Love, Neglect, Incest, Emotional & Sexual Abuse During Infancy & Childhood

Love, Neglect, Incest, Emotional & Sexual Abuse During Infancy & Childhood

Rhawn Gabriel Joseph, Ph.D.


In the beginning, there is an undifferentiated unity; the infant and his or her environment are one. There is no recognition of Self as there is no self-awareness. The embryo and its mother are one body, one being, sharing the same blood, oxygen, and nutrients.

And then, after 9 blissful months this unity is shattered by birth and the severance of the umbilical cord. The newborn infant is incapable of recognizing this momentous event as its limbic awareness remains largely internally directed. Although born, the Self is yet to develop.

Unity with someone who presumably loved us is something we all have experienced as a growing fetus within our pregnant mother. Our mother was part of us, we were part of her. Mother is everything and the source of all life and sustenance. With birth this unity is forever severed. The loss of this unity and mothers warm loving embrace will be felt forever in the form of a psychological and limbic yearning to mend the severed bond. The infant, and then the child, adolescent and adult, seek attachment and emotional intimacy.

The manner in which attachment may be established can be based on dependency, dominance, insecurity, projected love or resentment, and/or mutual love and respect. However, if one was never loved then they cannot love anyone. Nor can they accept any love that someone else may provide because (unconsciously) they will know, and limbically they feel undeserving (Joseph, 1992b). The limbic system will have become unalterable abnormal and even the capability of recognizing the emotions of others may be compromised (Dodge et al. 1990; Perry et al. 1986; Joseph, 1992b, 2013; Salzinger et al. 2015).

Love can be based on good needs, on bad needs, on projected desires, the need to control or be controlled, fear and insecurity, or preferably on self and mutual love and respect. What most seekers of love have in common is that they all seek to form attachments. They desire to fill that dreadful absence and make themselves whole once again. Depending on nurture and one's nature, one might seek to fill that absence in the arms of a man, woman, child, beast, fantasy or self destructive delusion.

The infant begins to develop the first fleeting sensations of self through the pain of unmet needs such as hunger, thirst, cold, contact comfort, and love (Joseph, 2012). This promotes an increasing awareness of being separated from the mother. The primitive limbic system and the IDfant ego personality begin to cry out: "I want...I need..." and then later it is able to identify what it wants and what it needs.

Through this distinction of met vs unmet needs, through love, abuse or neglect, the image of Self, their emotions, as well as the very structure of the brain and limbic system begins to become fashioned (Joseph, 1992b; Erickson et al. 1989; Eckenrode, et al. 2015; Wodarski et al. 2017; Kaufman & Cicchetti, 2009; Crittenden & Ainsworthy, 1989; Eckenrode et al. 2013; Salzinger et al. 2011).. Increasingly the Self is recognized as something that has wants, desires, and which experiences frustration, pain or pleasure. Initially, and during the first few months of infancy, the psyche is ruled by the hypothalamus and amygdala of the limbic system (Joseph, 2012, 1990, 1992ab, 1994). The manner in which the infant and child is loved will in turn effect the functional organization of the limbic brain.


All things are defined by what they are not and the Self is first fashioned in response to a feeling of absence, of need. This causes the developing limbic system to begin to survey its world and make distinctions by differentiating what satisfies various needs vs what does not (Joseph, 2012, 1990, 1992b).

The recognition that something is missing and that there are beings separate from one's self, who have the power to make one feel whole and thus the limbic system satisfied, complete and happy once again is part of the differentiating process. Thus there begins an awareness that there is an "I" and there is a "you"; a "me" and a "mommy".

The limbic awareness that one is needy and that mother has the power to satisfy those needs, to make one happy, comfortable, satisfied, safe and secure is an experience which heralds the development of the Self image and the recognition that we are separate and distinct beings (Joseph, 2012, 1990, 1992ab). With this development the original unity and oneness that preceded this recognition is lost forever. In place of this lost unity one seeks attachment and love.

In that this awareness of Self is based in part on unmet needs, its development is not a joyous occasion. What is joyous, what brings happiness is when those desires are satisfied. The feeling of being separate and alone can be temporarily vanquished by a mother's touch and attention. Unity can be temporarily achieved and once wrapped in mothers protective arms the infant sinks into the comfortable bliss of oneness once again.

As one grows and as the limbic system and the overlying neocortical mantle matures, the sense of being separate and needy, and the desires to remain attached, sometimes increases. The individual increasingly becomes aware that mother is a distinct being who cannot and will not be there at all times. Remaining needy creatures the limbic system cries out and the language systems of the right and left half of the brain call her name. Eventually the developing child begins to learn how to fend for themself. By success and failure, through trial and error we increasingly discover who we are, and of what we are capable. However, humans remain desirous of attachment. The limbic system has its needs.

Association also allows a person to verify and explore who they are. As they age, their circle of associates grows larger, beginning with mom, extending to dad and siblings, and finally to friends, lovers and mates. We identify with our family, then our friends, our school, our city, our job and we come to know who we are and that we belong.

Even so, be it a small child who is forced to realize that mother and he or she are distinct beings, or an adult who experiences the loss or betrayal of a loved one, when certain primary needs (e.g. for love, warmth, food, tactual stimulation) are not met, the feeling of being separate and alone sometimes gnaws at us once again. The limbic system becomes aroused, and infants, young children, and even adults may become depressed or conversely angry and enraged (Joseph, 1992ab, 2013, 1994).

Through intimacy, be it the bond of friendship, a lovers sexual embrace, or the familiarity of a long standing companion, one attempts to diminish feelings of being alone, separate or left out and is able to form an important emotional attachments. Humans are compelled to behave in this manner by the limbic system which demands physical and social interaction and which motivates one to seek that long lost and longed for unity. Just as we have a need to eat, we have a need to associate and to form emotional and social attachments. And, as might be expected, those who are the most attached and who receive the most love and warmth as infants, are the most well adjusted and the most capable of maintaining attachments as children and later in life (Landerville & Main, 1981; Zahn-Waxler, et al. 2009; Waters et al. 2009' Sroufe & fleeson, 1988; Park & Waters, 1989; Joseph, 1992b).


As an ideal, motherly love is an unconditional love where all needs are anticipated and satisfied. Ideally it is an unconditional affirmation of life where the child is taught that he or she is important and is loved.

Infancy and childhood are supposed to be happy times where one is encased in the warmth and security of mother, where the child is made to feel OK, that it is good to be alive and near mothers ready embrace. Mother is home, mother is earth, she is nature and the sea, the source of all things good. She is the sweetness of life and represents the most sacred of emotional bonds. It is through mother that one learns to be loved and to love in return.

The capacity to give unconditional love can be found in mothers throughout the animal kingdom. In this regard, maternal love is innate, biological, and limbically rooted. Altruistic, unselfish motherly love is a feeling that most (but not all) women are capable of at least insofar as the infant is helpless and completely dependent. The infant is felt to be part of the mother and this can be a source of great emotional satisfaction. This is her baby and she loves it unconditionally and unselfishly.


