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Name: Jordon Campbell Question 8: Dysfunctional families: what are some factors that lead to acts of incest and

carnal abuse?

Incest can be defined as any lascivious contact by an adult with the sexual organs of a child. Incest is sexual contact between persons who are so closely related that their marriage is illegal for example parents and children, uncles/aunts and nieces/nephews. This usually takes the form of an older family member sexually abusing a child or adolescent. As incest and carnal abuse take place at many levels of the social strata, and not just in lower income homes as some may think, the reasons for their occurrences are understandably quite varied. A few factors which lead to incest and carnal abuse are personality disorders, substance abuse and martial conflict. These situations are different or maybe there might be a combination of the three but three features which are common in all instances of carnal abuse.
A person with power or influence over a child develops a sexual interest in the child. Whatever internal and external barriers or stops that would otherwise prevent them from betraying the childs trust, are overcome. The person acts on their sexual fantasies and impulses toward the child.

I chose this topic due to the interest I have in psychology, particularly the psychological anomaly that is a person that can sexually abuse an infant, also as narcissistic personality disorder is a contributor to this topic and it is a field in which I have some knowledge. It is important to understand why and what kinds of persons can commit such inhumane and sordid acts so as to lessen and even further eliminate their occurrences in society.

A dysfunctional family, as defined by The McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine, is a family with multiple 'internal' for example, sibling rivalries, parentchild conflicts, domestic violence, mental illness, single parenthood, or 'external' for example, alcohol or drug abuse, extramarital affairs, gambling, unemploymentinfluences that affect the basic needs of the family unit. Considering this the prerequisites for a dysfunctional family transcend socio-economic reason. The reasons or factors which may lead to carnal abuse are largely varied and most sources agree that persons capable of committing carnal abuse, especially through incest, are usually psychologically disturbed, whether the disturbance is due to psychopathy, drug or alcohol abuse or due to past experiences involving actions similar to those that they project upon the child. Hope Gillette in an article on stopabusecampaign.com puts forward the fact that not all abusers were abused as children as she includes a quote from a David M. Allen, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry Emeritus, University of Tennessee Health Science Center who says While it is important to realize that not all abusers were abused as children, and that many if not most people who are abused do not go on to become abusers themselves, child abuse is most likely the single largest risk factor biological, psychological, or sociocultural for later adult abusive behavior, Dr. Allen explains significant family dysfunction of one sort or another is almost always present in the backgrounds of repetitive abusers. These dysfunctional patterns often do not stop when abused children grow up, but continue in modified form as long as the involved parents are still living. While abuse tends to be

cyclical in nature, people who become abusers do exhibit similar characteristics, those these personality traits vary depending on the form of abuse seen. For example, in cases of domestic violence, a common type of couple seen by therapists is a male with narcissistic personality disorder traits and a female with so called borderline personality disorder traits. Dr. Allen states this is a particularly volatile type of couple because strong emotions are easily aroused, and each member of the couple feeds into the others insecurities. Those with narcissistic traits often feel duty bound to be in charge and take care of others while simultaneously being starved for admiration. Those with borderline traits can be helprejecting complainers who usually seem both miserable and unappreciative. While the male is typically the one who becomes violent, this is not always the case.

The concept of a couple possessing personality disorders is known as folie deux, in a couple showing signs of folie deux, one would be the narcissist and the other a conarcissist exhibiting absolute compliance to the narcissist; thus when sexual abuse of children is a factor in the relationship the fact is kept a secret and thus perpetuated as the co-narcissist is absolutely compliant to the abusive narcissist. A Sam Vaknin also proposes similar information about the pathological narcissist as when he postulates that narcissism has long been thought to be a form of paraphilia (sexual deviation or perversion). It has been closely associated with incest (research supports this) and pedophilia (which research does not, as yet, support). Incest might be an auto-erotic act and, therefore, narcissistic. When a father makes love to his daughter he is making love to himself because she is 50% himself. It is a form of masturbation and reassertion of control over oneself.

Rather than simply parental psychopathology, an article by the Office on Child Abuse and Neglect, Children's Bureau by Goldman, J., Salus, M. K., Wolcott, D., Kennedy, K. Y. childwelfare.gov presents multiple factors which may be the reasons for the abuse of a minor. The article presents factors associated with the child, the family, parents and the environment. Parent or caregiver factors potentially contributing to maltreatment relate to: personality characteristics and psychological well-being, history of maltreatment, substance abuse, attitudes and knowledge, age. Specific life situations of some familiessuch as marital conflict, domestic violence, single parenthood, unemployment, financial stress, and social isolationmay increase the likelihood of maltreatment. While these factors by themselves may not cause maltreatment, they frequently contribute to negative patterns of family functioning. Children are not responsible for being victims of maltreatment. Certain factors, however, can make some children more vulnerable to maltreating behavior. The child's age and developmentphysical, mental, emotional, and socialmay increase the child's vulnerability to maltreatment, depending on the interactions of these characteristics with the parental factors previously discussed. Environmental factors are often found in combination with parent, family, and child factors. Environmental factors include poverty and unemployment, social isolation, and community characteristics. It is important to reiterate that most parents or caregivers who live in these types of environments are not abusive.

Hope Gillette is an award winning author and novelist. She has been active in the veterinary industry for over 10 years, and her experience extends from exotic animal care to equine sports massage. Hope Gillettes article seems to display some amount of credibility,

as she makes references to authorities on the subject. Hope Gillette seems to be an author versed in writing about many topics and presenting proof and factual information to back her position. Sam Vaknin is a is the author and publisher of Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited (2001), editor-in-chief of the website Global Politician, and runs a website about narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). Sam Vaknin is an authority on narcissistic personality disorder, being a pathological narcissist himself, information presented about NPD is highly valid. Despite the fact that he is diagnosed with NPD there is no hint of bias in any of his writings. This information was retrieved from Sam Vaknins website based around personality disorder self-help: samvak.tripod.com. The information seems perfectly logical from a psychological stand point, especially from the stand point of one exposed to knowledge of personality disorders, particularly narcissistic personality disorder. The Office on Child Abuse and Neglect of The Childrens Bureau, is an American organization, which supports programs, research, and monitoring systems that prevent child abuse and neglect while ensuring that children who are victims receive treatment and care. They provide funding to states and tribes to help them strengthen families and prevent child abuse and neglect. This source is highly credible and reliable and is an authority on child abuse and neglect, considering the effort placed on research of factors which lead to abuse by the Childrens Bureau, in order to prevent it from occurring. The information provided by this source is based upon extensive research done by The Childrens Bureau.

From this essay it can be concluded that there are many contributing factors to the act of child abuse, carnal abuse and incest. Psychopathy on the part of the parents may lead to abnormal thought paths which may lead to abnormal behavior with children even/especially ones own. Family, environmental, child development and parental behavior are all factors which play are role in well-being of a child and when most of these factors are positive they lead to normal functioning in a child, but when these factors are negative they can lead to familial dysfunction. This essay has shed light on the facts concerning the carnal abuse of children and has been particularly informative for me, in terms of actually understanding why someone would trespass against a child.