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Which would disturb you more?
blaisepascal
Which incestuous relationship would disturb you more, and why:

(1) Two fraternal twins, separated at birth and adopted by different families who meet as adults, fall in love, and marry before discovering through old records that they are biologically brother and sister; or

(2) Two step-siblings who's parents married while the siblings were very young. Raised together, they fell in love and found a jurisdiction where they didn't have to mention on the marriage license that they were step-siblings (let's assume that their step-parents had not adopted them, so they didn't legally have the same parents)?

For comparison, consider the following non-incestuous relationship:

(3) Two people raised from children in the same household, but of different parents -- say the daughter of the chauffeur and the son of the butler (to keep it all in one class and avoid some of the upstairs/downstairs class issues) -- fall in love and get married. In this case, they legally have separate parents and were never encouraged to view each other as brother/sister.

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none of the scenarios "disturb" me. however, i would think that #1 is far more likely to occur than #2; people who are raised as siblings, no matter what their actual biological relationship, are psychologically unlikely to think of each other as potential sex partners. (it's not impossible, it's just less likely.) i suspect that effect would be far weaker in couples who were raised together but not in a way that they considered themselves "kin".

there have actually been cases where two people who were, in fact, genetic siblings, but adopted into different families at birth, meet, fall in love, marry, and even have children, before finding out they're brother and sister. if they discovered the genetic relationship before they had kids, it would be prudent of them to get genetic screening, just to make sure they weren't both carrying some nasty recessive gene. but in at least two of the cases i remember reading, they had children together before they found out, and in all cases the children were just fine. ("inbreeding" doesn't invariably cause defects - animal breeders routinely mate brother to sister, and parent to offspring, to reinforce desirable traits. they just don't mate any obviously defective animals, which will, over time, weed out most of the nasty recessives.)

there's really no reason except for monkey taboos for two people, no matter what their psychological or genetic relationship, not to have sex and/or get married.



i know people that did #2... so i guess that doesn't bug me... well honestly, none do, but #1 I've seen on TV (like on Montel or something, once, when i watched it...). It slightly bugs me, but they had no idea, ya know?

apparently there has just been a case in the news (in the UK) about a pair of fraternal twins, adopted into different homes at birth and never told they had a sibling, who met, fell in love, and got married. when they discovered their biological relationship, they had the marriage annulled. they had not had any children. however, i distinctly remember another, similar case somewhere in the US, where the couple had two or three children (who were perfectly healthy), and who fought the law in order to stay married.


I would be more disturbed by the potential psychological damage to the parties depending on the manner in which the relationship was viewed by the respective families and the community.

In case 1 - there is more likely to be psychological upheaval due to the current 'moral view' of such a relationship. As to having children - there is only a 2-3% greater risk of recessive gene issues in sibling pairings UNLESS it has been a long term issue in the family. In some families it improves the line, in others it is catastrophic (see Ancient Egyptian pharoah lineage - the Ramses line was pretty well off through most of it - some of the other lines went down FAST)

Case 2 - these 'technical siblings' are not otherwise related other than being raised together in a blended family. This case, since the couple was raised together, I would be more concerned about how and when the relationship changed (was there any abuse of familial relationship/authority/availability involved, etc). I would not really consider this one incest any more than a person marrying their sibling's former lover or spouse. Where some cultures see that Affinity as binding for life without 'dispensation' from law or clergy - I don't see it as any such binding beyond the weight given to it by the individuals involved.

case in point - my sister married a man that I had had a brief relationship with. Was I creeped out? A bit, but then that was based on the fact that we had some definite incompatibilities - hence the brief relationship. As my sister's husband we got along well enough as long as they were happy. They did well enough for several years, had separated and my sister died shortly after their separation.

Case 3 - the comparison is actually little different than people raised together in a close knit community where they are routinely together for meals, in school, traditions, etc.

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I thinking I made a mistake directing this question to those on my friends list, as my friends tend to be the type of intelligent folks who look at things like incest unemotionally and base their reaction on the facts, not gut instinctual- or societally-programmed responses.

This was triggered by the recent revelation to Parliament that at least one anonymous couple in England fell into situation (1) and as a result had their marriage annulled.

I was interested in getting a feel as to whether the cultural incest stigma was associated more with the biological or sociological relationship (i.e., whether it mattered more that the couple were blood-relatives or were raised together as family). The responses I've gotten so far don't really address that.

for the kind of gut-social reaction you are looking for in these cases - hmmmmmm


maybe a suggestion for a show to Jerry Springer or Maury Povitch would be the better way -

its a shame that your friends are too intelligent to just scream and wail and bemoan the eeee-V-ELLLLL of the blood sibling SIN-ah against God-ah (I was raised Southern Baptist, I got Over It) If you want I could ask some of my neighbors since I now live in WV - nah - too many bad WV jokes in this mess already.


Springer's already done it at least twice. (no, i will not tell you how i know...)


So on the shows where the couple were biologically related but not raised together as siblings was the audience reaction more or less outraged than on the shows where the couple were raised together as siblings but not biologically related?

oh, there was far more outrage over the biologically related couples, with half-siblings being almost as objectionable as full siblings. step-siblings got mixed reactions (imagine if two of the Brady Bunch had gotten married?). the least objectionable would be something like a couple's biological child having a relationship with their adopted sibling, where there was no perception of biological relatedness - but even then, people conceived of it as somehow "immoral".

this discussion reminds me of the "ethics quiz" that was going around a few years ago. the researcher asked if people in various scenarios were behaving "immorally". one of the situations involved a brother and sister, both adults, neither involved in another relationship, and using multiple methods to prevent pregnancy, having sex just once, to satisfy their curiosity, and deciding never to do so again. another one involved a man buying a chicken from the supermarket, using the cavity of the chicken as a sexual orifice (and ejaculating into it), then cooking and eating the chicken by himself. there were a few other situations, but the aim of the project was to demonstrate that people may rationalize about their ethics/morals, but the actual decision to label something "immoral" comes straight from the "ick" factor - "i think that's icky, so it must be immoral!" naturally, to those of us who use the Wiccan Rede as our guideline, none of these behaviors are "immoral", even though we may find them personally distasteful. (i particularly remember a lot of uproar about the chicken.)



i don't know whether to describe it as a "cultural taboo" or a fairly common psychological reaction, but people who think of each other as siblings, regardless of their actual genetic relationship (if any), tend not to develop sexual and/or romantic feelings for each other. how many times have you heard someone talking about a childhood friend of the appropriate sex, saying "oh, i could never date/have sex with him - he's like a brother to me!"? (naturally, this is not universally true, but there does seem to be a tendency to react this way, buried somewhere in our monkey brains).


I actually have cousins who are first cousins to each other who are married to each other. They have different last names which is why I think they got away with it. They have 3 children and all of them have a recessive gene for extremely poor eyesight. I think there's a proper name for it, but couldn't name it. After meeting the kids, I gotta say...no way would I want to ever marry any sort of close relative. It does have the ick factor for me.

The interesting question I have is whether the jurisdiction would immediately negate (annul?) the marriage. (In other words - they contact the state and tell them this. They want to stay married because they've got kids or whatever, or *gasp* still are in love.)

*chuckle* I heard about the UK couple and thought "What's the problem?", immediatly followed by "Hm, they probably shouldn't have kids, just to be on the safe side." Then again, I knew a girl two generations removed from a first cousin marriage, and she had physical and learning disabilities that were blamed on the grandparents in question. *shrug*

My question is, should the sate have any say in the legality of said union? If so, what and how much?

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