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Author Topic: When Parents Make Children Their Partners - Kenneth M. Adams, PhD  (Read 12044 times)
ScarletOlive
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« on: March 03, 2013, 03:56:15 PM »

Silently Seduced - When Parents Make Children Their Partners
Author: Kenneth Adams, PhD
Publisher: Health Communications, Inc. (1991-2011)
Paperback: 192 pages
ISBN-10: 0757315879
ISBN-13: 9780757315879




Book Description
From Dr. Kenneth Adams, this book helps the reader identify and heal from covert incest that affects their relationships, sexuality, intimacy, and adult lives. He explains the damage caused by invasive parents and the loss of childhood suffered when children serve as their parent's surrogate spouses. In this 20th anniversary edition, Dr. Adams also offers new information based on recent research on engulfment, toxic guilt, loyalty and narcissism. Although it does not explore BPD specifically, it is highly relevant to many types of dysfunctional families.

The book also includes a new Q&A section, covering topics such as:

  • How can this be incestuous when there is no physical sexual contact?
  • Why is sexual addiction so common with covert incest survivors?
  • Why is it so hard for covert incest survivors to commit to romantic relationships?
  • If my partner is a covert incest survivor, how can I help?
  • Can I pass covert incest on to my children?

About the Author
Kenneth Adams is a licensed psychologist in suburban Detroit, Michigan. He maintains an active clinical practice and is a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist and an Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) practitioner. Dr. Adams is also a national lecturer, workshop leader, and consultant in the areas of childhood abuse, dysfunctional family systems, and sex addiction.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2018, 11:50:24 PM by Turkish » Logged

Woolspinner2000
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« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2018, 03:50:35 AM »

I read Silently Seduced and found it applicable to my own situation, yet for me it didn't go quite deep enough. It was good and helpful though, and I think it would be helpful to others as well. The book helps to define what emotional incest is.
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« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2018, 05:26:16 AM »

I found this book very helpful. It helped me a lot to identify the unhealthy behavior my mother has with me, and how to short-circuit these destructive patterns before I recreate them in my own romantic relationships. I discovered this book at the right time because I was already falling into the trap. This book has given me a lot of validation and understanding of emotional incest.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who has been raised by a parent who made his child his surrogate partner (which includes the therapist child).
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Turkish
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« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2018, 10:53:15 PM »

The latest addition has an FAQ as the last chapter to address topics that have come up since the first edition that the author didn't incorporate into the body of the original text.  In that,  it falls a little short for me.  For example,  there is only one mention in the FAQ addressing children of single parents. I am the child of a single parent (who never had boyfriends). We are many.  

I also feel that it focuses too much upon the dynamic of a parent making a proxy spouse of the opposite sex child. My female ex,  for instance, experienced covert incest by her mother (father was largely absent). She didn't realize this until after we split, but thinking back to the beginning of our relationship,  it explained so much, like her anxiety about not spending most of our free time at mom's house. Even a weekend trip out of town triggered anxiety in my ex.  She was trained to be her mother's emotional support from a young age.  That's damaging to a child who never gets the healthy validation that they need growing up,  being emotionally trained to validate the parent in an unhealthy role-reversal.

Even so,  this is worth a read. I liked the comparison and contrast between physical sexual abuse (incest) and covert emotional incest, which can also carry sexual energy, even if there is not a physical component perpetrated by the parent. There is still an "ickiness" factor which can result in anger, shame and guilt in the child. Unresolved, it can carry over and infect the child's adult relationships. The comparison and contrast is validating for those who struggle with the term "incest" since they may struggle with admitting that they were victimized.

In the FAQ, I feel that the author sums up the issue nicely (emphasis is mine):

Q My mother was the only parent there for me. I feel so guilty thinking of having my own life. How can I abandon her?

A The goal of recovery from covert incest is not to abandon your parent. The purpose is to reestablish relationship boundaries, define your level of participation, and identify your needs. Feeling guilty about leaving your parent behind as you live your own life is common. Let’s clarify some of the issues here.

First, one of the duties of parenting is to have children who eventually leave and lead their own lives. A parent who entrapped you in the role of a surrogate husband or wife has burdened you with excessive feelings of responsibility and guilt about their marriage or their life; those are not your responsibility. Those problems are not your fault and not something for you to solve.

