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The Nuclear Option: False Child Sexual Abuse Allegations in Custody Disputes

In Activism, Best Interest of the Child, Brainwashed Children, child abuse, Child Custody, Children and Domestic Violence, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, kidnapped children, Liberty, Marriage, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parents rights on August 25, 2010 at 12:20 pm

Topic: Divorce & Child Custody Issues
The Nuclear Option: False Child Sexual Abuse Allegations in Custody Disputes


There is a very simple trick, used all too frequently in family courts, that will almost always ensure the immediate elimination of a man’s constitutional rights.


by Jake Morphonios
(conservative)
Monday, February 18, 2008

In acrimonious divorce and child custody disputes emotions are tense and tempers flare. Buoyed by litigious attorneys, each side engages in strategic maneuvers to gain the greatest legal advantage. Sometimes a parent, fearing a loss of control or custody over a child, crosses the ethically acceptable bounds of legal warfare. An unfortunate but all too frequently used tactic by mothers is to accuse the father of sexually molesting their child. The mere accusation is sufficient to strip the father of all his custody rights and launch a criminal investigation. Even when no evidence is found to substantiate the allegation, family law courts typically “err on the side of caution” and award full custody to the mother. While national statistics reveal that the majority of all child sex abuse reports are legitimate, when such claims are made by a mother in the context of custody litigation, an estimated 77% of allegations are determined to be unfounded (Tong, 2002).A false child sex abuse allegation made during child custody litigation is a destructive legal stratagem.

Throughout the world, child sexual abuse is considered the ultimate crime. Not even murder generates the kind of raw emotional reaction that results from the sexual abuse of a child. Society acknowledges the innocence of children and responds to child abusers with extreme prejudice. The power of the accusation alone is often enough for public opinion to impeach the character of the alleged child abuser and guarantee legal victory for the mother. According to Jeffery M. Leving (1997), a leading father’ rights attorney, “the use of false sexual abuse allegations to win custody suits has become almost a standard tactic among disturbed mothers and unethical divorce lawyers” (pg 148).The accused may spend years rebuilding his reputation from the monumental damage caused by the accusation.

To investigate the effect of a false child abuse accusation, a child custody survey was conducted; the group was evenly divided between males and females. A scenario was presented in which a divorcing couple was contesting custody of the children. It was stated that both parents were fit and proper. The question posed regarded what custody arrangement would be in the best interests of the child. An overwhelming 94% of respondents indicated that joint legal and physical custody, shared between parents, would be in the child’s best interest, with 78% of respondents indicating that a 50/50 time sharing agreement was appropriate. Another scenario was presented. In the second scenario the father has been accused by the mother of sexually molesting their child. The Department of Social Services and the police conducted an investigation and concluded that there is insufficient evidence to determine whether or not the father committed sexual abuse. The question of custody is again asked. As a result of the unsubstantiated accusation against the father, 79% of the same respondents stated that sole legal and physical custody should be granted to the mother. Only 15% of respondents felt that the father should be permitted a minimum of 50% visitation with the children. In the final survey question regarding the respondent’s personal opinion of child molesters, 42% stated that they should be “locked away for life” and 48% responded that they should “burn in hell”. Why do so many mothers file false sexual abuse allegations during custody cases? They work. False accusers in this type of case rarely face prosecution.

The judicial system, likewise, responds to alleged child abusers swiftly and aggressively. Unfortunately for many falsely accused fathers, truth and justice are often niceties which are frequently ignored. Leving (1997) writes, “Based on well-meaning ‘better safe than sorry’ policy, abuse investigators often accept an abuse charge as fact and consider the accused abuser guilty until proven otherwise” (pg 150).This is a significant problem. The US Constitution guarantees that accused persons are to be treated as innocent until proven guilty. In this type of case, however, constitutional safeguards are abandoned. The burden of proof falls upon the accused to prove a negative, or, to conclusively show that an alleged event never occurred. This reversal of constitutional jurisprudence sets a dangerous precedent and ensures the conviction of many innocent men. The destructive power of a false child abuse allegation has been termed “the nuclear option” by law professionals (Tong, 1997).Once this nuclear bomb is dropped, all hope of civil reconciliation is lost. The custody battle escalates into a bitter war.

The prevalence of false accusations is a matter of debate. Disagreement over the proper ratio of false abuse statistics may range anywhere from 20% to 80%.It can be extremely difficult to correctly track the ration of true to false accusations because of the problem in identifying the intent of the accuser. In some instances a mother genuinely believes abuse has occurred. In other instances the mother may not be sure and simply doesn’t know what to do other than to file an allegation of abuse. However, when one considers all factors, including the number of retracted allegations, recantations and the preponderance of cases proven to be dishonest, a fair estimate settled upon by many studies is an average of 77% (Brennan & Brennan, 1994).

False reports of sexual abuse against children are often first reported to Child Protective Services (CPS) or some other governmental social service agency. A safety assessment is conducted by a CPS or social worker (Ney, 1995). During this brief assessment standard questions are asked of the mother regarding the alleged event. At the end of the assessment, even if no proof of wrongdoing is presented, procedure requires the social worker to recommend that full custody be given to the mother as a safety precaution until a full investigation is concluded. This assessment is included in an official complaint and presented to a district court judge. The judge will typically grant an Emergency Ex-Parte Order giving the mother temporary sole custody of the children and restrain the father from having any contact with his children, even when no additional evidence beyond the mother’s word exists. A hearing date is set and the legal battle begins.

The mother gains immediate advantages over the father. First, by giving the mother full custody of the children the court is setting a precedent that will be hard for the father to overcome. Most family court judges believe in maintaining the status quo, and subsequently order the children to continue residing with the mother rather than changing the children’s residence to that of the father (Hardwick, 2004).A second advantage for the mother is that the children are unable to communicate with their father and a process of alienation begins. The more time that passes without contact, the greater the alienation. During this period of alienation, a child may be coached by the mother to support the allegation against the father.

After the Emergency Ex-Parte Order has been granted, an investigation of the allegation begins. As part of the investigation, the child is examined by a medical doctor for physical signs of sexual abuse. It is rare that evidence is discovered. The child is also seen by social workers who use items such as anatomically correct dolls to try to encourage the child to talk about what happened. Even when the child states that nothing happened, the investigation continues. After a series of interrogations, which often serve to reinforce the false story in the child’s mind, the child may eventually say something or play with the dolls in such a way as to cause the social worker to suspect abuse (Tong, 1992).As part of this ongoing investigation by both CPS and local law enforcement, the reputation of the father is constructively destroyed by the investigation. Family relationships become strained. Employers tire of granting time off work to accommodate the father’s frequent court hearings. Social relationships are damaged, often never to be repaired.

The very process of being investigated causes many men to give up and grant the mother everything she wants from him. Sadly, many fathers are so traumatized by the horror of the process that they commit suicide (Seidenberg, 1997).False abuse expert, Dean Tong (2002), says of the emotional state of the accused:

Sleep is forever elusive, night-terror becomes common-place and depression is a constant companion. Rarely is there any support to be found within the community and rarely is there any sympathy for the falsely-accused. Throughout it all, you must bear the title “abuser,” until you prove otherwise, if you can. Disorientation, denial, shock, confusion, anxiety, and disbelief are constant. Lack of concentration is a chronic problem, exceeded only by the frustration of being denied the right to see your children. (pg 25)

Immediately, the father finds himself in a maze of confusing litigation. He spends thousands of dollars to retain an attorney. Police often request the father to take lie detector tests.  Even though he submits to and often passes several polygraph tests, it does him little good as the tests are not admissible in court. A single attorney is rarely sufficient to provide an appropriate defense in this type of case. Thousands of dollars must be spent to retain psychologists and other expert witnesses in the fields of sexual abuse. In an attempt to prove their innocence, many fathers submit to invasive psycho-sexual testing, such as the penile polygraph. In this particular test sensors are placed around the penis and variety of video images are displayed to the father, such as children playing in water or little girls in bathing suits. The subtlest of sexual responses while looking at images of children will condemn the father. The cost of testing, attorneys, expert witnesses and other legal fees in this type of case often exceeds $50,000.The father sometimes has to mortgage his home and sell his assets to afford a sufficient defense. Naturally, little money is leftover at the end to use in a custody case.

In most court districts throughout the United States, judges run for office as any other politician. If a judge takes, or fails to take, an action that leads to the abuse of a child by an alleged child abuser, his political career may be over. Political expediency is a strong, yet unspoken, factor in emotionally charged cases such with child sexual abuse (Seidenberg, 1997). When a father has been falsely accused of molesting his child, even when no evidence substantiates the claim, he often loses custody of his children because the court decides to “play it safe”. The father may not go to jail, but the temporary order preventing his access to his children is frequently made permanent. By no fault of his own, the father has lost his children, all because a mother chose to fight dirty in court. For the unfortunate father who loses his criminal case, he is locked away. Sentencing for child molesters is typically longer than sentencing for murder (Seidenberg, 1997).Men convicted of child molestation are constant targets of prison abuse by fellow inmates. Fathers, unjustly incarcerated, become bitter and less productive members of society.

The father is not the only victim in a false child sex abuse allegation. Children are also victimized. Not only does the child have to submit to numerous interrogations and invasive tests to determine if abuse occurred, but needless therapy is often prescribed. The child, knowing at first that nothing happened, is subjected to counseling that reinforces the story that abuse has occurred. In time, many children grow to believe and accept that their fathers molested them. The emotional trauma is life-long. This phenomenon has become so common that psychologists have given names to the syndromes that result from false abuse claims, including Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) and Sexual Abuse in Divorce (SAID).The allegation is, in itself, a form of child abuse (Wexler, 1990).The loss of self-esteem, the destruction of the father-child relationship, the mental and emotional damage and premature sexualizing of the child are all very real results of a false abuse accusation. Children who grow up believing they were sexually abused often develop deviant sexual interests and proclivities. No child should be treated so heinously by parents embroiled in a legal chess game.

A false child sexual abuse allegation, while usually ensuring the legal victory for the mother, is destructive to all parties involved. Child molestation is a terrible crime and false accusations play on the natural prejudices of society to the extent that victory can almost be guaranteed for the accuser. The loss of fathers in the lives of their children has many negative consequences for society as a whole. Laws need to be passed that protect the rights of the accused as in any other type of trial. Penalties for false accusers must be created and imposed. Social workers, judges, and others involved in the investigation of this type of allegation must be taught the syndromes that affect children when a false abuse claim is made. Sexual abuse claims made in the middle of custody proceedings must be viewed with some skepticism. Judges must be made aware of the usefulness of certain scientific tests, not currently admissible in court, which may help to vindicate the accused. Finally, an emphasis on more stable families will lead to fewer divorces, and, therefore, fewer false abuse claims. Until these, and other, reforms take place, innocent children will continue to be used as pawns in a senseless game of legal strategy.

References:

Brennan, Carleen, & Brennan, Michael (1994).Custody for Fathers: A practical guide through the combat zone of a brutal custody battle.Costa Mesa, CA: Brennan Publishing.

Hardwick, Charlotte (2004). Win Your Child Custody War.New York, NY: Pale Horse Publishing.

Leving, Jefferey M. (1997).Fathers’ Rights: Hard hitting and fair advice for every father involved in a custody dispute.New York, NY: Basic Books.

Ney, Tara (1995).True and False Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse: Assessment & case management.New York, NY: Brunner/Mazel, Inc.

