commentators who have stressed the possible advantages to children of exposure to nudity

in the dwelling, in places such as later sexual performance, and capacity for affection and
intimacy (cf. Finch, 1982; Goodson, 1991; Martinson, 1977; Mead, cited in Goodson,
1991). Although some of these writers (cf. Ellis, cited in Goodson, 1991) make reference
to the cross cultural ubiquity of childhood exposure to parental nudity – although
objecting to alarmist positions taken by Western commentators who don’t provide
Encouraging data – the cross cultural record isn’t generally explicit on the question of
Genuine exposure of children to parental nudity. It does, however, present a strong case for
Caudill and Plath, 1966; Gardner, 1975; Lozoff et al., 1998; Morelli et al., 1992;
It may tentatively be
inferred that under such conditions large numbers of the world’s inhabitants of children
Finally, a third group of writers stress the significance of
the circumstance in which youth exposure to nudity takes place, insisting that outcomes are
mediated by such contextual variables as gender, age of child, family climate, ethnic
Exposure to Scenes of Parental Sexuality (Primal Scenes)
Freud and his followers chose the term “primal scenes” to refer to visual or auditory
exposure of children to parental sex, and subsequent dream elaborations on the
event (Dahl, 1982). Despite the identification of such exposure by psychoanalysts and
others as uniquely dangerous to the mental health of children, there are, once again, short
We could locate just one
prevalence study (Rosenfeld et al., ) and two studies of first response and

subsequent adult operation (Hoyt, 1978, 1979). Obviously, amounts of case studies
exist, including a very abundant psychoanalytic literature describing putative effects of
exposure to primal scenes. These writers have clarified the traumatagenic issues by
referring to “a) the erotically charged nature of the exposure, resulting in undischarged
libidinal energy and concomitant anxiety; b) the sadomasochistic content of fantasy
misinterpretation of the event; and c) the exacerbation of oedipal want and resultant
castration anxiety or other anxieties of retaliation” (Okami, 1995, p. 56).
Again, however, the few attempts to validate these notions empirically don’t support
Forecasts of harm.
psychological damage has been exaggerated.
conclusion by two paths: First, exposure to primal scenes appeared to be instead
Common, with the most conservative estimates as high as 41%. Rosenfeld et al.
Proposed that given this frequency of event, factors besides the primal scene qua
primal scene must be responsible for trauma when it occurs. Second, parents reported
Mainly neutral and noncomprehending responses from their little children [Mathematical
Expression Omitted]. On the other hand, some children appeared to respond with
Hence, the somewhat sinister portrait appearing
from psychoanalytic literature was mostly absent from these parent reports.
Hoyt (1978, 1979) queried college students about their youth exposure to scenes of
parental sexuality. He found that although these pupils reported that their exposure had
resulted in mostly negative emotional reactions at the time, the open group did not
differ from the nonexposed group on self-report ratings of “current well-being” or
frequency of and satisfaction with current sexual relations. Additionally, these subjects
recalled exposure mostly at prepubescent and pubertal ages. Given that the mean ages
for first exposure reported by parents in the Rosenfeld et al. (1980) studies were between
4 and 6, it’s feasible that subjects in Hoyt’s investigations were not reporting their
first actual exposure to scenes of parental sexuality. Thus, findings of exposure at
peripubertal ages are of limited value in evaluating consequence of exposure to primal scenes
Normally, because with a few exceptions, primal scenes are defined in the
literature as events of early childhood. That’s, responses such as “castration anxiety” and
“Oedipal desires” are said to be of most critical importance in the lives of very young
The Current Study
continue to stress the potential for damage in exposure to parental nudity and primal scenes.
Therefore, longitudinal outcome data are in beginning to resolve this issue.
In the current exploratory study, 204 families were enlisted during the mid-1970s as part