Not all mothers are capable of unselfishly loving their children or infants. Depending on how a mother was mothered when she was a child, this innate capability may be strengthened or uprooted (Joseph, 1992b). Some are restricted in their ability to express love, some feel rejected by their children (because they feel rejected by everybody) and treat them accordingly. Sometimes what is loved is not the child but only one's self as reflected in the child. This latter type of love is narcissistic in that the infant is loved only insofar as it is an extension of herself. Fathers too are guilty of such feelings.

Some mothers are not only incapable of love but continuously view and treat their babies as a highly unwelcome and troublesome burden from which they strongly wish to escape. Of course, to feel burdened by an infant at times is quite normal as the baby may cause some inconveniences. Some mothers have difficulty dealing with these feelings, particularly if they themselves were frequently beaten or abused as a child. Even if they love their children, they may inadvertently abuse them in kind (Joseph, 1992b).

The mother who does not want her child may be just as abusive even if she never yells or strikes the child. Her unloving attitude may cause the child much emotional harm (Allen & Oliver, 2012; Erickson et al. 1989; Eckenrode, et al. 2013; Wodarski et al. 1990), even if that is not her conscious intent. A few mothers not only do not love their babies, they have babies so that they can hurt and abuse them. Some people open up day care centers for the same purpose, access to children whom they may abuse. This is why "motherly love" (like fatherly love) is an ideal and not a commonplace experience.

Much of the capacity to engage in motherly love is rooted in the structure of our limbic system. Although largely innate it may be modified (or even extinguished) through early experience, i.e. how the mother was raised as a child, or through the consumption of and addiction to various brain damaging drugs such as cocaine.

Indeed, girls who were abused, neglected, or who received inadequate mothering, tend to provide inadequate mothering to their own young (Joseph, 1992; Aard et al. 1984). Generally it is their own little boys who are often the most severely mistreated and neglected, and this is true of primates as well as humans. Because of a little boys greater tendency to seek independence, such mothers inerpret this as rejection and retaliate. However, the daughters of these unmothered mothers do not fare much better and in turn become poor mothers who then indulge and model the acts they were subjected to.

This is also true of other primates. Consider, for example, Passion, a female chimpanzee described by Dr. Goodall (). Passion seemed to be greatly disinclined to behave affectionately toward her daughter. She seemed to find child care aversive and was extremely neglectful and uncaring. Unlike other chimp mothers who will hold their babies tight against their belly for the first 18 months and then place them on their backs, Passion had almost no concern for her daughter and repeatedly abandoned her. Her infant daughter, Pom, would frantically chase after her. When Pom badgered her for attention and cried pitifully when Passion walked away, Passion continued to refuse to carry her but instead forced her onto her back at the tender age of 2 months. Other infants were not treated in this manner until almost two years of age. Nor did Passion demonstrate much maternal care of concern and would not even shelter her baby when it rained. Unlike other females who showed an extreme maternal interest in the babies of others, Passion was not only uncaring, but would brutalize other infants if given the chance.

As Pom aged, she began to model her mother's indifference and brutal behavior. She and her mother began to act as a team and repeatedly brutalized other mothers and their infants when the males were away. On at least three occasions they snatched babies from their mothers, then killed and cannibalized them. Not surprisingly, one of her sons began to behave in the same manner.

One need not just be exposed to bad mothering in order to behave in a violent, abusive and rejecting manner. No mothering essentially produces the same result with far more severe consequences. This is best exemplified by the behavior of motherless mothers raised in the primate laboratory of Harry Harlow.

"After the birth of her baby, the first of these unmothered mothers ignored the infant and sat relatively motionless at one side of the cage, staring fixedly into space hour after hour. As the infant matured desperate attempts to effect maternal contact were consistently repulsed...Other motherless monkeys brutalized them, biting off their fingers or toes, pounding them, and nearly killing them until caretakers intervened. One of the most interesting findings was that despite the consistent punishment, the babies persisted in their attempts to make maternal contact."

Motherless mothers, however, are more responsive and less brutal with their female vs male babies (SACKET). Males are more severely affected by this treatment than females.


Males deprived of mothering are twice as likely to engage in self-abusive behavior, including breaking their own bones and tearing, biting and producing serious wounds on their own bodies (SACKET). Deprived male also fail to modify their bizarre behavior after years of experience and therapy whereas females become more appropriately social as well as sexual (SACKET). Deprived males are also more likely to die during infancy.

Human males are also more fragile and are more seriously affected than females by the manner in which they are reared and treated by their mothers. Even when they have not been subject to extreme but mild forms of abuse and emotional neglect, their ability to function in a normal sexual and social manner is often severely disrupted. As such, males raised in abusive or neglectful homes are highly likely to develop severe emotional and cognitive disturbances and to engage in highly aggressive and criminal behavior (Erickson et al. 1989; Eckenrode, et al. 2013; Wodarski et al. 1990 Cicchetti, 1989; Kaufman & Cicchetti, 1989; Crittenden & Ainsworthy, 1989; Eagleand et al. 2012; Eckenrode et al. 2013; Erickson, et al. 1989; Salzinger et al. 2013). Males subject to physical or sexual abuse are also likely to behave violently and to engage in sexual crimes against women, men, and children (Tingle, et al. 1986; Groth, 2009).


Physical, social and emotional interaction and contact during infancy is critically important to the child's well being as well as it's neurological, sensory, cognitive, intellectual, social and emotional development (Joseph, 2012, 1988, 1990, 1992, 2013). Indeed, babies need their "mamas" and all the love and attendant physical and emotional interaction they can get.

The more an infant is held, stroked and spoken to, and the greater the visual divergence of his or her surroundings, the greater will be its resilience and capability to adapt to negative emotional and physical onslaughts and to withstand stressful extremes later in life. In fact, the very cells of the nervous system will prosper by growing larger and more complex ().

This is why infants and young children desperately require a caretaker to interact with them for a good part of every day, and why some children will accept negative attention (by acting bad) rather than be ignored. The very functioning of their brain and body requires that they receive some form of social and physical stimulation and even negative attention is better than none at all.

So great is the need for stimulation that until 6-7 months of age most children will eagerly and indiscriminately seek social and physical contact from anyone including complete strangers. This is particularly evident among female babies who unlike males begin to smile soon after birth and more often, thus eliciting friendly and nurturing behavior. Hence, although needing it more, males are less solicitous but more severely effected by social-emotional deprivation. Females are much more solicitous of emotional interaction and not as severely affected when it is not provided.

Indiscriminate social interaction is not merely a manifestation of friendliness but serves a specific purpose: it maximizes opportunities for social and physical contact. Like hunger and the desire for food (which is mediated by the hypothalamus) there is a limbic drive and hunger for social, emotional, and physical stimulation (Joseph, 2012, 1990, 1992ab, 2013, 1994).

