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Incestuous Trauma, Eudaimonia and Parenthood, and ‘Atoms’ in a Void

2022-11-15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Publisher Founding: November 1, 2014

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightpublishing.com 

Location: Fort Langley, Township of Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Journal: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Journal Founding: August 2, 2012

Frequency: Three (3) Times Per Year

Review Status: Non-Peer-Reviewed

Access: Electronic/Digital & Open Access

Fees: None (Free)

Volume Numbering: 11

Issue Numbering: 1

Section: A

Theme Type: Idea

Theme Premise: “Outliers and Outsiders”

Theme Part: 26

Formal Sub-Theme: None.

Individual Publication Date: November 15, 2022

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2023

Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Interviewer(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Interviewee(s): Sam Vaknin

Word Count: 4,945

Image Credit: Sam Vaknin.

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN): 2369-6885

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citations, after the interview.*

Abstract

Sam Vaknin is the author of Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited as well as many other books and ebooks about topics in psychology, relationships, philosophy, economics, international affairs, and award-winning short fiction. He is former Visiting Professor of Psychology, Southern Federal University, Rostov-on-Don, Russia and Professor of Finance and Psychology in SIAS-CIAPS (Centre for International Advanced and Professional Studies). He was the Editor-in-Chief of Global Politician and served as a columnist for Central Europe Review, PopMatters, eBookWeb, and Bellaonline, and as a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent. He was the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and Suite101. His YouTube channels garnered 20,000,000 views and 85,000 subscribers. Visit Sam’s Web site: http://www.narcissistic-abuse.com. Vaknin discusses: the formal definition accepted among professionals of “incest”; trauma; incest differentially traumatic; facts on childlessness; becoming parents or not; parents do worse than the childless; consumerism and capitalism play off one another; consumerism and capitalism; consumerism and capitalism lead to atomization and loneliness; and these three controversial topics.

Keywords: atomization, autoeroticism, Capitalism, childlessness, consumerism, eudaimonia, incest, loneliness, parenthood, The Selfish Gene.

Incestuous Trauma, Eudaimonia and Parenthood, and ‘Atoms’ in a Void

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: I asked about the most controversial topics to you. Three came up: Incest and trauma, parents are less happy than the childless, and capitalism and consumerism resulting in atomization and loneliness. Let’s cover those in sequence, this may be a controversial session. What is the formal definition accepted among professionals of “incest” or incestuous relations, or some other variation of the idea?

Prof. Shmuel “Sam” Vaknin, Ph.D.: Incest used to be defined as any consensual or nonconsensual sex act of any kind with a close member of the family, related by blood or by marriage. Today, we also consider certain behaviors and speech acts as incestuous if they communicate sexual or emotional information and intent that are inappropriate among relatives, especially of the first degree.

In contemporary thought, incest is invariably associated with child abuse and its horrific, long-lasting, and often irreversible consequences. Incest is not such a clear-cut matter as it has been made out to be over millennia of taboo. Many participants claim to have enjoyed the act and its physical and emotional consequences. It is often the result of seduction. In some cases, two consenting and fully informed adults are involved.

Many types of relationships, which are defined as incestuous, are between genetically unrelated parties (a stepfather and a daughter), or between fictive kin or between classificatory kin (that belong to the same matriline or patriline). In certain societies (the Native American or the Chinese) it is sufficient to carry the same family name (=to belong to the same clan) and marriage is forbidden.

Some incest prohibitions relate to sexual acts – others to marriage. In some societies, incest is mandatory or prohibited, according to the social class or particular circumstances (Ugarit, Bali, Papua New Guinea, Polynesian and Melanesian islands). In others, the Royal House started a tradition of incestuous marriages, which was later imitated by lower classes (Ancient Egypt, Hawaii, Pre-Columbian Mixtec). Some societies are more tolerant of consensual incest than others (Japan, India until the 1930’s, Australia).

The list is long and it serves to demonstrate the diversity of attitudes towards this most universal of taboos. Generally put, we can say that a prohibition to have sex with or marry a related person should be classified as an incest prohibition.

Perhaps the strongest feature of incest has been hitherto downplayed: that it is, essentially, an autoerotic act.

Having sex with a first-degree blood relative is like having sex with oneself. It is a Narcissistic act and like all acts Narcissistic, it involves the objectification of the partner. The incestuous Narcissist over-values and then devalues his sexual partner. He is devoid of empathy (cannot see the other’s point of view or put himself in her shoes).

