Brooke Shields says her extreme bond with her mother stunted her sexual growth. One expert calls this phenomenon 'emotional incest.'

Brooke Shields and her mother and manager Teri Shields in New York in 1978.
Brooke Shields and her mother and manager, Teri Shields, in New York in 1978.Robert R McElroy/Getty Images
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  • Brooke Shields, who became a child star at 11, said her mother was "in love" with her

  • She said their extremely close emotional bond impacted her sexual development.

  • This can happen because it causes a young girl to fixate on her body while internalizing her mother's emotions, experts say.

Famed actress Brooke Shields said she and her mother were both "closed off" from their sexuality because of their extremely close relationship. According to some psychology experts, relationships where a mother becomes emotionally reliant on her young daughter can lead to trouble with sexual development.

Shields, a child star who became famous at 11, talked about how her mother and manager, Teri Shields, was "needy" and "in love" with her during an interview on "The Drew Barrymore Show."

When Barrymore, also a child star who had a complicated relationship with her parents, said her mother would try to date her former boyfriends, Shields said her mother never did that because she was too fixated on her and her childhood rise to fame.

Shields went on to say that her mother, who also struggled with alcohol abuse, sat in on all of her interviews, never allowing her to be her own person.

"I was going to stay a virgin. She was going to be just Teri Terrific," Shields said.

The type of codependent emotional Shields described could be a sign a girl could struggle with developing her sexuality as she gets older, therapist Kelly McDaniel previously told Insider. She specializes in codependent relationships between mothers and daughters.

Codependent mothers and daughters have a 'pseudo-marriage,' a therapist says

According to McDaniel, a codependent mother-daughter bond forms a pseudo-marriage between them.

If, for example, a mother was ever-present and smothered her child, that child may become emotionally unavailable and hide from relationships as an adult, McDaniel said.

As part of this, the daughter may also find it difficult to tap into her own sexuality or avoid physical touch from others, even if they crave closeness, McDaniel said. Disordered eating could be another sign of an unhealthy codependent mother-daughter relationship, she said. (Shields didn't talk about her relationship with food during her interview with Barrymore.)

Psychologist Ken Adams refers to these damaging child-parent dynamics "emotional incest," Mind Body Green reported. He said that sexual abuse doesn't always require a physical element because certain emotional bonds can have sexualized undertones, like a parent being hyper-focused on their developing child's appearance or body.

Brooke isn't the first big name to talk about her codependent mother

Last year, McDaniel discussed this phenomenon with Nickelodeon child star Jennette McCurdy, who wrote about her codependent relationship with her narcissistic mother in her memoir. McCurdy said that when she was 11, her mother would cry while holding her, saying she wanted her to stay physically small and young. McCurdy also learned to hide her emotions from her mother so she wouldn't upset her, she told McDaniel.

When McCurdy became an adult, she said that she would reel at any physical touch from others. If someone would reach out for a hug, McCurdy would think, "I can't give them what they want from me," and pull back.

Following the death of her mother and through years of trauma therapy, McCurdy said she was able to change her relationship with intimacy.

Read the original article on Insider