Damage Caused by Emotional Incest
(Please realize this list is not exhaustive.)
- Confusion about Boundaries: In healthy parent-child relationships, the adult takes care of the child and the child learns to find rest and security in knowing that their parent is “in charge.” In an emotionally incestuous relationship, boundaries are blurred and distorted.The child is the adult’s “object” whose purpose is to meet the needs of the adult. The child is made to be responsible for the perverted and delusional needs of the adult’s fantasies.
- Enmeshed Relationships: Children raised with emotional incest are primed for later enmeshed relationships. This is a boundary issue. The perpetrator of emotional incest is putting his child in an enmeshed relationship.When the child grows up, she feels confusion in her adult relationships, not knowing where she ends and the other person begins. She may have problems parenting her own children, and may over-identify with her children’s feelings.
- Lack of Sense of Self: Because as a child the adult survivor‘s purpose was to meet the parent’s emotional needs, her own needs and feelings “didn’t matter.” She learned that who she was didn’t matter. Not only does she lack self-esteem, she lacks self. She is so used to being defined by her perpetrator that she does not know how to define herself.