Jacobsen: How is incest traumatic to individuals, regardless of age, gender, or sex?

Vaknin: Incest often involves a power asymmetry and, therefore, implicit or explicit coercion.

Paradoxically and ironically, it is the reaction of society that transforms incest into such a disruptive phenomenon. The condemnation, the horror, the revulsion and the attendant social sanctions interfere with the internal processes and dynamics of the incestuous family. It is from society that the child learns that something is horribly wrong, that he should feel guilty, and that the offending parent is a defective role model. Psychologists, from Albert Ellis to Boris Cyrulnik have noted the critical importance of societal response and stigma in cases of both adult and childhood trauma.

As a direct result, the formation of the child’s Superego is stunted and it remains infantile, ideal, sadistic, perfectionist, demanding and punishing. The child’s Ego, on the other hand, is likely to be replaced by a False Ego version, whose job it is to suffer the social consequences of the hideous act.

To sum up: society’s reactions in the case of incest are pathogenic and are most likely to produce a Narcissistic or a Borderline patient. Dysempathic, exploitative, emotionally labile, immature, and in eternal search for Narcissistic Supply – the child becomes a replica of his incestuous and socially-castigated parent.

If so, why did human societies develop such pathogenic responses? In other words, why is incest considered a taboo in all known human collectives and cultures? Why are incestuous liaisons treated so harshly and punitively?

Freud said that incest provokes horror because it touches upon our forbidden, ambivalent emotions towards members of our close family. This ambivalence covers both aggression towards other members (forbidden and punishable) and (sexual) attraction to them (doubly forbidden and punishable).

Edward Westermarck proffered an opposite view that the domestic proximity of the members of the family breeds sexual repulsion (the epigenetic rule known as the Westermarck effect) to counter naturally occurring genetic sexual attraction. The incest taboo simply reflects emotional and biological realities within the family rather than aiming to restrain the inbred instincts of its members, claimed Westermarck.

Though much-disputed by geneticists, some scholars maintain that the incest taboo may have been originally designed to prevent the degeneration of the genetic stock of the clan or tribe through intra-family breeding (closed endogamy). But, even if true, this no longer applies. In today’s world incest rarely results in pregnancy and the transmission of genetic material. Sex today is about recreation as much as procreation.

Good contraceptives should, therefore, encourage incestuous, couples. In many other species inbreeding or straightforward incest are the norm. Finally, in most countries, incest prohibitions apply also to non-genetically-related people.

It seems, therefore, that the incest taboo was and is aimed at one thing in particular: to preserve the family unit and its proper functioning.

Incest is more than a mere manifestation of a given personality disorder or a paraphilia (incest is considered by many to be a subtype of pedophilia). It harks back to the very nature of the family. It is closely entangled with its functions and with its contribution to the development of the individual within it.

The family is an efficient venue for the transmission of accumulated property as well as information – both horizontally (among family members) and vertically (down the generations). The process of socialization largely relies on these familial mechanisms, making the family the most important agent of socialization by far.

The family is a mechanism for the allocation of genetic and material wealth. Worldly goods are passed on from one generation to the next through succession, inheritance and residence. Genetic material is handed down through the sexual act. It is the mandate of the family to increase both by accumulating property and by marrying outside the family (exogamy).

Clearly, incest prevents both. It preserves a limited genetic pool and makes an increase of material possessions through intermarriage all but impossible.

The family’s roles are not merely materialistic, though.

One of the main businesses of the family is to teach to its members self control, self regulation and healthy adaptation. Family members share space and resources and siblings share the mother’s emotions and attention. Similarly, the family educates its young members to master their drives and to postpone the self-gratification which attaches to acting upon them.

The incest taboo conditions children to control their erotic drive by abstaining from ingratiating themselves with members of the opposite sex within the same family. There could be little question that incest constitutes a lack of control and impedes the proper separation of impulse (or stimulus) from action.

Additionally, incest probably interferes with the defensive aspects of the family’s existence. It is through the family that aggression is legitimately channeled, expressed and externalized. By imposing discipline and hierarchy on its members, the family is transformed into a cohesive and efficient war machine. It absorbs economic resources, social status and members of other families. It forms alliances and fights other clans over scarce goods, tangible and intangible.

