Enmeshment refers to a psychological condition where a child is utilized to meet a parent's emotional needs, which can create complex and often harmful dynamics. As Neil Strauss explains on the , enmeshment falsely empowers the child, making them feel responsible for their parent's emotional well-being. This often occurs when a parent uses the child to fulfill their own unmet emotional needs, such as during a difficult marriage or personal loneliness. The child may feel trapped, contributing to unhealthy behavioral patterns later in life, such as a fear of intimacy or a tendency to sabotage relationships 1 2.

Tim Ferriss notes that enmeshment may lead to irrational anger and exaggerated emotional responses due to excessive attachment and dependency 3.

Enmeshment and Emotional Incest

Neil Strauss discusses the concept of enmeshment, where a child meets a parent's needs, and the impact of emotional incest, where a child becomes an emotional partner to a troubled parent. He shares personal experiences and recommends a book that explores these patterns and offers steps to break them.

Tim Ferriss Show

Books I’ve Loved — Neil Strauss | The Tim Ferriss Show

Neil Strauss recommends the book "Silently Seduced" by Kenneth Adams, which delves into the concept of emotional incest—a severe form of enmeshment where a child becomes an emotional partner to a parent, leading to long-term impacts on their emotional and relational health 1 2.