Seidenberg, Robert (1997).The Father’s Emergency Guide to Divorce-Custody Battle: A Tour through the Predatory World of Judges, Lawyers, Psychologists & Social Workers, in the Subculture of Divorce. Takoma Park, MD: JES Books.

Tong, Dean (1992).Don’t Blame Me, Daddy: False accusations of child sexual abuse. Norfolk, VA: Hampton Roads Publishing Co.

Tong, Dean (2002).Elusive Innocence: Survival guide for the falsely accused. Lafayette, LA: Huntington House Publishers.

Wexler, Richard (1990).Wounded Innocents: The real victims of the war against child abuse. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.


Jake Morphonios is a civil rights advocate and North Carolina State Coordinator for Fathers 4 Justice – US.  The political opinions of Mr. Morphonios do not represent those of Fathers 4 Justice.  Neither Mr. Morphonios nor F4J-US provide legal advice or assistance with individual cases.

Fathers seeking support or information, or other parties interested in becoming involved in the father’s rights movement may contact Mr. Morphonios at: jake.morphonios@nc.f4j.us


Please read the article below and share it with others to spread the word about the importance of the role of fathers in the lives of their children:

The Nuclear Option: False Child Sexual Abuse Allegations in Custody Disputes.

Parental Alienation: Accuracy and the DSM-IV | Parental Alienation Hurts

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Child Custody for Mothers, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, children legal status, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, DSM-IV, DSM-V, due process rights, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Restraining Orders, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, Single Parenting on February 26, 2010 at 4:45 am

Parental Alienation: Accuracy and the DSM-IV

What is the DSM?

“Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals in the United States and contains a listing of diagnostic criteria for every psychiatric disorder recognized by the U.S. healthcare system. The current edition, DSM-IV-TR, is used by professionals in a wide array of contexts, including psychiatrists and other physicians, psychologists, social workers, nurses, occupational and rehabilitation therapists, and counselors, as well as by clinicians and researchers of many different orientations (e.g., biological, psychodynamic, cognitive, behavioral, interpersonal, family/systems). It is used in both clinical settings (inpatient, outpatient, partial hospital, consultation-liaison, clinic, private practice, and primary care) as well as with community populations. In addition to supplying detailed descriptions of diagnostic criteria, DSM is also a necessary tool for collecting and communicating accurate public health statistics about the diagnosis of psychiatric disorders.”

This morning there was an article titled “Mental health professionals getting update on definitions” by Gary Rotstein from the Post-Gazette in Pittsburgh.  This article misinterpreted a fact about parental alienation and the DSM. Mr. Rotstein  wrote  There was consideration of hoarding this time as a mental health issue, but it failed to make it into the recommendations for full manual treatment. There are always lobbyists for parental alienation syndrome, but they did not win out this time either.”

According to the DSM website, Parental Alienation is still being considered as an addition to the DSM. There are many advocates and professionals that are exerting countless hours in establishing research that validates Parental Alienation would be a worthy addition to the DSM. It is believed that if Parental Alienation is entered into the DSM that it would be considered monumental in recognizing that parental alienation exists. There are numerous amounts of professionals in the mental health and judicial community that do not endorse parental alienation as a valid diagnosis. Parental Alienation is still a very controversial topic with professionals and the general public. It only hurts the efforts when there inaccurate reports to dismay the general masses who are in favor of the inclusion of Parental Alienation.

What can you do to help?

Dr. William Bernet is leading the effort to include Parental Alienation into the newest addition of the DSM-5, which is expected to be released in May 2013. Many parents and adult survivors have assisted in this effort by writing the leadership of the DSM and making them aware of the severity of Parental Alienation.

Any person who wishes to express his or her opinion about the inclusion of parental alienation in DSM-V may want to contact the following individuals:

Dr. Kupfer is chair of theDSM-V Task Force Dr. Regier is vice-chair of theDSM-V Task Force Dr. Pine is chair of the DSM-VDisorders in Childhood andAdolescence Work Group
David J. Kupfer, M.D.Western Psychiatric Institute 3811 O’Hara StreetPittsburgh, PA  15213 Darrel A. Regier, M.D.American Psychiatric Assn.1000 Wilson Blvd., Suite 1825Arlington, VA  22209-3901

Daniel S. Pine, M.D.NIMH15K North Drive, MSC-2670Bethesda, MD  20892-2670

Parental Alienation: Accuracy and the DSM-IV | Parental Alienation Hurts.

Alec Baldwin is not Alone: Basement Psychologists can get away with murdering innocent minds… and filling them with lies and ugly thoughts…

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Children and Domestic Violence, children legal status, Civil Rights, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fathers rights, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Liberty, Marriage, Non-custodial fathers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation on February 17, 2010 at 10:26 pm

Basement Psychologists can get away with murdering innocent minds… and filling them with lies and ugly thoughts…

In June it will be four years since Athena’s last ‘visitation’ with her father. We made a ‘legacy video’ that time. I asked Athena questions and she answered them. I still have the video. We laughed and talked and she held our dog close to her face telling the camera that Gracie was her favorite pet. Little did we know that months later she would be sitting in the basement of a quack psychologist’s home, drawing a picture on the white board of our family and dog, begging in her own subconscience mind to be rescued from what was about to happen. Hypnosis followed… then stronger drugs…. brainwashing… bribery… and then she began accusing her father of molesting her from age 3 to 13. Today we are without a bank account because of the fight to save her. The fight was fruitless. Parental alienation is nasty, and if you are not a public figure with lots of money like Alec Baldwin… forget it. It’s just a story you tell. A sad, true story.

Alec Baldwin is not Alone: Basement Psychologists can get away with murdering innocent minds… and filling them with lies and ugly thoughts….

How to Address The Denial Of A Parent’s Court Ordered Access, Visitation, and/or Parental Rights | eHow.com

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Brainwashed Children, child abuse, Child Custody, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Liberty, Marriage, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Restraining Orders, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, state crimes on January 26, 2010 at 11:28 pm

How to Address The Denial Of A Parent’s Court Ordered Access, Visitation, and/or Parental Rights

georgemccasland Member

By George McCasland
User-Submitted Article

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The US Dept. of Health & Human Services conducted a study on this titled “The Survey of Absentee Parents”. The results showed that 60% of the fathers needed to file for enforcement of their court orders within six months of receiving it, and that within five years, lost all contact with the children due to frustration with the lack of help from the courts. This is why it’s so important to learn what you can be doing.

Part of the problem with getting visitation enforced is knowing what to do to prove your case.

Instructions

Things You’ll Need:

  • Daily Journal
  • Chronological Statement
  1. Step 1

    See linked article on “How to Put Together Evidence of Denial of Visitation/Access in Violation of a Court Order”.

  2. Step 2

    It’s most important that you keep a DAILY JOURNAL (see linked article) of all your activities, including any contact with the child(ren). There does not need to be any violence for a claim of violence to be filed. She can get a restraining order because she fears him due to her preventing him from seeing her child. A restraining order can be filed up to a year after a supposed event in many states. With the journal, you can look back and see what you were doing that day and who were witnesses to it, such as being 30 miles away, as was the case with one father.

    He was helping to remove a tree out of the roof of a neighbor’s house. Five months later, the mother claimed that on that night, she had shot out her car windows, and had a police report to prove it. She also claimed he bragged about it. With the Journal, he was able to produce witnesses at the Restraining Order Hearing to show she was lying. However, there’s a drawback to this. In my 20 years of experience, when the mother is unsuccessful in a false allegation of domestic violence, within two years she will progress to child abuse and/or child sexual abuse allegations.

  3. Step 3

    See linked article on Recording Conversations. Remember, you can’t just record, you also have to transcribe the conversations your daily journal.

  4. Step 4

    Take note here that in some states, denial of court order visitation is treated the same as Interference With Custody or Parental Abduction. Though Prosecuting Attorneys usually refuse to enforce the law, getting a police report can help as evidence. In Missouri, the law is RSMO 565.156 §5

  5. Step 5

    If there’s an intent to deny access, prepare a “Notice of Intent to Exercise Visitation” letter stating the specific dates as laid out in your order. Add to this a “Notice of Intent to Exercise Parental Rights” in the same legal format of your other court papers. Sign both and make six copies. See links below for examples.

  6. Step 6

    Mail the originals “CERTIFIED MAIL” and another set with just “DELIVERY CONFIRMATION” (75¢ + postage). If she rejects the Certified Letter, she will still receive the letter with Delivery Confirmation. Remember that these are two different type of mail. To get a Confirmation of Delivery printout, go to the USPS web site at the link below.

  7. Step 7

    If the Certified letter or the Certified Letter Confirmation of Delivery Card, with her signature on it come back, attach either (letter unopened) to a copy of the “Notice of Intent to Exercise Visitation” letter and “Notice of Intent to Exercise Parental Rights”, plus the printout of the Delivery Confirmation from USPS. Take these documents to the County Courthouse and have the Clerk of the Court notarize and them place them in your case file. It’s very important that you repeat this process each time you are to exercise your visitation until either she obeys the orders or you go to court on it. This file gets read by the judge before any hearing, so he will see your effort to resolve this issue without involving the court.

    File the remaining copies for future use.

  8. Step 8

    Repeat process for each time you are to exercise your visitation until she either obeys the orders or you go to court on it.

  9. Step 9

    If the other parent continues to deny you access, you need to decide if you want to use an attorney or go Propria Persona (Pro Se) in taking an enforcement action to the courts. If you wish to use an attorney, you need to take the time to interview several attorneys before picking the one to work with (See linked article on how to do this). Prepare a Chronological Statement (see linked article in preparing one) expressing a history from the time you met her up until this need for action.

  10. Step 10

    A common complain in dealing with these action in court is a claim of bias on the part of the judge. To address any potential of this it is best to use Court Watchers, which are person who are there to witness the proceedings, and not to give testimony. Aside from friends, contact the high school or college about students from government class getting credit for attending the hearing. Each should be equipped with a hard tablet, pen, and a Court Evaluation Form (see link below). They should not sit together in a group, being spread out in the gallery.

  11. Step 11

    If you decide to represent yourself in court, check with your Clerk of the Court for forms for filing an enforcement action. If they do not have one specific for visitation, the ones for child support will work as a template. You need to produce a “Notice of Exercise of Parental Rights” See link for example), filing with the court and having the judge sign it. Serve or have it served on the other parent, depending on the requirements of your state. In Kansas, it can be sent Certified Mail.

  12. Step 12

    For more extensive advice specific to your case, see Dads House Educational Group for association with other dealing with this situation.

  13. Step 13

    Produce a “Notice of the Court of Denial of Exercise of Parental Rights” and “Motion to Show Cause for Contempt of Court of Denial of Visitation” (see links below) for filing with the court.

    Note: This is where it can get complicate in what choices you wish to make. If held in Contempt of Court, this is consider a “CHANGE OF CIRCUMSTANCES”, which is grounds for a Change in the Custody Arrangements. You or your attorney needs to have a Motion for Change of Custody ready to hand the judge (see article on custody changes).

//

Tips & Warnings
  • For Extensive advice on this, and association with others dealing in it, see Dads House in Yahoo! Groups. It’s Free. See link below
  • In states like Missouri, you can file to have child support put on hold, not stopped, until action is taken to address denial of access.
  • A common claim is that the kids won’t come, but that is likely to be a symptom of Parental Alienation Syndrome, so don’t think this is a rejection of you. Just make note of it. Do not ask for the children to say it to you directly.