This efficacy is undermined by incest. It is virtually impossible to maintain discipline and hierarchy in an incestuous family where some members assume sexual roles not normally theirs. Sex is an expression of power – emotional and physical. The members of the family involved in incest surrender power and assume it out of the regular flow patterns that have made the family the formidable apparatus that it is.

These new power politics weaken the family, both internally and externally. Internally, emotive reactions (such as the jealousy of other family members) and clashing authorities and responsibilities are likely to undo the delicate unit. Externally, the family is vulnerable to ostracism and more official forms of intervention and dismantling.

Finally, the family is an identity endowment mechanism. It bestows identity upon its members. Internally, the members of the family derive meaning from their position in the family tree and its “organization chart” (which conform to societal expectations and norms). Externally, through exogamy, by incorporating “strangers”, the family absorbs other identities and thus enhances social solidarity (Claude Levy-Strauss) at the expense of the solidarity of the nuclear, original family.

Exogamy, as often noted, allows for the creation of extended alliances. The “identity creep” of the family is in total opposition to incest. The latter increases the solidarity and cohesiveness of the incestuous family – but at the expense of its ability to digest and absorb other identities of other family units. Incest, in other words, adversely affects social cohesion and solidarity.

Lastly, as aforementioned, incest interferes with well-established and rigid patterns of inheritance and property allocation. Such disruption is likely to have led in primitive societies to disputes and conflicts – including armed clashes and deaths. To prevent such recurrent and costly bloodshed was one of the intentions of the incest taboo.

The more primitive the society, the more strict and elaborate the set of incest prohibitions and the fiercer the reactions of society to violations. It appears that the less violent the dispute settlement methods and mechanisms in a given culture – the more lenient the attitude to incest.

The incest taboo is, therefore, a cultural trait. Protective of the efficient mechanism of the family, society sought to minimize disruption to its activities and to the clear flows of authority, responsibilities, material wealth and information horizontally and vertically.

Incest threatened to unravel this magnificent creation – the family. Alarmed by the possible consequences (internal and external feuds, a rise in the level of aggression and violence) – society introduced the taboo. It came replete with physical and emotional sanctions: stigmatization, revulsion and horror, imprisonment, the demolition of the errant and socially mutant family cell.

As long as societies revolve around the relegation of power, its sharing, its acquisition and dispensation – there will always exist an incest taboo. But in a different societal and cultural setting, it is conceivable not to have such a taboo. We can easily imagine a society where incest is extolled, taught, and practiced – and out-breeding is regarded with horror and revulsion.

The incestuous marriages among members of the royal households of Europe were intended to preserve the familial property and expand the clan’s territory. They were normative, not aberrant. Marrying an outsider was considered abhorrent.

An incestuous society – where incest is the norm – is conceivable even today.

Two out of many possible scenarios:

1. “The Lot Scenario”

A plague or some other natural disaster decimate the population of planet Earth. People remain alive only in isolated clusters, co-habiting only with their closest kin. Surely incestuous procreation is preferable to virtuous extermination. Incest becomes normative.

Incest is as entrenched a taboo as cannibalism. Yet, it is better to eat the flesh of your dead football team mates than perish high up on the Andes (a harrowing tale of survival recounted in the book and eponymous film, “Alive”).

2. The Egyptian Scenario

Resources become so scarce that family units scramble to keep them exclusively within the clan.

Exogamy – marrying outside the clan – amounts to a unilateral transfer of scarce resources to outsiders and strangers. Incest becomes an economic imperative.

An incestuous society would be either utopian or dystopian, depending on the reader’s point of view – but that it is possible is doubtless.

Jacobsen: Regarding age, gender, and sex, how is incest differentially traumatic?

Vaknin: The ages most reactive to incest are 7-13 and girls seem to be affected more than boys in the long term.

Jacobsen: What are the current facts on childlessness around the globe on a myriad of demographic factors?

Vaknin: Between 10% and 20% of women die childless, depending on the country. About 60% of people live in countries with declining populations (replacement rate under 2.1). We are now 8 billion people on the planet, but we are aging fast and we actually need fresh blood to provide the previous generations with pensions and healthcare. By current projections, the planet’s population will peak around 2080.

Jacobsen: How do individuals of all types, of reproductive age and capacity, make decisions with respect to becoming parents or not, now?

