Emotional incest occurs when a parent emotionally treats a child as a partner or triangulates the child in the marriage. It also occurs when a parent infantilizes the child, over controls, suffocates, or over regulates the child. The parent has not created room for the child to experiment and learn from their own mistakes, nor has the child had the opportunity to test their own sense of self or power, leaving them feeling weak, lazy, incapable, or helpless, and a tendency to second-guessing oneself.

The consequences of this behavior lead to an adulthood of impaired identity formation, including feeling inadequate; passive, hopeless, distrustful of their feelings and desires, fearful of separating and individuating; and avoidance of situations requiring trial and error – which is the foundational support of every movement forward. In essence, emotional incest leaves one feeling unable to adequately function without the parent and can also lead to an emotional inability to work or hold steady employment.

With a willingness to engage in the work of therapy, the sense of self and the trust in one’s capacity can be re-honored and reclaimed. With a commitment to your Self, you can develop the courage to take appropriate risks, to put new awareness into action, and resurrect your life.