Second, you are not abandoning them. Adults are responsible for themselves. Certainly, elderly parents need assistance from loved ones, but the covert incest burden is different. Covert incest is designed to prevent you from leaving. It is critical that you begin to see the trap you are in and challenge the guilt you carry. Your ability to have an independent life and a successful romantic, sexual relationship depends on it.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2018, 11:16:27 PM by Turkish » Logged

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Harri
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« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2018, 07:50:43 PM »

Excerpt
Second, you are not abandoning them. Adults are responsible for themselves. Certainly, elderly parents need assistance from loved ones, but the covert incest burden is different. Covert incest is designed to prevent you from leaving. It is critical that you begin to see the trap you are in and challenge the guilt you carry. Your ability to have an independent life and a successful romantic, sexual relationship depends on it.
This really hits home for me.  I was sexually abused by my mother but also experienced covert incest as well.  My mother pretty much set me up to never leave home forever (going away for college was okay though as I would be able to support her).  But I stayed in an emotionally and sexually abusive relationship until I was in my mid to late 30's.  I was paralyzed when trying to make decisions that did not involve taking care of my mother specifically and my family in general.  When I did finally break away I had to learn how to think without also thinking of my mother and that was just what I was aware of.  Little did I know all the subconscious stuff I had to uncover and break down.  The emotional abuse/emotional incest was/is by far much harder to recover from, at least for me.

I left over 15 years ago and both my parents died (mom in 2007 and dad in 2009) and I am still angry at how much of my life I gave up/was stolen from me due to emotional incest.  Emotional incest is devastating to ones sense of self and to being an individual with rights and purpose.

Thanks for sharing Turkish
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« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2018, 08:11:04 PM »

Ditto, Turkish and Harri.

The words "emotional incest" are potent and strong, yet when I speak them to someone as I try to explain the unhealthy connection my uBPDm demanded, it is a clear and shocking picture that gets the point across. I too have very strong feelings on this topic. As a child you don't have much choice but to do what you have to do to survive in the environment that you live in and hope for a better day. Yet as adults grown up, we still carry the effects down deep in our souls. Takes a ton of work to inch your way out of this belief system, but as my T reminds me: If it was a learned behavior, then it can be unlearned and new ways can be learned.

It is worth every minute of being resilient to keep working on healing.  

wools
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« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2018, 09:09:04 PM »

Here's another that kind of speaks to what you said Harri:

Q Can someone experience both covert and overt incest with the same parent?

A Yes, someone can play the role of a surrogate companion and also be sexually violated by the same parent. There are some different results for the victim between the two roles. Overt incest victims often report intrusive smells, touch, and other sensory recollections (described as flashbacks) that intrude on daily functioning. Overt victims tend to feel more lost, having had to create compartments or different aspects of themselves in order to survive the overt incest.

On the other hand, covert victims tend not to report the same level of compartmentalization or intrusive recollections. They will report being stuck playing a role in life, struggling with expressing their true selves. They mistake their roles for their identities. In this sense, the role has become a compartment used to survive. Both overt and covert survivors will report feeling engulfed and smothered by the parent. Recovery requires attention to both issues if they have occurred to the same person.

In some instances, a mistake that incest survivors and professional therapists make is to treat the surrogate partnership role as a minor issue compared to the overt incest. They may also assume the presenting problems are only a function of the sexual touch and subsequent violation. Some survivors will report the direct sexual touch as only a brief part of the ongoing overt-covert relationship. The covert incest aspect, and its damaging effects, may continue for years after the overt touch as stopped. Throughout the therapy and healing process, it is critical that both be thoroughly explored for recovery to have its most useful impact. 
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Harri
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« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2018, 12:47:41 PM »

Excerpt
In some instances, a mistake that incest survivors and professional therapists make is to treat the surrogate partnership role as a minor issue compared to the overt incest. They may also assume the presenting problems are only a function of the sexual touch and subsequent violation. Some survivors will report the direct sexual touch as only a brief part of the ongoing overt-covert relationship.
My experience with this has changed over the years since I broke away from my family.  When I first left my focus was on the overt sexual abuse though I was unable to talk about it much with my counselors back then.  To me, it was huge and clouded everything.  It took me a while to realize that it was the other stuff that really messed with me, certainly as much as the overt sexual abuse. 

Now, about 15 years after moving away, I am more focused on the covert part.  The damage is so pervasive, the consequences huge.  Trying to bring the two types of incest together has been a huge struggle.  My current T tends to focus more on the overt sexual abuse and I still fight it.

anyway, thanks for sharing that Turkish.
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