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Silently Seduced: When Parents Make Children Partners Paperback – 31 Mar 1992


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Product details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Health Communications (31 Mar. 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558741313
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558741317
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 0.8 x 21.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 482,196 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 18 Jun. 1999
Format: Paperback
Many thanks to Ken Adams for this impressive look at the cause and effects of doting parents. It's much easier to put things in perspective when you understand why your mate cannot be intimate. This book helps to understand why these things happen. It provides important tools in taking back control and learning how to separate from parents who use their children to meet their own needs. 10 stars for this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Reader on 27 Dec. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is brilliant and very important. For me, it was like a huge lightbulb being switched on, and it explains a lot of the issues which I have had to grapple with - issues which psychotherapists I have come across have not understood. I feel validated and re-assured that my gut instincts and intuitions are correct instead of feeling guilty. And because I now have that validation I no longer feel confused about what to do, but instead believe that I can move forward appropriately. Kenneth Adams writes very clearly, concisely and with great understanding. If you think or feel that you have an emotionally absent parent in your family, or that you have a parent who is overly reliant on you, or over emotionally attached to you, then you should read this book. Thank you Kenneth Adams. You should also read this book if you are a psychotherapist: it may help widen your range of awareness so that you can hopefully do your job better.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By conjunction on 14 Sept. 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
offers interesting insights into why it might be hard for children of dysfunctional families to break away emotionally from patterns established in infancy
looks at how it could be the 'good guy' parent with whom one has bonds that choke rather than the 'bad guy'
thereby seems to offer a more sophisticated view of family dynamics than is offered by many person-centred therapists
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By JH on 30 Dec. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Pretty run of the mill self-help stuff AFAICT.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 24 reviews
149 of 153 people found the following review helpful
Wow. 5 Oct. 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is the single most powerful book I have read on what it means to grow up in a household where the parents are not fulfilling each other's emotional and physical needs. The children become the receptacle for all the frustrated sexual energy the parents are experiencing, even if they are not talking about it. This is exactly what happened to me -- the oldest daughter of an alcoholic and his angry wife. Finally, I understand the "ickiness" (the author's word) I still feel every time I am required to spend time with my parents.
This book talks about the specific, sexualized emotions you experience while growing up in a dysfunctional home that don't get articulated because it's too squeamish to talk about them. And yet, it does so in a very safe and comforting manner. It's like getting the hug and shoulder to lean on that you never got growing up.
Facing the truth of being emotionally used by one's parents is a sobering experience -- but oh what a relief to have these feelings explained and validated. I feel extraordinarily relieved to have read this book -- it gives me new hope for my present, my future and my marriage.
67 of 69 people found the following review helpful
Finally! A relief to understand! 5 Jan. 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The author describes in detail what kind of actions from a parent can create an inappropriate dependency from a child, the resulting feelings that can stay with the child and the patterns of behavior through adulthood that follow. Subtle things that might seem innocent in a parent's mind can actually cross a line into inappropriate territory with a child and his/her development. The child may feel "icky," but also privileged to have such special attention from the parent.
The author offers advice for recovery and gives very clear statements about what must happen in order for the adult survivor of covert incest to make healthy changes and free him/herself from binding dependencies.
I purchased this book based on a recommendation on a message board. Wow! I am filled with relief to suddenly realize why I feel this way and why there are these inexplicable patterns in my life. The biggest relief of all is to know I'm not alone and that my odd feelings about my parents are not unjustified. I read it and said, "Finally! Now I know what is wrong!"
If you feel guilty about setting limits on your parents, this book is for you. If you are having difficulty connecting with your spouse and find yourself connecting more with your kids, please read this book.
56 of 59 people found the following review helpful
Changed my life, my husband's, my brother's and friends' 18 Jun. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Many thanks to Ken Adams for this impressive look at the cause and effects of doting parents. It's much easier to put things in perspective when you understand why your mate cannot be intimate. This book helps to understand why these things happen. It provides important tools in taking back control and learning how to separate from parents who use their children to meet their own needs. 10 stars for this book.
99 of 109 people found the following review helpful
a clear guideline 27 Nov. 2005
By MM - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Wow, very impressive! I read it from cover to cover, in one sitting. Just could not put it down. It is written in a clear and concise manner. Almost every word seems well selected and carefully considered to support the theme of the whole book. Very convincing with powerful logic.

