Let me explain a little further about the incest notion. Incest is a spiritual problem as are all problems for we aren’t a body who has a spirit but we are a body who is intrinsically an expression of Spirit. When incest takes place, something has gone horribly awry in the depths of the human heart and sometimes, though not always, finds expression in behavior. But it is first and foremost a spiritual matter. Now, of course, when addressing this issue as a clinician, my first concern was not so much the “spiritual” as the behavioral—the behavior had to stop and thus the legal system had to be employed. And by here speaking of the issue as “spiritual” I do not diminish in the least the horrible nature of the deed itself.
And by “spiritual” here I am not speaking of “Spiritual” necessarily as in God and such…though ultimately that is where this “spirituality” leads. But I am talking about the subtle intricacies of the human heart, the hidden fancies and whims which for most of us are filtered out of consciousness. Some are not so fortunate and have their conscious thought violated by these thoughts and are often overwhelmed with their intoxicating lure. When the intoxication becomes too intense, acting-out often occurs.
The spiritual incest phenomenon reflects a great distrust of the world and I suspect it stems from a great distrust of the man/woman’s own physicality. He…and I’m going to focus on the male…is fearful of the outside world and comes to find the realm of private fantasy more appealing than that of the outside world. Sure, the outside world beckons but to venture there exacts a price, it entails risk and fear, and it is easier to just retreat within a private world. And this “private world” inevitably is orchestrated in the dynamics of the parents who have their own deep-seated problems with personal and physical intimacy. And this poison deepens and evolves, becoming increasingly convoluted, and when children come along they inevitably imbibe of this atmosphere and internalize it. And, this is true even when some of these families never actually become “incestuous” overtly. For some reason they mercifully they maintain the physical boundaries but the spiritual boundaries are not there and the children are enmeshed in a morass of expectations which always include a disdain and fear of the outside world. This often gives rise to some of the families who decide to “home-school” their children, keeping them from being “contaminated” by that “evil and wicked world out there.” And they almost always adopt religious views which encourage this poison.
But this same dynamic is often present with the hyper-conservative extremist groups. They reject the world, turn within, and end up feeding on themselves; or, as Shakespeare put it, they find themselves “feeding even on the pith of life.”