Vaknin: No one really knows. It is a kind of fuzzy urge, according to some. Others attribute it to sociocultural expectations. It is clear that economic and financial considerations are key determinants and predictors of procreation. Uncertainty plays a part as does the proximity to death (the baby booms after major wars).

The advent of cloning, surrogate motherhood, and the donation of gametes and sperm have shaken the traditional biological definition of parenthood to its foundations. The social roles of parents have similarly been recast by the decline of the nuclear family and the surge of alternative household formats.

Why do people become parents in the first place? Do we have a moral obligation to humanity at large, to ourselves, or to our unborn children? Hardly.

Raising children comprises equal measures of satisfaction and frustration. Parents often employ a psychological defense mechanism – known as “cognitive dissonance” – to suppress the negative aspects of parenting and to deny the unpalatable fact that raising children is time consuming, exhausting, and strains otherwise pleasurable and tranquil relationships to their limits.

Not to mention the fact that the gestational mother experiences “considerable discomfort, effort, and risk in the course of pregnancy and childbirth” (Narayan, U., and J.J. Bartkowiak (1999) Having and Raising Children: Unconventional Families, Hard Choices, and the Social Good University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press, Quoted in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).

Parenting is possibly an irrational vocation, but humanity keeps breeding and procreating. It may well be the call of nature. All living species reproduce and most of them parent. Is maternity (and paternity) proof that, beneath the ephemeral veneer of civilization, we are still merely a kind of beast, subject to the impulses and hard-wired behavior that permeate the rest of the animal kingdom?

In his seminal tome, “The Selfish Gene”, Richard Dawkins suggested that we copulate in order to preserve our genetic material by embedding it in the future gene pool. Survival itself – whether in the form of DNA, or, on a higher-level, as a species – determines our parenting instinct. Breeding and nurturing the young are mere safe conduct mechanisms, handing the precious cargo of genetics down generations of “organic containers”.

Yet, surely, to ignore the epistemological and emotional realities of parenthood is misleadingly reductionistic. Moreover, Dawkins commits the scientific faux-pas of teleology. Nature has no purpose “in mind”, mainly because it has no mind. Things simply are, period. That genes end up being forwarded in time does not entail that Nature (or, for that matter, “God”) planned it this way. Arguments from design have long – and convincingly – been refuted by countless philosophers. 

Still, human beings do act intentionally. Back to square one: why bring children to the world and burden ourselves with decades of commitment to perfect strangers?

First hypothesis: offspring allow us to “delay” death. Our progeny are the medium through which our genetic material is propagated and immortalized. Additionally, by remembering us, our children “keep us alive” after physical death. 

These, of course, are self-delusional, self-serving, illusions. 

Our genetic material gets diluted with time. While it constitutes 50% of the first generation – it amounts to a measly 6% three generations later. If the everlastingness of one’s unadulterated DNA was the paramount concern – incest would have been the norm.

As for one’s enduring memory – well, do you recall or can you name your maternal or paternal great great grandfather? Of course you can’t. So much for that. Intellectual feats or architectural monuments are far more potent mementos.

Still, we have been so well-indoctrinated that this misconception – that children equal immortality – yields a baby boom in each post war period. Having been existentially threatened, people multiply in the vain belief that they thus best protect their genetic heritage and their memory.

Let’s study another explanation.

The utilitarian view is that one’s offspring are an asset – kind of pension plan and insurance policy rolled into one. Children are still treated as a yielding property in many parts of the world. They plough fields and do menial jobs very effectively. People “hedge their bets” by bringing multiple copies of themselves to the world. Indeed, as infant mortality plunges – in the better-educated, higher income parts of the world – so does fecundity.

In the Western world, though, children have long ceased to be a profitable proposition. At present, they are more of an economic drag and a liability. Many continue to live with their parents into their thirties and consume the family’s savings in college tuition, sumptuous weddings, expensive divorces, and parasitic habits. Alternatively, increasing mobility breaks families apart at an early stage. Either way, children are not longer the founts of emotional sustenance and monetary support they allegedly used to be.

How about this one then:

Procreation serves to preserve the cohesiveness of the family nucleus. It further bonds father to mother and strengthens the ties between siblings. Or is it the other way around and a cohesive and warm family is conductive to reproduction?

Both statements, alas, are false.

