Oedipus complex, in psychoanalytic theory

The Oedipus complex is a psychoanalytic theory proposing that children have possessive sexual desires for their opposite-sex parent while viewing their same-sex parent as a rival and that the complex is resolved when children overcome their incestuous and competitive emotions and begin to view their same-sex parent as a role model. Established by psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud in 1899, the theory is controversial.


A fascinating Q&A with the pioneering clinician who helped define covert incest.

Back in the 1980s I became involved personally with the Adult Children of Alcoholics movement, and then, professionally, I began to treat adult children of alcoholics. What I found was that a lot of these people had played the role of surrogate husband or wife to a distraught parent as a result of the other parent’s alcoholism. I noticed that story unfolding repeatedly, and I began to write about it. I also noticed a strong connection between this early-life enmeshment and adult-life sexual acting out. I published the first article on this in 1987. And of course I started looking into this more deeply, creating surveys and doing some research to find the patterns and connections.


Checklist of Enmeshment

  1. I felt closer to one parent than the other.
  2. I was a source of emotional support for one parent.
  3. I was “best friends” with a parent.
  4. A parent shared confidences with me.
  5. A parent was deeply involved in my activities or in developing my talents
  6. a parent took a lot of pride in my abilities or achievements.
  7. I was given special privileges or gifts by one of my parents.
  8. One of my parents told me in confidence that I was the favorite, most talented, ormost lovable child.
  9. A parent thought I was better company than his/her spouse.
  10. I sometimes felt guilty when I spent time away form one of my parents.
  11. I got the impression a parent did not want me to marry or move far away form home.
  12. When I was young I idolized one of my parents.
  13. Any potential boyfriend/girlfriend of mind was never good enough for one of myparents.


  1. A parent seemed overly aware of my sexuality.
  2. A parent made inappropriate sexual remarks or violated my privacy.

 Part B. Indication of Unmet Adult Needs

  1. My parents were separated, divorced, widowed, or didn’t get along very well.
  2. One of my parents was often lonely, angry or depressed.
  3. One of my parents did not have a lot of friends.
  4. One or both parent had a drinking or drug problem.
  5. One of my parents thought the other parent was too indulgent or permissive.
  6. I felt I had to hold back my own needs to protect a parent.
  7. A parent turned to me for comfort or advice.
  8. A parent seemed to rely on me more than on my siblings.
  9. I felt responsible for a parent’s happiness.
  10. My parents disagreed about parenting issues.

 Part C. Indication of Parental Neglect of Abuse

  1. My needs were often ignored or neglected.
  2. There was a great deal of conflict between me a parent.
  3. I was called hurtful names by a parent.
  4. One of my parents had unrealistic expectations of me.
  5. One of my parents was very critical of me.
  6. I sometimes wanted to hide from a parent or had fantasies of running away.
  7. When I was a child, other families seemed less emotionally intense than mine.
  8. It was often a relief to get away from home.
  9. I sometimes felt invaded by a parent.
  10. I sometimes felt I added to a parent’s unhappiness.
  •   10 or more endorsements – possibly emotional incest. Look at how the checked itemscluster.
  •   The Adult Cost of Being a Chosen Child
  •   They feel polar opposites: Privileged and victimized, talented and worthless, blessedand cursed.
  •   Sometimes these opposites are felt every day and sometimes years apart.
  •   For every privilege from a parent, there is a jealous reaction from someone else.

The Emotional Incest Syndrome
What To Do When a Parent’s Love Rules Your Life By Dr. Patricia Love

Decisions Making!

When we make decisions, we’re not always in charge. We can be too impulsive or too deliberate for our own good; one moment we hotheadedly let our emotions get the better of us, and the next we’re paralyzed by uncertainty. Then we’ll pull a brilliant decision out of thin air—and wonder how we did it. Though we may have no idea how decision making happens, neuroscientists peering into our brains are beginning to get the picture. What they’re finding may not be what you want to hear, but it’s worth your while to listen.

