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Psychologist Provides Explanation for Increasing Incidents of Incest

Psychologist Provides Explanation for Increasing Incidents of Incest
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In recent months, there have been disturbing cases of incest that have gained attention on social media. One such case involved a 25-year-old woman who fought against her father’s plan to remarry after the death of her mother.

Her opposition was not simply due to her father’s desire to remarry; it stemmed from the fact that she was deeply in love with her own father.

The woman revealed that her father had initiated a sexual relationship with her when she was 17 years old, and since then, she had only known him intimately. She was devastated to discover that her father intended to marry another woman after thwarting the proposals of four different suitors who had sought her hand in marriage.

Publicly, the woman confronted her father, asserting that they should continue living as husband and wife, raising children together. She even swore that as long as she was alive, her father would never marry another woman.

While Nigerians were still grappling with the shock of this disturbing display, another viral video emerged, featuring a woman who had been engaged in an incestuous relationship with her own son. Mrs. Nweze, as she identified herself, expressed her desire to end the illicit affair. According to her, her son had convinced her that his business ventures required them to engage in this act, claiming that it was necessary for his success and that otherwise, he would perish.

Out of love for her son and fearing for his life, she reluctantly acquiesced and began the incestuous relationship. However, after several years, her husband discovered the truth and left the marriage due to shame, anger, and frustration. Mrs. Nweze sought help to reconcile with her faith and family, as her other two sons were also appalled and embarrassed by her actions.

These distressing incidents of incest have raised concerns, prompting psychologists to provide insights into the factors contributing to such occurrences and the psychological dynamics at play. 

The year 2022 witnessed a shocking case in Nasarawa State, where a woman named Matina Agawua engaged in sexual relations with her own son in an attempt to conceive a child for her second husband. Matina had lost her first husband to a herdsmen attack in Benue State and faced difficulties conceiving with her second husband, James. Pressures from her mother-in-law and the threat of her husband taking another wife pushed her to engage in this taboo act.

Unfortunately, cases of sexual relationships between closely related individuals have been on the rise in Nigeria, causing great concern. Instances of daughters becoming pregnant by their fathers, mothers becoming pregnant by their sons, and siblings engaging in sexual activities have become distressingly common. Even uncles are sleeping with their nephews without facing any consequences.

In July 2023, a 46-year-old man was arrested for allegedly impregnating his two daughters in the Gwagwalada Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The incident came to light when one of the daughters reported the matter to her fiancé, who happened to be a police officer. The accused father had allegedly conspired with his wife to abort the pregnancies.

Similarly, in March of that year, a 43-year-old man was arrested in Ogun State for impregnating his 19-year-old daughter. The victim, who was five months pregnant at the time, revealed that her father had been sexually abusing her since February 2022, threatening to kill her if she spoke out.

Sexual relations between closely related individuals are universally considered taboo and abhorrent. Punishments for offenders range from imprisonment to banishment or even the death penalty in some societies. Despite these severe consequences, the prevalence of such acts continues to rise. Women are bearing children for their fathers in secret, and others are secretly undergoing multiple abortions with their fathers.

To shed light on the possible reasons behind this immoral and shameful behavior, Dr. Leonard Okonkwo, a Consultant Psychologist at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, explained that sexual instincts are innate but regulated by societal norms. He referred to psychoanalytic theory, which suggests that a strong attachment develops between a female child and her father around the age of three. If this attachment is mishandled by the father, it can lead to reciprocation and eventually result in an illicit affair.

Dr. Okonkwo emphasized that sexual development occurs in stages and that understanding these stages is crucial for comprehending the underlying motivations behind incestuous relationships. 

The issue of incestuous relationships has been gaining attention due to recent incidents in Nigeria. Dr. Leonard Okonkwo, a Consultant Psychologist, has provided insights into the reasons behind this disturbing trend. He suggests that sexual instincts are innate and regulated by societal norms. According to psychoanalytic theory, a strong attachment can develop between a female child and her father during the electra complex stage, around the age of three. If this attachment is mishandled by the father, it can lead to reciprocation and eventually result in an illicit affair.

Dr. Okonkwo also attributes the increase in incestuous acts to the abandonment of gregarious living patterns and the rise of individualistic lifestyles. In the past, people lived in close-knit communities where others were aware of their actions, serving as a check on such behaviors. However, with the weakening of cultural values and the shift towards individualism, people now live without societal checks, providing opportunities for incestuous acts to occur without interference.

The erosion of societal norms, influenced by the prevalence of Western culture and the encouragement of sexual fantasies, is another factor contributing to the rise in incestuous relationships. Dr. Okonkwo notes that the portrayal of incest in movies and pornography can create the impression that such acts are enjoyable and acceptable. However, he explains that even though fantasies may mislead offenders into believing that what they do is right, their conscience and the existence of laws against incest still tell them it is wrong.

Dr. Okonkwo also touches on the emphasis on sexual freedom in society. While sexual freedom has its place, it has also provided a platform for individuals with deviant sexual preferences to assert their rights, as seen in the case of the LGBTQ+ community. However, he clarifies that incest remains a criminal offense, and people cannot openly advocate for their right to engage in such relationships without facing legal consequences.

Regarding the involvement of women in incestuous relationships, Dr. Okonkwo explains that in many cases, these acts occur with minors, making them instances of rape regardless of consent. For women who willingly engage in incest with their fathers, he suggests that it often stems from an attachment that developed during their psychosexual stages, which, if mishandled, can lead to fixation and perpetuation of the relationship.

While the issue of incestuous relationships is deeply concerning and abnormal, Dr. Okonkwo emphasizes that not all abnormal behaviors equate to mental illness. However, when individuals have an uncontrollable urge to act in a particular abnormal way, they may require help to address their behavioral abnormalities.

It is crucial to address these societal issues, reinforce cultural values, and educate individuals on the consequences and harm caused by incestuous relationships. Additionally, law enforcement agencies play a vital role in investigating and prosecuting those involved in these criminal acts.

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