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How to Address The Denial Of A Parent’s Court Ordered Access, Visitation, and/or Parental Rights | eHow.com.

Out of the FOG – Parental Alienation

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Brainwashed Children, child abuse, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Child Custody for Mothers, Child Support, children legal status, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, custody, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, DSM-V, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, Fit Parent, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, kidnapped children, Marriage, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Protective Parents, Restraining Orders, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine on January 22, 2010 at 2:32 am

Parental Alienation and Parental Alienation Syndrome

Definition: Parental Alienation is a term which is used to describe the process of one divorced parent inappropriately influencing a child into thinking that the other parent is bad, evil or worthless.

Definition: Parental Alienation Syndrome is the resulting condition that a child who has been subjected to Parental Alienation can have, in which, under the influence of an adult whom they trust, inappropriately believe that one of their parents is worthless, bad or evil.

Definition: Hostile Aggressive Parenting (HAP), also known as Parental Alienation, is a term which is used to describe the process of one divorced parent inappropriately influencing a child into thinking that the other parent is bad, evil or worthless.

Description

In general, alienation means interfering with or cutting off a person from relationships with others. This can occur in a number of ways, including criticism, manipulation, threats, distorted reporting or control. Click Here for More Information on Alienation in General.

The most widely reported form of alienation is parental alienation – where a parent tries to sabotage the relationship their child has with the other parent. This is quite common when divorcing someone who has a personality disorder.

Examples:

Parental Alienation can take many forms including:

  • Verbal criticism of the other parent – derogatory comments, telling stories about the other parent, portraying their bad side, picking up on their faults, highlighting their mistakes, drawing unfavorable comparisons between them and others.
  • Withholding or discouraging contact with the other parent – not allowing visits or keeping visits inappropriately short. Moving to another geographic location to limit contact, forgetting or impeding visitation rights, forcing the other parent to jump through hoops or meet inappropriate criteria or conditions in order to see the children.
  • Denying phone contact or sabotaging phone contact by not picking up the phone, turning the phone off, being out when the phone call comes. etc.
  • Intimidating the child – making the child feel bad for loving the other parent, criticizing or mocking the child’s interest in the other parent or discouraging the child from spending time with the other parent. Forcing the child to meet stringent criteria or perform extra chores or pass certain tests in order to be “rewarded” with contact with the other parent. Punishing the child by removal of affection or privileges after spending time with the other parent.

What it feels like:

Parental alienation is a form of emotional child abuse. Children instinctively love both parents and feel immense stress when asked by one parent to choose between them and the other parent. When a child is told that one of their parents is bad they identify with that parent and they feel as though they themselves are bad. They feel shame for who they are and they feel shame for secretly loving the other parent.

It is absolutely critical to a child’s sense of security and self esteem that they be allowed to love both of their biological parents. That doesn’t mean you have to condone bad behavior. It does mean though that you have to allow the child to love who they love and to feel what they feel without shame or punishment or control or manipulation.

It is very common for divorcing parents to feel anger at the other parent and to express that anger in front of the children. However, it is highly inappropriate for parents to put children in that position. If you need validation for the way you feel towards your ex-spouse you should talk to a friend or a therapist about it – not to the children.

It’s also common for people with personality disorders to launch their distortion campaigns about the other parent in front of the children. This is highly destructive.

What NOT to Do:

  • Don’t verbally berate your child’s other parent in front of them – no matter what they have done. When a child hears that his parent is bad he hears you say that he is bad.
  • Don’t try to discourage your child’s love for their parent. Separate your feelings from your child’s feelings and understand that they will make up their own mind about what they think.
  • Don’t limit your child’s contact with the other parent – except when they are in danger of abuse.
  • Don’t lie to your children. Be honest with them if they ask a question – but don’t take it as a license to say more than you really need to. If, for example, your child asks you “did mommy do something wrong?” you can say “I think mommy made a mistake” and leave it at that.
  • Don’t discuss grown up issues with children.
  • Don’t interrogate your child about what the other parent says or does. If they want to tell you something let them, but leave it at that.
  • Don’t try to compensate for a parent who is trying to alienate you with gifts or strange behavior. Just be you. Your child is able to separate fact from fiction in cartoons. They can do it in real life too.

What TO Do:

  • Put the best interests of your child ahead of any personal feelings you may have.
  • Affirm your child. Tell them you love them. Praise their accomplishments, encourage them to be all they can be.
  • Be consistent and reliable. Keep your promises.
  • Document clearly incidents where you feel the other parent is trying to alienate your children from you.
  • Consult with a COMPETENT attorney about your options. In general, courts do not look favorably on parents who try to alienate their children from the other parent. However, your complaints should be specific and unemotional – with the best interests of the child at heart.
  • Confront the other parent unemotionally and clearly – in writing is best – if you feel that they are making a mistake. Keep a record of what you have written.
  • Report any acts of violence, threats of violence or self harm immediately to the authorities.


For More Information & Support

If you suspect you may be related to – or in a relationship with – someone who suffers from a personality disorder, we encourage you to learn all you can about personality disorders and get support to help you to cope. Explore our site to learn about more Common Traits & Behaviors of Personality Disorders or discover real life stories and discuss your own situation in our Support Forum.

Out of the FOG – Parental Alienation.

Parental Alienation Syndrome and Brainwashing children: The four levels of abuse | Brainwashing Children

In Activism, Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Brainwashed Children, California Parental Rights Amendment, Child Custody, Child Support, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, DSM-V, due process rights, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, kidnapped children, Marriage, Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Restraining Orders on January 21, 2010 at 5:12 pm

Brainwashing children: The four levels of abuse

Posted on 08. Nov, 2009 by admin in Brainwashing, Exposing the methods

The Four Levels of Brainwashing Children

The Four Levels of Brainwashing Children

Brainwashing children to despise a parent falls into one of four categories of severity:

  1. Glancing insult
  2. Direct attack
  3. Relationship assault
  4. Relationship-ending coaching

Glancing insult
The glancing insult, also called a “drive-by put down,” is a derogatory remark said to the child about a parent. These are off-the-cuff remarks whose purpose is to instill doubt and negative opinions about the target parent.

Examples include:

“She’s picking you up at 6pm, if she’s even on time”
“So your father didn’t seem to care much about what you thought, huh…”
“You know I love you more than anyone else in the world does, don’t you?”

Direct attack
A direct attack is a slew of words plainly at plainly disparaging you, and thus your relationship to your child.

Examples:

“Your father is an inconsiderate jerk”
“If your mother wasn’t such a messed up soul, your time with her would be much more fun”
“Your mother is a terrible mother, that’s for sure. I can’t believe she did that—what a moron”

Relationship attack
When the source parent tries to harm the parent-child relationship by attacking visitations, minimizing telephone and email contact, and insinuating that time spent with the target parent is bad for the child.

Examples of what such parents will do:

Being “unavailable” all week to receive phone calls from the target parent to the child
Not returning any calls, texts, or emails made by the target parent
Telling the child, “You have complete family here with me and your Dad (step-father), yet he’s again ripping you away from us this Christmas”
Telling the child, “You only have 5 days left with her, then you’ll be back and safe with us.”
Withholding letter, postcards, and emails from the child

Relationship-ending coaching
The most deplorable thing a parent can do to their child is the final step, coaching the child on how to completely break off contact with their own parent.

Some of the things the source parent will teach the child include:

  1. That once the child is 18, he/she no longer has to be in contact with the target parent anymore, and is encouraged to do just that
  2. That once the child is 18, if a boy he can change his last name to something different like his step-father’s last name
  3. That once the child is 12, he/she can go in front of a Judge and state how awful the target parent is, and of the desire to move in with the source parent and not be with the targeted parent at all anymore

Wrap-up: Take the high road
You’ll sometimes feel overwhelmed at correcting the brainwashing being inflicted upon your child. A brainwashed child will act in truly heart-wrenching manners, and you’ll often not even recognize him or her anymore.

But hang in there. Read this blog, discuss with other loved ones your frustration, and read the book “Divorce Poison,” take your complaint in front of the Judge in your case, and you and your relationship will be rewarded one day for your refusal to take part in counter-attacking the other parent.

Be a loving parent, don’t discuss the other parent in a negative light—ever—and take the high ground. Lastly, find a good child therapist who does “play therapy” with children, and you’ll be doing the right things to slowly undo the damage done to your child’s mind.

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Brainwashing children: The four levels of abuse | Brainwashing Children.

Feminist Gulag: No Prosecution Necessary

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, children legal status, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, custody, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Feminism, Fit Parent, Foster CAre Abuse, Foster Care Scam, Non-custodial fathers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Restraining Orders on January 9, 2010 at 4:50 pm
Feminist Gulag: No Prosecution Necessary | Print | E-mail
Written by Stephen Baskerville
Thursday, 07 January 2010 00:00
//

proseutionLiberals rightly criticize America’s high rate of incarceration. Claiming to be the freest country on Earth, the United States incarcerates a larger percentage of its population than Iran or Syria. Over two million people, or nearly one in 50 adults, excluding the elderly, are incarcerated, the highest proportion in the world. Some seven million Americans, or 3.2 percent, are under penal supervision.

Many are likely to be innocent. In The Tyranny of Good Intentions (2000), Paul Craig Roberts and Lawrence Stratton document how due process protections are routinely ignored, grand juries are neutered, frivolous prosecutions abound, and jury trials are increasingly rare. More recently, in Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent (2009), Harvey Silverglate shows how federal prosecutors are criminalizing more and more of the population. “Innocence projects” — projects of “a national litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing” — attest that people are railroaded into prison. As we will see, incarcerations without trial are now routine.

The U.S. prison population has risen dramatically in the last four decades. Ideologically, the rise is invariably attributed to “law-and-order” conservatives, who indeed seldom deny their own role (or indifference). In fact, few conservatives understand what they are defending.

Conservatives who rightly decry “judicial activism” in civil law are often blind to the connected perversion of criminal justice. While a politicized judiciary does free the guilty, it also criminalizes the -innocent.

But traditionalists upholding law and order were not an innovation of the 1970s. A newer and more militant force helped create the “carceral state.” In The Prison and the Gallows (2006), feminist scholar Marie Gottschalk points out that traditional conservatives were not the prime instigators, and blames “interest groups and social movements not usually associated with penal conservatism.” Yet she names only one: “the women’s movement.”

While America’s criminalization may have a number of contributing causes, it coincides precisely with the rise of organized feminism. “The women’s movement became a vanguard of conservative law-and-order politics,” Gottschalk writes. “Women’s organizations played a central role in the consolidation of this conservative victims’ rights movement that emerged in the 1970s.”

Gottschalk then twists her counterintuitive finding to condemn “conservatives” for the influx, portraying feminists as passive victims without responsibility. “Feminists prosecuting the war on rape and domestic violence” were somehow “captured and co-opted by the law-and-order agenda of politicians, state officials, and conservative groups.” Yet nothing indicates that feminists offered the slightest resistance to this political abduction.

Feminists, despite Gottschalk’s muted admission of guilt, did lead the charge toward wholesale incarceration. Feminist ideology has radicalized criminal justice and eroded centuries-old constitutional protections: New crimes have been created; old crimes have been redefined politically; the distinction between crime and private behavior has been erased; the presumption of innocence has been eliminated; false accusations go unpunished; patently innocent people are jailed without trial. “The new feminist jurisprudence hammers away at some of the most basic foundations of our criminal law system,” Michael Weiss and Cathy Young write in a Cato Institute paper. “Chief among them is the presumption that the accused is innocent until proven guilty.”