Spots on Brains 

Eye-popping color images of brain scans in the popular press imply that scientists are pinpointing the precise location in the brain of feelings like fear, disgust, pleasure, and trust. But the researchers doing this work are highly circumspect about just what these colorful spots show. The two most common scanning methods, PET (positron emission tomography) and fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging), offer only approximations of what’s really going on in the brain. PET, the older and less popular of the two, measures blood flow in the brain; fMRI measures the amount of oxygen in the blood. Local blood flow and oxygenation indicate how active a part of the brain is but offer a crude snapshot at best. These scanners typically can’t see anything smaller than a peppercorn and can take only one picture every two seconds. But neural activity in the brain can occur in a fraction of the space and time that scanners can reveal. Thus, the splashy images we see are impressionistic, and the conclusions researchers draw about them are usually qualified—and often disputed. Like the images themselves, the details of brain function are just beginning to come into focus.


Decision-making and reasoning

Each hemisphere has four sections, called lobes: frontal, parietal, temporal and occipital. Each lobe controls specific functions. For example, the frontal lobe controls personality, decisionmaking and reasoning, while the temporal lobe controls, memory, speech, and sense of smell.

The frontal lobes are important for voluntary movement, expressive language and for managing higher level executive functions. Executive functions refer to a collection of cognitive skills including the capacity to plan, organise, initiate, self-monitor and control one’s responses in order to achieve a goal.

The frontal lobe is the largest lobe of the brain. The frontal lobe plays a role in regulating emotions in interpersonal relationships and social situations. These include positive (happiness, gratitude, satisfaction) as well as negative (anger, jealousy, pain, sadness) emotions.

You have two frontal lobes: one in the right hemisphere of your brain and one in the left hemisphere of your brain. They’re located in the area of the brain that’s directly behind your forehead.

Your frontal lobes are vital for many important functions. These can include, but aren’t limited to, voluntary movement, speech, and problem-solving. Damage to the frontal lobes can affect one or more of the functions of this area of your brain. 

An injury, stroke, infection, or neurodegenerative disease most often causes damage to the frontal lobes. Treatment depends on the cause of the damage and typically involves several types of rehabilitative therapy.


Can children ever fully recover for being alienated?

In 2007, I conducted a quantitative research study to examine the long-term effects of PAS. The study’s findings demonstrated that adult children of divorce who perceived experiencing greater levels of PAS also perceived experiencing greater levels of  psychological distress such as depression, anxiety, hostility, interpersonal sensitivity, obsessive compulsivity, paranoid ideation, phobic anxiety, hallucinations, delusions, and the presence of certain physical symptoms such as feelings of numbness, soreness, tingling, and heaviness in various parts of the body. To date, most researchers agree that alienated children, primarily in severe PAS cases, are less likely to re-establish a  bond later in life with their rejected parents. Although not common, some children, youths and adult-children do change their minds. Some, for instance, eventually acknowledge that they have been programmed by an alienating parent and after intensive treatment interventions are able to reconcile their relationship with the rejected parent.


My Positive Experience of Cafcass

Stuart tells us about his split from his wife and subsequent experiences with Cafcass:

I’m writing this on Christmas Eve, sat at my PC with just a daft German Shepherd for company. It’s the first Christmas in eight years that I haven’t heard the buzz of excited children in the house. Don’t feel sorry for me, though – life is good and full of endless opportunity and laughter. I wanted to write this, as it’s a story of hope and proof that, sometimes, the system can be fair on dads.

Read More

Staying Connected

Had a wonderful Saturday evening on Zoom talking to long lost relatives, and our group is growing!

Its is important for alienated children to try and reconnect with as many relatives as possible after being alienated from everyone for many years.

I receive many emails and messages on social media from Alienated families and adult children who have lost contact because the alienator has taken over their lives, and prevented them seeing or contacting their family and friends.

Children feel secure and loved when they have strong and positive family relationships

A family constitutes people who are related to each other and share an emotional bond and similar values. Family members can be related by birth, marriage, or adoption.

Your immediate family includes parents, siblings, spouse, and children. And your extended family includes people you are related to, such as grandparents, cousins, aunts & uncles, nephews, nieces etc.

Characteristics of a Strong Family








With a kid away at school or a parent separated from the family, figuring out who makes the first communication move is sometimes difficult.

“If someone doesn’t take that risk and reach out, it’s not going to happen.”

Over 40 years ago, only 4 of us left sadly

Linda – Always By Your Side

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