The Trauma Myth (book)

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Susan Clancy is author of The Trauma Myth: The Truth About the Sexual Abuse of Children -- and Its Aftermath, a book that argues that sexually abused children usually experience confusion rather than fear.

Her colleagues, for the most part, were unsympathetic to her book, which was based on her research, and she was violently attacked by those wishing to preserve the "child abuse narrative". Soon after the publishing of her book, she left the U.S. and took a position at the INCAE Business School, an international business school located at the Francisco de Sola campus in Nicaragua.

The following description of The Trauma Myth is from (Link)

Drawing on the latest research on memory and traumatic experience, Susan Clancy, an expert in experimental psychopathology, demonstrates that children describe abuse and molestation encounters in ways that don't fit the conventional trauma model. In fact, the most common feeling reported is not fear but confusion.
Clancy calls for an honest look at sexual abuse and its aftermath, and argues that the reactions of society and the healing professions-however well meaning-actually shackle the victims of abuse in chains of guilt, secrecy, and shame. Pathbreaking and controversial, The Trauma Myth radically reshapes our understanding of sexual abuse and its consequences.

From Wikipedia: (Link)

In January 2010, Perseus Books published her book The Trauma Myth, in which she suggests that child sexual abuse is rarely a traumatic experience for the victims at the time it occurs, and is instead described by victims as confusing. She argues that later in life, after the memories are processed, examined, and more fully understood, the experience becomes traumatic.
Clancy writes in “The Trauma Myth” that when she arrived at Harvard in 1996, the trauma theory held that “a child will only participate in abuse if forced, threatened, or explicitly coerced” (p. 41). Then she interviewed victims and learned, “They did not fight it. It was not done against their will. They went along... only 5% tried to stop it” (p. 41). Clancy concludes that since sexual abuse of children is not violent per se, the millions of victims who did not experience their sex abuse as traumatic grapple with crippling thoughts of shame, embarrassment, and self-blame, thus compounding their suffering. She advocates for a refined understanding of the immediate effects of child sex abuse in order to better help those who are excluded from a clinical and popular culture that embraces the trauma model.

Book Reviews and commentary

NOTE: Most of the following are short summaries. Click the links below the summaries to read the rest.

BoyChat post about The Trauma Myth by Susan Clancy

(NOTE: The following BoyChat post contained all the following links, and has been edited for clarity. Additional sections have been added below with the links which had been included in the original post.)

Posted by Randy on 2014-January-3 01:22:26, Friday

Susan Clancy is a good person. And she really cares about children. She wants only the best for children.

So when she was young, she studied psychology, and became an expert on the subject. She understood how children (and we're talking young children - pubescents and pre-pubescents) were traumatized horribly for life by having sex with adults. She knew in her heart that it was true. She was absolutely positive about it! She had studied all the writings about sexual abuse of children, and she was a true believer! She had no doubts whatsoever - intergenerational sex seriously harmed children. It was a fact!

But there was just one little thing she wasn't so clear about - just exactly how did intergenerational sex harm children? What was the exact mechanism that caused the harm? None of the experts on the subject seemed to give clear information about what exactly caused the harm to children.

So she decided to find out exactly what it was that caused the great harm to children - the harm that she was certain really existed. And what she found surprised her, shocked her, completely shook her beliefs to their very roots. She found out the truth about the harms of child sexual abuse.

And when she did, she was forced by her colleagues to flee the country, and her until-then very successful career was destroyed forever! She is now a ruined women, doing menial research in obscurity in a small Central-American country, wondering exactly how everything went so horribly wrong.

Consensual, non-violent/not overtly coercive sexual activity involving adults and minors, contrary to popular belief, does NOT normally cause trauma to young people - even when engaged it at a very early age. Susan Clancy demonstrates this through her research, but fails to reach this (obvious) conclusion in her text.

Susan Clancy, in a nutshell, describes her theories on why sexual abuse is not seen as such by victims until the therapist has "reconceptualized" fully for the victim how the victims truly were abused and how their trust had been violated, even though the victims originally deny having felt that they had actually been abused.

The Trauma Of Child Sexual Abuse? Sorry Folks, But It Is A Myth!


Read it and weep, second-wave feminists, antis and VirPeds. All the great suffering you have caused for millions of people was all for nothing! All those BoyLovers lives that you ruined was all for nothing! For nothing!


Richard Green

BOOK REVIEW by Richard Green, in: Archives of Sexual Behavior

The Trauma Myth: Understanding the True Dynamics of Sexual Abuse, By Susan A. Clancy. Basic Books, New York, 2009, 236 pp., $25.00, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

The headline, press release, book title message trumpeted here is: Most children who experience sexual contact with adults are not traumatized at the time of the experience. Breaking news? Non-traumatic child–adult sexuality has been previously reported by International Academy of Sex Research members Gagnon (1965), Sandfort (1984), Okami (1991), and Rind (Rind, Tromovitch, & Bauserman, 1998). Here, however, Clancy presents it in italicized, bold, upper case 26 font.

