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Schlesinger, L.B. (2000). Betrayed as Boys: Psychodynamic Treatment of Sexually Abused Men: Richard B. Gartner. New York: Guilford, 1999. 356 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 69(1):181-183.

(2000). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 69(1):181-183

Betrayed as Boys: Psychodynamic Treatment of Sexually Abused Men: Richard B. Gartner. New York: Guilford, 1999. 356 pp.

Review by:
Louis B. Schlesinger

… those that are betray'd Do feel the treason sharply.

—Shakespeare, Cymbeline

Childhood sexual abuse has occupied a central place in psychoanalytic theory, frequently being the focus of acrimonious debate. For many years, reports of childhood incest and other forms of childhood sexual abuse were largely discredited as fantasies. In fact, Ferenczi's paper describing the lasting effects of childhood sexual trauma gave rise to a heated debate between Ferenczi and Freud, who did not share his former student's viewpoint. Almost seventy years later, the debate continues, perhaps in a somehwat different form. We now hear that pseudomemories of childhood sexual abuse can be—and have been—implanted during therapy. As a result, it is often diffucult to differentiate false memories from recovered memories of actual occurrences.

Notwithstanding current controveries, extensive and well-thoughtout empirical research has focused on various aspects of actual childhood sexual abuse and its consequences. Interestingly, most of this research has studied women as victims and men as abusers. Richard B. Gartner deserves praise for his new book, Betrayed as Boys: Psychodynamic Treatment of Sexually Abused Men, which lends balance to this previously lopsided area of inquiry. Gartner points out that male sexual abuse is underreported and has received comparatively little study, at least partly because sexual relations between boys and adult women are not considered abusive or unwelcome. “If boys have premature sexual experiences, especially with girls or women, they are thought to be ‘sexually initiated,’ not molested” (p 42).

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