the avalanche of mail started? Well, throw another snowball
on the pile. You have got to be kidding me with your
response to The Good Son. Anyone who fucks his mother when
he is 15 years old is lucky not to have put a bullet through
his brain by the time he’s reached 30. Have too many parakeet-jerk-off
letters left you so jaded that you can’t see the gold standard
of fucked-up-edness? He doesn’t think this is part of his
problem, eh? Do you actually think that denial isn’t
a more likely possibility here? God help us if he isn’t
Many Mother Fucking Letters For You
I believe you are way off base in your response to the man
who had sex with his mother when he was 15 years old. You’re
a smart guy—do you really believe someone when he says that
having sex with his mother is not the cause of any problems
in his current love life? It’s clear this guy is in total
denial about the impact of his mother’s actions on his life.
You can hear the rage underneath his passive voice. I have
heard the same kind of language from men I know who were molested
as kids: “I don’t see how talking to her about it will do
any good,” they’ll say, because they’re too scared to talk
about it. But once they do talk about it, it’s incredibly
liberating and empowering. Incest always has a huge impact
on the victim! And in the case of intercourse with a parent,
any professional will tell you it’s enormously damaging.
What I’m sensing is that the fact that the guy’s therapist
wanted him to talk to his mother about it pushed a button
for you. The word “confrontation” triggered something in you.
Leave aside what the therapist is suggesting to him. Even
if the guy didn’t have a therapist, he should confront his
mother. She needs to take responsibility for her behavior.
As for him saying they have a good relationship, I doubt that
too. It’s clear his mother as an adult didn’t care enough
that she was screwing up their relationship by having sex
with her son. She was the adult in the situation and had all
the power. Sounds to me like she still has all the power,
and this poor wimpy passive guy is afraid of his rage towards
Believe me, if it didn’t bother him, he wouldn’t be talking
about a therapist or writing you.
Unless TGS’s therapist is a hack, he or she is likely not
singling out this “one incident” as the issue, but rather
a whole dynamic in which the mother probably treated the son
as her partner rather than her child. I would argue that the
only context in which a mother could “wind up” (love that
use of the passive, by the way) having sex with her son is
this kind of context. Your correspondent probably has never
had a long-term relationship because he already has a long-term
relationship—with his mother. That is something he
damn well needs to address with her, and she damn well needs
to apologize for it.
Take it from another survivor, TGS, you gotta do everything
in your own time. Something like this has serious, lasting
implications, and shouldn’t be done unless you are absolutely
certain (you can’t take it back after). The fact that you
have questions about it signals that you probably shouldn’t
do it now. Believe me, confrontation should only be
done if you personally feel the need to vent your anger, and
you really need to be ready for the shit to hit the fan. I
took the confrontation route (by my own choice), and it resulted
in me not talking to my mother for seven years, and hence
a lot of awkwardness and isolation from my family. In the
end, I decided I actually did want a relationship with my
family again, and to have that I would need to have some kind
of relationship with my mother too. So, I set the conditions
and reinitiated contact. We can talk about the weather, etc.
(i.e., “normal” stuff), but the ironic thing is that now even
if she tries to have a “serious” talk about our past, it is
me who won’t allow any discussion of her abusive behavior.
Why? I simply don’t want to dwell in those moments for the
rest of my life.
Luck On Your Journey
I agree with your advice to The Good Son. But it should be
observed that whether or not he follows his therapist’s advice,
incest doesn’t happen in a vacuum. (Everyone knows that, right?)
A mother who sleeps with her son is no doubt doing countless
less-obvious things that quite likely led to his current fucked-up
state. Although confronting his mother may not help the situation,
he should be aware that his crazy mom probably got him halfway
to where he is today.
I would totally have to agree with you in your response to
The Good Son. Speaking as a professional therapist-in-training
(though I think I’d hardly like to admit to it in this case),
it may be his therapist’s orientation to delve into childhood
issues (this is a psychodynamic POV) to resolve present conflicts,
however the therapist should realize that this would not be
beneficial to the client. TGS reported that he has a good
relationship with his mother and fears messing it up. I would
suggest he drop this particular therapist if he doesn’t feel
comfortable. The whole point of a therapeutic environment
is that the client feels comfortable enough to let down barriers
and let treatment begin. This can be done in many other ways
than confronting the mother. And there are many other “kinds”
of therapists out there who would let TGS move at his own
pace and toward his own goals and not pressure him into what
the therapist wants. He may want to seek out a person-centered
or humanistic-existential-oriented therapist, or even a cognitive-behavioral
therapist. Some of their techniques include an opportunity
to face the previous situation without the other person there
(if that’s what the client feels most comfortable with). They
acknowledge the past, but don’t dwell on it. They are more
present- and future-oriented problem-solving therapies. If
TGS does want to confront the mother, then more power to him;
however, it should be his own decision and the therapist should
be there for support and guidance.
Like The Good Son, I’m a man in my early 30s who has had problems
establishing a serious relationship. Like TGS, I decided to
talk to a therapist. Like TGS, I had to deal with physical
behavior from my mom—not nearly to the level of intercourse,
but some gross attempts at French kissing, offers to shave
my legs, walking in on me showering, etc. I had never put
much stock in it—it was only a few times, I’m an adult now,
I don’t have an interest in being a victim.
