Incest, Betrayal and Genetic Sexual Attraction

CBC Radio today had a program talking about Genetic Sexual Attraction and how there was a certain need with some people who shared genetic material to be more than just brother-sister, father-daughter, mother-son, and take it into sexual fulfillment. This raised my hackles, because I was victim of incest.

I have never hidden the fact that my father abused me and when my parents divorced when I was 12, that I never saw my father again. He died two years ago and it was nothing but a relief. Stating this will probably cause some grave repercussions with my family members. But my father was never made to pay for what he did. Why, is a complicated matter, which I can’t get into. To say I hated my father would be an accurate description of my emotions.

Two years ago two people betrayed me, in separate situations. I was absolutely devastated and depressed by this erosion of trust. I came to realize that part of the reason the betrayals knocked out my foundations was because the first betrayal of trust happened when I was four, with my father. I did not necessarily understand cultural moires and taboos at that time but I knew it was wrong and that I felt uncomfortable with what he did or tried to do. I’m sure that set up certain patterns in my conditioning.

One aspect of that conditioning is that I am absolutely, adamantly against incest and am disgusted by the thought of it. I read a fiction novel a year or so ago (The Blood of Angels by Stephen Gregory, winner of the Somerset Maughm award) about a man who in the course of the book becomes attracted to and consummates his relation with his sister. His life becomes more of a shipwreck to disastrous, horrific endings. It was a riveting book, well written, compelling and making no judgment but letting the tale tell itself. I was intrigued and felt both repulsion and compassion for the characters. That’s the sign of a good writer who can delicately pull in the reader’s emotions.

So I try to look at some things through other’s eyes. But there are strong taboos against such ideas as incest or sexual relations with family members. Yet, some cultures supported incest, such as the ancient Egyptians who kept their royal bloodline within the family, brother marrying sister and even the gods practiced incest. But then many gods did, such as the Greek and Roman ones, keeping divine within the group and then spreading it amongst select mortals.

The physiological problems of incest is of course inbreeding. But more, this program talked about a genetic attraction, which was stated as a normal thing. I did not hear all of the program but I question “normal.” What is normal is that most humans have a range of thoughts that can encompass taboo subjects, such as murder, suicide, indulgences, crimes, incest. What is not as normal is that most people do not act upon taboo thoughts.

There is a GSA site, http://www.geneticsexualattraction.com/ which is supposed to be a support group for people in this situation. It stringently says this is for biologically related people who are mutually attracted where there was no “power over” (my quotes, not theirs) the other. Barbara Gonyo, who started the site, states that it is support on a subject that to most is:

1. misunderstood
2. shocking
3. to some unbelievable
4. taboo to society.

And…However, GSA is:

  • NOT an incest site as we have always understood the subject of incest
  • NOT a place to fantasize
  • NOT for incest victims of childhood abuse or their abusers
  • Not a porn site

That is a good thing to know and I believe there are some very conflicted people who must hide the relationships they have embarked upon. One member of the site stated that she wished people would leave them alone because they’re not hurting anyone. And in essence, this is a fundamental belief of mine, that a person can do what they wish as long as it doesn’t hurt others.

But part of me thinks, having read a few messages on the site, that people are looking for justification for their acts, that they “are not alone” and therefore it’s okay. Maybe it is. But then I read about a mother and son who were caught kissing by her husband, or by two siblings who get together and requite their relationship from time to time even though one or the other is married to someone else and I can’t help but wonder about the aspects of right and wrong and how those boundaries have been breached. Not one of these people mentions the aspect of just plain ole cheating in what they’re doing. It seems that because they already have a special taboo relationship of  “genetic sexual attraction” that this negates all other things, relationships and constrictions of trust.

What does it matter if a sister cheats with her brother on her husband when her brother is just family? It is a love so strong, an attraction so deep that it matters most of all. Yet, people have felt these attractions throughout the ages and most not for their family members. And, throughout history, marriages have ended when a new attraction began. That, is in fact, human nature.

