chapter  One
16 Pages

The intellectual and emotional journey toward understanding the incest trauma

ByArnold W. Rachman, Susan A. Klett

When I (Arnold W. Rachman), first started treating an incest survivor, about thirty-five years ago, I did not fully appreciate the complexities of this dark side of the human experience. Intellectually, I had not been exposed to, neither had I sought out, nor was I aware of, the professional literature regarding sexual trauma. My lack of study of incest, child abuse, and child exploitation was a combination of “emotional blindness” to these issues and almost a complete lack of academic and professional training. For example, while I was a graduate student in Human Development and Clinical Psychology during the early 1960s, I do not remember any discussion on the emotional, interpersonal, and social struggle of children with adults who exploit, abuse, torture, or murder them. Emotional and physical abuse was mentioned, but not sexual abuse. None of the academics or clinicians I studied with in the 1960s confronted the issue of the incest trauma. When studying the phenomenon of the feral child on my own (Rachman, 1978), I was emotionally moved by the monumental emotional and physical abuse that feral children suffered at the hands of their parents. Academically, the discussions about feral children focused on whether such children were autistic (Bettelheim, 1959) and the effects of deprivation on 2language and personality development. There was very little, or no, attention to the issue of sexual abuse, which has continued (Rachman, 2012d).