Nevertheless, Clancy repeatedly reminds us how evil this non-traumatic (at the time) experience actually is. This moral mantra is identified as the catalyst of later trauma: ‘‘It is the act of sexual abuse and not the damage it causes that makes it wrong’’ (p. 185), ‘‘the act is inherently vile’’ (p. 186), ‘‘why sexual abuse damages victims probably has little to do with the actual abuse and a lot to do with what happens in its aftermath’’ (p. 113), and ‘‘Sexual abuse is very wrong, regardless of how it affects victims’’ (p. 185), etc.

Thus, it is this aura of evil in the adult world that energizes the social construction of trauma that attaches to experience that was not traumatic. Contact morphs to abuse. This is Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) without the T.

Clancy stresses how this insight should shape therapy with traumatized adults. But is Clancy, when broadcasting the trauma myth while invoking the moral mantra, contributing to the problem or the solution? Might her finding be an argument to dilute societal condemnation so that delayed trauma would be diminished? If non-pedophile adults became less excited about adult–child sexual contact that was not aggressive/ violent, as with adult–adult sexuality that is not aggressive/ violent, could this reduce the nascent trauma?...

Continue reading this review at the following link:

William A. Percy

The most spectacular and debated book on this subject is Clancy's boldly entitled The Trauma Myth. It has driven a stake through the heart of the dogmatic assertion of the child sexual abuse industry that intergenerational sex - even that of infants under 6 and children under 13 with adults over 18 - is automatically traumatic to the younger person. Clancy, who interviewed only victims not hospitalized or in treatment, says that it only traumatizes those 10% compelled by violence and intimidation. [...] Clancy’s work is not without flaws

Continue reading this review at the following link: Susan Clancy's Stake Through The Heart Of The Child Sex Abuse Industry

"Dissident" (anonymous nick)

Trauma Myth - An Analysis Of The Susan Clancy Interview, Sep 11 2011]

This essay concerns an article on [...] about the sex abuse industry, this time an interview that columnist Thomas Rogers conducts with controversial author Susan Clancy regarding her extraordinary 2009 book, "The Trauma Myth". This book [...] dispels one of society's most fervent myths about adult interaction with youths: that such interactions are always traumatic for the young person and will transform all such youth participants into emotionally "damaged goods" for the rest of their lives. A section of this essay, headed as "Not women, but men" - True?" gives much information about the role of women in sexual abuse and other abuse of children.

Link to continue reading:

Ray Harris

Ray notes that many victims are not heard because their story does not fit with the generally accepted trauma model of, among others, David Finkelhor. He notes that Clancy indeed does listen to the victims, but that she also gives a moral judgement. "Always, always listen to the victim. If they tell you they thought it was wrong, but liked it and went along with it, then accept what they say and validate their experience. Whatever you do, don’t become morally outraged on their behalf because then they might to begin to doubt themselves and enter the spiral of negative thoughts that are the real cause of stress. [...] Dare I suggest that more harm, more trauma has been caused by the self-appointed moral protectors than by the the actual abuse itself."

Link to continue reading: The Trauma Myth by Susan Clancy (book review and commentary by Ray Harris)]

Peter Herman

In her book, The Trauma Myth, Susan Clancy, citing her scientific study, details a finding that anyone who has ever been subjected to non-violent, but unsolicited sexual advances in childhood could have come to on their own. Namely, the experience is seldom traumatic to the individual at the time. Although I have not done any formal research in this area, my own experiences, some of which I will expound on shortly, can attest to the validity of Clancy's astonishing finding.

Link to continue reading:" The Trauma Myth - Susan A. Clancy - (book review)


I am a paedophile and I've read your book ["The Trauma Myth"]. ...

But despite of your wit you write really stupid things about the question. Your prejudice against the child lovers does not allow you to understand simple things. If you are real scientist, not moralist, you would be able to answer the next topics: ... ... ...

So, Susan, I disproved all ideological stratification on your scientific work. ...

And if "victims need to hear the truth" tell them truth.

Link to continue reading:Hello, Susan


A letter from an Ipce-member to Ipce, criticizing Susan Clancy's book and essay about the Trauma myth:

When "victims" of "sexual abuse" are originally "abused" (in non-violent cases) they feel neutral or positive about the events. They feel no guilt or shame - they are unaware that they have been "abused". When do they actually find out that they have been abused?

When the events are "reconceptualized" within the minds of the "victims", with the help of the "therapist". Only then do they feel the shame and guilt, followed by anger at the so-called "perpetrator" that the therapist feels they should feel.

It seems that Susan Clancy is unfamiliar with the concept of disorders of iatrogenic origin. She treated so-called "victims" of so-called "sexual abuse" (by her own definition, of course).

But these "victims" refused to call it abuse! They said they either didn't mind the abuse, or actually found it enjoyable. And Ms Clancy just couldn't understand it.

So the so-called "abuse" had to be "reconceptualized" within the mind of the "victim". This, of course, was done by the "therapist".

