Incest: Keeping It In The Family

Even if it seems like Incest can be described easily as somebody does below, it is, undoubtedly one of the hardest topics in the world to talk or even think about.

“Prohibited sexual relations between members of a close kinship group, such as between parents and children or between brothers and sisters. The term is often expanded to include not only actual intercourse but other sexual acts as well.”

At this point, I feel free to use the word group ‘in the world’ as it is a worldwide “taboo”.

The concept of kinship differs significantly from culture to culture

Of course, there are some other concepts coming to our minds like Oedipus complex, child abuse, genetic sexual attraction.  Or a bad combination of genes because of inbreeding and so on.

In this regard, the more I wanted to know more about those concepts, the more I did read.  And the more I read, the more I got confused.

But I want to share with you what I’ve learnt so far.

Incest Happens At All Levels In Society

It does not matter if it is consensual or abusive.  Speaking of abuse, according to the reports, most of the child abuse cases are committed by male relatives, father, uncle, grandfather.

Of course, the victims are not only girls but also boys.

That’s why there are different subtopics and variables under this incest phenomenon like child abuse, homosexual tendencies, pedophilia and so on.

There is no need to say that the male relatives abusing their child/nephew/niece/grandchild had psychological problems and emotional deprivations in the past.

They make their children prone to depression, abusive behavior and sexual dysfunction by committing this crime.

I prefer to use the word ‘crime’ because this is without any doubt a crime both morally and legally.

But do you know what is more heartrending?

In many cases, the mother or at least one of the family members is aware of what is happening.  He/she feels weak to stop it or even worse, he/she colludes with the person abusing the child for their own reasons.

The reason why I wrote that is to make my statements a bit clearer and understandable

After this point, I want to ensure that you know that I will be discussing something else which is completely different than the before-mentioned thing.

Now, starting from scratch.

You may think about having sex with one of your parents/siblings or you may have seen it in your dreams.

And then, if you feel like you are gross, you will try to stop your thoughts or alternatively you like it and keep dreaming about it.

That’s why there are heaps of incest erotic stories and literature available on the Internet.

As you can appreciate, I am not an authority to say whether being into incestuous relationship is a problem or not.  But I should emphasize that you are not the only one feeling that way.

On the other hand, there is no certain agreement on this issue among scientists

Different views on this topic are still being discussed.  Let me explain them briefly.

One of those views was argued by Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). He claimed that “members of the same family naturally lust for one another.”  And also used the term Oedipus complex after Oedipus Rex, a character in a Greek Tragedy

In reverse, Freud called it for girls Electra Complex.  Oedipus complex states that the psycho sexual development of children between the ages of three and five is represented by incestuous desires towards the parent of the opposite sex.

At this point, I couldn’t help questioning how it works for homosexual individuals

But I said myself that is another topic and skipped it.

He said that incest touches our forbidden which is our family members.  It incites fear and the mixed emotion of fear and love causes not only aggression but also attraction (sexually) towards them.

Whilst it can be seemed like a true implication, Freudian view about sex is losing its popularity day by day anyway.

stop incest abuse
Photo: Stop Incest

Another view which is widely accepted by scientists is Westermarck Effect

Finnish sociologist Edward Westermarck (1862-1939) claimed that “People who live in close domestic proximity during the first few years of their lives become desensitized to sexual attraction.”

There are a few studies to support this idea.

It has been proposed by some evolutionary psychologists that people estimate the relatedness of other people subconsciously using some clues. Clues like whether they spent lots of time together.

If the relatedness is found too high, the mechanism called “incest avoidance” aka. “disgust” takes place.

“Israeli Kibbutz” is a good example for this kind of behaviour.

Mothers give their babies to a children’s society and those babies are raised by trained caregivers in mixed-sex peer groups.  Nearly 3000 children were examined and only 14 couples got married from the same group.

Almost all of them were the ones introduced to the group after the age of 6. (Shepher, 1971)

On the other hand, some other evidences show that people are attracted to mates who resemble to their parents.  Which can be explained by an experiment called “Face-morphing experiments“.

But these results do not indicate that we are attracted to family members

It says we may use our kin to create a template what forms a healthy face of the opposite sex.

Another point of view indicates that incest can be seen as a narcissistic act, because having sex with a blood relative can be thought as having sex with oneself.

There are some other hypotheses about incest which are either accepted or not.  But as you can appreciate, incest is treated as a taboo and this makes the researches a bit hard to be done.

What makes Incest a taboo?

Why is incest morally wrong?

Although Incest is universally a taboo, there were some exceptions to it.  Ancient Egyptian and Incan societies had mandatory incestuous relationships within royal families due to economic or theocratic concerns.

Even today, there are a lot of marriages especially in Middle East due to similar motivations.

Exceptions prove the rule though.

People keep saying that it is unnatural, it is disgusting and it causes to birth of children with disabilities.  It is true that there is a higher possibility to have a bad combination of DNA chains in inbreeding.

What is weird at this point is that this view assumes that sex is just for having children but remember that people use contraceptives.

On the other hand, being natural/unnatural is another topic used by people in the discussion of homosexuality as well

But it does not tell us more about its morality

When it comes to disgust, we cannot rely on disgust while constructing our social codes.  Because simply one’s disgust is his/her own disgust and cannot be generalized.

I am not trying to make incest legitimate here.  Just saying that we should have valid reasons to forbid it or to deny its existence.

Additionally, there is another concept called “Genetic Sexual Attraction” which is “incest between close relatives such as siblings, a parent and offspring, who first meet as adults”.

If we are happy with two consenting adults having a relationship/having sex, why do we want to prohibit them just because they have a kinship?

All we need is justified reasons if we really want to do so, anyway.

Lastly, it is also possible to think in this way.  Incest taboo is a cultural characteristic because incest threatens the “flawless” creation called “family”.

One of the most important duties of family is to teach children self-control, how to manage their drives and suspend their gratification.

In an incestuous family, it would be pretty impossible to maintain authority due to the lack of power.

Because, in that case, sex would have all the power and destroy hierarchy.

Apparently, it will be always a taboo as long as the world revolves around power.  At least, we should try not to treat incest as a stigma so that we can talk about it freely and thoroughly.

So, we may have enough information to learn what really triggers and/or averts incest and act “accordingly”.




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