Feminists and other sexual radicals have even managed to influence the law to target conservative groups themselves. Racketeering statutes are marshaled to punish non-violent abortion demonstrators, and “hate crimes” laws attempt to silence critics of the homosexual agenda. Both are supported by “civil liberties” groups. And these are only the most notorious; there are others.

Feminists have been the most authoritarian pressure group throughout much of American history. “It is striking what an uncritical stance earlier women reformers took toward the state,” Gottschalk observes. “They have played central roles in … uncritically pushing for more enhanced policing powers.”

What Gottschalk is describing is feminism’s version of Stalinism: the process whereby radical movements commandeer the instruments of state repression as they trade ideological purity for power.

Path to Prison
The first politicized crime was rape. Suffragettes advocated castrating rapists. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, who opposed it for everyone else, wanted rapists executed.

Aggressive feminist lobbying in the legislatures and courts since the 1970s redefined rape to make it indistinguishable from consensual sex. Over time, a woman no longer had to prove that she was forced to have non-consensual sex, but a man had to prove that sex was consensual (or prove that no sex had, in fact, happened). Non-consent was gradually eliminated as a definition, and consent became simply a mitigating factor for the defense. By 1989, the Washington State Supreme Court openly shifted the burden of proving consent to the defendant when it argued that the removal of legislative language requiring non-consent for rape “evidences legislative intent to shift the burden of proof on the issue to the defense” and approved this blatantly unconstitutional presumption of guilt. The result, write Weiss and Young, was not “to jail more violent rapists — lack of consent is easy enough for the state to prove in those cases — but to make it easier to send someone to jail for failing to get an explicit nod of consent from an apparently willing partner before engaging in sex.”

Men accused of rape today enjoy few safeguards. “People can be charged with virtually no evidence,” says Boston former sex-crimes prosecutor Rikki Klieman. “If a female comes in and says she was sexually assaulted, then on her word alone, with nothing else — and I mean nothing else, no investigation — the police will go out and arrest someone.”

Almost daily we see men released after decades in prison because DNA testing proves they were wrongly convicted. Yet the rape industry is so powerful that proof of innocence is no protection. “A defendant who can absolutely prove his innocence … can nonetheless still be convicted, based solely on the word of the accuser,” write Stuart Taylor and K.C. Johnson in Until Proven Innocent. In North Carolina, simply “naming the person accused” along with the time and place “will support a verdict of guilty.” Crime laboratories are notorious for falsifying results to obtain convictions.

The feminist dogma that “women never lie” goes largely unchallenged. “Any honest veteran sex assault investigator will tell you that rape is one of the most falsely reported crimes,” says Craig Silverman, a former Colorado prosecutor known for zealous prosecutions. Purdue University sociologist Eugene Kanin found that “41% of the total disposed rape cases were officially declared false” during a nine-year period, “that is, by the complainant’s admission that no rape had occurred.” Kanin discovered three functions of false accusations: “providing an alibi, seeking revenge, and obtaining sympathy and attention.” The Center for Military Readiness (CMR) adds that “false rape accusations also have been filed to extort money from celebrities, to gain sole custody of children in divorce cases, and even to escape military deployments to war zones.”

In the infamous Duke University lacrosse case, prosecutor Michael Nifong suppressed exculpating evidence and prosecuted men he knew to be innocent, according to Taylor and Johnson. Nifong himself was eventually disbarred, but he had willing accomplices among assistant prosecutors, police, crime lab technicians, judges, the bar, and the media. “Innocent men are arrested and even imprisoned as a result of bogus claims,” writes Linda Fairstein, former head of the sex-crimes unit for the Manhattan District Attorney, who estimates that half of all reports are unfounded.

Innocence projects are almost wholly occupied with rape cases (though they try to disguise this fact). Yet no systematic investigation has been undertaken by the media or civil libertarians into why so many innocent citizens are so easily incarcerated on fabricated allegations. The exoneration of the Duke students on obviously trumped-up charges triggered few investigations — and no official ones — to determine how widespread such rigged justice is against those unable to garner media attention.

The world of rape accusations displays features similar to other feminist gender crimes: media invective against the accused, government-paid “victim advocates” to secure convictions, intimidation of anyone who defends the accused. “Nobody dependent on the mainstream media for information about rape would have any idea how frequent false claims are,” write Taylor and Johnson. “Most journalists simply ignore evidence contradicting the feminist line.” What they observe of rape characterizes feminist justice generally: “calling a rape complainant ‘the victim’ — with no ‘alleged’.” “Unnamed complainants are labeled ‘victims’ even before legal proceedings determine that a crime has been committed,” according to CMR.

Rape hysteria, false accusations, and distorted scholarship are rampant on university campuses, which ostensibly exist to pursue truth. “If a woman did falsely accuse a man of rape,” opines one “women’s studies” graduate, “she may have had reasons to. Maybe she wasn’t raped, but he clearly violated her in some way.” This mentality pervades feminist jurisprudence, precluding innocence by obliterating the distinction between crime and hurt feelings. A Vassar College assistant dean believes false accusations foster men’s education: “I think it ideally initiates a process of self-exploration.… ‘If I didn’t violate her, could I have?’”

Conservative critics of the Duke fiasco avoided feminism’s role but instead emphasized race — a minor feature of the case but a safer one to criticize. Little evidence indicates that white people are being systematically incarcerated on fabricated accusations of non-existent crimes against blacks. This is precisely what is happening to men, both white and black, accused of rape and other “gender” crimes that feminists have turned into a political agenda.

The Kobe Bryant case demonstrates that a black man accused by a white woman is also vulnerable. Historically, this was the more common pattern. Our race-conscious society is conditioned to remember lynching as a racial atrocity, forgetting that the lynched were usually black men accused by white women. Feminist scholars spin this as “the dominant white male ideology behind lynching … that white womanhood was in need of protection against black men,” suggesting fantastically that white “patriarchy” used rape accusations to break up a progressive political romance developing between black men and white women. With false rape accusations, the races have changed, but the sexes have remained constant.

Violent Lies
“Domestic violence” is an even more purely political crime. “The battered-women’s movement turned out to be even more vulnerable to being co-opted by the state and conservative penal forces,” writes Gottschalk, again with contortion. Domestic violence groups are uniformly feminist, not “conservative,” though here too conservatives have enabled feminists to exchange principles for power.

Like rape, domestic “violence” is defined so loosely that it need not be violent. The U.S. Justice Department definition includes “extreme jealousy and possessiveness” and “name calling and constant criticizing.” For such “crimes” men are jailed with no trial. In fact, the very category of “domestic” violence was developed largely to circumvent due process requirements of conventional assault statutes. A study published in Criminology and Public Policy found that no one accused of domestic violence could be found innocent, since every arrestee received punishment.

Here, too, false accusations are rewarded. “Women lie every day,” attests Ottawa Judge Dianne Nicholas. “Every day women in court say, ‘I made it up. I’m lying. It didn’t happen’ — and they’re not charged.” Amazingly, bar associations sponsor seminars instructing women how to fabricate accusations. Thomas Kiernan, writing in the New Jersey Law Journal, expressed his astonishment at “the number of women attending the seminars who smugly — indeed boastfully — announced that they had already sworn out false or grossly exaggerated domestic violence complaints against their hapless husbands, and that the device worked!” He added, “The lawyer-lecturers invariably congratulated the self-confessed miscreants.”

Domestic violence has become “a backwater of tautological pseudo-theory,” write Donald Dutton and Kenneth Corvo in Aggression and Violent Behavior. “No other area of established social welfare, criminal justice, public health, or behavioral intervention has such weak evidence in support of mandated practice.” Scholars and practitioners have repeatedly documented how “allegations of abuse are now used for tactical advantage” in custody cases and “become part of the gamesmanship of divorce.” Domestic abuse has become “an area of law mired in intellectual dishonesty and injustice,” according to the Rutgers Law Review.

Restraining orders removing men from their homes and children are summarily issued without any evidence. Due process protections are so routinely ignored that, the New Jersey Law Journal reports, one judge told his colleagues, “Your job is not to become concerned about the constitutional rights of the man that you’re violating.” Attorney David Heleniak calls New Jersey’s statute “a due process fiasco” in the Rutgers Law Review. New Jersey court literature openly acknowledges that due process is ignored because it “perpetuates the cycle of power and control whereby the [alleged?] perpetrator remains the one with the power and the [alleged?] victim remains powerless.” Omitting “alleged” is standard even in statutes, where, the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly reports, “the mere allegation of domestic abuse … may shift the burden of proof to the defendant.”

Special “integrated domestic violence courts” presume guilt and then, says New York’s openly feminist chief judge, “make batterers and abusers take responsibility for their actions.” They can seize property, including homes, without the accused being convicted or even formally charged or present to defend himself. Lawyer Walter Fox describes these courts as “pre-fascist”: “Domestic violence courts … are designed to get around the protections of the criminal code. The burden of proof is reduced or removed, and there’s no presumption of innocence.”

Forced confessions are widespread. Pennsylvania men are incarcerated unless they sign forms stating, “I have physically and emotionally battered my partner.” The man must then describe the violence, even if he insists he committed none. “I am responsible for the violence I used,” the forms declare. “My behavior was not provoked.”

Child-support Chokehold
Equally feminist is the child-support machinery, whereby millions have their family finances plundered and their lives placed under penal supervision without having committed any legal infraction. Once they have nothing left to loot, they too are incarcerated without trial.

Contrary to government propaganda (and Common Law tradition), child support today has little to do with fathers abandoning their children, deserting their marriages, or even agreeing to a divorce. It is automatically assessed on all non-custodial parents, even those involuntarily divorced without grounds (“no-fault”). It is an entitlement for all divorcing mothers, regardless of their actions, and coerced from fathers, regardless of their fidelity. The “deadbeat dad” is far less likely to be a man who abandoned the offspring he callously sired than to be a loving father who has been, as attorney Jed Abraham writes in From Courtship to Courtroom, “forced to finance the filching of his own children.”

Federalized enforcement was rationalized to reimburse taxpayers for welfare. Under feminist pressure, taxpayers instead subsidize middle-class divorce, through federal payments to states based on the amount of child support they collect. By profiting off child support at federal taxpayer expense, state governments have a financial incentive to encourage as many single-mother homes as possible. They, in turn, encourage divorce with a guaranteed, tax-free windfall to any divorcing mother.

While child support (like divorce itself) is awarded ostensibly without reference to “fault,” nonpayment brings swift and severe punishments. “The advocates of ever-more-aggressive measures for collecting child support,” writes Bryce Christensen of Southern Utah University, “have moved us a dangerous step closer to a police state.” Abraham calls the machinery “Orwellian”: “The government commands … a veritable gulag, complete with sophisticated surveillance and compliance capabilities such as computer-based tracing, license revocation, asset confiscation, and incarceration.”

Here, too, “the burden of proof may be shifted to the defendant,” according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Like Kafka’s Joseph K., the “defendant” may not even know the charge against him, “if the court does not explicitly clarify the charge facing the [allegedly?] delinquent parent,” says NCSL. Further, “not all child support contempt proceedings classified as criminal are entitled to a jury trial,” and “even indigent obligors are not necessarily entitled to a lawyer.” Thus defendants must prove their innocence against unspecified accusations, without counsel, and without a jury.