I have to admit when I was hesitant to order this book at the beginning. I thought, "What this says about me, if I need to read a book on this topic?" I felt uncomfortable to put myself in the category of covert incest victim.

Several things which are happening in my life, made me decide to take a try. My career has experienced a setback for several years. I have difficulty in establishing a great long term relationship. And most immediately, I have dreams of being angry at my parents. Those dreams rarely occur, but when they do, once or twice a year, I find my whole body tighten up in anger when I wake up. I ask myself, if I can be so angry about something I don't understand, why not spend some time to understand what exactly makes me so angry?

When the book arrived, I wrapped it up in a book cover to hide the name. I have to agree this is an uncomfortable topic and I do not want to be seen reading such a book in public.

But let me tell you, this is one of the most important books I have read in years. It is neatly organized:

First two chapters:

-What is the silent seduction?

-When is a child betrayed by a parent's love?

Introduce the concept of silent seduction and general pattern.

The next two chapters:

-The man of the house

-Daddy's little girl

Talk about the specific situations in case of a mother and a son, and a father and a daughter. The author uses different cases to address different areas. It is quite specific.

The following chapters:

-When does sex become a hiding place?

Discusses the impact on the victim's sexual feelings when the victim grows up.

-The struggle to Commit

Talk about the impact on relationships the victim will face as an adult

The last chapter:

-Towards Wholeness

A short but comforting guide towards healing.

When I was reading the first two chapters, I found myself nodding occasionally but suspicious. But when it got specific, my eyes grew wide, as I saw a step by step description of my life. It is as if the author had followed my life and summed it up in different cases. It is scary to see your life being so accurately depicted.

As it was very late (midnight), I went to sleep. And I was sad. The author reminds in the last chapter that when we let it go, we would feel sadness.

I turned back and forth on bed, feeling emptiness. The kind of emptiness you feel when you cannot find the purpose in life.

The book made a very important point, that when we were treated as special by our parents, often it is perceived as love from our parents, and we hang on to it as the only and most powerful love we have experienced, but actually it is not love, it is an expression of needs of our parents. We were there merely to satisfy the emotional needs of our parents. And our needs, when as little kids, were ignored.

Logically, I accepted this point. But emotionally, it was sad to recognize the single most powerful love in our life experience was not even love. It brought a question: what do we live for?

Since I could not sleep, I got up and started reading again.

The next chapter talks about sex addicts. I almost laughed, hey, this could not be about me. Out of curiosity, I did not skip it entirely. Wow, when my finger touched on the last page of this chapter, it turned out it was talking about me. It talks about the seeking of sexual highs, and the seductive patterns.

It exactly describes the experience I have been having in the last year. I reveled in the attention of many suitors. I seduced one after another. Of course, the seduction was very subtle. I behaved exactly like a lady, but secretly put the man of my seduction in anxiety to get me. It was like a power game. And I felt safe when powerful men fell for me. And I do not stay for any long term relationship. I just seduced and moved on. The reason why I never labeled myself as sex addict, was because actual sex seldom happened. The seduction was very sexually charged (with strong sexual energy), but I almost always moved on before the man could actually get me on bed.

I did not realize this was what I was doing until I read this book. I just did it unconsciously. For me, it was a game of fun and power to get back at men, and to make myself feel safe, treasured, chased and desirable. Upon this chapter, I began to realize, maybe, just maybe, it is the start of sexual and love addiction.

The chapter also talks about double life. It did make me laugh, because in my fantasy of success, I always added on a second life of sexual satisfaction. It is my ideal life to be a highly successful woman, with a colorful secret sex life. The thrill of having a secret dirty life against common convention seems so exciting and satisfying, against the background of success and social recognition.

