Monday, November 30, 2015

Genetic sexual attraction

Q: Do you worry about the potential genetic problems associated with having kids with your biological father?

A: Nope. I wouldn’t risk having a kid if I thought it would be harmful. I’ve done my research. Everybody thinks that kids born in incestuous relationships will definitely have genetic problems, but that’s not true. That happens when there’s years of inbreeding, like with the royal family. Incest has been around as long as humans have. Everybody just needs to deal with it as long as nobody is getting hurt or getting pressured or forced.

There are so many people having kids who will be passing on health problems, people with diabetes or mental health issues, or AIDS. My mom was allowed to have kids and both her and her mom were bipolar. My research tells me that the only real genetic risk is high blood pressure, which is controllable. I think people only worry about it because they look to the genetic problems that occurred when incest was happening generation upon generation. They say, Well, look at King Henry VIII — but he was only a genetic mutant because they had kept it in the family for so long.

From Interview in, January 2015

Genetic sexual attraction (GSA) is sexual attraction between close relatives, such as siblings or half-siblings, a parent and offspring, or first and second cousins, who first meet as adults.


What is Genetic Sexual Attraction?

Genetic Sexual Attraction also known as GSA, is a phrase popularized by Barbara Gonyo in the 1980’s. Gonyo Founded “Truth Seekers In Adoption,” a Chicago-based support group for adoptees and their new-found relatives after she herself was reunited with her adopted Son and recognized that the feelings she was experiencing were somewhat unusual to say the least. GSA refers to intense sexual desire that can arise between genetically related people are who are united in Adulthood, after having been denied the opportunity to form proper emotional bonds. The phenomenon known as Genetic Sexual Attraction can occur between any pair of close genetic relatives Siblings, and even Parents and their Long lost Children.

Genetic Sexual Attraction can begin as a fascination with a newly found family member that grows into being consumed with that person. But, in many cases, it leads to relatives becoming involved in behavior they could never imagine themselves doing. There are people who have experienced GSA, and who sadly, have chosen one of two extremes that destroy a proper familial bond that is crucial. To walk away from those who share our DNA and bloodline because of inappropriate or confusing feelings is a terrible loss, and only deepens the void that was created by separation from those we were supposed to bond with from infancy through death. But even more disastrous is the opposite extreme of some people who have abandoned their spouses, their children, and society's value system to begin an inappropriate physical relationship with the person they are convinced is their soul mate.

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Personal Story

Gonyo, the non-academic who originally "outed" GSA in the 1980s, has written the only book on the subject. In it, she suggests that romantic love and erotic arousal may be the delayed by-product of "missed bonding" that would have normally taken place between a mother and her newborn infant, or between siblings had they not been separated by adoption. "Many such people, as adults, need to go through that early missed closeness. It may become sexual, or it may not."

Gonyo's reputation as the world's leading GSA "expert" came about largely as a result of her own experience of strong sexual attraction, when, in 1979 and aged 42, she was reunited with her adult son 26 years after she had given him up for adoption. Now a 65-year-old grandmother, she admits, that what saved her marriage and allowed her eventually to build a healthy relationship with her birth son Mitch was that she did not have sex with him, due to his unresponsiveness.

An energetic, cheery and straight-talking woman, Gonyo estimates that it took her a dozen years to overcome the desire to sleep with Mitch. "Believe me, the state of arousal, which grew as I got to know him, was as erotic as anything I felt for my husband. I wanted to get naked with Mitch, feel his flesh against mine. The first time I hugged him, it beat any feeling I've experienced in my life. If he had felt the same way, I don't know if I could have stopped myself. But Mitch was very afraid of my feelings, and wouldn't ever talk about any of this, or how he felt."

At that time, Mitch, an art teacher, had various girlfriends. "Despite this, my behavior around him was atrocious. I was flirtatious, coquettish and playful. When getting ready to see him, I primped and primed, becoming like a 16-year-old in mind and body. I was trying to win him over, like someone I wanted to date or marry." Gonyo recalls feeling ashamed and dirty. "At the beginning, the urge was less erotic, more like bonding with a newborn child. As with all my subsequent children, I wanted to smell him, stroke and run my fingers through his hair. I saw so much of myself in him, and he also reminded me strongly of his father, my first teenage love." But having experienced that primary stage of "delayed bonding", Gonyo wanted more. "I was no longer looking for the baby, I wanted a relationship with the adult - the man." What frightened her was that these emotions did not fit into any appropriate context. "I wasn't Mitch's lover or girlfriend, and I couldn't be his mother, because he had one, although he never allowed me to meet her. I felt like an intruder, unimportant and humiliated."

When Mitch got married 12 years ago, Gonyo finally established a relaxed friendship with him. "It's as if I've turned him over to his wife, so now we can be friends. It took me until then to be able to say honestly that I don't have those sexual feelings any more. What meeting Mitch taught me was self-control." It also led to her passionate "mission" to encourage widespread understanding of GSA.

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Contributing factors

People tend to select mates that are like themselves; this is known as assortative mating. This holds both for physical appearances and mental traits. People commonly rank faces similar to their own as more attractive, trustworthy, etc. than average. However, Bereczkei  attributes this in part to childhood imprinting on the opposite-sex parent. As for mental traits, one study found a correlation of 0.403 between husbands and wives, with husbands averaging about 2 IQ points higher. The study also reported a correlation of 0.233 for extraversion and 0.235 for inconsistency (using Eysenck's Personality Inventory). A review of many previous studies found these numbers to be quite common.

Heredity produces substantial physical and mental similarity between close relatives. Shared interests and personality traits are commonly considered desirable in a mate. The heritability of these qualities is a matter of debate but estimates are that IQ is about 80% heritable, and the big five personality factors are about 50% heritable. This data is for adults in Western countries.

For the above reasons, genetic sexual attraction is presumed to occur as a consequence of genetic relatives meeting as adults, typically as a consequence of adoption. Although this is a rare consequence of adoptive reunions, the large number of adoptive reunions in recent years means that a larger number of people are affected. If a sexual relationship is entered, it is known as incest.

GSA is rare between people raised together in early childhood due to a reverse sexual imprinting known as the Westermarck effect, which desensitizes them to later close sexual attraction. It is hypothesized that this effect evolved to prevent inbreeding.

Pastor Bill Bossert, Past President of the Oregon Adoptive Rights Association (OARA) writes that genetic attraction is a frequently noted response to reunion. Feelings include the need to touch, to spend time together, talk and share. Suggested reasons for the attraction include:
* Similar Characteristics
Similar genetic makeup can produce similarities in temperament, appearance, and other areas that are common in all birth families to a certain extent.
* Self-Love
While we may not want to admit it, we generally tend to feel more comfortable with those whose characteristics are similar to our own.
* Aromatic Identification
It has been suggested that a subconscious memory of the smell of one's own family may be recognized and, if so, would cause an actual physical reaction.

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Is GSA a Common Phenomenon?

Some studies of GSA suggest that feelings of more than just a familiar level occur in up to 50 percent of all post adoption reunions.  It tends to be prevalent in family relationships where the Westermarck effect has not occurred.

Sources and Additional Information:
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