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In this revised and updated 20th anniversary edition of his groundbreaking book, Dr. Kenneth Adams, a leading expert on covert incest, sex addiction, and childhood trauma, offers tools for identifying and healing from covert incestuous relationships that affect adult relationships and lives. He explains how 'feeling close' with a parent is not always the source of comfort the phrase suggests, especially when that child is cheated out of a childhood by being a parent's surrogate partner. Dr. Adams includes a new ...
In this revised and updated 20th anniversary edition of his groundbreaking book, Dr. Kenneth Adams, a leading expert on covert incest, sex addiction, and childhood trauma, offers tools for identifying and healing from covert incestuous relationships that affect adult relationships and lives. He explains how 'feeling close' with a parent is not always the source of comfort the phrase suggests, especially when that child is cheated out of a childhood by being a parent's surrogate partner. Dr. Adams includes a new Q&A section that directly addresses issues including:
• How can this be incestuous when there is no physical sexual contact?
• Why is sexual addiction so common with covert incest survivors?
• Why is it so hard for covert incest survivors to commit to romantic relationships?
• If my partner is a covert incest survivor, how can I help?
• Can I pass covert incest on to my children?
Through new findings and expanded discussions on 'engulfment,' 'excessive guilt,' 'loyalty,' and 'narcissism,' and others, Silently Seduced offers a framework to understand covert incest and its effect on sexuality, intimacy, and relationships to facilitate the process of recovery.
When I began writing Silently Seduced twenty years ago, I could not have imagined its longevity and impact. Since then, hundreds of covert incest survivors have discussed the book with me in therapy sessions and have mentioned it in lectures. They most frequently report two main reactions to the book: one, that it clarifies a troublesome parent-child relationship history that was perplexing and previously beyond the reader's understanding; and two, that the succinct and clear manner in which it is written allows readers to be undistracted by repetition or material that is spurious to the topic. As such, Silently Seduced has not only been informative to its readers, but transformative as well. For many, it opened an emotional, experiential moment that ignited the search for more clarity and healing.
Over the years, I have received many important and thoughtful questions that the original text did not adequately answer. For example, some readers are still seeking clarity on why I consider it incestuous when a parent turns a child into a surrogate husband or wife but does not touch them sexually. Others have sought more information on how best to manage their adult relationship with their parent. They want to neither continue with the same level of inappropriate closeness nor completely 'divorce' their parent.
Other questions have been about how to deal with siblings, how to date, and how to handle the tension between the intrusive parent and the romantic partner. Readers have wanted more perspective on emotional issues, such as how to break free from the suffocating guilt or fear of engulfment that seems to plague covert incest survivors so often. A desire for a healthy relationship and a way to finally feel contented in love is the source of many questions. Wanting to understand why their sexuality seems so burdened, even though there was no sexual touch, creates a frequent source of confusion for survivors.
I've also been asked about certain populations or special circumstances. For example, are there different issues for a gay man who is involved as a surrogate husband to his mother than for a straight man? What about when a daughter plays the role of a surrogate partner to her mother as opposed to her father? Are there implications for single-parent households or for adults who choose to have and raise a child as a single parent? What are the specific problems and concerns for the partners or spouses of covert incest survivors? How should they best respond to the difficulties in their relationships caused by the covert incest of their partners?
Although many survivors of covert incest are able to relate to the stories of overt incest survivors, most struggle to feel validated because they have not been physically violated. Covert incest survivors are still suffering in silence. In fact, most are not aware that their relationships with their parents were incestuous. I've written this book to give such survivors a framework to understand what happened to them, how their lives continue to be affected, and how to begin the process of recovery.
What follows in this new edition is an update to the original text and a new chapter that addresses the questions that have emerged over the last twenty years. The new chapter, Frequently Asked Questions, is a dialogue between you, the reader, and me, as if we were sitting down in a therapy session or I was responding during a lecture. In addition, new material has emerged in the field over the years that supports my observations. The bibliography has been updated to reflect those sources.
In the first part of the book, I use the word 'victim' to describe the person still experiencing the effects of covert incest. These early chapters describe the victimization process and its consequences. In the last chapters, I discuss change and recovery. I use the word 'survivor' instead of 'victim' at that point to help underscore the important transformation from being a victim to reclaiming life. Also, to help the stories flow without the encumbering use of he/she or him/her, I use personal pronouns interchangeably.
The stories presented in the book are composites designed to illustrate the traits of covert incest survivors. Your actual experience may vary. No one story represents any one person's particular life. To protect their right to privacy, I have purposely avoided using the stories of my clients. However, their sharing certainly has influenced my thinking. To that extent, there may be some overlap between what I have heard in my practice and what I have included in these pages. I am grateful to my clients for the sharing of their lives and the trust they have given me in the process. I respect their courage.
As I did in the original book, I strive to be clear and to the point, with as little psychological jargon as possible, in hopes that the new edition becomes another transformative step in your journey from pain and struggle to healing and freedom.
Posted January 16, 2013
As a wife caught in the middle of this surrogate husband and his mother, I found this book to be very enlightening. I am not sure if I will get my husband to go into therapy or even remotely acknowledge this syndrome.However, the book allows me to recognize this syndrome, acknowledge it as something real and not a fear pyschosis of my own making, nor some sort of hallucination. My MIL has lived with us for at least 4-6 months each year for the past 17 years, I have been married for 18 years now, and have a 17 year old daughter and 13 year old son. My FIL died soon after my daughter was born, and since then she has become our 'dependent'. My husband has been her surrogate husband ever since. As I write this review, he is taking my 75 year old MIL for a walk to the mall after arriving from work just 30 mins ago. A place that he will 'never=