I’m not a psychologist so all that I’m stating here is just my opinion and obviously I’m biased. But I just feel that there is a matter of self-control and restraint that is overridden by these people. Yes, that happens to people who are not genetically related as well. But letting it come between an existing relationship is indulgent. I don’t condone cheating either. I would hazard that in some cases, where two family members have been reunited after a long separation (as in adoption), that there just might be a strong psychological need for that belonging and love of the biological parent or sibling that had been missing throughout life. It doesn’t have to be acted upon sexually but seems it sometimes is.

Is it right? Not by most cultures’ standards. Is it hurting anyone? Only if someone is in an existing relationship and cheating. Or if they have a child because it increases the risk of genetic abnormalities for that child. Do I like it? Absolutely not. I fear that if this was too openly accepted as one of the norms, that we would see people saying, why oh yes, we have always loved each other. But in fact there would be the brainwashing of say, a sibling by a parent over years, and in fact a power over that would keep the one member in line, believing this was normal and of mutual acceptance. Case in point, there are the religious groups who believe a man can have numerous wives and marry them as young as 14, when those young girls can be influenced and brainwashed that this is what they want and that they always have wanted, knowing no other life.

I caution against believing that this genetic sexual attraction is normal and should be acted on. Often there are still repercussions for relations and of course the pressure of society can be great. But maybe I’m missing some crucial aspect. I’m waiting to be convinced.

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14 Comments

Filed under Culture, family, life, people, relationships, sex

14 responses to “Incest, Betrayal and Genetic Sexual Attraction

  1. AntiConsumer

    I don’t think GSA is wrong. I believe boundaries and breaches of contract is created by society, sorta like time doesn’t really exist. I am glad that you are really looking into this and trying to be open minded despite what has happened to you. I have to say that the same thing happened to me in a similar fashion, accept the reverse happened…

    Anyway I don’t think personally anyone should ever condemn mutual love between two consenting adults. And I don’t think any other human being has the right to control who gives birth or doesn’t give birth. If they get together and have a child and its got genetic defects okay..if they make it such a big issue, everyone should have a blood test and only be allowed to sleep with people who have compatible blood, since two complete non-genetic strangers can get together and produce genetically faulty children. Also honestly not every incest encounter creates a child who has bad genes. (You don’t hear of genetically faulty Egyptians do you?). Some people have good genes, the factors are ‘what kind of recessive genes you have’, what kind of dominant ones do you have?, are they ‘good’ or ‘bad’, etc. Selective breeding is actually used with animals. It doesn’t always occur frequently* in nature, but it has been known to occur under certain circumstances.

    Would we tell non-genetically compatible people, they aren’t allowed to have children together?

    I don’t know this is just my opinion but I don’t think telling them to suppress how they feel and walk away is acceptable. Just let them be would be my opinion. And strip away the judgment. It’s not our place to judge anyone.

    • colleenanderson

      Unfortunately, or fortunately, we all judge. Every time a person is charged and convicted of a crime, there is a judgment. Every time you decide not to like someone, that too is judgment. Partly I do agree with you. People should be able to do what they want as long as it harms no one. Giving birth to a genetically defective child makes that child’s life much harder and can put a strain on health systems, resources, etc. Yes, genetic defects do happen anyways and there used to be a time that blood tests were required before a marriage license (so I’ve been told but haven’t researched this.)

      And it’s not a matter of bad genes over good genes, or recessive genes though they can contribute to the overall makeup. The more inbreeding that happens the greater the increase in genetic faults. Breeders know this as well. They may breed for a specific trait but by narrowing the genepool they create bigger problems. Such as hip displasia in German Shepherds, or breathing problems in Persian cats. The healthiest dog is a mutt with a diverse genepool. As to genetically faulty Egyptians, yes, they did exist. Shorter lives because of illnesses. However, without full accounting (or in my case research) of their histories it’s hard to say what was hygiene of the times and which the inbreeding.

      The British royal family (to name one) has had to watch for inbreeding. Marrying too close a cousin and suddenly there are problems in cognitive abilities and intelligence. Hutterites in my home province of Alberta would bring in farmhands of good Germanic stock from time to time. The cloistered religious community that never got an influx of converts had a narrowing genepool and had to bring new seed in. The farmhands would work a season and then be gone. People make jokes about the Ozarks and other places with hillbillies and the low intelligence from inbreeding. These are all very real. Ask any geneticist and they’ll tell you the risks of having a child with your mother or brother is not so much from recessive genes but from too narrow a genepool.