Stable and functional families sport far fewer children than abnormal or dysfunctional ones. Between one third and one half  of all children are born in single parent or in other non-traditional, non-nuclear – typically poor and under-educated – households. In such families children are mostly born unwanted and unwelcome – the sad outcomes of accidents and mishaps, wrong fertility planning, lust gone awry and misguided turns of events.

The more sexually active people are and the less safe their desirous exploits – the more they are likely to end up with a bundle of joy (the American saccharine expression for a newborn). Many children are the results of sexual ignorance, bad timing, and a vigorous and undisciplined sexual drive among teenagers, the poor, and the less educated.

Still, there is no denying that most people want their kids and love them. They are attached to them and experience grief and bereavement when they die, depart, or are sick. Most parents find parenthood emotionally fulfilling, happiness-inducing, and highly satisfying. This pertains even to unplanned and initially unwanted new arrivals.

Could this be the missing link? Do fatherhood and motherhood revolve around self-gratification? Does it all boil down to the pleasure principle?

Childrearing may, indeed, be habit forming. Nine months of pregnancy and a host of social positive reinforcements and expectations condition the parents to do the job. Still, a living tot is nothing like the abstract concept. Babies cry, soil themselves and their environment, stink, and severely disrupt the lives of their parents. Nothing too enticing here.

One’s spawns are a risky venture. So many things can and do go wrong. So few expectations, wishes, and dreams are realized. So much pain is inflicted on the parents. And then the child runs off and his procreators are left to face the “empty nest”. The emotional “returns” on a child are rarely commensurate with the magnitude of the investment.

Sherlock Holmes was fond of saying: “If you eliminate the impossible, what is left – however improbable – must be the truth”. People multiply because it provides them with narcissistic supply.

Narcissist is a person who projects a (false) image unto others and uses the interest this generates to regulate a labile and grandiose sense of self-worth. The reactions garnered by the narcissist – attention, unconditional acceptance, adulation, admiration, affirmation – are collectively known as “narcissistic supply”. The narcissist objectifies people and treats them as mere instruments of gratification.

Infants go through a phase of unbridled fantasy, tyrannical behavior, and perceived omnipotence. An adult narcissist, in other words, is still stuck in his “terrible twos” and is possessed with the emotional maturity of a toddler. To some degree, we are all narcissists. Yet, as we grow, we learn to empathize and to love ourselves and others.

This edifice of maturity is severely tested by newfound parenthood.

Babies evoke in the parent the most primordial drives, protective, animalistic instincts, the desire to merge with the newborn and a sense of terror generated by such a desire (a fear of vanishing and of being assimilated). Neonates engender in their parents an emotional regression.

The parents find themselves revisiting their own childhood even as they care for the newborn. The crumbling of decades and layers of personal growth is accompanied by a resurgence of the aforementioned early infancy narcissistic defenses. Parents – especially new ones – are gradually transformed into narcissists by this encounter and find in their children the perfect sources of narcissistic supply, euphemistically known as love. Really it is a form of symbiotic codependence of both parties.

Even the most balanced, most mature, most psychodynamically stable of parents finds such a flood of narcissistic supply irresistible and addictive. It enhances his or her self-confidence, buttresses self esteem, regulates the sense of self-worth, and projects a complimentary image of the parent to himself or herself. It fast becomes indispensable, especially in the emotionally vulnerable position in which the parent finds herself, with the reawakening and repetition of all the unresolved conflicts that she had had with her own parents.

This is especially true when the parents hold the Victorian attitude that they are and should at all times appear to be infallible, impeccably virtuous, and omniscient. Later in life, the child’s discovery that these representations are false leads to a harrowing, bitter, and traumatic disillusionment coupled with recriminations and regrets aplenty – not unlike the breakups of interpersonal relationships with adult malignant narcissists.

If this theory is true, if breeding is merely about securing prime quality narcissistic supply, then the higher the self confidence, the self esteem, the self worth of the parent, the clearer and more realistic his self image, and the more abundant his other sources of narcissistic supply – the fewer children he will have. These predictions are borne out by reality.

The higher the education and the income of adults – and, consequently, the firmer their sense of self worth – the fewer children they have. Children are perceived as counter-productive: not only is their output (narcissistic supply) redundant, they hinder the parent’s professional and pecuniary progress.