So intense is the need for physical and tactual interactions that young animals placed in social isolation with minimal opportunities for physical and social contact, will form attachments to bare wire frames, to television sets, to dogs that might maul them, to creatures that might kill them and among humans, to mothers that might abuse them 24.

Even normally reared infant animals who are later punished or given an electric shock every time they come close to their mother, redouble their efforts to follow her even that much more closely. This behavior is understandable since under normal circumstances the mother is perceived as the source from which contact comfort, safety, and security may be obtained. Hence, even when mother is punishing or abusive this behavior cannot be reconciled emotionally by the child's limbic system (Joseph, 2013). Abusiveness from the primary caretaker is abnormal and not something the primitive limbic system is prepared to deal with. The child is biologically driven to seek safety in the arms of the very individual from whom they should be running.


When raised in an abusive environment, children tend to become abusive or to seek out and engage in self-destructive or socially destructive actions, and all aspects of cognitive and emotional functioning become impaired. They are more insecure, are poorly motivated, intelligence is reduced, language development may be impaired, and they are less social, more negative, as well as aggressive and noncomplaint, and have few friends (Cicchetti, 1989; Kaufman & Cicchetti, 1989; Crittenden & Ainsworthy, 1989; Eagleand et al. 2012; Eckenrode et al. 2013; Erickson, et al. 1989; Oates et al. 1983; Salzinger et al. 2013). Indeed, the development of abnormal aggressiveness is a primary consequence of being abused (Egeland & Sroufe, 1981;Kaufman & Cicchetti, 1989; Kindard, 1980; Straker & Jacobson, 1981; Wolfe & Mosk, 1983; Hoffman-Plotkin & Twentyman, 1984). Frequently they become involved in criminal activities (Lewis et al. 1989; Loeber, et al. 1983).

Moreover, these individuals are highly likely to interpret the behavior of others as hostile and aggressive (Dodge et al. 1990; Perry et al. 1986). Their social perceptions are so skewed that they even fail to correctly identify what others may be feeling (Barahal et al. 1981) which in turn causes them to behave aggressively even when there is no provocation. However, they are just as likely to believe certain people are their friends when in fact these people dislike them (Salzinger et al. 2013). As such, not only their ability to properly express their emotions, but social-emotional perception per se becomes abnormal; a consequence of parental/environmentally induced developmental abnormalities within the circuitry of the limbic system (Joseph, 1990, 1992ab, 2013)

However, they need not be abused for these emotional and aggressive disturbances to result, but merely observe abusive interactions among their parents (Cummings, et al. 1985; Cummings, et al. 1981; Rosenberg, 1987; Grossier, 1986). Observing abuse is frightening and stressful and provides the child with abnormal modes of interacting which they may model later in life (Joseph, 1992). Nevertheless, approximately 40% of those who observe abuse are generally abused as well (Hughes et al. 1989; Straus et al. 1980; Wolfe 1987). Hence, they not only observe, they are a victim as well.


Children who are neglected are sometimes more disturbed than those who were abused. Neglected children are particularly likely to suffer from emotional and cognitive disturbances including impaired language development (Allen & Oliver, 2012; Erickson et al. 1989; Eckenrode, et al. 2013; Wodarski et al. 1990), and may go through life feeling they are inadequate, no good, and undeserving of love (Joseph, 1992b). Even the loss of a parent, particularly the mother, can result in severe emotional problems, especially depression (Tennant et al.14); Kendler et al. 1992). Boys especially are likely to develp a wide range of emotonal and behavioral problems, even when the parental loss was not due to death but divorce (Hetherington 2009; Emergy, 2012).

Those who survive an infancy spent in institutions where mothering and contact comfort are minimized are usually the most severely and profoundly affected. These neglected children are characterized by low intelligence, extreme passivity, apathy, and severe attentional deficits (ref). Such individuals have difficulty forming attachments or maintaining social relations later in life. This can effect their ability to feel love or affection, even when they have grown and have had children.

Even temporary separation from the mother or primary caretaker can exert deleterious consequences which become more severe and permanent as the separation continues (ref). This is due to the catastrophic effects early deprivation induces within the limbic system. Neurons throughout the limbic system, particularly those within the amygdala, become smaller, and there is cell death and atrophy. However, when the amygdala functions abnormally social functions become similarly disturbed.


As an ideal, a mother's love is unconditional and she gives of it freely to her infant. Men give their love conditionally, for to do otherwise is not natural or manly. Men do not nurse, women do. Men do not give of their body in order to make life and to sustain life, but women do. Hence, a man's relationship with his children is also less intimate. Mothers have love affairs with their children and are neurologically geared to provide considerable time and energy in promoting and maintaining her brood.

Commonly, incest is associated in the minds of most as occurring between fathers and daughters. However, some men (i.e. male homosexuals) molest their sons, some brothers and sisters engage in mutual molestation, and some mothers engage in highly sexually provocative activities with their boys and will even engage in fellatio. Similar "incestuous" relations have been observed among primates (Mitchell, 2009; Goodall, 19; Kortmulder, 1974; Fossey).

Since boys are generally unwilling to discuss these misadventures due to their fear of being viewed as flawed and weak, whereas girls are relatively much more likely to disclose personal details, the frequency at which mother son incest occurs cannot even be estimated. However, it is my impression that it's frequency is on the rise as more homes come to be dominated by single mothers and as some of these women often turn to their children for love and affection.

As the physical boundaries between women and their children are quite blurred, some women sexually molest their boys without being fully conscious of what their actions imply. For example, many married and single women will fondle and wash every nook and cranny of their young son's body, often giving him an erection in the process. Little boys often have their penises manipulated by their mothers, particularly if the baby is not circumcised, whereas similar attention to a female infant's genitalia is all but nonexistent. Later in life, these same mothers (especially single mothers) may continue to wash or help dress their sons well into late childhood and continue to spend an inordinate amount of time talking about or engaged in playful manipulation of or examination of the genitals.

Some mothers, single mothers in particular, will allow or encourage their sons to get into bed with them and spend the night, sometimes cuddling and even caressing. These actions may continue well into late childhood and the initial stages of adolescence. Yet others will walk around the house in lingerie, panties and bra, or in various stages of undress, well aware of the provocative nature of their appearance and the confusion and excitement it stimulates in their sons (ref). However, if the sexual nature of their behavior were pointed out, these same women would express shock and vigorously deny the obvious, even when at age 13 their sons are still climbing into beds to cuddle with his scantily clad mother.

Necessarily males raised in this fashion often become quite confused and even guilt ridden, and later in life may seek out older women, or even older men with whom they fall in love and share a sexual relationship. The likelihood of emotional disturbance is even greater for those boys raised without a father or an overindulging or sexually provocative mother for they essentially go through life modeling many feminine behaviors and their natural masculine and aggressive urges come to be abnormally shaped, expressed, or suppressed.


