It is the act of having romantic and sexual relationships with a member of the same family or close group. Although taboo incest is understood or as a perversion of the human being, it is still practiced today. It is a topic that is mentioned in ancient times, in many cases it was the only way to generate offspring of a tribe or women who were not able to travel to other nations to find a husband.

what is incest

It is the action of maintaining love and sexual relationships with a member of the same family, so it is considered that this represents a different or dysfunctional way of loving, which leads to emotional pathologies. In them, parents use their children to support an emotional and physical lack that another adult should fulfill; Likewise, the son can feel it towards some of her parents, establishing this situation with another member of his family.

The etymology of the term comes from the Latin incestus, made up of the root in which means “no” and cestus which means “chaste”.

incest in history

Throughout history, incest has taken place in humble towns and powerful empires. A well-known and iconic case on this topic is that of Oedipus, who married his mother after having killed his father, although he was unaware of this fact. Tutankhamun, ancient Egyptian king, was the product of the incest of two brothers, and he replicated this fact with his half-sister.

The naturalist Charles Darwin married a cousin, which led him to carry out studies and contributions on the genetic consequences of incest.

Although in many societies this act was vetoed and punished with torture, in others it represented the way to reproduce in cases of not being able to emigrate to other lands to find a partner. This was not always due to a disorder, as it was mostly practiced by royal families to preserve their lineage intact.

Incest in the Bible

In the Holy Scriptures, there are references to this. For example, it tells about the story of Lot, and how his two daughters got him drunk so that his offspring could support themselves. This showed that Lot’s daughters accepted the way of life of Sodom and Gomorrah, so they did not hesitate to resort to incest to preserve their lineage.

However, the Bible condemns this practice in Leviticus 18:6-18 and other verses in this book. Also Ezekiel, Deuteronomy and 1 Corinthians mention it.

Incest in mythology

Even in the stories of mythological beings, there are stories where incest and polygamy were present, since their emotions were quite human, leading them to commit heinous acts driven by their carnal desires. This is how stories are known such as that of the goddess Gea (of the earth) who had an incestuous relationship with her son Uranus (of the sky), since there were no other beings with whom to vent her sexual impulses.

Even their children, Crono and Rhea, maintained an incestuous relationship that left them children, of which Uranus was ashamed and for which Crono took revenge against his own father. Like these stories, many others of this nature are known in mythologies.

incest problems

Incest- Problems


This topic is controversial from every point of view, especially the moral one, since there is no exact code that precisely defines the good and bad aspects of this matter. Depending on the lens with which you look at it morally speaking, leaving aside medical and religious precepts, you can have different conclusions about it.

According to the Kantian categorical imperative, any concept can be accepted as long as its acceptance is generalized, but incest cannot be accepted according to this statement because it would cause conflicts in the family nucleus if one of these relationships is terminated. According to natural law, if an action does not affect third parties, a man can do what he wants, and in this case, those who practice it should not allow procreation to exist, because the children would suffer the consequences; In addition, there should be consensus on both sides.


The consequences from the biological point of view range from various malformations to serious illnesses due to the amount of genetic information that two people belonging to the same family nucleus have. Some of these may be microcephaly, albinism, cleft palate, facial asymmetry, prognathism, fused limbs, hemophilia, dwarfism, down syndrome, among many others that compromise the quality of life of the child as a result of incest.


Although it represents a subject of great controversy, incest in law is often not a crime in several countries of the world under certain conditions. For example, in France, it is not illegal, but those who practice it cannot marry; in Sweden it is allowed to marry between siblings as long as they only share one parent; and in some US states it is not illegal to associate with your relatives.

However, incest in Mexico is penalized, since the framework of these situations is often generated in an environment of submission by the children for fear of the authority of their parents. In other contexts, incest is a crime because in many cases it is the product of abuse by a family member, and there is even a fight to have the option of an incest abortion.

Incest according to psychoanalysis

Sigmund Freud, father of psychoanalysis, stated that this is due to a struggle of men to take power, when members of the family clan faced each other for dominance over the women belonging to it, which produced violent confrontations, which were later rejected. and exogamy was chosen. Freud exposed that psychology incest is more a simple basic impulse to dominate the human psyche, being found in the unconscious of the human being, without distinction of sex and seen very frequently in the same social group.

Frequently Asked Questions about Incest

What does incest mean?

It is the practice of love and sexual relationships between members of the same family group or politically related people.

How common is incest?

At present this practice is not as common as it was a few hundred and thousands of years ago, since the human being has been able to discover the consequences in various points of view of this practice, especially genetics. However, even in certain communities, this practice is common, especially in rural areas.

What do the laws say about incest?

Mexican laws establish a penalty of between one and six years in prison for people who have sexual relations with a descendant, when the latter are of legal age; if the descendant is a minor, he will have an aggravating circumstance for rape.

What does the Bible say about incest?

In the book of Leviticus in its chapter 18, it prohibits the union of children with their parents, parents with their children, siblings with each other, grandparents with grandchildren, uncles with nephews (both blood relatives and politicians), fathers-in-law and their sons-in-law, between brothers-in-law, nor have relations with two brothers or sisters.

Is incest normal in Japan?

Legally Japan does not criminalize incest if it is consensual, but marriage is not allowed. There are towns where this practice is still carried out between widowed fathers and their daughters as well as between brothers, and it is estimated that there are cases of incest between mothers who sleep with their children while the father is absent.