So the "therapist" creates the shame, guilt, and anger within the "victim". Then the therapist finally has a real "victim", one who will finally give testimony to the world about how badly they were abused  - and about how successful the "therapy" has been...

This all goes on, of course, in $120-per-hour sessions of "therapy" for the "victim". Everyone benefits - the "victim" now "truly understands" how they were "victimized", the therapist earns a very good living, the criminal-justice system has grist for their mills, and all is well and good.

Except, of course, there is the small question of the "perpetrator" and the destruction of his life, his removal from family and society, the opportunity-cost of this, and the huge amounts of tax-payers money invested in his arrest, prosecution, and incarceration.

But the loss of his ability to generate economic and social benefits for himself, his family, and society in general are acceptable to society, (allegedly) because the "victims" now have the opportunity for "closure" after having suffered from their "abuse" at the hands of the "perpetrators".

Am I understanding all of this correctly?

Something strikes me as wrong in all of this...

SOURCE: About the Trauma Myth, Sep 20 2012

The "false memories" and "repressed memories" debate

False memories may be easily created through "suggestion", as in the McMartin pre-school hysteria and trials. Either so-called "repressed memories", or specific details of real memories may also be created in the same way. Shame and guilt can be created by therapists within "child abuse victims" as well. The following articles discuss this.

Richard J. McNally & Elke Geraerts

The controversy regarding recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) has been characterized by two perspectives.

[1] According to one perspective, some people repress their memories of abuse because these experiences have been so emotionally traumatic, and they become capable of recalling the CSA only when it is psychologically safe to do so many years later.

[2] According to the other perspective, many reports of recovered memories of sexual abuse are false memories, often inadvertently fostered by therapists.

In this article, we provide evidence for a third interpretation that applies to a subset of people reporting recollections of CSA; it does not require the concepts of repression, trauma, or false memory. These people did not experience their CSA as traumatic; they either failed to think about their abuse for years or forgot their previous recollections, and they recalled their CSA spontaneously after encountering reminders outside of psychotherapy. Their recovered memories are corroborated at the same rate as those of people who never forgot their abuse. Hence, recalling CSA after many years is not the same thing as having recalled a previously repressed memory of trauma.

Link to continue reading:" A New Solution to the Recovered Memory Debate; Perspectives on Psychological Science 2009; 4(2), 126-134

Susan A. Clancy & Richard J. McNally

Who needs repression? Normal memory processes can explain 'forgetting' of childhood sexual abuse

Conclusions in short:

(1) CSA is not necessarily traumatic at the time it occurs,

(2) CSA can be forgotten via normal forgetting mechanisms, and

(3) it may be the retrospective interpretation of the event, rather than the event itself, that mediates its subsequent impact.

This article is in Ipce's Library 3 (because of the double frame needed for text and references) - here is the abstract and a link to the article.

Link to continue reading:" Who needs repression?; The Science Review of Mental health Practice, Vol. 4, Number 2, Fall-winter 2005-2006, pp 66 - 73. , Dec 01 2005

Interview with Susan A. Clancy about her book

Susan Clancy, in a nutshell, describes her theories on why sexual abuse is not seen as such by victims until the therapist has "reconceptualized" fully for the victim how the victims truly were abused and how their trust had been violated, even though the victims originally deny having felt that they had actually been abused.

Link to continue reading:The Trauma Myth: Understanding the True Dynamics of Sexual Abuse, Jun 03 2010

Susan Clancy's admission about feminists having lied about child sexual abuse

Susan Clancy has stated the following in an interview on the progressive news site

"'In the 1950s and 1960s, psychiatrists were very open and honest about sexual abuse, but there was also that tendency to think it was the child's fault. Feminists were naturally infuriated, because it's not the children's fault! But the way they got attention to it was to portray the sexual abuse in a way that would shock people. They did that by comparing it to a rape. Before that, the reaction from the medical and psych communities was, 'This is not something we really care about.' It wasn't until feminists and child-protection advocates misportrayed it that we were able to arouse massive medical and scientific attention to the topic.'

The Trauma Myth - Susan Clancy - The Book

Consensual, non-violent/not overtly coercive sexual activity involving adults and minors, contrary to popular belief, does NOT normally cause trauma to young people - even when engaged in at a very early age. Susan Clancy demonstrates this through her research, but fails to reach this (obvious) conclusion in her text.

Comments and reviews present in Ipce's library are at this link, as well as a link to the .PDF version of the book.

Link to continue reading:The Trauma Myth - Susan Clancy - The Book; 257 pp


The Trauma Myth - Susan Clancy (original .PDF format) - large download, 37Mb

The Trauma Myth - Susan Clancy (as .HTML)

The Trauma Myth - Susan Clancy (as .EPUB file)

The Trauma Myth - Susan Clancy (as .MOBI file)

External links

  • A .PDF copy of this BoyWiki article, for redistribution to judges, politicians, journalists, and others concerned about the topic of child sexual abuse, may be downloaded at this link:
  • For more information on the debate about intergenerational sexual relations, see: