpace and asimilarly large number on Facebook.Courtois tells us that at least 20% of women have suffered at least oneinstance of abuse and that the sexual abuse of boys is “greatlyunderestimated.” No wonder a hypnotherapist colleague once told me thatsexual abuse of children is so widespread that it could be considered“normal”.The reason such abuse, particularly incest, is not “normal” is not only therevulsion many of us have toward the subject but more importantly, thenegative effects on the abused children – and the cycle of intergenerationalabuse so often engendered by the first perpetrator.