The more children people can economically afford – the fewer they have. This gives the lie to the Selfish Gene hypothesis. The more educated they are, the more they know about the world and about themselves, the less they seek to procreate. The more advanced the civilization, the more efforts it invests in preventing the birth of children. Contraceptives, family planning, and abortions are typical of affluent, well informed societies.

The more plentiful the narcissistic supply afforded by other sources – the lesser the emphasis on breeding. Freud described the mechanism of sublimation: the sex drive, the Eros (libido), can be “converted”, “sublimated” into other activities. All the sublimatory channels – politics and art, for instance – are narcissistic and yield narcissistic supply. They render children superfluous. Creative people have fewer children than the average or none at all. This is because they are narcissistically self sufficient.

The key to our determination to have children is our wish to experience the same unconditional love that we received from our mothers, this intoxicating feeling of being adored without caveats, for what we are, with no limits, reservations, or calculations. This is the most powerful, crystallized form of narcissistic supply. It nourishes our self-love, self worth and self-confidence. It infuses us with feelings of omnipotence and omniscience. In these and other respects, parenthood is a return to infancy.

In the film “Lucy”, a distinguished scientist proposes that organisms in hostile environments opt for “immortality” while those ensconced in friendly habitats “choose” reproduction as species-wide survival strategies. The opposite is true: when the habitat is welcoming and poses no existential threats, organisms adapt by becoming “immortal” (usually via cloning.) Bacteria and viruses come to mind.

It is when the environment turns nasty and brutish – and thereby short – that life-forms engage in diversity-enhancing sexual reproduction. Parenthood is a defense mechanism and an insurance policy against the more ominous and unsavoury aspects of life, not an affirmation of its blessings. It is intended to conquer time itself, to defeat death, and to render our immanent mortality immaterial.

Parenting as a Moral Obligation

Judging by the panoply of pro-family policies, society feels obligated to assist parents in the tasks of parenthood and child-rearing. Parents are perceived to be society’s long arm, its agents, the conduit for its perpetuation and future preservation: genetic as well as cultural. To some extent, the institutions of marriage, family, and socialization (upbringing) are all “national” and public as much as they are private. Indeed, a substantial portion of the hitherto parental decision-making process and a good great number of heretofore domestic decisions have been expropriated by the state: from vaccines to education.

Do we have a moral obligation to become parents? Some would say: yes. There are three types of arguments to support such a contention:

(i) We owe it to humanity at large to propagate the species or to society to provide manpower for future tasks

(ii) We owe it to ourselves to realize our full potential as human beings and as males or females by becoming parents

(iii) We owe it to our unborn children to give them life.

The first two arguments are easy to dispense with. We have a minimal moral obligation to humanity and society and that is to conduct ourselves so as not to harm others. All other ethical edicts are either derivative or spurious. Similarly, we have a minimal moral obligation to ourselves and that is to be happy (while not harming others). If bringing children to the world makes us happy, all for the better. If we would rather not procreate, it is perfectly within our rights not to do so.

But what about the third argument?

Only living people have rights. There is a debate whether an egg is a living person, but there can be no doubt that it exists. Its rights – whatever they are – derive from the fact that it exists and that it has the potential to develop life. The right to be brought to life (the right to become or to be) pertains to a yet non-alive entity and, therefore, is null and void. Had this right existed, it would have implied an obligation or duty to give life to the unborn and the not yet conceived. No such duty or obligation exist.

Jacobsen: If taking the broader concept of eudaimonia or generalized wellbeing as the evaluative criteria, how do parents do worse than the childless?

Vaknin: Parents idealize their children in order to survive the childrearing ordeal. But the drain on resources – emotional, physical, and financial – is very substantial. Parents often do sacrifice themselves and their lives for their children. Having children restricts mobility, impacts career choice, constricts socializaing, and otherwise has an adverse impact on the parental quality of life.

Numerous studies clearly show that childless people are happier and more self-actualized than parents are.

Jacobsen: How do consumerism and capitalism play off one another?

Vaknin: Capitalism is an ideology that serves to justify free markets. It is ostensibly comprised of meritocracy, level playing field (rule of law), and frictionless markets with few market failures.

But capitalism is founded on permanent growth fueled by consumption and the investment required to meet its demands. This is where the paradigm fails as it conflicts head on with scarcity.

Jacobsen: What do consumerism and capitalism replace in the lives of individuals in countries largely beholden to the ideologies?