Because males are more sensitive to early rearing and neonatal experiences, we find that there are more male criminals, psychotics, retardates, stutterers, learning disabled, suicides, and so on as compared to females. Indeed, of the more than one thousand criminals I have evaluated, the vast majority were reared in abusive homes, in conditions of severe emotional neglect, or those where there was no father in attendance.


Little girls look to their fathers not just for love and affection, but for approval and approbation as to their emerging femininity. Increasingly, daughters want daddy to respond to her and to love her much in the manner that he loves their mother. Indeed, it is usually through their mother than girls learn how to respond to and how to solicit responses from men. As they age they increasingly experiment not just with their femininity, but their sexuality.

Unfortunately, some of her seemingly innocent coquettish antics contain many limbic components and are sometimes viewed as sexual by mothers and fathers alike. It is in this arena and all its associations that most men fail their daughters by withdrawing in disproval or seemingly indifference, whereas mother may voice disgust.

However, it is not all uncommon for fathers, especially step-fathers (or the mother's boyfriend), to take advantage of their daughter's budding sexuality and to respond to them in a highly sexual manner. They molest their daughters which is not at all what the little girl expected or desired.

Many daughters in turn feel not only hurt by this betrayal, but guilty as they sense that by their antics or behavior they have somehow encouraged their dads, or that they should have put a stop to these disagreeable actions. They feel guilty and responsible as well as used and abused; a very confusing, painful situation for the little princess, budding whore or self-destructive young woman. That is, because of the destructive sexual relationship she experienced with her father, it is not uncommon for these unfortunate victims to sexually self-destruct when they becomes adults and to suffer permanent damage to their self-concept and sense of self-worth.

The reactions of their mothers often make things even worse. Most mothers are well aware of their daughters sexual molestations, but choose to look the other way. Moreover, if confronted, most mothers will deny the reality of their daughters accusation and experience (Kaufman,1988).

Such daughters are doubly betrayed and not infrequently develop severe personality disorders and emotional disturbances. For example, almost 90% of women with multiple personality disorder have a history of having been sexually abused (Ross, 1989). Many abuse victims sexualize all their relationship and seek out men who will sexually use or abuse them. Others put up enormous emotional walls and allow no one to break through. However, yet others will foreswear men in favor of a lesbian life style (Courtois, 2013; Secunda, 2002). However, not all are emotionally crippled for some become movie stars and even Miss America; one of whom admitted that she was sexually molested from age 5 until 18 by her billionaire father.


From a purely biological standpoint, incest poses many dangers not only to the victim, but to the intellectual, neurological, and physical development and survival of any baby conceived under these circumstances. The presence of any genetic defect that formerly had been inhibited, has more than double the opportunity to find expression with incest.

Almost all cultures have strong taboos against incest and the majority even restrict copulation between first and second cousins, uncles, aunts, and so on, such that in some societies half the population is unavailable for sex. Paradoxically, during the 16th century when the Catholic Church enacted very harsh measures to guard against exactly these forms of incest between even more distant relatives, mother-son incest apparently began to flourish. Given that most villages were made up of kin, and since neighboring villages were often antagonistic, mothers attempted to protect their sons from the tortures and fires of the inquisition and the wrath of nearby hostile villages by keeping sex within the immediate family. Then, as now, incest was quite common.

In fact, almost 400,000 cases of sexual abuse are reported a year (National Center on Child Abuse, 2016) and some estimate that anywhere from 25% of all women were subject to inappropriate sexual touching or incestuous relations, when they were children (Mithers, 2010).

Incest between fathers and daughters, and even mothers and son's is common among a significant minority of individuals across cultures and time and is even referred to in the Bible. For example, Lot (whom the Lord God purportedly spared when he destroyed Sodom) the brother of Abraham, not only got drunk and had sex with both his daughters, but apparently succeeded in impregnating them.

Certainly, like murder and adultery, if sexual relations between fathers and daughters and close relatives were not a common likelihood, there would be no need of provisions to guard against it. In fact, those most immune to such sanctions and who are the least likely to be penalized for the breaking of these taboos are often the most likely to flaunt their violation of them such as Kings and Queens, Emperors and Empresses and more recently, Adolf Hitler and the daughter of his older sister. In the past this has also included, for example, the ancient royalty of Egypt and Rome, with sons marrying sisters and mothers, and daughters forming consort relations with their fathers and even grandfathers.

Incest also occurs among many social animals reared together, including squirrels, birds, dogs, wolves, rhesus macaques and chimpanzees, with brother sister, father daughter, and mother son relations observed (Goodall, 19; Missakian, 1973). Incest also occurs among gorillas (Fossey, 1983) with father daughter matings. However, when babies are born, they are killed and sometimes cannibalized (Fossey, 1983).

It has been long presumed that incest among mammals and primates is quite rare. How true that may be is difficult to determine and seems unlikely. It would be quite difficult for most creatures including primates to know if they are mating with their father or daughter, as paternity if often not known. In this regard, father-daughter incest might also be quite common among most species including humans. As noted, although not widely practiced by the general population, father-daughter incestuous relations are common place, and have been throughout history. In contrast, similar relations among mothers and sons would be less likely, for several reasons, such as differences in rank. In fact, although brother-sister and father-daughter sexual relations have been observed among wolves, dogs, and most social primates, mother-son sexual relations appear to be very uncommon.


Sociobiological theories hold to the notion that incest is extremely rare, although the facts do not bear this out. It is supposedly rare, or so the sociobiologists assure us, because familiarity supposedly breeds boredom. Presumably, a parent and a child will increasingly feel less mutual sexual arousal because they have spent so much time together over the years, which in turn gives rise to a lack of interest. Hence, parents are not supposed to have an interest in engaging in sexual relations with their children.

It is important to note that although familiarity may breed boredom, that can only apply to that which is directly and repeatedly consumed or sexually experienced, such as the same food, the same man, or the same woman. Mere exposure is not likely to kill desire per se. For example, among individuals reared together in communes or Jewish kibbutz, marriages continue to occur at the rate of 13% or higher (Shepher, 1971, 1983) which is about the rate one might expect for those who have attended the same schools or live in the same neighborhoods in modern cities. Moreover, considerable sexual experimentation takes place in communes (Shepher, 1971; Spiro, 1958). Hence, living together per se does not result in a lack of interest.

Boredom is actually not much of a preventative factor for humans, particularly in that sexual relations are likely to occur, at least among fathers and their daughters, when she enters puberty. With puberty comes change and the budding young woman is no longer the same familiar child. When children begin to undergo physical changes they become increasingly unfamiliar and novel and most importantly, sexual. It is at this point when incest is likely to occur and begins to become a real possibility. This is also why step-fathers, who have not known there daughters all that long are also likely to molest as the child is novel and unfamiliar. She is also not perceived as kin.


