Philip Colgan has defined intimacy dysfunction as "a pattern of behaviors which precludes a balance of separation and attachment that appears necessary for emotionally satisfying relationships." When intimacy is viewed in this way, separation and attachment can be seen as two opposite poles on a continuum. Separation is about affirming one's own self-worth, while attachment is about affirming one's connections to other people. Usually, those with intimacy dysfunctions either overvalue over-separation or over-attachment.
Likewise, Dr. Aviel Goodman viewed intimacy dysfunction as a conflict between "two fundamental sets of wishes and fears". According to Goodman, there is the wish for "individuation, mastery, and wholeness" and the "fear of being engulfed, controlled, or damaged" on one side and the "wish for union or merger" and the fear of abandonment on the other. In other words, both sides fear the loss of self, whether from being "closed in, intruded into, trapped, engulfed, or smothered" or from "fragmenting or disintegrating due to a lack of supporting structure". Therefore, this conflict "can be understood as being between a basic push away from another person and a basic pull towards another person".
Naturally, intimacy dysfunctions are common among incest survivors.