Vaknin: Consumer goods are love substitutes. Shopping sprees are retail therapy. Consumers are interpellated by advertising and made to equate consumption with happiness.

Consumer goods serve multiple psychological and social needs: relative positioning (as status symbols), anxiolytics (possessing goods reduces anxiety because it is perceived as enhancing self-efficacy and agency), grandiosity-buttressing, and self-soothing, to mention just a few.

Jacobsen: Eventually, how do consumerism and capitalism lead to atomization and loneliness?

Vaknin: They do. Money and the things money can buy displace the pleasure offered by the company or sex of others. We also tend to objectify and commoditize other people, convert them into consumer goods, in effect: we use them and discard them or replace them with newer versions.

This leads to atomization, alienation, and malignant, solipsistic self-sufficiency.

Jacobsen: Why are these three topics the most controversial, in your opinion?

Vaknin: Because we tend to deny them, sweep them under the carpet. Incest is way more widespread than we pretend. Consumerism has uprooted human relations and yet we worship it and its idols, the entrepreneurs. Parenting sucks: one third of mothers suffer from post-partum depression and yet we keep lying to ourselves that the parenting model requires no tinkering (for example by implementing collective care such as in the kibbutzim of yore).

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Prof. Vaknin.

Vaknin: Always much obliged, Scott.

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(Prof. Sam Vaknin: February 3, 2022)

Thrive: Your Future Path to Growth and Change (News Intervention Interview)

(Prof. Sam Vaknin: May 25, 2022)

Previous Interviews Interpreted by Prof. Vaknin (Hyperlinks Active for Titles)

Your Narcissist: Madman or Genius? (Based on News Intervention Interview)

(Prof. Sam Vaknin: June 3, 2022)

Free of Will: Illusion or Reality?

(Prof. Sam Vaknin: September 9, 2022)

Thematically Associated Content Produced Near Previous Interviews by Prof. Vaknin (Hyperlinks Active for Titles)

Hypervigilance and Intuition as Forms of Anxiety

(Prof. Sam Vaknin: August 7, 2022)

Bibliography

None

Footnotes

None

Citations

American Medical Association (AMA 11th Edition): Jacobsen S. Incestuous Trauma, Eudaimonia and Parenthood, and ‘Atoms’ in a Void. November 2022; 11(1). http://www.in-sightpublishing.com/incest-parenthood-atomization

American Psychological Association (APA 7th Edition): Jacobsen, S. (2022, November 15). Incestuous Trauma, Eudaimonia and Parenthood, and ‘Atoms’ in a Void. In-Sight Publishing. 11(1). http://www.in-sightpublishing.com/incest-parenthood-atomization.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. D. Incestuous Trauma, Eudaimonia and Parenthood, and ‘Atoms’ in a Void. In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, Fort Langley, v. 11, n. 1, 2022.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (17th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2022. “Incestuous Trauma, Eudaimonia and Parenthood, and ‘Atoms’ in a Void.” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 11, no. 1 (Winter). http://www.in-sightpublishing.com/incest-parenthood-atomization.

Chicago/Turabian, Notes & Bibliography (17th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott Incestuous Trauma, Eudaimonia and Parenthood, and ‘Atoms’ in a Void.” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 11, no. 1 (November 2022). http://www.in-sightpublishing.com/incest-parenthood-atomization.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. (2022) ‘Incestuous Trauma, Eudaimonia and Parenthood, and ‘Atoms’ in a VoidIn-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, 11(1). <http://www.in-sightpublishing.com/incest-parenthood-atomization>.

Harvard (Australian): Jacobsen, S 2022, ‘Incestuous Trauma, Eudaimonia and Parenthood, and ‘Atoms’ in a VoidIn-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 11, no. 1, <http://www.in-sightpublishing.com/incest-parenthood-atomization>.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 9th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. “Incestuous Trauma, Eudaimonia and Parenthood, and ‘Atoms’ in a Void.” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vo.11, no. 1, 2022, http://www.in-sightpublishing.com/incest-parenthood-atomization.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. Incestuous Trauma, Eudaimonia and Parenthood, and ‘Atoms’ in a Void [Internet]. 2022 Nov; 11(1). Available from: http://www.in-sightpublishing.com/incest-parenthood-atomization

License

In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Based on work at www.in-sightpublishing.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, or the author(s), and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors copyright their material, as well, and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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