Assembly-line hearings can last 30 seconds to two minutes, during which parents are sentenced to months or years in prison. Many receive no hearing but are accused in an “expedited judicial process” before a black-robed lawyer known as a “judge surrogate.” Because these officials require no legislative confirmation, they are not accountable to citizens or their representatives. Unlike true judges, they may lobby to create the same laws they adjudicate, violating the separation of powers. Often they are political activists in robes. One surrogate judge, reports the Telegraph of Hudson, New Hampshire, simultaneously worked “as a radical feminist lobbying on proposed legislation” dealing with child support.

Though governments sensationalize “roundups” of alleged “deadbeat dads,” who are jailed for months and even years without trial, no government information whatever is available on incarcerations. The Bureau of Justice Statistics is utterly silent on child-support incarcerations. Rebecca May of the Center for Family Policy and Practice found “ample testimony by low-income non-custodial parents of spending time in jail for the nonpayment of child support.” Yet she could find no documentation of their incarceration. Government literature “yields so little information on it that one might be led to believe that arrests were used rarely if at all. While May personally witnessed fathers sentenced in St. Louis, “We could find no explicit documentation of arrests in St. Louis.” In Illinois, “We observed courtrooms in which fathers appeared before the judge who were serving jail sentences for nonpayment, but little information was available on arrests in Illinois.”

We know the arrests are extensive. To relieve jail overcrowding in Georgia, a sheriff and judge proposed creating detention camps specifically for “deadbeat dads.” The Pittsburgh City Planning Commission has considered a proposal “to convert a former chemical processing plant … into a detention center” for “deadbeat dads.”

Rendered permanently in debt by incarceration, fathers are farmed out to trash companies and similar concerns, where they work 14-16 hour days with their earnings confiscated.

More Malicious Mayhem
Other incarcerations are also attributable to feminism. The vast preponderance of actual violent crime and substance abuse proceeds from single-parent homes and fatherless children more than any other factor, far surpassing race and poverty. The explosion of single parenthood is usually and resignedly blamed on paternal abandonment, with the only remedy being ever-more draconian but ineffective child-support “crackdowns.” Yet no evidence indicates that the proliferation of single-parent homes results from absconding fathers. If instead we accept that single motherhood is precisely what feminists say it is — the deliberate choice of their sexual revolution — it is then apparent that sexual liberation lies behind not only these newfangled sexual crimes, but also the larger trend of actual crime and incarceration. Feminism is driving both the criminalization of the innocent and the criminality of the guilty.

We will continue to fight a losing battle against crime, incarceration, and expansive government power until we confront the sexual ideology that is driving not only family breakdown and the ensuing social anomie, but the criminalization of the male population. Ever-more-repressive penal measures will only further erode freedom. Under a leftist regime, conservatives must rethink their approach to crime and punishment and their unwitting collusion with America’s homegrown Stalinists.

Stephen Baskerville is associate professor of government at Patrick Henry College and author of Taken Into Custody: The War Against Fathers, Marriage, and the Family.

Feminist Gulag: No Prosecution Necessary.

Stop Parental Alienation of Children (SPAC)

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, custody, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, DSM-IV, DSM-V, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Fit Parent, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, kidnapped children, Marriage on January 6, 2010 at 4:23 pm

The Problem of Parental Alienation

What Is Parental Alienation?

Parental alienation occurs any time that a parent, relative or friend speaks badly about another parent so that a child can hear what is being said. Alienating behavior may be mild, moderate or severe. All parents are likely to “lose it” and be inappropriate with their words around children, however, when there is a predominance of negative messages being communicated to a child, these messages can seriously erode the child’s psychological well-being. In severe cases of parental alienation, children are manipulated and brainwashed (programmed) into such states of confusion that their perception of events and people around them are severely distorted.

Parental alienation in its most severe form is a heinous form of child abuse and neglect. It is a dangerous manipulation of children’s minds to alter their perception of reality about another parent. The purpose of marginalizing this parent is that he or she has no means to be an effective parent or to cut that parent out of a child’s life entirely, called a parentectomy.

The Tragic Result

Severe cases of parental alienation have the characteristics of being complicated in two ways. Combative parents duel with conflicting stories of “he said / she said,” and make it very difficult to determine who is telling the truth. Brainwashed children often support the side of the offending parent with dramatic stories of how they have been abused by the target parent. As target parents argue their position, they often seem defensive even when they are telling the truth. Programmed children lose their own sense of reason and their ability to express their own choice in the matter. If the alienator is not contained, these manipulations of the child’s mind become the incubator of their own future psychological problems. These children have an altered perception of reality that is not in their best interest or in the best interest of society.

Unfortunately, in many cases, fully capable parents and their extended family and friends who love the child and would provide a nurturing and healthy family life are eliminated. Once the cutting out of a parent has occurred the child is left under the full care of the most disturbed and dysfunctional parent. These tragedies are played out in our family law courts daily.

Target parents find that normal methods of handling parental conflict such as mediation and therapy do not work. They are forced to appeal to a judge to make a decision that will enable them to continue to see their children. This is often an expensive and perilous path that rarely results in a satisfying outcome as few people, including judges, attorneys and therapists understand the nature of the problem.

For more information about Stop Parental Alienation of Children (SPAC) go to “Become Informed“.

If you are reorganizing your family there is considerable amount of help available to you. One of the first places to start is by taking a parent education course that is offered at www.breakthroughparentingonline.com.

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Stop Parental Alienation of Children (SPAC).

A Classic Case of Parental Alienation says Goldman

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, child abuse, Child Custody, children legal status, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, kidnapped children, Marriage, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Protective Dads, Protective Parents on December 24, 2009 at 6:45 pm

“Barry Goldman described their actions as a classic case of parental alienation.”

Many parent kidnap their children both internationally, but also in great numbers here in the United States. Right now, the US State Department estimates that there are 3,000 cases of US citizens/children kidnapped to other countries.

But in the United States, how many moms and dads take their kids in direct defiance of court orders, poison children’s minds against the fathers, sometimes mothers? It must be in the hundreds of thousands, and over the past decade, millions of children have been Parental Alienated from the other parent.  Who’s to blame, parents mainly, but the vase majority of cases arise out of false allegations of abuse, and the misuse/abuse  DV restraining orders to gain the advantage in child custody cases.

A relieved grandfather hears Sean Goldman’s voice: “Hi, Pop Pop”

By CHARLES WEBSTER • STAFF WRITER • December 24, 2009

Barry Goldman got his Christmas present this morning when he heard his grandson Sean Goldman simply say into the phone, “Hi, Pop Pop.”

Those words were all he wanted to hear.

“It was great. It was wonderful to hear his voice,” Barry Goldman said. “I’m so excited. I’m going to get to hug him, kiss him, and have fun with my grandson.”

Related

Barry’s son David Goldman won custody of his 9-year-old son Sean earlier this morning after his now-deceased ex-wife’s family handed the boy over to him after a 4 1/2-year legal struggle to get the boy back from her relatives in Brazil.

“I couldn’t have hoped for a better gift for the holidays – this is the best,” Barry Goldman told reporters outside his home in the Wayside section of Ocean Township, Monmouth County.

Barry Goldman got a phone call early this morning from his son, David, reporting Sean was with him.

“I’m thrilled. (David) is thrilled, and it seems like (Sean) is thrilled to be coming home,” Barry Goldman said of his brief exchange of words with his son and grandson.

The family of David Goldman’s ex-wife turned the boy over about 25 minutes before the 9 a.m. deadline this morning. It’s been nearly five years since Barry Goldman last saw his grandson, when they said their good-byes at a send-off breakfast at a Little Silver restaurant as the boy and his mother were headed off for what was supposed to be a 2-week vacation in Brazil.

Mother and son never returned.

Bruna Goldman, Sean’s mother, who became known as Bruna Lins e Silva after she remarried in Brazil, died on Aug. 22, 2008 after giving birth to a baby girl in Rio de Janeiro. Her Brazilian husband and his family have kept Sean in Brazil since then.

Barry Goldman described their actions as a classic case of parental alienation.

“They’ve been working on him (Sean) to not want to come back, but it didn’t work,” Barry Goldman said.

With Sean on his way back to New Jersey, Barry Goldman said he wanted to get away from the past and start looking toward the future.

“He used to run around the room and try to knock me down, but he couldn’t. But he probably can now. He’s bigger and I’ve gotten smaller,” Barry Goldman quipped with reporters as he talked about his desire to see Sean return to a normal life.

“He’s going to be a real American boy,” Barry Goldman predicted.

“I can’t wait to get a new picture of him like I have of my other grandchildren,” Barry Goldman said while he held up a picture of Sean as a 4-year-old and a baseball card photograph of another grandchild. “He’s the right age for Little League.”

A relieved grandfather hears Sean Goldman’s voice: “Hi, Pop Pop” | APP.com | Asbury Park Press.

NEW CAMPAIGN: Ask DSM to Include Parental Alienation in Upcoming Edition « Fathers & Families

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Child Custody for Mothers, Child Support, child trafficking, Children and Domestic Violence, children legal status, Civil Rights, CPS, custody, deadbeat dads, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, due process rights, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fathers rights, Jayne Major, Liberty, Marriage, motherlessness, mothers rights, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Protective Dads, Protective Parents, Restraining Orders, Single Parenting on December 2, 2009 at 3:00 pm

Ask DSM to Include Parental Alienation in Upcoming Edition

A group of 50 mental health experts from 10 countries are part of an effort to add Parental Alienation to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM V), the American Psychiatric Association’s “bible” of diagnoses. According to psychiatrist William Bernet, adding PA “would spur insurance coverage, stimulate more systematic research, lend credence to a charge of parental alienation in court, and raise the odds that children would get timely treatment.”

Few family law cases are as heartbreaking as those involving Parental Alienation. In PA cases, one parent has turned his or her children against the other parent, destroying the loving bonds the children and the target parent once enjoyed.

Fathers & Families wants to ensure that the DSM-V Task Force is aware of the scope and severity of Parental Alienation. To this end, we are asking our members and supporters to write DSM. If you or someone you love has been the victim of Parental Alienation, we want you to tell your story to the DSM-V Task Force. To do so, simply fill in our form by clicking here.

Once you have filled out our form, Fathers & Families will print out your letter and send it by regular US mail to the three relevant figures in DSM-V: David J. Kupfer, M.D., the chair of the DSM-V Task Force; Darrel A. Regier, M.D., vice-chair of the DSM-V Task Force; and Daniel S. Pine, M.D., chair of the DSM-V Disorders in Childhood and Adolescence Work Group.

DSM V is struggling with many weighty matters and as things currently stand, Parental Alienation might not get much notice or attention. By having our supporters write to leading DSM figures, we hope to draw attention to the issue.

Again, to tell your story, click here.

Supporters can send letters to DSM until the middle of 2010. In 2011, DSM will be considering the issue. In 2012, DSM V will be written, and in 2013 DSM V will be published. When you write your letter, please:

1) Keep the focus on your child(ren) and how the Parental Alienation has harmed them.
2) Stick to the facts related to the Parental Alienation.
3) Be succinct.
4) Fill in all fields on our form.
5) Be civil and credible, and avoid any profanity or use of insulting language

Again, to write the DSM Committee about your story, click here.