However, the real issue for me wasn’t the occasional crossing
of the line physically. The real issue was the constant crossing
of the line emotionally. Mom had a crappy marriage, she was
frequently depressed, she needed someone to confide in, she
chose me. Me having problems with romantic relationships today
has something to do with being a de facto husband/boyfriend/partner
at age 10 and on up, in a completely fucked up dynamic. Today
I deal with mixed signals and short circuits when I try to
be a real husband/boyfriend/partner with some really great
I can’t say this holds true for TGS—but he may need to understand
the emotional environment that made the one physical event
happen . . . and that could be why his therapist is pushing.
I’m a therapist and my second opinion is that The Good Son
does not have to confront his mother, period, ever.
But he does have to confront the breeze with which he dismisses
the significance of his mother’s and his coupling. Incest
is not processed by shooing it away like a pesky fly. If the
incest didn’t really bother him, he should be able to talk
in depth about it. If the incest turns out to be more meaningful
than he thought, he’ll probably not want to talk about it.
My advice: Just keep talking. I think the more “dramatic”
therapists are naturally in the public eye. Most psychotherapists
do not pressure their patients to do anything in particular
. . . because that is not psychotherapy . . . that’s sales.
I think the value of emoting, venting, and confronting is
a hangover from the thrash-about 1970s. I studied the holler-and-hug
techniques and came to believe that all the hysteria had nothing
on deeply understanding another human being by listening and
Before The Good Son waves away the future of his love life,
he might just want to talk about his mom. But if the therapist
won’t get off of telling him to confront, my advice would
be to confront the therapist with her presumption and arrogance.
If she doesn’t become more complex, then confront the door.
Several years ago, in the hope that you might offer some answers,
I sent in an idea about what happened to me: My mother humped
me when she was drunk and lonely. Now I see in The Good Son
the exact sad advice I also followed: Be a good offspring
and pretend that it never happened.
I have been playing the Good Daughter for years. But I also
tried to get my mom to do the right thing: apologize. I have
tried repeatedly to get that apology, but every time my mother
escapes. Last time I tried she slapped me, and my brother
made it seem as if I was a happy party to my mom fucking me.
There is nothing nice when parents do this total wrong. It
is almost impossible to get the adults to realize their horror.
I totally support the idea that TGS deserves an apology. That’s
been my dearest wish: I just want her to say that she’s sorry.
The guy who masturbated over his sleeping friend JON’s feet
“needs to know that he was spotted that night,” but the woman
who slept with her 15-year-old son doesn’t need to be confronted
about what she did?
Your reason for the one is that the masturbating friend “did
something deeply creepy/relatively harmless that made [the
other guy] uncomfortable.” Doesn’t sleeping with your own
child qualify as deeply creepy? And harmless only relative
to, say, killing him?
It seems your reason for saying that he shouldn’t confront
his mother is that “plenty of men who’ve never fucked their
mothers have relationship problems” and that the son says
he doesn’t think it’s relevant to his relationship problems.
But come on, Dan! First of all, do you really think a person
can escape sex with his mother totally unscathed, especially
when it comes to sexual relationships with other women? Some
people would say you can’t escape your mother unscathed even
if you don’t sleep with her. And second of all, and
more importantly, look at his letter:
(1) He acts like the sex was something that was no big deal,
something that sort of “just happened,” and makes excuses
for his mother: “She went through a very bad breakup . . .
we wound up having intercourse,” (emphasis mine).
(2) They’ve never talked about it since, and he doesn’t want
to confront her about it because “my mother and I have a good
relationship now and I don’t want to destroy it.” I don’t
think it’s too wild a guess to say that this guy has never
even blamed his mother for what happened (let alone forgiven
her), that he thinks it would be unkind to bring it up with
her, and at the same time that he’s scared that this surely
unstable and unreliable nutcase would abandon or otherwise
hurt him if he brought it up.
Sure, he doesn’t have to confront her just because his therapist
says so—he doesn’t have to do anything—and if
that’s all you’re saying, then I agree. And maybe actually
talking to his mother wouldn’t really solve anything. But
I think the real point (and I wouldn’t be surprised if this
was the main thing the therapist was really saying) is that
he has to confront the issue and stop protecting his mother.
I can’t even begin to imagine how someone would be able to
have a serious relationship without getting through that.
It seems the guy does need a little push toward owning up
to the reality of what he did with his mother.
The Motherfucker Already
HERE: Different things were at stake, PTMFA, which is
why I recommended a conversation in TGS’s case and a confrontation
in JON’s case. TGS has a hard-won, adult relationship with
his mother, which he seemed loath to imperil by confronting
his mother about something—something extremely fucked up—that
happened a long time ago, something that, denial or no denial,
he doesn’t feel is at the root of his problems with women.
If TGS goes in with guns blazing, that relationship will be
damaged—hell, it already is damaged. If TGS feels he can work
through his issues without confronting his mother, I think
he should give it a shot.
JON, on the other hand, isn’t risking anything by confronting
the late-night jerker, except alienating a creep—a creep that
needs to know he was caught before someone wakes up during
one of his late-night foot fests and (1) beats the shit out
of him, or (2) calls the cops and has him arrested for assault.