Emotional Incest and Abuse

Emotional Incest or abuse happens when a parent is overly and inappropriately emotionally involved in your life.

Many people have a lot of difficulties due to emotional incest that counseling or therapy can help resolve.

Emotional Incest and abuse is a complicated dynamic to pull back from and to understand. When this dynamic occurs, you can feel loved and special while simultaneously feeling like there is something not “right” with what is happening in the dynamic with one of your parents.

Through counseling and therapy, it is possible to learn about the dynamic of emotional incest and to understand how your relationship with your parents has impacted you and to also learn to set healthy boundaries and change the shape of the interactions.

Often part of emotional incest is being considered a “chosen child” by a parent.

Were you a Chosen Child?

  • I was the source of emotional support for one of my parents.
  • I felt closer to one parent than the other
  • I got the impression a parent did not want me to marry or move far away from home.
  • Any potential boyfriend or girlfriend was never “good enough” for one of my parents.
  • I felt I had to hold back my own needs to protect a parent.
  • I felt responsible for my parent’s happiness.
  • I sometimes felt invaded by a parent.
  • One of my parents had unrealistic expectations of me.
  • One of my parents was preoccupied with drugs/alcohol, work, outside interests, or another sibling.
  • One of my parents was like my best friend

If you answered yes to three or more of the above statements, you may have been a chosen child and suffered the emotional abuse of a parent who was overly involved in your life. (The above was taken directly form The Emotional Incest Syndrome: What to Do When a Parent’s Love Rules Your Life, by Dr. Patricia Love, Bantam Books, May 1990)

Counseling or therapy can help you resolve issues of emotional incest and abuse.

There is a cost to you if you are a chosen child:

  • It can effect your self esteem,
  • You could have trouble setting boundaries,
  • You could suffer with low levels of anxiety and guilt and shame,
  • You could struggle with a fear of rejection and other issues.

By exploring this dynamic and other family of origin issues, you can find freedom and peace in how you live in yourself and how you live in your relationships with others.

Take the first step and contact me or call my Washington, DC office (202-333-1787) to seek help with emotional incest.