Running these campaigns takes time and money–the postage and supplies alone on this campaign will be several thousand dollars. To make a tax-deductible contribution to support this effort, click here.

Together with you in the love of our children,

Glenn Sacks, MA
Executive Director, Fathers & Families

Ned Holstein, M.D., M.S.
Founder, Chairman of the Board, Fathers & Families


Frequently Asked Questions about Parental Alienation

1) What is Parental Alienation?

Parental Alienation is a disorder that arises primarily in the context of divorce/separation and/or child-custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) of a parent’s indoctrinations and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the targeted parent. Parental Alienation is also sometimes referred to as “Parental Alienation Disorder” or “Parental Alienation Syndrome.” To learn more, click here.


2) Most claims of Parental Alienation are made by divorced or separated fathers. When fathers have custody of their children, do they sometimes alienate them from the noncustodial mothers?

Yes, both genders can be perpetrators and victims of Parental Alienation, but those hurt the worst are always the children, who lose one of the two people in the world who love them the most.

3) Do fathers (or mothers) sometimes make false claims of Parental Alienation against mothers (or fathers)?

Yes. There are parents who have alienated their own children through their abuse or personality defects, and who attempt to shift the blame to their former spouses or partners by falsely claiming the other parent alienated the children from them.

4) How common is Parental Alienation?

Parental Alienation is a common, well-documented phenomenon that is the subject of numerous studies and articles in peer-reviewed scholarly journals. A longitudinal study published by the American Bar Association in 2003 followed 700 “high conflict” divorce cases over a 12 year period and found that elements of PA were present in the vast majority of the cases studied. Some experts estimate that there are roughly 200,000 children in the U.S. who have PAD, similar to the number of children with autism. To learn more, click here.

5) Opponents of recognizing Parental Alienation claim that abusive fathers often employ Parental Alienation as a way to wrest custody from protective mothers in family court. They’ve promoted several cause celebre cases in recent years as a way to garner public sympathy and political support for their agenda. Is their portrayal of these cases accurate?

No–most of these cases are being misrepresented by opponents of recognizing Parental Alienation. Examples include: Genia Shockome (publicized by Newsweek magazine and others); Sadia Loeliger (one of the alleged heroines of a 2005 PBS documentary called Breaking the Silence: Children’s Stories; and Holly Collins (publicized by Fox News, Inside Edition and others.) In each of these three cases, opponents of recognizing Parental Alienation badly misrepresented the cases, turning reality on its head. To learn more about these cases, click here and here.

Despite this, opponents of recognizing Parental Alienation push for reforms which will make it easier to deny parents shared custody or visitation rights based on unsubstantiated abuse claims. They also push for laws to exclude evidence of Parental Alienation in family law proceedings. One example is California AB 612, a bill that a bill that would have prevented target parents of Parental Alienation from raising PA as an issue in their cases. In 2007 and 2009, Fathers & Families’ legislative representative Michael Robinson helped build a professional coalition to scuttle AB 612.

6) Opponents of recognizing Parental Alienation, as well as some mental health professionals, claim that Parental Alienation should not be recognized by DSM as a mental disorder. What’s Fathers & Families’ position on this aspect of the issue?

Many intelligent, accomplished mental health authorities do believe that Parental Alienation Disorder should be considered a mental disorder, but there are also credible experts who do not. DSM has accepted several relational disorders, such as Separation Anxiety Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and PAD is a typical relational disorder. Any target parent of Parental Alienation would certainly believe that his or her child’s sudden, irrational hatred constitutes some sort of a mental disorder. In Parental Alienation Disorder and DSM-V, numerous mental health authorities make the case for including PAD–to learn more, click here.

Dr. Richard A. Warshak explains:

PAS fits a basic pattern of many psychiatric syndromes. Such syndromes denote conditions in which people who are exposed to a designated stimulus develop a certain cluster of symptoms.

Nonetheless, Fathers & Families’ emphasis is not on these technical aspects of the issue, but instead on the harm Parental Alienation does to children. The malignant behavior of alienating a child from his or her mother or father after a divorce or separation is a widespread social problem which merits a much more vigorous judicial and legislative response.

7) How will children caught in Parental Alienation be helped if Parental Alienation is included in DSM V?

Inclusion of Parental Alienation in DSM V will increase PA’s recognition and legitimacy in the eyes of family court judges, mediators, custody evaluators, family law attorneys, and the legal and mental health community in general. Psychiatrist William Bernet says that adding PA “would spur insurance coverage, stimulate more systematic research, lend credence to a charge of parental alienation in court, and raise the odds that children would get timely treatment.” To learn more, click here.

8) What is the child’s part in PAS?

The child denigrates the alienated parent with foul language and severe oppositional behavior. The child offers weak, absurd, or frivolous reasons for his or her anger. The child is sure of him or herself and doesn’t demonstrate ambivalence, i.e. love and hate for the alienated parent, only hate. The child exhorts that he or she alone came up with ideas of denigration. The “independent-thinker” phenomenon is where the child asserts that no one told him to do this. The child supports and feels a need to protect the alienating parent. The child does not demonstrate guilt over cruelty towards the alienated parent. The child uses borrowed scenarios, or vividly describes situations that he or she could not have experienced. Animosity is spread to the friends and/or extended family of the alienated parent.

In severe cases of parent alienation, the child is utterly brain-washed against the alienated parent. The alienator can truthfully say that the child doesn’t want to spend any time with this parent, even though he or she has told him that he has to, it is a court order, etc. The alienator typically responds, “There isn’t anything that I can do about it. I’m not telling him that he can’t see you.” (excerpted from Dr. Jayne A. Major’s Parents Who Have Successfully Fought Parental Alienation Syndrome).

9) Are there varying degrees of Parental Alienation?

Yes. Dr. Douglas Darnall, in his book Divorce Casualties: Protecting Your Children from Parental Alienation, describes three categories of PA.

The mild category he calls the naïve alienators. They are ignorant of what they are doing and are willing to be educated and change.

The moderate category is the active alienators. When they are triggered, they lose control of appropriate boundaries.

In the severe category are the obsessed alienators or those who are involved in PAS. They are committed to destroying the other parent’s relationship with the child. In the latter case, Dr. Darnall notes that we don’t have an effective protocol for treating an obsessed alienator other than removing the child from their influence.

An important point is that in PAS there is no true parental abuse and/or neglect on the part of the alienated parent. If this were the case, the child’s animosity would be justified. (excerpted from Dr. Jayne A. Major’s Parents Who Have Successfully Fought Parental Alienation Syndrome).

The Case for Including Parental Alienation Disorder in DSM V

Parental Alienation Disorder and DSM-V was written by psychiatrist William Bernet, M.D., Wilfrid v. Boch-Galhau, M.D., Joseph Kenan, M.D., Joan Kinlan, M.D., Demosthenes Lorandos, Ph.D., J.D., Richard Sauber, Ph.D., Bela Sood, M.D., and James S. Walker, Ph.D. In it, they make the case for including Parental Alienation Disorder in DSM V.

Their proposal was submitted to the Disorders in Childhood and Adolescence Work Group for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition in August of 2008. Below are some excerpts from their paper.

Bernet & Co. write:

Although parental alienation disorder has been described in the psychiatric literature for at least 60 years, it has never been considered for inclusion in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). When DSM-IV was being developed, nobody formally proposed that parental alienation disorder be included in that edition. Since the publication of DSM-IV in 1994, there have been hundreds of publications (articles, chapters, books, court opinions) regarding parental alienation in peer reviewed mental health journals, legal literature, and the popular press. There has been controversy among mental health and legal professionals regarding parental alienation…

Regarding our proposed diagnostic criteria, we say that the essential feature of parental alienation disorder is that a child – usually one whose parents are engaged in a hostile divorce – allies himself or herself strongly with one parent (the preferred parent) and rejects a relationship with the other parent (the alienated parent) without legitimate justification. The primary behavioral symptom is the child’s resistance or refusal to visit or have parenting time with the alienated parent…

For purposes of this proposal, we are referring to the mental condition under consideration as parental alienation disorder (PAD). Depending on the context, we sometimes refer to parental alienation syndrome (PAS). Our primary criteria for PAD are the attitudes and behavior of the child, that is, the child essentially has a false belief that the alienated parent is a dangerous person and must be avoided. We reserve the word alienation for individuals with this false belief, whether the false belief was brought about by the alienating parent or by other circumstances, such as the child who avoids being caught between warring parents by gravitating to one side and avoiding the other side of the battle…

Bernet & Co. believe that PAD should be included in DSM-V for the following reasons:

Relational disorders are being considered for DSM-V, and PAD is an exemplar of this type of mental disorder.

Despite controversies regarding terminology and etiology, the phenomenon of PAD is almost universally accepted by mental health and legal professionals. Research indicates that PAD is a valid and reliable construct.

Establishing diagnostic criteria will make it possible to study PAD in a more systematic manner.

Establishing diagnostic criteria will reduce the opportunities for abusive parents and unethical attorneys to misuse the concept of PAD in child custody disputes.

Establishing diagnostic criteria will be helpful for: clinicians who work with divorced families; divorced parents, who are trying to do what is best for their children; and children of divorce, who desperately need appropriate treatment that is based on a correct diagnosis.

One of the important points that Bernet & Co. make is that PA is not new. They write:

The phenomenon of PAD has been described in the mental health literature for at least 60 years and the concept is almost universally accepted by psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers who evaluate and treat these children. Also, the concept of parental alienation is generally understood and accepted by legal professionals. The symptoms of PAD were described in the mental health literature long before Richard Gardner coined the term “parental alienation syndrome” (in 1985).

In 1949, Wilhelm Reich wrote in his classic book, Character Analysis, that some divorced parents defend themselves against narcissistic injury by fighting for custody of their child and defaming their former spouse. These parents seek “revenge on the partner through robbing him or her of the pleasure in the child. … In order to alienate the child from the partner, it is told that the partner is an alcoholic or psychotic, without there being any truth to such statements”.

In 1952, Louise Despert referred in her book, Children of Divorce, to the temptation for one parent “to break down” their child’s love for the other parent.

In 1980, Judith Wallerstein and Joan Kelly referred to an alliance between a narcissistically enraged parent and a particularly vulnerable older child or adolescent, who “were faithful and valuable battle allies in efforts to hurt and punish the other parent. Not infrequently, they turned on the parent they had loved and been very close to prior to the marital separation”.

Wallerstein and Sandra Blakeslee later discussed how court-ordered visitation can “be entangled with Medea-like rage.” They said, “A woman betrayed by her husband is deeply opposed to the fact that her children must visit him every other weekend. … She cannot stop the visit, but she can plant seeds of doubt – ‘Do not trust your father’ – in the children’s minds and thus punish her ex-husband via the children. She does this consciously or unconsciously, casting the seeds of doubt by the way she acts and the questions she asks…”

Bernet & Co. write:

In 1994, the American Psychological Association published “Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluations in Divorce Proceedings”…the authors of the guidelines provided a bibliography of “Pertinent Literature,” which included The Parental Alienation Syndrome and two other books by Richard Gardner.