On the other hand, it is not so much the novelty as the fact that men are attracted to young women in general () including sexually precocious young girls. It is due to this attraction which is unconsciously recognized by females, that women go to considerable length not only to look young, but to utilize makeup and cosmetics so as to emphasize child-like facial features (e.g. wide eyes, tiny mouth).

Conversely, male immaturity and childish features are not sexually arousing to most women. Hence, presumably mother-son incest is much less common than father-daughter incest. However, if that is in fact the case is almost impossible to determine for several reasons. First, unlike boys, girls self-disclose and are very willing to discuss personal and emotional concerns and problems. They are likely to tell a friend or teacher what has happened to them. Boys are much less likely to admit to something so personal as they fear becoming the object of scorn and ridicule. Even when there is some evidence of mothr son incest, the authorities are generally completely adverse to believing a woman would do such a thing. In fact, this is true regarding most female criminal activities (except for prostitution). Women tend to always have the benefit of the doubt and when the evidence is overwhelming, they still tend to be viewed as victims or unwilling accomplices.

Nevertheless, the statistics (which certainly underestimate it's occurrence) suggest that for every 10 girls who are molested by their fathers or male relatives one boy is molested by his mother or a female relative.

Another reason girls are more likely to be molested than boys is because adult males are far more likely to take the sexual initiative than a woman (at least with a child). Women are usually more coy and seductive and although they may initiate sex, they generally do not take a physically aggressive role in doing so. hence, boys are less likely to be subject to these attention even if they are desire. Another inhibiting factor is the unequal dominance relationship that exist between a boy and his mother. That is, females are presumably inhibited from mating with their sons due to his inferior dominance in relation to the mother (Sade 1968).

Women tend to prefer males who are older, dominant and high status (Buss, 1987; Symonds, 2009; Townsend, 1989) males prefer females who are younger, subordinate and sometimes helpless and incapable of functioning independently (Buss, 1987, Felson & Kron, 1990; Symons, 2009; Thornhill & Thornhill, 1983; Townsend, 1989; Sasson, 1992). However, many older women have no aversion to short-term sexual affairs with younger males and some younger males prefer older and even domineering women.

Obviously, sexual relations occur with some frequency between parents and children. It is the presence of the sexual interest which has given rise to the incest taboo in the first place. If the propensity for engaging in such acts was not well developed, there would be no incest taboo. For example, there is no taboo against poking your eye out because except for when due to an accident, this desire is non-existent. Conversely, there is a taboo against suicide and adultery because people commit suicide and engage in extra-marital copulations.


Children who are abused, who have mothers who were frequently beat by husbands, and/or live surrouned by a great deal of tension, rage, anger, and fighting in the household, are almost completely unable to cope with their feelings and fears. Consequently their own emotions are often expressed in inappropriate ways which may take the form of bed wetting, difficulties at school, depression, fighting with peers, psychosomatic complaints, or other forms of inappropriate acting out; the proverbial "cry for help".

Often they engage in behaviors which are self punishing or they may abuse animals or other children. Feeling angry, hurt, frightened and upset, they may turn these emotions back on themselves in the form of depression. Or, they may place themselves in punishing situations, or punish others by acting out in a cruel and callous manner. They become bad kids.

Later as teenagers, they may continue to inappropriately express these emotions through substance abuse, promiscuity, or criminal activity. Essentially they engage in behaviors which are self-abusive or abusive to others and/or which result in some form of punishment (Joseph, 1992).

By continually engaging in behaviors which are self-destructive, which may result in punishment, or by becoming involved in situations where there is a considerable degree of turmoil, they are in effect recreating their family atmosphere but outside the home (Joseph, 1992). They thus reexperience the familiar hurt, anxiety, rejection, and other fears experienced as a child, and which the unconscious Child within the depths of their mind continues to feel. Their behavior is dictated by a now abnormal limbic system.

When children observe their parents fighting, attacking, accusing, belittling, and blaming one another for life's various woes, and are infrequently exposed to compassion, love, respect, and mutual caring, they are likely to incorporate such behaviors as normal and then reenact them when they grow up and have their own family. The limbic system not only controls emotion, but the formation of memories.

By observing their parents mistreat each other, some children learn that to mistreat or to be mistreated by others is an acceptable form of behavior. For them this is "normal". If later they are exposed to a home where people are treated with love and respect, they would find this unusual. Their limbic brains would not be programmed to process this information.

Throughout life these children will seek to maintain "normalcy" and avoid that which is different and unusual and thus uncomfortable. Even though unpleasant, what is familiar is tolerable (Joseph, 1992). They will maintain the familiar by treating others in the same manner they were treated or made to feel as a child, provoking others to treat them in this fashion, or choosing partners who will recreate or allow them to create the same familiar abusive atmosphere experienced during childhood. This is a consequence of abnormalities in the actual circuitry of their brains; a consequence of the effects of abnormal experience on the formation of cerebral pathways and interconnections. Even the innocent behavior of others is interpreted as negative so that a fight can ensue.


Human beings are able to feel love for one another, as well as love and form attachments to animals, and inanimate objects. Likewise, some animals, such as dogs, can return even meager scrapes of affection with devotion and loyalty if not love. Highly social animals, such as chimpanzees form friendships, and may chum about with them on a daily basis. However, humans can feel love and feel so much hate for the one's they love that sometimes they end up killing them.

Love, devotion, intimate friendship, and a desire for intense social contact with others is not a prerequisite for humanness but characterizes the interactions of many primates and higher mammals, all of whom share the same or a very similar limbic systems (Maclean, 1990, Joseph, 1990, 1992b, 2013, 1994). The ability to experience these feelings, including emotions so basic as maternal affection, are mediated by the amygdaloid nucleus whereas the process of attachment and motherly love involves the additional participation of the septal nuclei and cingulate gyrus.

The amygdala, which is quicker to mature (as compared to the septal nuclei) drives the infant to seek emotional and physical contact in an indiscriminate fashion which is characteristic of children up until the 11th month of life. The later maturing septal nuclei causes the child to increasingly narrow their responsiveness and to show wariness and fear of strangers. With the maturation of the cingulate (which appears after the amygdala and septal nuclei) select attachments are maintained and the bonding with mother, and then father, siblings, and relatives is maximized (Joseph, 1994). The amygdala, cingulate gyrus and septal nucleus interact so as to maintain selective social bonds and intimate contact and they act to modulate one another.

It is these same limbic nuclei which later in life are involved in the ability to feel love, hate, anger, and attachment. That is, the limbic system controls the basic aspects of emotion, such as love, hate, anger, rage, fear, pleasure, the desire to bond together, as well as biological drives, including hunger, thirst, and even the capacity to experience orgasm during sex. These impulses and needs at one time or another becomes associated with mother or the primary caretaker. Later in life they are associated with a spouse. It is this limbic association that makes it possible to feel the same upset and angry responses when mother or one's lover abandons or neglects them or fails to attend to their needs.

Similarly, due to limbic attachment, the actions of a mate can sometimes elicit limbic reactions including infantile feelings of sexuality, or rage and abandonment. Even the murderous desire to kill one's spouse can be elicited. Loss of love, such as occurs when a relationship ends, seconded only by jealousy and money are prime elicitors of such murderous feelings due to the high involvement of the limbic system in all affairs of the heart (Joseph, 1992, 2013).

If a person who has met another individual's primary needs for love, affection and physical intimacy were to leave, or want to end the affair, the limbic system may respond in characteristic infantile fashion, with frustration, anger and rage. The amygdala striving to maintain the bonds of love responds with rage when the bond is severed, and the hypothalamus, feeling likewise, responds similarly. If the hurt and anger is sufficient, the frontal lobes and the rest of the brain may be overwhelmed and the person acts on his or her primitive needs, either in an extremely dependent ("Don't leave me or I'll kill myself") or violent ("Don't leave or I'll kill you") manner. However, it is the male who is more likely to kill his spouse. A female is more likely to kill herself.


Early infant and childhood experiences can exert drastic influences on all aspects of behavior and sexuality, as well as alter the functioning and structure of the brain. It is not just the psyche, and the conscious and unconscious mind which are affected, but the brain structures and their abnormal pattern of interconnections that support the capacity to have emotional experiences.

For example, if a infant is deprived of vision, such as if they wear an eye patch or the eyelids or sutured shut for several months, when the eye is finally uncovered, they will seem blind although the eye itself is normal (Joseph & Casagrande, 19; Casagrande & Joseph, 19). This is because the visually sensitive cells in the brain have become atrophied and have died. Even the interconnections between the deprived cells and otherwise normally functioning neurons become abnormal.

"Use it or lose it" applies to the brain and is particularly important during early development (Joseph, 2012). Due to competition within the nervous system, if normal interconnections are not promoted, if the individual does not receive normal experiences and training, abnormal fiber connections will be given a competitive advantage. Be it positive or negative, the effect of early experience exerts quite profound influences and more or less permanent.

When an individual is deprived of normal emotional and social stimuli, or is abused, beat, or neglected, the structures in the limbic system which mediate social-emotional functions are similarly affected. Limbic nuclei such as the amygdala become smaller and abnormal, and the individuals capacity to interact in a socially-emotionally appropriate manner is disrupted. Because their brains are abnormal they behave in an abnormal and often criminal manner.

Females, however, are not as severely affected as males because they have a larger proportion of brain tissue devoted to social-emotional functions. Nevertheless, the female limbic system also needs to be properly stimulated for these cells to prosper and form their proper interconnections. When a child is raised in an abnormal environment, the brain likewise becomes abnormal.


If the amygdala is injured or surgically removed, the ability to experience emotions or to perceive social nuances expressed by others is abolished or becomes abnormal. One young man whose right and left amygdala's were surgically destroyed seemed to become completely devoid of emotional feeling and was unable to recognize the emotions expressed by others, preferred to sit alone and isolated (often masturbating) and shunned contact with his mother with whom he had been formerly been quite intimate (ref). He still spoke rationally and answered questions, fed himself and took care of his personal needs. However, he no longer able to recognized the emotional significance of his behaviors, or even what he ate as he would put just about anything into his mouth; much like an infant. Infants often respond similarly because their amygdala is quite immature and functionally limited for many months.

Free roaming male humans, monkeys and apes often form intense social bonds as well as dominance hierarchies where certain members have not only a higher status but can exert social control over one's social inferiors. If the amygdala is injured or destroyed, highly dominant animals will abandon their hard won social status and complacently accept a position at the bottom of the hierarchy, and even passively accept threats and abuse from the most lowly of former subordinates (ref).

Highly social monkeys who have had both the right and left amygdala destroyed, will cease to respond in a social manner and will seem perplexed by the entreaties of former friends who desire their company. They act is if completely devoid of the ability to read social and emotional nuances. If approached they withdraw and if followed they will flee. The majority of adult primates left the social group all together and lived out their days in isolation 24-26.

Abnormal sexual behavior is also a consequence of abnormal functioning within the amygdala. Individuals might become hypersexual, frequently masturbate and expose themselves to other, fantasize excessively about sexual matters, and seek out sex partners of either sex and even other species, as well as engage in group sex with similarly affected individuals (ref).

Maternal behavior is also severely affected. As reported by Dr. Kling 27, mothers who have had both amygdala removed behave as if their "infant were a strange object to be mouthed, bitten, and tossed around as though it were a rubber ball." Similar disturbances occur with damage or injury to the cingulate gyrus (Maclean, 1990).


Among humans, primates and mammals, destruction of the cingulate results in a loss of fear, lack of maternal responsiveness and severe alterations in socially appropriate behavior. Humans will often become initially mute and socially unresponsive. When they speak, their vocal melodic-inflectional patterns and the emotional sounds they produce sound abnormal (ref). Animals, such as monkeys who have suffered cingulate destruction will also become mute, will cease to groom or show acts of affection and will treat their fellow monkeys or infants as if they were inanimate objects (ref). For example, they may walk upon and over them as if they were part of the floor or some obstacle rather than a fellow being. Hence, behavior becomes somewhat reptilian. Maternal behavior is also abolished and the majority of infants soon die from lack of care. Male parental behavior is also severely effected as is the ability to express and perceive almost all aspects of emotion.


As an ideal, fatherly love represents strength and stability, rules and laws, logic and order, discipline, obedience and punishment. How many of us recall our mother trying in vain to instill control when we were disobeying and how fearless we were until she said those words: "wait until your father comes home." Fearful words indeed. Where mother is warmth and the source of love, father is the source of strength and controls the door to the world and possibly (so fears the child) even the door back to mother.

Fatherly love also represents protection and security against the hardships of the world. Mommy will love you but daddy will take care of and protect us all.

Most male primates and mammals, including humans are tolerant of infants and solicitous of children, but tend to show them very little interest, as least as compared to females. One major exception is the baboon who often seeks out his own young and will bounce them on his tummy and spend time playing with them.

In large part, young primate and human males quickly begin showing a strong propensity to escape their mother's grasp and establish their independence and to seek out the company of older or adult males. It is these males who they begin to model, and whose behaviors they increasingly imitate. Adult males represent power and respect. Adult males maintain order, break up fights, punish the misbehavior of others, and establish the rules as to what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Those who indulge in unacceptable actions are threatened and punished.

Primate and human mothers have little or no control over the behavior of male adolescents who soon begin to behave in a dominant manner, even toward their mothers. However, they will quickly and fearfully cease this behavior if a dominant male expresses his displeasure. However, if father behaves in an abusive or extremely authoritarian manner, his sons may also become abusive, or conversely, passive and servile, especially toward older men and figures of authority.

