Judith Lewis Herman Quotes

Who is Judith Lewis Herman?

Judith Lewis Herman is an American psychiatrist, author and professor at Harvard and Cambridge. Herman has focused on the understanding and treatment of incest and traumatic stress.

Born March 31, 1942

Books by Judith Lewis Herman


Best 30 Quotes by Judith Lewis Herman

Father-Daughter Incest Quotes

“As long as fathers rule but do not nurture, as long as mothers nurture but do not rule, the conditions favoring the development of father-daughter incest will prevail.”

Father-Daughter Incest

“Because the child does not have the power to withhold consent, she does not have the power to grant it.”

Father-Daughter Incest

“Father-daughter incest is not only the type of incest most frequently reported but also represents a paradigm of female sexual victimization. The relationship between father and daughter, adult male and female child, is one of the most unequal relationships imaginable. It is no accident that incest occurs most often precisely in the relationship where the female is most powerless. The actual sexual encounter may be brutal or tender, painful or pleasurable; but it is always, inevitably, destructive to the child. The father, in effect, forces the daughter to pay with her body for affection and care which should be freely given.”

Father-Daughter Incest

“It is regarded as axiomatic that parents have more power than children. This is an inescapable biological fact; young children are completely dependent on their parents or other caring adults for survival.”

Father-Daughter Incest

“Maternal absence, in one form or another, is always found in the background of the incest romance. Womens literature on incest generally treats the theme of maternal absence tragically. Mens literature trivializes it or treats it comically. And clinical literature tends to treat it judgmentally.”

Father-Daughter Incest

“Since most sexual abuse begins well before puberty, preventive education, if it is to have any effect at all, should begin early in grade school.”

Father-Daughter Incest

“The horror of incest is not in the sexual act. but in the exploitation of children and the corruption of parental love.”

Father-Daughter Incest

“The vast majority of incest begins years before the earliest conceivable age of consent.”

Father-Daughter Incest

Trauma and Recovery Quotes

“After a traumatic experience, the human system of self-preservation seems to go onto permanent alert, as if the danger might return at any moment.”

Trauma and Recovery

“Dissociation appears to be the internal mechanism by which terrorized people are silenced.”

Trauma and Recovery

“Fragmentation in the inner representations of the self prevents the integration of identity. Fragmentation in the inner representations of others prevents the development of a reliable sense of independence within connection.”

Trauma and Recovery

“In order to escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of his victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure no one listens.”

Trauma and Recovery

“In practice the standard for what constitutes rape is set not at the level of women's experience of violation but just above the level of coercion acceptable to men.”

Trauma and Recovery

“In situations of captivity the perpetrator becomes the most powerful person in the life of the victim, and the psychology of the victim is shaped by the actions and beliefs of the perpetrator.”

Trauma and Recovery

Products by Judith Lewis Herman

“In the absence of strong political movements for human rights, the active process of bearing witness inevitably gives way to the active process of forgetting. Repression, dissociation, and denial are phenomena of social as well as individual consciousness.”

Trauma and Recovery

“It is very tempting to take the side of the perpetrator. All the perpetrator asks is that the bystander do nothing. He appeals to the universal desire to see, hear, and speak no evil. The victim, on the contrary, asks the bystander to share the burden of pain. The victim demands action, engagement, and remembering.”

Trauma and Recovery

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“Success means successful living. When you are peaceful, happy, joyous, and doing what you love to do, you are successful.”

The Power of Your Subconscious Mind


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“People who have survived atrocities often tell their stories in a highly emotional, contradictory and fragmented manner.”

Trauma and Recovery

“Recovery can only take place within the context of relationships; it cannot occur in isolation.”

Trauma and Recovery

“Recovery unfolds in three stages. The central task of the first stage is the establishment of safety. The central task of the second stage is remembrance and mourning. The central focus of the third stage is reconnection with ordinary life.”

Trauma and Recovery

“Repeated trauma in childhood forms and deforms the personality. The child trapped in an abusive environment is faced with formidable tasks of adaptation. She must find a way to preserve a sense of trust in people who are untrustworthy, safety in a situation that is unsafe, control in a situation that is terrifyingly unpredictable, power in a situation of helplessness. Unable to care for or protect herself, she must compensate for the failures of adult care and protection with the only means at her disposal, an immature system of psychological defenses.”

Trauma and Recovery

“Repetition is the mute language of the abused child.”

Trauma and Recovery

“Some patients resist the diagnosis of a post-traumatic disorder. They may feel stigmatized by any psychiatric diagnosis or wish to deny their condition out of a sense of pride. Some people feel that acknowledging psychological harm grants a moral victory to the perpetrator, in a way that acknowledging physical harm does not.”

Trauma and Recovery

“Survivors feel unsafe in their bodies. Their emotions and their thinking feel out of control. They also feel unsafe in relation to other people.”

Trauma and Recovery

“The conflict between the will to deny horrible events and the will to proclaim them aloud is the central dialectic of psychological trauma.”

Trauma and Recovery

“The desire for total control over another person is the common denominator of all forms of tyranny.”

Trauma and Recovery

“The ordinary response to atrocities is to banish them from consciousness. Certain violations of the social compact are too terrible to utter aloud: this is the meaning of the word unspeakable.”

Trauma and Recovery

“The study of psychological trauma has repeatedly led into realms of the unthinkable and foundered on fundamental questions of belief.”

Trauma and Recovery

“The three most common narcissistic snares are the aspirations to heal all, know all, and love all.”

Trauma and Recovery

Products by Judith Lewis Herman

“Though both partners may wish for reconciliation, their unspoken goals are often sharply in conflict. The abuser usually wishes to reestablish his pattern of coercive control, while the victim wishes to resist it.”

Trauma and Recovery

“When trust is lost, traumatized people feel that they belong more to the dead than to the living.”

Trauma and Recovery

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“You may think that there is so much to remember, so much to do.
There isn't, you know. It is all in one word: accept.”

Peace from Nervous Suffering


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