Saturday, July 5, 2008

Gaining An Objective View of Your Parents

Series of posts about Covert Incest from “The Emotional Incest Syndrome” by Patricia Love with Jo Robinson. Exploring the dynamics of covert (emotional or non-sexual but gender-related) incest.

From pages 160 – 161:

[Following a case history about “Beth.”] Just as Beth was able to scale her mother down to size [a realistic, non-fantasy view], you need to learn to see your mother and father in human scale. Phillip Guerin, noted family therapist, spent some time exploring his feelings about his parents and managed achieve this objectivity. In a comment in “The Book of Family Therapy,” Guerin wrote, “...working on my own family has enabled to see my parents as real people. At this point I don't believe I over-value or under-value either of them. Although on one hand I am perhaps more aware of their shortcomings, I believe that each one of them is more knowable to me now and that I ma closer to each of them at any other time in my life. One thing is certain; I don't view them as the malignant cause of my shortcomings.”

How do you know if you've attained this balanced view of your caretakers?

There are four indicators to look for:

  1. You can interact with your parents (stepparents) without being unduly upset or disappointed. Your parents may not act the way you would like them to, but at least you are mentally prepared for their behavior. You are rarely caught off guard by their actions.

  2. Your assessment of your parents tends to correspond with other's assessments of them. This means you neither overrate nor underrate your parents as compared to the judgment of other people. You see them more or less the way others do.

  3. You see positive and negative traits in both caretakers. Instead of idealizing one parent and diminishing the other, you see positive and negative characteristics in both of them. For the most part, they seem like ordinary people with a standard assortment of strengths and weaknesses.

  1. You no longer blame your parents for all of your difficulties. Although your parents were responsible for your upbringing, you are able to transcend your tendency to blame them for all of your shortcomings. Over time, you have accepted the fact they did the best they could given their circumstances.

Excerpt from
Dr. Patricia Love's
The Emotional Incest Syndrome:
What to Do When a Parent's Love Rule's Your Life
Bantam Books, 1990