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While We're Talking about Love and Marriage

What about couples that are genetically very close??


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 30th, 2008 06:03 pm (UTC)
Hmm. I don't know about this.

Incest has been taboo in every culture studied. Some anthropologists claim that the taboo was in place to keep clans or tribes in contact with outside clans or tribes; marrying within one's own family or clan would slow down or even halt the ability to trade for goods with others because there would be no reason to seek others out; other theories point to the genetic weaknesses that might show up over generations of inbreeding - marrying outside of one's clan keeps the gene pool healthy.

To me, it just feels wrong. I don't know if that comes from deep inside me or if it is a result of a lifetime of conditioning. But I do know that it is not just Western culture that frowns upon this practice.
Nov. 30th, 2008 07:56 pm (UTC)
I suspect that the taboo springs from the "curse" that is the very real situation of increased birth defects and hereditary disease in children from parents who are closely related. And that brings up the tough question of where does society draw the line in taking care of children who can't take care of themselves?

It's relatively easy to ban incest, but it is not so easy to take care of a child with a severe disability for life. Not that ease is the standard by which we should judge these questions, I'm just rambling. I think that your distaste for incest is culturally instilled, but it could be innate. We typically find people with very different markers on their cells (MHC) more attractive, and we recognize those people by their pheromones. Mammals other than humans appear to select mates in a way similar to this.

Thinking about this young couple who have fallen in love....we all tend to "fall in love" with people who have the characteristics of our early caregivers, it is programmed into us at age 0-2. So these two both had the same mother, same early care, and so their attraction at that level is probably extremely strong. The fact that they did not grow up together eliminated the usual sibling interactions that seem to stop most people from wanting to sex their siblings....
Dec. 1st, 2008 02:11 am (UTC)
I am thinking that my reaction to this is similar to people who think being gay is 'wrong.'

I think the genetic risks may have been overstated, but the risk to the family unit is more of an issue. What if the couple splits up? Who sides with who? I know someone who's ex husband ended up with her first cousin. It tore the family apart. Her aunt and uncle knew about the affair. It was ugly.

Another friend found herself involved with a foreign first cousin that she had never met until their teens. They ended it quickly. She's a doctor now, so she isn't exactly a buck-toothed hick. She said the attraction was incredible. It does happen. I'm guessing most people don't act on the attraction.

My father in law sees no problem in second cousins marrying. It's fairly common in his church. I think it's gross. Like I said. It's a gut thing.

I think this couple's situation is very unusual. The family seems very dysfunctional, with one sibling being brought up in foster care, and no mention of their father. They should have gotten some guidance very early on in their relationship. It's a sad situation.
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