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Shengold, L. (1980). Some Reflections on a Case of Mother/adolescent Son Incest. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 61:461-476.

(1980). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 61:461-476

Some Reflections on a Case of Mother/adolescent Son Incest

Leonard Shengold

SUMMARY

A rare case of mother/adolescent son incest is presented. The son, treated in analysis, was not psychotic. Questions are raised about why father/daughter incest appears to be much more common than mother/son incest. Part of the answer, I speculate, has to do with the special psychic dangers for both mother and son, perhaps phylogenetically-based, which attach to the fantasy and the possibility of impregnating the mother. Where the incest taboo is violated, the primary responsibility would appear to be the parent's; the parent is frequently motivated by a compulsion to repeat his or her own incestuous past. In the case presented the probably psychotic mother had raised her son to look like a girl for several years, and he had been the victim of a homosexual assault at the age of 6. The incest at puberty seems to have helped him reverse a psychic position of subjection to the pre-oedipal mother, to have modified his rage and reinforced his masculinity. It also produced some of the arrogance, alongside a need for failure and punishment that evoke the legend of Oedipus. The mother, fearful of the possibility of getting pregnant, had abruptly stopped the incest. It had been repressed, and became conscious again when the son entered analysis. He then left his treatment without being able to work through much of the terror consequent to the consummation of incest, and with some of the feeling of oedipal triumph retained.

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