      I still worry about the brainwashed girl raised with a less than savory relationship with her father who then espouses her love for him because she knows nothing else and has not had a chance to experience normal relationships. And I do mean normal as in the norm for society. It’s still creepy to me but if two adults who have had a normal life before (no coercion or sex when underage) then decide they love each other so closely, well who can stop them? But they should think twice before they subject a child to the increased problems of health.

  2. Mick Sylvestre

    In nature; attraction it is survival of our genes versus competition.
    Our brain is the culprit, because your attraction is based on experience, mostly through by your upbringing with those you are the closest to. It doesn’t mean you want to bed your parents or siblings. If you have healthy past relationship with your immediate relatives or peers, then unconsciously you will be ideally seeking a mate with those physical and (one can hope) mental qualities.

  3. Colleen,
    Well-balanced piece. Very thoughtful. I’m glad you noted the fact that things weren’t always as they are today. What is taboo now, was commenplace and not abusive behavior in other times. I think that’s an important distiction. The Greeks had sex with young boys. Was it child abuse? No. For one, they were considered to be adults at 11 or 12. It was “normal” behaviour, for the time. It provided an entre into adult sexuality, it provided status to a young disadvantaged boys to have powerful lovers. Boys still experiment with boys only now we cloak it with shame or crucifixes. In some ways I think they were more honest and healthy about sexual urges and proclivities then.

    I abhor people who try to squint at history through 21st century lenses. You get a biased view. Once I read an historical fiction novel in which the father or the tribal leader was the first to have sex w/their daughters or girls of the clan. Also parents would have sex in front of the family as a normal, commonplace occurance, like farting. A friend said “Oh no! And they MADE the children watch! That’s so sick! That book ought to be banned!” I simply found it a fascinating view of another time and another culture with different mores and taboos. Seeing life through other filters is why I read historical fiction. If all I found were liberated soccer moms in kilts, I wouldn’t read it.

    The abuse question is particularly rife with such misjudgements because of the damage done by such actions as incest or rape in today’s culture. I mention “in today’s culture” because it wouldn’t be the same in other times with other mores. There is, as you confessed, a bias on your viewpoint and brava to you for recognizing that. Perhaps that comes with you being a writer. A writer must see more clearly than others. They would understand more fully what is meant to be a woman in another time, with a lack of rights or expectations, who would most likely have rejected modern ideas of “liberation” were they offered to her by the kilt wearing soccer mom.

    A case in point. I had two girlfriends who were raped. One (a swinger) treated it as a somewhat rude unexpected sex act and enjoyed the experience as an erotic encounter. A lot. The other was traumatized by the rape to the extent that it changed her sexuality (she couldn’t be with men anymore), her life, her health for the rest of her life. Same event. Two different reactions. Caused by two different attitudes. The difference was in the reaction. In the mores held by the person involved.

    Are we genetically prodded to sleep with family? Maybe. Who cares? In this sliver of time, it’s forbidden so it’s a moot point.

    The upshot of this long-winded response is try to see as many shades of grey as you can, because therein lies the truth of the matter. Only a child or a fool sees only black and white.

  4. Adoptee

    Hi,

    I can see why GSA must be difficult for you to understand, given its resemblence to incest and your experience with that. You are well aware of the fact that incest always has an element of imbalance, like one being much older/more powerful than the other.

    I really do believe that if a GSA relationship involves two consenting adults, who have never known eacht other for some reason, and meet as adults, no one needs to bother with that. They are simply meeting as “familiar strangers” who have never had the chance to bond as siblings and therefor do not and CAN not feel the usual sibling love and/or family ties. What they DO see, is someone who feels in a strange way familiar – which is exactly the same as falling in love with an unrelated person. Lots of articles have been already written on why people fall in love.

    They want children? Let them. There are sufficient ways of finding out at an early stage of pregnancy, whether or not the child is healthy.

