The Westermarck Effect

The Westermarck Effect is a psychological phenomena named after Finnish anthropologist Edvard Westermarck. The effect is that (according to
Wikipedia): "when two people live in close domestic proximity during the first few years in the life of either one, both are desensitized to later close sexual attraction." Which is why most people don't get the hots for their sibling.

However, if siblings don't grow up together and only meet for the first time later in life, they may be intensely sexually attracted to each other. This is known as genetic sexual attraction, or GSA. Again, from Wikipedia:

Several factors may contribute to GSA. People commonly rank faces similar to their own as more attractive, trustworthy, etc. than average... Shared interests and personality traits are commonly considered desirable in a mate... In cases of parent-child attraction, the parent may recognize traits of their sometime mate in the child. Such reunions typically produce complex emotions in all involved.

Finally, there is the phenomena known as the Westermarck Trap, which occurs when two people who have grown up together (and thus are sexually desensitized to each other) are expected to marry each other, because of an arranged marriage. According to one theory, this is what the novel Frankenstein depicts:

Students of the Westermarck effect may be interested to know that this trap is depicted in the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, in which Victor Frankenstein is expected to marry a cousin reared with him. Instead, he creates a monster that persecutes him and murders his prospective bride before the marriage can be consummated. It is suggested that the plot owes something to Mary Shelley's own experience of the Westermarck effect, following a childhood in which she was reared with a stepbrother. Her own personal solution was not to create a monster but to elope with a married man (Percy Bysshe Shelley) at the age of 16.
     Posted By: Alex - Mon Mar 30, 2009
     Category: Literature | Books | Sexuality | Psychology

How about:
(a) if you see it every day, you become used to it
(b) if you see it for the 1st time, it's new and exciting
(c) forced (arranged) marriages aren't cool
(d) Frankenstein is a well written story
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 03/30/09 at 11:18 AM
Ah, incest by any other name would be ... The Westermarck Effect. I met a girl once who claimed she slept with her brother because he was the only person she could stand to be around for more than ten minutes at a time.
Posted by Nethie on 03/30/09 at 12:52 PM
Nethie, you should have explained to her that most men only require 5 minutes to do the deed.
Posted by Madd Maxx on 03/30/09 at 12:56 PM
Incest - Fun for the whole family! Brought to you by Parker Brothers and Sisters!
Posted by DownCrisis on 03/30/09 at 09:44 PM
The whole incest thing (especially your last line Patty) brought some Rocky Horror lines rushing in. That was always one of my favorite lines. 😊
Posted by DownCrisis on 03/30/09 at 10:24 PM
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