Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Betrayed as Boys: Psychodynamic Treatment of Sexually Abused Men

Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Betrayed as Boys: Psychodynamic Treatment of Sexually Abused Men

Article excerpt

RICHARD B. GARDNER: Betrayed as Boys: Psychodynamic Treatment of Sexually Abused Men. The Guilford Press, New York, 1999, 356 pp., $40.00, ISBN 1-5723 0-467-7.

This comprehensive, insightful book is about a relatively new clinical area: the sexual abuse of boys by women and men, the psychological problems they encounter as adults, the denial by the community and therapists that there was such a problem, their psychological evaluation, and their psychodynamic treatment. Gardner is trained both as a family therapist and interpersonal psychoanalyst. He is a graduate of the William Alanson White Institute of New York, and Director of the Institute's Center for the Study of Psychological Trauma. This reviewer is a child and adolescent psychiatrist who does not treat sexually abused adults. He learned a great deal from this book about an area with which he was unfamiliar.

The author's primary orientation is elaborated in detail in Chapter 1 "The Sexual Betrayal of Boys." Sexual Betrayal results from interpersonal experience that is usually described as sexual abuse, incest or sexual trauma. Betrayal is "the violation of implicit or explicit trust" (p. 13) in relationship. A boy should have achieved this during his growing up years. The betrayed boy feels most often as an adult "jagged, awry, fractured, recklessly hurt" (p. 13), and uses various psychological defenses to cope with this. In this chapter, Gardner lists the myths about sexual victimization, the growing body of professional literature (the references on the long list date from the middle 1980s and run through the 1990s), and discusses the prevalence of sexual victimization. He defines the meaning of sexual abuse and differentiates between contact abuse and noncontact abuse. He provides behavioral descriptions of sexual betrayal for boys and discusses its aftermath. …

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