Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 39, Issue 5, pp 1205–1206 | Cite as

The Trauma Myth

By Susan A. Clancy. Basic Books, New York, 2009, 236 pp., $25.00
  • Richard GreenEmail author
Book Review

The headline, press release, book title message trumpeted here is: Most children who experience sexual contact with adults are not traumatized at the time of the experience. Breaking news? Non-traumatic child–adult sexuality has been previously reported by International Academy of Sex Research members Gagnon (1965), Sandfort (1984), Okami (1991), and Rind (Rind, Tromovitch, & Bauserman, 1998). Here, however, Clancy presents it in italicized, bold, upper case 26 font.

Nevertheless, Clancy repeatedly reminds us how evil this non-traumatic (at the time) experience actually is. This moral mantra is identified as the catalyst of later trauma: “It is the act of sexual abuse and not the damage it causes that makes it wrong” (p. 185), “the act is inherently vile” (p. 186), “why sexual abuse damages victims probably has little to do with the actual abuse and a lot to do with what happens in its aftermath” (p. 113), and “Sexual abuse is very wrong, regardless of how it affects victims” (p. 185),...


  1. Gagnon, J. (1965). Female child victims of sex offenses. Social Problems, 13, 176–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Okami, P. (1991). Self-reports of “positive” childhood and adolescent sexual contacts with older persons. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 20, 437–457.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Rind, B., Tromovitch, P., & Bauserman, E. (1998). A meta-analytic examination of assumed properties of child sexual abuse using college samples. Psychological Bulletin, 124, 22–53.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Sandfort, T. (1984). Sex in pedophiliac relationships: an empirical investigation among a nonrepresentative group of boys. Journal of Sex Research, 20, 123–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychological MedicineImperial CollegeLondonUK

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