    How do I know all this? Because I have been having a GSA realtionship for almost 5 years now with my half-brother. I am 47, he is 46. I have 3 adult children from a previous marriage. We don’t need one of our own – my children are and look as much like my half-brother as his own kids would (he doesn’t have any). He might as well be their father. He does not feel like an uncle to them – uncles are persons who usually are already in your life when you are born. They don’t call him dad, because they have a dad. They don’t call their stephmother mom either – I am their mom. But – their stephmother is someone they can by no emans relate to. She’s a stranger, they can’t bond with her. And believe me, I’ve tried to convince them that they should at east try! never worked out. From the day that my half-brother walked into their lifes, they bonded with him – even when they didn’t know he was their uncle. It just clicked right-away. He’s their “spare-dad” and their friend.

    How do my family and friends feel about this? There is not ONE person who condemns this or judges us. We didn’t wreck up marriages, because we were both single when we met. Everyone sees how happy we are and everyone agrees that we are perfect for each other. My parents (they are both religious people) adore him and fully understand why this relationship works so well.

    I do have two brothers through adoption, who feel like my real brothers. Thinking of having a sexual relationship (or any other relationship for that matter) with them makes me sick to my stomach.

    I do advocate open adoptions though, and open records in case of sperm donors. I feel that if you put a child into this world, that you AT LEAST need to provide emotional care from day one. That includes vice versa information, photos and contact, so that the child is ware of its roots and biologica family. It is they only way to prevent GSA from happening.

    I think it’s wrong to make laws against open adoptions and then later, when due to a closed adoption, punishing the people involved in a GSA relationship they can’t help at all.

    In the meantime, let those who want to be with their loved ones, do so without being punished. I am SO happy to live in a country where there is no law against it and people are more open minded.

  5. Pingback: She Dressed That Way, She Must Have Wanted It « Colleen Anderson

  6. handsome pete

    Psychology is interesting for sure, but much like economics, we haven’t had much success applying the scientific method to it, so it can’t really be called science, and therefore it’s important to take the word of psychologists with a grain of salt. But I know that some people extend the field undue credit, so when its experts say things like this, it seems like they’re playing with fire. Sexuality is certainly capable of being directed; furries are ample evidence of that. So if some psychologist is saying that there could be some kind of sexual feelings going on between kids who literally just showed up in this world and the adult guardians who are supposed to protect them and teach them how to survive and make their way, it seems like a recipe for disaster, even with the requisite disclaimers.

  7. Polly

    I have looked at one of the common elements in the instances where GSA occurs and it is simple. The child is separated from family members whether by adoption or by family breakdown and they are unable to bond appropriately.
    When reunion occurs – sometimes the feelings invoked are overwhelming. Layer upon that any possible feelings of grief, loss, betrayal as the case may be.
    A child has a legitimate need to bond with his or her own and when that need is denied through the actions of adults around him or her (for whatever reason), there can be various outcomes of which GSA is just one.
    It is nothing to do with the selfish repugnant actions of a father who has power issues betraying his daughters trust.
    I do question the statement above about the two differing responses to rape. Same event two different reactions. Caused by two different attitudes. The difference was in the reaction. In the mores held by the person involved.
    That person has clearly little experience with victims of trauma. The impact of trauma has a number of dynamics, not just the mores of the person involved and it is extremely simplistic and naive to suggest this.

