Q & A – what is emotional incest?

Emotional incest, also known as covert or psychic incest, is a form of boundary violation in which a parent or caregiver uses their child to meet their emotional needs in a way that is inappropriate or harmful. Emotional incest does not involve physical sexual contact, but rather involves a kind of emotional intimacy that is usually reserved for adult romantic relationships.

Examples of emotional incest may include:

  • Confiding in the child about adult problems or relationships
  • Relying on the child for emotional support or comfort
  • Treating the child as a surrogate spouse or partner
  • Using the child as a substitute for a lost or absent spouse or partner
  • Engaging in inappropriate physical contact, such as hugging or cuddling in a way that feels uncomfortable or sexualized to the child
  • Encouraging the child to take on adult responsibilities or roles within the family

Emotional incest can have serious negative effects on the child’s emotional and psychological development, including increased risk of anxiety, depression, and attachment issues. Children who experience emotional incest may also struggle with boundary-setting and may have difficulty forming healthy relationships later in life.

If you suspect that you or someone you know has experienced emotional incest, it is important to seek help from a qualified mental health professional who is experienced in treating trauma and attachment issues.

©Linda Turner http://parentalalienationpas.com 2023

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Author: Linda Turner

Coaching and Therapy Currently studying Psychotherapy , Cognitive psychology, Hypnotherapy. Qualified NLP, EMDR and CBT therapist. REIKI Master. I believe in truth, honesty and integrity! ≧◔◡◔≦

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