In 1997, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) published “Practice Parameters for Child Custody Evaluations.” This document, an “AACAP Official Action,” referred explicitly to “Parental Alienation” and said, “There are times during a custody dispute when a child can become extremely hostile toward one of the parents. The child finds nothing positive in his or her relationship with the parent and prefers no contact. The evaluator must assess this apparent alienation and form a hypothesis of its origins and meaning. Sometimes, negative feelings toward one parent are catalyzed and fostered by the other parent; sometimes, they are an outgrowth of serious problems in the relationship with the rejected parent”…

There has been an enormous amount of research on the psychosocial vicissitudes of children of divorced parents, including children with PAS. The most exhaustive single volume regarding PAS is The International Handbook of Parental Alienation Syndrome, published in 2006. More than 30 mental health professionals wrote chapters for this book, including authors from Australia, Canada, Czechoslovakia, England, Germany, Israel, Sweden, and the United States.

PAS was the focus of major national conferences in Frankfurt/Main, Germany, in 2002 and in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain, in 2008. A scholarly article by Warshak cited a list of references that currently numbers 213, most of which were published in peer reviewed journals (http://home.att.net/~rawars/pasarticles.html)…

We conclude that mental health professionals (taken as a group) and the general public recognize parental alienation as a real entity that deserves considerable attention.

How common is Parental Alienation, and how many cases are there nationwide? Bernet & Co. estimate that there are roughly 200,000 children in the U.S. who have PAD, similar to the number of children with autism. They write:

In general, PAD is more likely to occur in highly conflicted, custody-disputing families than in community samples of divorcing families. Even in highly conflicted divorces, only the minority of children experience PAD. The following studies indicate that approximately 25% of children involved in custody disputes develop PAD.

Johnston – in California – found that 7% of the children in one study and 27% of the children in a second study had “strong alignment” with one parent and rejection of the other parent. Kopetski – in Colorado – found that 20% of families involved in custody disputes manifested parental alienation syndrome. Nicholas reported that 33% of families involved with custody disputes manifested parental alienation syndrome, based on a survey of 21 custody evaluators. Berns reported a study of divorce judgments in Brisbane, Australia, and said parental alienation syndrome was present in 29% of cases.

The prevalence of PAD can be roughly estimated as follows. The U.S. Census Bureau says approximately 10% of children under age 18 live with divorced parents. Approximately 10% of divorces involve custody or visitation disputes. Approximately 25% of children involved in custody or visitation disputes develop PAD. Multiplying these percentages yields a prevalence of 0.25%, or about 200,000 children in the U.S. For comparison purposes, this prevalence is the same order of magnitude as the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders.

Bernet & Co. believe that “controversies related to definitions and terminology have delayed and compromised systematic research regarding [PAD]” and that “Establishing diagnostic criteria will make it possible to study parental alienation in a more methodical manner.” They write:

[Despite controversy] There is consensus among almost all mental health professionals who have written about parental alienation regarding the following: (1) PAD is a real entity, that is, there really are children and adolescents who embark on a persistent campaign of denigration against one of the parents and adamantly refuse to see that parent, and the intensity of the campaign and the refusal is far out or proportion to anything the alienated parent has done. (2) There are many causes of visitation refusal, and PAD is only one of them. (3) PAD is not the correct diagnosis when the child’s visitation refusal is caused by child maltreatment or serious problematic behavior of the alienated parent.

Dr. Richard A. Warshak makes the case for accepting PAD/PAS:

PAS fits a basic pattern of many psychiatric syndromes. Such syndromes denote conditions in which people who are exposed to a designated stimulus develop a certain cluster of symptoms. ‘Posttraumatic stress disorder’ (PTSD) refers to a particular cluster of symptoms developed in the aftermath of a traumatic event. … These diagnoses carry no implication that everyone exposed to the same stimulus develops the condition, nor that similar symptoms never develop in the absence of the designated stimulus. … Similarly, some, but not all, children develop PAS when exposed to a parent’s negative influence. Other factors, beyond the stimulus of an alienating parent, can help elucidate the etiology for any particular child.

Bernet & Co. add “We hope that the Work Group will not reject this proposal simply because of this 20- year-old argument about the concept, the terminology, and the criteria for PAD. There is no lack of controversy regarding conditions that are quite prominent in the DSM.”

Bernet & Co. also address the important issue of the misuse of PA/PAD. As we’ve often noted, claims of Parental Alienation can be used by abusive parents as a cover for their abuse, such as in the Joyce Murphy case.

More commonly, one parent may have damaged his or her relationships with his children due to his or her own personality problems, narcissism, substance abuse issues, erratic behavior, etc., but then, rather than assuming responsibility for his or her actions, instead blames the bad relationship on the other parent, under the rubric of Parental Alienation. Fathers & Families sometimes hears from parents, usually mothers, who say that they are being unfairly blamed for the deterioration of their children’s relationships with their former partners, who claim Parental Alienation. We believe that these are legitimate concerns.

However, as we’ve often noted, simply because false claims of Parental Alienation can and are made doesn’t mean that Parental Alienation doesn’t exist or isn’t a problem. Bernet & Co. believe that acceptance of PA/PAD by DSM V will “reduce the opportunities for abusive parents and unethical attorneys to misuse the concept of parental alienation in child custody disputes.” They write:

Having established criteria for the diagnosis of PAD will eliminate the Babel of conflicting terminology and definitions that currently occurs when parental alienation is mentioned in a legal setting. More important is that the entry regarding PAD in DSM-V will include a discussion of the differential diagnosis of visitation refusal. It will be clear that the clinician should consider a number of explanations for a child’s symptom of visitation refusal and not simply rush to the diagnosis of PAD. Also, it will be clear that the diagnosis of PAD should not be made if the child has a legitimate, justifiable reason for disliking and rejecting one parent, for instance, if the child was neglected or abused by that parent.

We believe that when everybody involved in the legal procedures (the parents, the child protection investigators, the mental health professionals, the attorneys, and the judge) has a clear, uniform understanding of the definition of PAD, there will be fewer opportunities for rogue expert witnesses and lawyers to misuse the concept in court. What really matters is whether PAD is a real phenomenon, a real entity. If PAD is a real clinical entity, it should be included in the DSM. If PAD is a real clinical entity, the possibility that the diagnosis will sometimes be misused should not be a primary or serious consideration.

They also note:

[T]he psychiatric diagnosis that is most misused in legal settings is posttraumatic stress disorder. In personal injury lawsuits, the diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder in an alleged victim is used to prove that the individual actually sustained a severe trauma. Also, military veterans and workers’ compensation claimants sometimes malinger posttraumatic stress disorder in order to receive disability benefits. However, we are not aware that anybody has ever proposed that posttraumatic stress disorder should be deleted from the DSM because it is sometimes misused.

Recognizing PA/PAD/PAD will help children of divorce or separation. Bernet & Co. write:

Establishing diagnostic criteria will be helpful for: clinicians who work with divorced families; divorced parents, who are trying to do what is best for their children; and children of divorce, who desperately need appropriate treatment that is based on a correct diagnosis. According to Barbara-Jo Fidler, clinical observations, case reviews and qualitative comparative studies uniformly indicate that alienated children may exhibit a variety of symptoms including poor reality testing, illogical cognitive operations, simplistic and rigid information processing, inaccurate or distorted interpersonal perceptions, self-hatred, and other maladaptive attitudes and behaviors. Fidler’s survey of the short-term and long-term effects of pathological alienation on children reviewed more than 40 articles published in peer-reviewed journals between 1991 and 2007…

The authors of this proposal believe that if PAD were an official diagnosis, counselors and therapists from all disciplines will become more familiar with this condition. As a result, children with PAD will be identified earlier in the course of their illness while it is more easily treated and even cured. Also, if PAD were an official diagnosis (with clear criteria for the diagnosis and for severity of the condition), it will be possible to conduct coherent research regarding its treatment.

The Authors’ Proposed Criteria for Parental Alienation Disorder is as follows:

A. The child – usually one whose parents are engaged in a hostile divorce – allies
himself or herself strongly with one parent and rejects a relationship with the other,
alienated parent without legitimate justification. The child resists or refuses visitation or
parenting time with the alienated parent.

B. The child manifests the following behaviors:

(1) a persistent rejection or denigration of a parent that reaches the level of a
campaign
(2) weak, frivolous, and absurd rationalizations for the child’s persistent
criticism of the rejected parent

C. The child manifests two of the following six attitudes and behaviors:

(1) lack of ambivalence
(2) independent-thinker phenomenon
(3) reflexive support of one parent against the other
(4) absence of guilt over exploitation of the rejected parent
(5) presence of borrowed scenarios
(6) spread of the animosity to the extended family of the rejected parent.

D. The duration of the disturbance is at least 2 months.

E. The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social,
academic (occupational), or other important areas of functioning.

F. The child’s refusal to have visitation with the rejected parent is without legitimate
justification. That is, parental alienation disorder is not diagnosed if the rejected parent
maltreated the child.

Send Your Letter to the DSM-V Task Force and Tell Them Your Story

To write your letter to the DSM-V Task Force, please fill out the form below. Fathers & Families will print out your letter and send it by regular US mail to the three relevant figures in DSM-V. When you write your letter, please:

1) Keep the focus on your child(ren) and how the Parental Alienation has harmed them.
2) Stick to the facts related to the Parental Alienation.
3) Be succinct.
4) Fill in all fields on our form.
5) Be civil and credible, and avoid any profanity or use of insulting language

Together with you in the love of our children,

Glenn Sacks, MA
Executive Director, Fathers & Families

Ned Holstein, M.D., M.S.
Founder, Chairman of the Board, Fathers & Families

NEW CAMPAIGN: Ask DSM to Include Parental Alienation in Upcoming Edition « Fathers & Families.

Parental Alienation Syndrome – PasKids.com

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Child Custody for Mothers, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, custody, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, DSM-V, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, Feminism, Freedom, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Liberty, Marriage, motherlessness, mothers rights, Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Protective Dads, Protective Parents, Restraining Orders, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, Single Parenting, Sociopath on November 29, 2009 at 12:45 pm

PasKids.com

Parental Alienation Syndrome.

Forum

Home Parental Alienation Articles Resources

What is Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)?

This is the definition of PAS as described by R.A. Gardner who discovered the syndrome and has become an expert in dealing with the issue.

Gardner’s definition of PAS is:

“The parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child-custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent’s indoctrinations and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the target parent.”

(Excerpted from: Gardner, R.A. (1998). The Parental Alienation Syndrome, Second Edition, Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.)

Basically, this means that through verbal and non verbal thoughts, actions and mannerisms, a child is emotionally abused (brainwashed) into thinking the other parent is the enemy. This ranges from bad mouthing the other parent infront of the children, to withholding visits, to pre-arranging the activities for the children while visiting with the other parent.

Stages of Parental Alienations Syndrome:

Children who are victims of PAS often go through different Stages as they experience the depth of the alienation.

Stage 1 – Mild | Stage 2 – Moderate | Stage 3 – Severe |

Types of Alienators:

With PAS there are three types of Alienators:

Naive Alienator | Active Alienator | Obsessed Alienator |

Parental Alienation Syndrome – PAS.

Parental Due Process Act

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, Child Custody, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, children legal status, Civil Rights, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Marriage, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Restraining Orders on November 23, 2009 at 9:45 pm
November 21, 4:36 PMSan Diego Courts ExaminerGregory Smart

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CA State Senate
CA State Senate
State of CA

There is currently an effort in the State of California to have the model legislation (below) passed in an effort to ensure Parental Due Process in the Juvenile Dependency Courts.

The model legislation was written by a team of attorneys at Pacific Justice Institute http://www.pacificjustice.org/ in Sacramento California.