This chapter makes me rethink my goal. Is my goal of success, really something I want, or is it a way to get back at my past so that I do not need to face my past? Is that a way to prove to my parents I grow up to be better than them, beyond their wildest expectations? Is this a way to prove myself I was not hurt by my parents, I grow over and above the hurtful past?

My career is in a setback for several years now. It happened very unexpectedly. When everyone expected me to become a great career woman, suddenly all motivation drained away from me. For several years, I just sat around, wanting to do nothing. In business meetings, though I knew I probably were the most qualified in giving out professional opinions (due to my qualification and educational background), I sat in a corner, demure and obscure. I do not understand why I hate to go out, getting what I deserve, and what the other people think I deserve. It is like I clipped my own wings intentionally.

It came to a point that I took a look at my past. I had been a wonder kid academically. I found whenever my academic future or career future opened up to a new height, somehow, on several important occasions, I just escaped the night (or months) before it happened. I undid the effort I put in for years, to avoid collecting the fruit of being much more successful than others.

Every time I did that, it was extremely painful for me afterwards. Guilt and confusion took over. It took years to build the base for success, and it took years to recover from the disappointment of escaping from success and make a comeback. It was like a cycle. Maybe it finally got to my spirit, and I started to associate the prospect of success, with the slow and deep pains from disappointment and fear of escaping again. So, in the end, I felt chasing success did not worth it any more.

In Ken Adams's book, it discusses the ambivalence of commitment to relationships. It is an extremely interesting chapter. From my personal point of view, I do see my own relationship surfacing from the pages, a quick commitment, an illusion of starting anew, followed by a slow stew of doubt, and the desire to get out.

I do wish this wonderful enlightening chapter could address more issues: not only commitment to relationships, but also commitment to goals and personal ambitions. Does the fear of abandonment drive us away not only from committing to intimacy, but also to allowing ourselves the success we deserve, work hard for, and deny ourselves for?

When it comes to the last chapter, it is comforting to see we are not hopeless. It talks about letting go of your idealized image of the seductive parent. Among the many thing I learn from reading this book, this is probably the most important. To realize what you cherish as the best love and the integral part of your childhood memory and what makes who you are today, is actually an unconscious seduction by your parent to realize his or her own need in an unhappy relationship. It is not about you, and never about you. And you miss the important development phase of recognizing your own needs, building your own character, wants and values as a human being. Chasing your parent's love is like chasing emptiness, something they never can give, and something which does not exist. The lack of it makes a strong emptiness in your heart, since you never learn how to live for yourself. That phase of development was stolen from you, by the need of your parents.

Naturally it is angry to recognize it. It feels like being betrayed by someone so close to your heart. I now partly understand why my dreams were so intense, where I screamed at my parents for their lack of love and their insistency of not seeing the error where it is. (In real life, I never accused my parents. I just cannot.)

The book talks about acknowledging your anger toward the seductive parent. And I agree it is very necessary. We need to see the reality the way it is, before we can come back to reality and come to terms with ourselves.

Is it necessary to make your parents acknowledge your anger and their grand mistake? From my experience, it is a no. Because they most likely will never acknowledge their mistake, and it will become a contest of wills. My grandmother was seriously abusive, (hehe, now I agree family issues pass from generation to generation), and my father was deeply hurt. But until her death, my Grandma never ever admitted her mistake, no matter how miserable she made her children's lives. It is unfortunate in an effort to be a better parent, my father turned out to be very much like my Grandma, even though in different ways. From my lesson, it is largely useless to confront your parents, making them admit their mistakes, since they will never ever able to see themselves in that light. They pride themselves as the best, most righteous people in the neighborhood. While that blind pride probably will make you very angry, because you know how much dirt is wiped under the family carpet, they live for that image.

But it is necessary to speak your voice, and set boundaries. (The book talks about: If your seductive parent is alive, begin to set boundaries and separate.) If you see something seriously wrong in your family, speak out.

During my brief visit to the parents' home the last time, my father consistently verbally abused my mom before me, saying she was stupid, short-sighted, silly woman, never can do a thing right, blah, blah. I finally could not take it any more and I confronted him alone while my mother was away.

He was so angry that I dared to speak like that to him. He screamed how badly he had been treated for years by my mom. I simply said, there is no way to treat even a stranger, the way you treat mom. No matter how bad she is, at least respect her as a human being in your words. Give her the respect she deserves as a person. And I stuck to this basic point. I did not argue what was right or wrong in their marriage, since that was beyond my ability to argue. My father nearly kicked me out of the home. (Hey, it is important to be economically independent, so when you are kicked out, you have a place to go).

In a few days, when I made the second visit back home, he calmed down and even respected me a little bit. Later, my mother told me he changed a little bit to become more accommodating. I do not know whether my confrontation ever worked, but it is rare to see a man like my father change even a little bit.

My experience is, even though I do not have guts to confront my parents directly about my childhood, start to set boundaries and address the family issues in simple, objective terms. Never take side and never be involved in a family political war, because there is no win for you. But address the serious and persistent wrongs happening in your family, in a simple, firm, objective view, to make the person who is aggressor realize it is wrong, and to make the person who is victim realize he or she is being wronged. Set an example of being assertive, and encourage each family member to stand up for him/herself and take responsibility in his/her life. Compassion is a good thing, but compassion can be misplaced and taken advantaged of.

The last chapter, the healing and the change, is in my view, one of the sweetest things to read in this book. It makes me stay hopeful and think of how to have a plan to address the issues. So, it is no surprise I wish this chapter can be longer, and more specific in how to set boundary and how to address the anger invariably arising when dealing with the pains.

Throughout the review, I repeatedly stress how close the cases in the book resembled my own life. And it surprised me a great deal to read the preface and find out the cases were not real life cases, but structured from the author's clinical practice.

Nonetheless, I agree the cases are very close to reality. It happened some of my close friends have serious problems with their families too.

A guy took to drinking to drown his frustration in dealing with his parents. His story was very similar to the cases in the book. Unfortunately, his anger was not recognized by any of his family members. Coming from a very traditional family background, every family member encouraged him to acquiesce to his parents no matter what. (It is valued as great family ethics to respect your parents, no matter what; and give them whatever they want, to feel like a good deserving child.) And it was exactly what I told him too when he came for my help. I said, "After all, it is your parents. Do you want them to feel unhappy as old man and woman?" In my words, I denied his right to be angry, just because he was the child and he had a duty to make his parents happy, especially since his parents were aging. It was several years ago. I wish I had read this book when he came for my help.

He was not the only friend who has this issue. I am certain there are many people out there who experienced similar issues. It is just that this is not supposed to be talked about among friends, or in public. My book cover is still shielding the book title, and you see, I do not want to use my real name in the review.

But, do yourself a favor. Buy and read this book, if you relate yourself to issues like this, or if you are like me, feeling angry and frustrated about yourself without knowing why. Your own childhood problems can spill over to your career, love life and your view on yourself, and potentially, your children. I wish I had read this book earlier. I would have viewed my family and myself more objectively, and also I would have started earlier to treat myself as an adult who takes responsibility for her life and decisions she makes in her life.
38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
The truth about covert and overt incest 2 Sept. 2004
By C.J. Wilkes - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I am a survivor of incest from the hands of my father. I was searching for a book to read on the topic when I ran across this book. At first I thought that it would not apply to me, but when reading this it gave me my first understanding to what happened to my by the hands of my father. When listening to profilers and how they catagorize different rape preditors I could not really place my father in any of the catagories. Once I read this book I realized that incest (especially from a parent) fits perfectly into the catagories of covert incest to overt incest. As a survivor I have come to the point that I would like to understand why I had suffered this type of violation in my childhood and life. I am really greatful for the insight of such doctors as Dr. Kenneth M. Adams. It was good to read that I was not the disfunctional one in my family but that my family as a whole was disfunctional. This book truly depicts how a relationship between a parent and child can and does cross the line to become very disruptive and at times criminal. A must read book if you are looking to understand incest. --C.J. Wilkes-- Author of "Daddy, I Forgive You"
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