Judith Lewis Herman

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For American actress, see Judy Lewis.
Judith Lewis Herman
Born 1942 (age 72–73)
Nationality American
Fields Psychiatry
Known for Research on complex post-traumatic stress disorder and incest

Judith Lewis Herman (born 1942) is a psychiatrist, researcher, teacher, and author who has focused on the understanding and treatment of incest and traumatic stress.

Herman is Professor of clinical psychiatry at Harvard University Medical School and Director of Training at the Victims of Violence Program in the Department of Psychiatry at the Cambridge Health Alliance in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a founding member of the Women’s Mental Health Collective.

She was the recipient of the 1996 Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies and the 2000 Woman in Science Award from the American Medical Women's Association. In 2003 she was named a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.


Judith Herman is best known for her distinctive contributions to the understanding of trauma and its victims , as set out in her second book, the now classic study of the diagnostic category post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) , Trauma and Recovery.[1] There she distinguishes between single-incident traumas - one-off events - which she termed Type I traumas, and complex or repeated traumas (Type II).[2] Type I trauma, according to the United States Veterans Administration's Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, "accurately describes the symptoms that result when a person experiences a short-lived psychological trauma.[3] Type II - the concept of complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) - includes "the syndrome that follows upon prolonged, repeated trauma."[4] Although not accepted by DSM-IV as a separate diagnostic category, the notion of complex traumas has been found useful in clinical practice.[5]

Herman equally influentially set out a three-stage sequence of trauma treatment and recovery. The first involved regaining a sense of safety, whether through a therapeutic relationship, medication, relaxation exercises or a combination of all three.[6] The second phase involved active work upon the trauma, fostered by that secure base, and employing any of a range of psychological techniques.[7] The final stage was represented by an advance to a new post-traumatic life,[8] possibly broadened by the experience of surviving the trauma and all it involved.[9]

Herman was interviewed by Harry Kreisler, Executive Director of the Institute of International Studies at the University of California at Berkeley, for his ongoing series Conversations with History at the Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley.[10] She is currently working on a study into the effects of the justice system on victims of sexual violence, with a view to discovering a better way for victims of crimes to be allowed to interact with what she perceives as an 'adversarial' system of crime and punishment in the U.S.[11]



  • Herman, Judith Lewis (1997) [1992]. Trauma and recovery: the aftermath of violence - from domestic abuse to political terror. New York: BasicBooks. ISBN 9780465087303. 
  • Herman, Judith Lewis (2000) [1981]. Father-daughter incest. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674076518. 

Book chapters[edit]

  • Herman, Judith Lewis (2003), "Introduction: hidden in plain sight: clinical observations on prostitution", in Farley, Melissa, Prostitution, trafficking and traumatic stress, Binghamton, New York: Haworth Maltreatment & Trauma Press, pp. 1–16, ISBN 9781136764905.  Sample pdf.



  1. ^ John Marzillier, To Hell and Back (2012) p 302
  2. ^ John Marzillier, To Hell and Back (2012) p 12 and p 02
  3. ^ Whealin,Ph.D., Julia M.; Slone,Ph.D., Laurie (22 May 2007). "National Center for PTSD Fact Sheet: Complex PTSD". National Center for PTSD, United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved 15 March 2008. 
  4. ^ Herman, Judith Lewis (1997) [1992], "A new diagnosis", in Herman, Judith Lewis, Trauma and recovery: the aftermath of violence - from domestic abuse to political terror, New York: BasicBooks, p. 119, ISBN 9780465087303. 
  5. ^ John Marzillier, To Hell and Back (2012) p. 304
  6. ^ D. Goleman, Emotional Intelligence (1996) p. 210-11
  7. ^ John Marzillier, To Hell and Back (2012) p. 182
  8. ^ D. Goleman, Emotional Intelligence (1996) p. 213
  9. ^ John Marzillier, To Hell and Back (2012) p. 256
  10. ^ "Conversation with History; Dr. Judith Lewis Herman". Conversations with History: Institute of International Studies. UC Berkeley. Retrieved December 22, 2007. 
  11. ^ "Center for the Humanities-War: 2009/2010". deimos3.apple.com. 

External Links[edit]