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Saakvitne, K.W. (1997). Victimized Daughters: Incest and the Development of the Female Self: Janet Liebman Jacobs, Boston: Routledge, 1994, 209 pp., $17.99 (paperback), $53.00 (clothbound). Psychoanal. Psychol., 14(4):549-553.

(1997). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 14(4):549-553

Victimized Daughters: Incest and the Development of the Female Self: Janet Liebman Jacobs, Boston: Routledge, 1994, 209 pp., $17.99 (paperback), $53.00 (clothbound)

Review by:
Karen W. Saakvitne, Ph.D.

In her thorough and thought-provoking volume, Victimized Daughters: Incest and the Development of the Female Self, Janet Liebman Jacobs draws on interview data from 50 women to illustrate the impact of childhood incest on female development. Jacobs writes, “With an increasing awareness of the extent to which incest impacts large numbers of female children, theories of development must now take into account the effects of traumatic sexualization on the personality formation of victimized daughters” (p. 2). The book presents her “framework for understanding the relationship between incest and the construction of the female self' (p. 3).

The research design uses questionnaire and in-depth interview data that allows for both quantitative and qualitative analyses (Armsworth, 1993). The sample size of 50 is a reasonable number for such conten-rich-data, and the representation of members of different socioeconomic, ethnic, sexual orientation, and religious groups increases the generalizability and relevance of the findings. Jacobs does not, however, present empirical findings from the interviews, other than preliminary demographics; rather, she uses quotations from the interviews throughout the book to support different generalizations and hypotheses. Given the richness of the data, it was disappointing not to see some of the statistical patterns from which to draw one's own conclusions and against which to measure Jacobs's assertions.

Jacobs is well versed in trauma theory and feminist psychoanalytic theory and offers critiques of Freudian and object-relational psychoanalytic theorists in the realms of trauma and feminine development. She thoughtfully addresses the current controversy about delayed memory recall, emphasizing both its political/historical context and its clinical/scientific ramifications.

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