  8. Concerned

    I am struggling with this phenomenon and only in the past several days have started researching it. It is somewhat a relief, and very troubling at the same time, to find it so common place. I wonder if there is a genetic link to the attractions. I began searching because I was/am beginning to think there is something wrong with me and/or my family – primarily the females. Some history; my grandmother and her full brother had a sexual relationship and she became pregnant with my father. Back then, being pregnant and unwed was a social stigma. Add to this that the pregnancy was from her brother and the family was severely shamed. The brother was banished from the family never to be allowed contact again, and he simply disappeared. No one knows where he went or what became of him. My grandmother on the other hand stayed in the family and gave birth to my dad. Unfortunately, the times, the circumstances and the shame forced my grandmother (possibly her parents forced her) to give my dad away to her eldest brother and his wife to raise him. My dad never was able to come to terms with this abandonment and sought relief through alcohol and died in his early 50’s. He was, however, very intelligent and very successful. I wonder though if he passed these genes down to us – his 6 children. I am the second oldest of the kids. My first experience with this occurred in my late 20’s. My younger sister had finished college and was trying to start a career and find herself. We both were single. She asked if she could stay with me for a few months until she could get a place of her own. Naturally, I let her stay with me. I had a 1 bedroom apartment, so I told her she could sleep in my bed and I’d take the couch. The very first night she stayed with me, she told me she didn’t want me sleeping on the couch in my own home and for me to come get in bed. Her reasoning was that there was plenty of room in my king size bed and she didn’t mind me sleeping in the bed with her. After her unrelenting insistence, I joined her in the bed – both of us fully clothed in our sleep wear. Shortly, she complained about it being hot and she got up and went to the bathroom. When she came out she had taken off the bottoms of her pj’s but still had the top and her underwear. She got up several times during the night, and each time removed some clothing. After chastising her for the constant rustling and moving around, she stayed in bed and I eventually went to sleep. After I went to sleep, she got up again, took her remaining clothes off and woke me up playing with my private parts. I was ashamed and embarrassed, but she talked me back into the bed and with some teasing and flirting and sorta blackmailing me with “even though I am your sister, if you loved me you would take care of me.” After several days, she convinced me to do one thing, then another, and another, and eventually we became sex partners. She stayed with me for nearly a year, and we were like a couple. She eventually got a job as an airline stewardess and moved away. She got married and has several kids. We never were intimate with each after she left. It comes up in conversation every now and then when we have family get togethers and she and I find ourselves with each other away from the crowd, and we laugh and tease and recall the experience. I moved on, eventually got married and have 8 children. My next experience came from my oldest daughter when she was 14 (she is now 30). She was a typical, make you pull your hair out, emotional roller coaster, teenage girl. At 14, she got herself pregnant. It was a huge disappointment, and embarrassment and caused a lot of arguing with both me and my wife. However, one day, I guess the pregnancy hormones were causing emotional swings, she came in crying and told my wife and me that I was the father of the child. I was shocked, mentally frozen and ended up vomiting my insides out. She said it happed during a party we’d had several months prior, and the time frame was right with her due date, when I had drank a little too much and eventually passed out on the couch. I eventually rolled off the couch onto the floor, and my wife could not get me up to go to bed, so she undressed me down to my tee shirt and boxer shorts, put a blanket over me, let me sleep in the den and she went to bed. My daughter said she woke up during the night, and came into the den. She found me asleep with an erection. She said she was just curious and pulled the covers off and found my penis protruding out of my boxer shorts. She said she didn’t know why she did it but she got on top of me just to see what sex would be like with me, her dad and a real man. My wife thought she was just saying this as an excuse to hide the real dad and my wife didn’t want a paternity test, because if my our daughter’s story was true, she was afraid I’d get arrested or some other legal issues that would disrupt and/or destroy the family. My daughter never in the years since has claimed there was another father and we don’t know. We kept it silent in the family and basically raised the child while my daughter finished school and college. Now, what brings me to this website is my 7th child – also a daughter and 18 years old. I hadn’t paid much attention to it until recently, but now I am looking back and noticing things that I should’ve seen earlier. It started about 2 years ago. I always tuck our kids in, give them hugs and kisses and tell them goodnight when it is bed time. She started giving me kisses that were more and more sensual, but I didn’t think anything about it. She’s always been very modest and conservative, and never goes out dressed improperly, but I had to start getting onto her about walking through the house, especially in front of me, with very little clothes on. Our kids have always liked, and fought over, who would sleep with my wife and me, while the rest slept on the floor, in sleeping bags beside our bed, but they eventually as they get older grow out of it. However, she hasn’t yet grown out of it, and has even gotten to where she wants to sleep with us more frequently. She will get restless at night and my wife often will get up and lay on the floor and sleep with the youngest. Many times lately, I have awakened with my daughter snuggled up to me and her hand on my private parts and sometimes what seemed like she was fondling them, or she would be in unusual positions in the bed even to the point her top or bottoms would be off and she would have her body pressed against mine, but she’d be asleep, at least I think she was, and I’d gently take her hand and move it off me or cover her with the bedding. I woke up several nights ago with an erection and her trying to take my pajama bottoms down. She claimed she was just getting up to go to the restroom and she wasn’t bothering my pj’s and that I was just imagining it. My older daughter came to my mind and it disturbed me, so I started snooping and found a diary. In her diary, she talks about fantasies she has of me and her and doing erotic activities. I am really concerned and am not sure what to do. I think over my life experiences and wonder if it is just coincidence that it seems like the women in my family are attracted to this kind of behavior or is it something more? Is this genetic, or is there something about my family dynamics that started with my grandmother and has just been perpetuated and passed down through the family? I am really going to have to keep a close eye on my daughter and be very disciplined in my activities and actions around her. I am afraid to tell my wife, for fear of emotions she still harbors about our oldest daughter and the possibility of an emotional explosion and possibly driving this daughter away or scarring her emotionally. I wonder if any of my other siblings have experienced this sorta thing, but I am too ashamed and too embarrassed to ask. I have already called my sister, the one I had a sexual relationship with, and told her we need to talk about my daughter, and she is scheduled to be here in 2 days. I am hoping she will be able to give me some insight into why she was attracted to that kind of behavior and maybe she will have some advice.

    • colleenanderson

      You need to get a professional counselor in on this ASAP. If this is all as you say it is it sounds like you’re trying to tailor your behavior but do nothing about your daughters’. Establish stronger boundaries by far, and get counseling for everyone; you, your daughters, your wife. Letting your teenage and adult daughters sleep with you is just mixing up the boundaries. I have friends with growing children: the boys or girls will sometimes try and act out flirting and such with their parents because the child knows them and feels safe when they’re just venturing into the sexual world, but it is paramount to establish what is okay and what is not. A court won’t look kindly on something like this no matter how innocent the adult proclaims to be. So do everyone a favor and get it straightened out now. It’s your responsibility as a parent.

  9. That site geneticsexualattraction.com was started by Barbara Gonyo- a staunch advocate that YOU DO NOT embark on a sexual relationship. Unfortunately, many members on that site posted enough that the atmosphere began to change into a site of “how to” rather then getting support to avoid the problems GSA creates.

    Since you wrote this blog, Barbara is part of a new project and the old geneticsexualattraction.com will be shutting down by summer time 2012. The new sites available have a much more balanced view on GSA- and we (as the owners of both sites) are in full support of PREVENTING those who feel the attraction from acting on their urges.

    Please check them out –
    http://www.thegsaforum.com
    http://www.soarvoicesofgsa.com

  10. sgsydyeaededehe

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog. Thank you for sharing it with us, I admire your attempt at keeping an open mind, as well as your objective view. However, I must mention a few things.
    As someone previously mentioned, the sexual abuse of a deranged Father abusing his daughter is hardly relevant to the conscientious relationship displayed by GSA couple. Yes, there is the increased possibility of genetic issues within any potential offspring that in-breeding may result, but appropriate precautions would negate this. As someone has said, we must stop putting our personal judgment on people if we want to view something objectively and make an appropriate Scientific decision.
    I have noticed one other thing though; GSA refers specifically to genetically-related couples being sexually attracted to one another because they did not interact in the traditional family environment. But it also very specifically states that the perceived attraction is as a result of the obsessive nature that can ensue when two very similar individuals meet in a non-family environment. But do keep in mind that the couple may NOT be infatuated with one another purely because of genetic similarity but because they are genuinely attracted to one another as a non GSA relationship might be.
    I wrote a little about morality in this document- https://docs.google.com/document/d/14YnrEECkGDlwIFkQ5ma5Cj1iLBrqPBLExHUIQVx32ws/edit

  11. DP

    I”m reading up on GSA and researching it. I have a friend who recently was reunited with his daughter of 40 years. He denies it. Texting not stop. Commenting in a flirtatiuos way. He wants to be alone with her. Didn’t want me to meet her. He went to a birthday party for grandchild but refers to them as ‘those kids’ came back with no birthday pictures. They both are obsessed with each other. He is single but she is married. I told him it isn’t right but I understand how it could happen. They are both liking the attention they get from each other. I worry how this is affecting her marriage as he has to feel left out at the least. This is not normal or healthy for either one. I’m trying to find books on GSA and father/daughter relationship. If you know of any , please let me know.

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