Young human and female adolescent chimps also recognize the power and prestige of adult males. Even before they are sexually mature females begin to seek out adult male company and to present themselves in a sexual manner, and solicit his protection from other females and juvenile males. Young human females often behave in a similar, albeit in a less sexually overt, manner toward their fathers (Friday).

Although primate and human mothers are of extreme importance during the early life of the infant and child, adult males, including fathers, become increasingly important in the later socialization of the young as they reach adolescence and young adulthood. This is particularly important to young males for it is during adolescence that a second surge of testosterone begins to buildup and flow. They become masculinized, sexualized, and very aggressive. Without the calming presence and restraint of the more mature, adult males, adolescent aggressiveness can quickly get out of hand.

This lack of control and self-discipline is particularly evident among humans who are raised without fathers or who fail to be subject to the discipline and punishment met out by an adult male. Like other primates, young human males have little respect for or fear of female power and as adults, they tend to have little fear of violating social norms enforced through male power. They become criminals and psychopaths. In that humans learn from experience, those raised without fathers or in permissive environment experience few consequences and little affective punishment. Hence, they continue to act on their immediate desires, including whatever aggressive or sexual feelings may be urging them on at the moment.

Teenage pregnancy is highest among adolescent females raised without fathers. Similarly, males reared in families headed by a mother, have poorer grades, are truants, drop out of school more, and engage in serious criminal activities at significantly higher rates than those with resident fathers. Once these fatherless boys reach adulthood they continue to engage in high rates of criminal activities, earn less, and behave in a sexually irresponsible manner by repeatedly fathering children and abandoning them.


Many children consciously and unconsciously identify with, model and/or mimic the behavior of their mothers or fathers or both. The impressions made by parents or other authority figures in turn exerts significant influences on limbic system development and unconscious mental functioning. Later in life this complex of impressions, actions, and feeling states can exert tremendous influences on behavior, emotional functioning and the manner in which individuals treat themselves, loved ones and total strangers. For example, mothers who are aggressive tend to have children who are 85% more aggressive than those who are more maternal in their behavior (Southwick, 1968). This occurs in humans as well as primates and mammals. Abuse and severe physical punishment also increases aggressive behavior in humans as well as anti-social tendencies.

Not all forms of abuse and punishment are physical. Abuse may be emotional, physical, vocal, and may take the form of constant yelling and screaming, ridicule and sarcasm, emotional withdrawal, or favoritism. Sexual molestation, abandonment, or being surrendered for adoption or placed in a foster home also exerts harmful, abusive influences. Those who are sexually abused often develop very severe emotional and cognitive problems including multiple personalities ( Allen & Oliver, 2012; Erickson et al. 1989; Eckenrode, et al. 2013; Wodarski et al. 1990; Ross, 1989; Putnam, 1989).

The personality and self-confidence of a parent can exerts tremendous influences on the emerging psyche of children, and this is true for humans and primates. For example, infants of low ranking female chimps tend to be less assertive than those of high ranking females. They are also lacking in self-confidence, a consequence of the reluctance of their low ranking moms to come to their aid and her lack of friends and alliances (Goodall, 1986).

The rank of the mother is crucially important for the young female, particularly in that a dominant mother is more likely to come to her daughters aid which in turn increases the daughter's sense of security and self-confidence. Moreover, the higher the mother's status, the more friends she has, which in turn increases her daughters opportunities to make friends, form alliances as well and develop social skills (Goodall, 1986).

Regardless of how the conscious aspect of the personality comes to view itself, the unconscious self-image comes to be fashioned in response to these parental messages in conjunction with the child's feelings about how he or she is being treated. Children who are blessed with loving parents who treat each other and their children with respect, contribute tremendously to the emotional health and security of their offspring. However, if the overarching message is that you are "no good", "a failure", "worthless", the child will begin to feel and will become unconsciously convinced that he or she are indeed a worthless and bad person who deserves only abuse and misfortune, and who should perhaps dish it out to all comers as well (Joseph, 1992).

Sometimes people respond to these unconscious failure messages by reaction formation and compensation. They may become "over achievers", "type A" personalities, and do what they can to overcome their unconscious feelings of inferiority and inadequacy. In some cases they will merely develop a "superiority complex" to mask an "inferiority complex". Others will be driven to succeed at all costs to prove their Parent wrong. Some people are just so beautiful, handsome, charming, athletic, brilliant, or talented that they achieve despite themselves as there are always individuals willing to aid, protect, and encourage them.

Most of those raised under adverse conditions are plagued by unconscious feelings of doom, inadequacy and failure, and may do whatever they can to sabotage their ability to enjoy or even maintain any semblance of happiness or success (Joseph, 1992). They may seek out individuals that abuse them, or situations and individuals who they can abuse and mistreat. They will model what they have learned and behave in the manner that their limbic system had been programmed. They will seek to maintain the familiar of the long ago. If the familiar is being "no good", "a whore", "a failure", then any form of success will feel unfamiliar and thus uncomfortable. If the familiar is being molested or sexually abused, they may seek out others to molest and abuse.

Unfortunately even for those who attempt to overcome their past, if the possibility of good relationship or professional success rears its unfamiliar visage then various tensions will arise, coupled with feelings of depression or anger. Before they know "what came over them", they have done something foolish, made the stupid comment, failed to show up for the appointment on time, insulted someone inadvertently, or got drunk, became involved in drugs, formed a relationship with a bad person, assaulted someone, stole something, or behaved in some other destructive manner, such that success and happiness are constantly put in peril (Joseph, 1992). In conjunction with their drive to succeed will be an equally strong desire to fail, and to destroy everything, even their self.


Norma's mother had been married and divorced twice and had several affairs before she was born. She had no idea who Norma's real father might have been.

Norma's childhood was a nightmare of neglect, abandonment, and rejection. Her mother did not like being a mother and was very unstable, as was her grandmother who tried to smother little Norma to death when she was about 2 years old. Her mother also suffered from violent fits of rage and depression and was only able to care for Norma in a haphazard fashion, often leaving her baby with friends or relatives for days and weeks at a time. Although she had a promiscuous past, Norma's mother was religiously superstitious and was consumed with fears regarding sins, some of which she claimed little Norma harbored in her soul.

As her mother became more mentally unstable and indifferent she put her little Norma in a foster home in order to free herself of the burden. After several months she reclaimed her. This pattern was repeated over the next several years until by the time Norma was 15 years old, she had been placed in 10 different foster homes, had spent two years in the Los Angeles Orphan's Home. She had also lived several years with a guardian whose husband sexually molested her and where she was raped by a neighbor causing her to become pregnant. Norma was allowed to have the baby and then it was taken away from her soon after birth. She never saw her son again.

