Sunday, July 6, 2008

Healing Botkin Syndrome and the Chosen Child of Emotional 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.

In previous posts on this topic, specifically from Patricia Love's book “The Emotional Incest Syndrome: What to Do When a Parent's Love Rules Your Life,” I presented information directly from this book to demonstrate the many similarities between covert/emotional incest and the family relationships advocated by patriocentricity. Where the so-called “Biblical patriarchy” movement applies these same dynamics, teaching them as the true Scriptural model for family relationships, I've named these same dynamics “Botkin Syndrome.” Geoff Botkin as well as his daughters, Anna Sophia and Elizabeth, advocate these relationships through avenues affiliated with Vision Forum including their book “So Much More,” and their video production entitled “The Return of the Daughters.” Presenting information about healing and correcting these unhealthy patterns of relating to one another within families proves to be far more complicated than citing examples of dynamics from Love's book, but subsequent posts here will give you a taste of the wise advise that I believe that Dr. Love offers in the remainder of her work on this subject.

In addition to the general problems of covert/emotional incest, I believe that the Botkin's teachings represent an outgrowth and logical conclusion of a legalistic and work-based understanding of the New Testament, the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Protestant faith. A true experience at the Cross of Calvary and forgiveness of sins through faith in Jesus should dispel the understanding of the Christian faith as a process of living by and under Old Testament legalism, such as I believe is followed by those within the Biblical patriarchy/patriocentric belief system. So in addition to healing this type of emotional abuse of children and families by those who were likely unaware of the damaging nature of this process and related teachings, I also believe that an honest examination of the teachings of patriarchy is called for to bring about complete healing. To that end, I believe that reading at my other blog and website gives those interested a good place to start the process. I also recommend “thatmom” Karen Campbell's podcast series on Patriarchy/Patriocentricity (Sept – Nov 2007) and Spiritual Abuse (Apr – May 2008), and a planned update in the Fall of 2008 as a good place to start. These podcasts can be downloaded at The links here to both the Patriocentricity and the Spiritual Abuse series sets will also link you to a discussion of the material covered in the podcasts.

Putting Dr. Love's Book and Advice into Perspective

Since the late 80s during my clinical experience as a nurse and during the first serious confrontation of my own denial about my family of origin, I've read about this concept of covert/emotional incest. As I recently wrote in this post, I've found that each time I revisit this process of looking back into my own history to be frustrating and intimidating. Even now that I am in a very safe place in my life with safe and growing relationships of trust with supportive others, part of me feels both anger and frustration that there is yet another unpleasant level of denial and myth to tear away in both my memories as well as in the way I look at the world. But this is precisely where the keys to my continued wholeness lay hidden.

When certain traumatic events occurred in my life, a part of me became fractured off from the rest, and I stopped growing in that area. I also had a series of traumas that followed one another when I was quite young. Though my faith teaches that I am living out God's plan for my life , I also understand the perspective that the lack of personal boundaries and behaviors that I learned in my family also made me a vulnerable target for emotional predators. I learned to yield unconditionally to all authority figures, any of those who were older than I was (elders as a general class of people), and particularly to men. In the process that was magnified by my own family situation and my personal history, I was taught to distrust my own internal discernment when I found myself in a conflict with the opinions of others, particularly if they were viewed by me as an authority by virtue of age, position and gender. The covert/emotional incest dynamics, not unlike the Botkin teachings, promoted the circumstances that resulted in subsequent traumas. I once saw a T-shirt that said something about “being flypaper for freaks,” and in this example, I agree that this was true. Like predatory animals target the weak and the young who linger near the outskirts of their flocks, I found myself in precarious and vulnerable circumstances because of the beliefs and experiences my family of origin taught to me.

When I see others suffer or when my life is touched by new pains as a consequence of living, I am reminded of similar hardships that I have encountered at earlier times in my life. As I pass by these events in memory or through a realization that the old hurts of the past have not completely healed at the deepest levels, I find myself going back to these similar places in my history. The process of reclaiming myself at each event where I became “stuck” or stopped growing as a result of trauma did not take place fully on the first visit of re-examining the past. Each occasion that seeks to bring deeper healing to these areas is like a redeeming of the parts of myself that became lost in the trauma. I currently have the great blessing of a loving therapist, a Christian, who has guided me through this process, adding to the work that I embarked upon through my own journey. (I also seek counsel because dealing with the emails and accounts of others who write to me also requires that I find my own support as I reach out to them.) I've been on a journey where I've gone back to rescue and liberate myself from those circumstances where a part of me became stuck in the memory of traumas and disappointments. I've gone back to those memories of the great disappointments and traumas in my life to rescue and redeem those “dis-integrated” (or “stuck”) parts of myself that never progressed past the disappointments, as I have “re-integrated” myself so that I am made ever more whole, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually.

Note: I believe that God orders the events of my life, allowing trials to “prove” me like a master swordsmith repeatedly heats and pounds and processes the metals over and over again. I'm reminded of the narrative that we are given in the Book of Job where the Accuser approaches God, asking for the opportunity to prove what is in Job's heart. Jesus also states to Peter that Satan has asked to “sift him like wheat.” I believe that all that has occurred in my personal history likely follows this same process, including what the author calls the plight of the “Chosen Child.” God has a purpose and a plan to demonstrate both His Own Glory and Faithfulness through the events of my life as He demonstrates and manifest healing in my life. The process conforms me to His Image, despite the difficulties and often hard circumstances. As I have been comforted, I seek to also share this comfort with others, my main impetus for presenting this information.

Begin Your Personal Journey Toward Healing

I encourage all who have gleaned insight from the many examples of “Botkin Syndrome” and the “Chosen Child” excerpted from Dr. Love's book to buy and read the whole work. This journey of healing is an intensely personal one. I will begin to conclude this blog series with some summary ideas from the rest of Love's writings, but not in as great detail as I did in describing the dynamics and similarities between Botkin Syndrome and the Chosen Child.

Another great adjunct to this process, if you found a strong element of truth in the descriptions of the Chosen Child includes a study of the freedom from shame we should embrace as Christians who are made new creations in Christ Jesus. Please revisit the list of these resources in this blog post. Chamberlin's audio series concerning shame as well as the book, “Love is a Choice” provide much insight, adding a decidedly Christian perspective to healing.

I pray that all who read here will continue the process of recovery from all these “syndromes” posed by these dynamics – dynamics that I do not believe accurately reflect the freedom and liberty that we should enjoy in Christ.