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Joachim, N. (2009). Overcoming Childhood Sexual Trauma. A Guide to breaking Through the Wall of Fear for Practioners and Survivors, by Sheri Oz and Sarah-Jane Ogiers, The Haworth Press. New York, London, Oxford, 2006, 308 pp., $39.95. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 37(2):398-399.

(2009). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 37(2):398-399

Overcoming Childhood Sexual Trauma. A Guide to breaking Through the Wall of Fear for Practioners and Survivors, by Sheri Oz and Sarah-Jane Ogiers, The Haworth Press. New York, London, Oxford, 2006, 308 pp., $39.95

Review by:
Nancy Joachim, M.D.

If anyone has ever written a guide for the perplexed psychiatrist, Ms. Oz and Ms. Ogiers now have. This book is a guide for most of us who have little or no training in treating the unbearable feelings associated with the trauma of sexual abuse. Learning to how to treat sexual abuse is not a requirement in residency, despite the fact that a significant percentage of patients have suffered it. And treatment is a challenge to any clinician who will allow themselves to imagine what these patients might have experienced.

In the past 25 years there has been enormous criticism and controversy over the historical treatment of sexual abuse reports as fantasy. This was a result of Freud's recanting his original paper “The Aetiology of Hysteria(Freud, 1896) on the seduction theory, presented in 1896. First, Freud said “I had shown them the solution to a more than thousand-year-old problem-a caput Nili” (Freud, 1896). But then, because he feared being ostracized by the perpetrators of the abuse who were his influential Viennese patients, he reneged on the facts. When Jeffrey Masson was Project Director of the Freud Archives he published the scandalous findings which caused an uproar in psychoanalytic circles (Masson, 1985). As a result there was an uproar and Masson was ostracized from Psychoanalysis. Later, Bennet Simon (1992), an Israeli psychoanalyst who doubted Masson's claims, earnestly scrutinized Masson's scholarship and found his research to be impeccable. As a result of the work of Masson and outspoken Feminists in the 1980s the reality of trauma was acknowledged. Later Herman (1992) and others published their works on trauma.

Still, there are few treatment manuals which outline the delicate process of “breaking through the wall of fear” (Chapter 4) which prevents treatment from progressing.

Sherri Oz and Laura Ogiers give testimony to a therapy which tolerates all and gives license to feeling the unbearable in a safe place. This is a well referenced and practical manual which I anticipate will be most helpful to clinicians faced with treating this type of ‘survivor.’ The author, Ms. Oz is an Israeli psychotherapist and she seems to draw on the collective wisdom of her own culture's extensive treatment of survivors of many sorts.

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