When she was still only 15 years old her current guardian was planning to move to another state and did not want to bring Norma. She presented the little girl with the option of marrying the son of a neighbor who Norma knew only vaguely or going back to the orphanage. She chose marriage. After a few years they divorced.

Over the next several years she worked briefly as a call girl, obtained employment as a model, as she was very beautiful, had numerous simultaneous affairs, usually with older men, became repeatedly pregnant, and although seemingly a vivacious young woman, was frequently overcome with insecurity and severe depression. Indeed, over the course of the next 21 years she underwent over 12 abortions, was in and out of psychiatric treatment, married and divorced several very prominent and not so prominent men, made repeated suicide attempts, and abused alcohol and drugs. She forged a career but as her fame grew so did her depression and the frequency of her suicide attempts. She finally committed suicide (or was possibly killed) at the age of 36. They buried her under the name of Marilyn Monroe.


Children need to feel as if they are loved and protected by their parents. Parents who are rejecting, overly critical, frequently absent, mentally ill, drugged or intoxicated, and/or who withhold love are punishing their children for having normal needs. The child is taught that he/she is not worthy of love, and that their needs for love and support may be abnormal as well. Since they are made to feel badly, they begin to suspect that their desires for love may be yet another indication of badness. They are desiring something they do not deserve. They feel badly, inadequate, and guilty.

However, parents who mistreat each other, who disparage members of the opposite sex, or who repeatedly allow different men or women to sexually or physically abuse them, also teach the child to view men or women in general with contempt and hostility. In consequence, when the child becomes an adult, they may purposefully attempt to harm male or female children or adults.

Parents who are overly protective, and mothers who encourage dependence can also disrupt the child's ability to learn to fend for him or herself, making them forever helpless and dependent, and can foster feelings of servility. This has also been observed among chimpanzees, sometimes with very severe consequence. For example, in once case where a very old chimpanzee female gave birth to a male son ("Flint") she continually babied him, allowed him to remain closely attached and made no effort to push him away, and watched over him constantly until he reached age 8, at which point she died. Although healthy and strong, Flint was so helpless that he died within three weeks after his mother due to the abrupt ending of her extended mothering (Goodall).

Over protection and too much nurturance can be as destructive as abuse. However, some mothers over protect to the point where they are sleeping with their little girls or boys 'til his teenage years. Mothers who form these sexualized relationships create enormous confusion and guilt in their sons and even their daughters. It is a form of sexual abuse. When these children reach adulthood they may seek out older women, or conversely, young children, even their own, who they then treat likewise.

Children who are overly protected, or conversely rejected and neglected often become extremely needy, dependent, and/or extremely angry,rejecting and filled with self-doubt and even self-hate. Often these extremely needy individuals develop an unconscious attitude that seems to cry out: "My needs are so deep and so painful, I will do whatever is necessary to meet them. I will accept whatever abuse is dished out so long as love is promised in return."

Of course, there are others who do not cry out. They scream, yell, criticize, and threaten all those who represent the rejecting or abusive parent: "I hate you. I hate what you did to me. I hate what you might do to me again!" Consequently they fight with, reject and abuse those who offer the promise of love or anybody who in any manner may represent their parent; i.e. a teacher, employer, spouse, or even a job or position of responsibility. They are limbically programmed to relive again and again the painful familiarity of the past.


Children who are sexually abused sometimes become sexually precocious and behave in a sexual manner with friends, school mates, and sometimes adults. They may fequently pull down their pants, or pull up their skirt and expose their genitals as well as play with the genitals of friends or allow them to play with theirs. They may also sexually act out what has happened to them with adults and may in fact solicit sexual abuse (Alter-Reid, et al. 1986; Finkelhor, et al., 1986; Yates, 2012). Males who are sexually abused may become very anti-social and aggressive and act up at school and frequently get into fights and arguments as they tend to be quite hostile (Burgess, et al. 1984; Summit, 1983). Older males who have been molested or abused will often commit sexual crimes including rape (Tingle, et al. 1986; Groth, 2009). Indeed, males are usually severe effected especially if the molests were homosexual. They will often seek out male children who they in turn molest. Approximately 30% of male sex offenders admit to having been molested by a male as a child (Garland & Dougher, 90).

Sometimes, however, after being abused children may seek out more abuse. For example, children who are neglected or physically abused, may find sexual interactions with an adult to be a satisfying method of obtaining love and emotional comfort, a sense that someone cares about them (Finkelhor, 2009; Landis, 1956). However, they may also begin to associate love with being abused, or abuse with sexuality and orgasm. As such, they may then act in an abusive manner with others or solicit abuse to not only relive the familiar of the long ago, but to obtain the satisfaction they associate with sexual fulfillment and love, and to achieve an orgasm.

When an adult has been sexually molested as a child and experienced orgasm they may form a positive association between abuse and pleasure. As such, he may frequently think and fantasize about what happened, or he may act out the abuse with others, and have abusive homosexual or heterosexual fantasies or relationships.

It is not at all uncommon for children who were sexually molested to have experienced pleasure. Sometimes they become conditioned to find child-adult sexual activities arousing (McGuire, Carlisle, & Young, 1965) and will then seek out children or other adult males when they become adults. Children as adults, may then model what they have learned and observed (Howells, 1981; Burgess, et al. 1984; Groth, 2009), such as males having sex with males, or men with male children, and so on. Not infrequently, children who are removed from a home where they were sexually abused will begin to solicit and behave in a highly sexual manner with a foster parent and may feel rejected and angry if the new caretaker does not provide them with what they feel is pleasurable and a sign of love or acceptance.

Parental emotional deprivation especially from the father, has been found to have a high correlation with children becoming sexually involved with men who exploit this need (Bender, 1965; Rush, 1980; Peirce & Pierce, 1985; Finkelhor, 2009). Later in life these individuals, including males, may continue to seek out men and trade sex for love and affection. They becomes homosexuals because of the neglect or sexual abuse they experienced as children and because they now equate anonymous sex with love.

In fact, many heterosexual women engage in these same sexual practices in their search for love. They may feel depressed, lonely and unloved, or unattractive, and then go out on the town, get drunk, and trade sex for alcohol and physical affection. Although dangerous this should not be considered pathological.

Nevertheless, family pathology greatly increases the risk for a child to be adversely affected by a molest (Garland & Dougher, 1990). Similarly, the amount of force or the use of threats increases the likelihood of adverse affects. However, young males are often troubled when no force was used for it makes them question their masculinity that much more, which in turn may make them more likely to yield to bisexual urges as an adult, or conversely, to engage in "gay" bashing. Moreover, the longer the molest took place, that is, the more time they spent with the molester, the greater is the risk of adverse effects later in life, including the likelihood of acting out against other children (Garland & Dougher, 1990). It also increases the likelihood of repeatedly engaging in uncontrolled homosexual and sexually perverse and criminal behaviors.

Copyright: 1996, 2000, 2010, 2018 - Rhawn Joseph, Ph.D.