There are some existential realities, ‘facts of life’, that each human being needs to face at a psychological level if we are to live to our full potential: our aloneness and separateness in the world, our inevitable dependency on others, the limitation of our human powers, the passing of time and our own mortality, the fact of our conception, birth and relationship to our biological parents, the fact that culture requires us to live as male or female according to our sex. We might add to this fundamental order of things to be negotiated the incest taboo. In most cultures children and parents are forbidden to have sexual relations with each other and children are required to find a sexual partner outside the family. Why is this? Does it do any harm for parents to have sex with their children? If so, how is it harmful? What is the function of the incest taboo from a psychological point of view?
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