Anyone wishing to get involved and/or support this legislation please contact Greg Smart at cpsvictim@gmail.com

Model State Legislation

Parental Due Process Act

Model State Legislation

A BILL
To protect the fundamental due process rights of a parent in proceedings to terminate parental rights.

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This shall be cited as the “Parental Due Process Act.”

SECTION 2. FINDINGS AND PURPOSES.
(a) FINDINGS- the legislature finds that–
(1) Parental rights are so fundamental to the human condition so as to be deemed inalienable. Termination of parental rights equals or exceeds the detriment of criminal sanctions.
(2) The “liberty interest of parents in the care, custody, and control of their children is perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests” recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court. Troxel v. Granville, 527 U.S. 1069 (1999). Moreover, the companionship, care, custody, and management of a parent over his or her child is an interest far more precious than any property right. May v. Anderson, 345 U.S. 528, 533, (1952). As such, the parent-child relationship is an important interest that undeniably warrants deference and, absent a powerful countervailing interest, protection. Stanley v. Illinois, 405 U.S. 645 (1972).
(3) State and local family services, child protective agencies, and courts have not recognized the rights of parents as inalienable, and, as a result, have failed to provide fundamental due process rights in the investigation and legal proceedings to determine abuse, neglect, and the termination of parental rights.
(b) PURPOSE- The purpose of this Act is to provide core fundamental due process rights to parents whose parental rights are subject to termination.

SECTION 3. DEFINITIONS.
As used in this Act:
(1) “Hearing” means any judicial or administrative hearing;
(2) “law enforcement officer” means an employee, the duties of whose position are primarily the prevention, investigation, apprehension, or detention of individuals suspected or convicted of offenses against the criminal laws, including an employee engaged in this activity who is transferred to a supervisory or administrative position, or serving as a probation or pretrial services officer;
(3) “agency” means any state or local government;
(4) “Duress” consists of:
a. Unlawful confinement of the person of the party, or of the husband or wife of such party, or of an ancestor, descendant, or adopted child of such party, husband, or wife;
b. Unlawful detention of the property of any such person; or,
c. Confinement of such person, lawful in form, but fraudulently
obtained, or fraudulently made unjustly harassing or oppressive.
(5) “Actual fraud” consists of any of the following acts, committed by a party, or with his connivance, with intent to deceive another party thereto, or to induce him to enter into an agreement or to rely upon it to his detriment:
a. The suggestion, as a fact, of that which is not true by one
who does not believe it to be true;
b. The positive assertion, in a manner not warranted by the
information of the person making it, of that which is not true,
though he believes it to be true;
c. The suppression of that which is true, by one having knowledge
or belief of the fact;
d. A promise made without any intention of performing it; or,
e. Any other act fitted to deceive.
(4) “Undue influence” consists of:
a. In the use, by one in whom a confidence is reposed by another,
or who holds a real or apparent authority over him, of such
confidence or authority for the purpose of obtaining an unfair
advantage over him;
b. In taking an unfair advantage of another’s weakness of mind; or,
c. In taking a grossly oppressive and unfair advantage of another’s necessities or distress.
(5) “Malice” means conduct that is intended by the person to cause injury or despicable conduct that is carried out with a willful and conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others;
(6) “Emergency” means exigent circumstances in which immediate action is required to prevent the imminent physical injury or death of a child.
SECTION 4. HEARINGS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.
(a) Upon the request of a parent, guardian or custodian, the right to have proceedings open to the public shall be guaranteed in the following circumstances:
(1) any hearing for the purpose of terminating parental rights;
(2) any hearing for the purpose of determining if a child is or has been deprived.
(b) Notwithstanding subsection (a), a judge may, upon consideration of written motion and papers filed in opposition, exclude the public if it is determined, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the safety of the child would be in jeopardy by a public hearing.
If the public is excluded from the hearing, the following people may attend the
closed hearing unless the judge finds it is not in the best interests of the child:
(i) the child’s relatives;
(ii) the child’s foster parents, if the child resides in foster care; and,
(iii) any person requested by the parent.

SECTION 5. TRIAL BY JURY.
Upon the request of a parent, guardian or custodian, the right to a trial by jury shall be guaranteed in the following circumstances:
(1) any hearing to terminate parental rights;
(2) any hearing to determine if a child is or has been deprived.

SECTION 6. RELIGIOUS/CULTURAL/MORAL/ETHNIC VALUES AND BELIEFS OF PARENTS

In placing the legal custody or guardianship of a child with an individual or a private agency, a court shall take into consideration the religious, cultural, moral and ethnic values of the child or of his/her parents, if such values are known or ascertainable by the exercise of reasonable care.

SECTION 7. ELECTRONIC OR DIGITAL RECORDING OF INTERVIEWS

Except in the case of an emergency, any law enforcement officer, agent or employee for a state’s health and welfare department or child protective services, or mental health professional, who interviews a child for the purposes of investigation, shall electronically and/or digitally cause to be made an audio and visual recording of all questioning of, and interviews with, children. All recordings made pursuant to subsection (a) shall be made available to the parent, guardian or custodian of a child not later than ten days prior to any hearing to terminate parental rights or to determine if a child is or has been deprived.

SECTION 8. EVIDENCE IN FACT-FINDING HEARINGS

(a) Only evidence that is competent, material and relevant may be admitted in a
fact-finding hearing.
(b) Any determination at the conclusion of a fact-finding hearing that
a respondent did an act or acts must be based on proof beyond a
reasonable doubt. For this purpose, an uncorroborated confession made
out of court by a respondent is not sufficient.

SECTION 9. RIGHT TO A SPEEDY TRIAL
(a) In that removal of a child from a home for even brief periods is an extreme hardship on families, upon the request of a parent, guardian or custodian, the right to a speedy trial shall be guaranteed in the following circumstances:
(1) any hearing to terminate parental rights;
(2) any hearing to determine if a child is or has been deprived.
(b) A hearing, as described in subsection a, shall be conducted within thirty days of any type of removal of a child. In the event that the thirtieth day falls on a legal holiday or other day when the court is not in session, the hearing shall be conducted prior to the thirtieth day. In no event shall a hearing be conducted beyond the thirtieth day after the removal of a child if the right to a speedy trial has been exercised.
SECTION 10. WAIVER OF RIGHTS
The rights of a parent or guardian as described in this Act cannot be waived, neither can parental rights be terminated, if said waiver is due to:
(1) mistake;
(2) fraud;
(3) undue influence; or
(4) duress.

SECTION 11. IMMUNITY

(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the civil immunity of juvenile court social workers, agents or employees of a health and welfare department or child protective services or law enforcement official authorized to initiate or conduct investigations or proceedings shall not extend to any of the following:
(1) Perjury;
(2) Fabrication of evidence;
(3) Failure to disclose known exculpatory evidence;
(4) Obtaining testimony by duress, fraud, or undue influence.

(b) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any prosecutor, investigator, agent or employee of a state’s health and welfare department or child protective services who induces a parent to waive any of his or her rights under this Act by
(1) fraud;
(2) undue influence; or
(3) duress shall be subject to civil liability.

SECTION 12. DAMAGES
In the case of a determination by a court or jury of any violation of a parent’s rights under this Act, damages shall be presumed.
SECTION 13. ATTORNEYS FEES

Subsections (b) and (c) of section 722 of the Revised Statutes (42 U.S.C. 1988 (b) and (c)) (concerning the award of attorney’s and expert fees) shall apply to cases brought or defended under this Act.

SECTION 14. SEVERABILITY

If any provision of this Act or of an amendment made by this Act, or any application of such provision to any person or circumstance, is held to be unconstitutional, the remainder of this Act, the amendments made by this Act, and the application of the provision to any other person or circumstance shall not be affected.

New CA Legislation – Parental Due Process Act.

Report: 20% of Divorced Parents Want to Make Other Parent’s Contact with Child ‘as Unpleasant as Possible’ | Glenn Sacks on MND

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Child Custody for Mothers, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Feminism, Marriage on November 21, 2009 at 4:45 pm
Thursday, November 19, 2009

By Robert Franklin, Esq.

When parents are at loggerheads, there should be much more done to sustain the interests of the father and child. When a mother turns her child against the father, when a mother refuses to comply with a court order on contact, nothing is done because it is felt sanctions against her would not be in the interests of the child. But is the situation as it stands in that child’s interests? We pay only lip service to the rights of a child to have contact with a father and we need to do better.

This article is another one to address the findings of the Mishcon de Reya report on the impacts of divorce in the United Kingdom (The Times, 11/17/09).  I discussed another article in the Telegraph in a previous piece, but this one adds information and some suggestions.

For example, the report found that more than one-third of children lose all contact with their fathers after divorce.  It goes on to report just why that is.

But what makes keeping in touch so difficult?

One answer could be suggested by a finding of the Mishcon de Reya report — one in five divorcing spouses admitted to having the primary objective of making the experience as unpleasant as possible for his or her former partner.

Parenthetically, I wonder what all those people who deny the existence of parental alienation of children have to say about that.  When 20% cite that very thing as their “primary objective” post-divorce, it’s hard to figure how they can pretend parental alienation is a figment of some evil FRA’s imagination.  My guess is that we’ll never know since they’ll probably give that datum a pass.

And given that it’s fathers, not mothers whom children are losing, and it’s mothers, not fathers who get primary custody in 85% – 90% of cases, it’s not hard to figure out who’s doing most of the alienating.

But the article goes on to site some fairly commonsense things divorcing fathers and mothers can do to make things better.  Unfortunately, many of those seem to assume some sort of residual goodwill between the exes.  And if that existed, the problems children have stemming from divorce would probably be much fewer and less severe.

I suspect that there is a large percentage of parents who truly do their best to get along after they split and who mostly succeed.  I also suspect that there is some percentage who will remain out to get the other regardless of everything.  And I finally suspect that there are a lot of parents for whom counselling and mediation would be a great help.  It’s not that they’ll feel much better about the other spouse, but they can learn to focus on the child’s wellbeing and understand that, while he/she may want nothing to do with the other spouse, the child doesn’t feel the same way.

Stephen Baskerville’s Taken Into Custody
Taken Into Custody: The War Against Fatherhood, Marriage, and the Family by Stephen Baskerville, Ph.D. examines one of the greatest and most destructive civil rights abuses in America today–our family law system. Baskerville has authored many articles on fatherhood and family issues and is a frequent media commentator. To learn more or to purchase Taken Into Custody, click here.

Stumble It!

Report: 20% of Divorced Parents Want to Make Other Parent’s Contact with Child ‘as Unpleasant as Possible’ | Glenn Sacks on MND.

Crystel Strelioff’s family; History of PAS

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, DSM-IV, DSM-V, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fathers rights, federal crimes, Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Protective Dads, Restraining Orders, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, Single Parenting, state crimes on November 20, 2009 at 4:30 am
November 18, 12:56 PMLA Family Courts ExaminerLaura Lynn

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PAS, Parental Alienation Syndrome knows no gender boundaries. You may not like the term PAS, but there is a behavior exhibited by some parents that cause the children to tell lies, and maybe even begin to believe those lies, about another parent.

There was some discussion about Crystel Strelioff, serving time for abducting her children. One of the children, now an adult, spoke at the Elkins Family Task Force Hearing in Los Angeles recently. He implied that his father had sexually abused him for 15 years while the court stood by.

I am certain tragedies like that do happen, but I am equally certain that in this particular case, there was no abuse by the father. The father had no contact with the son since 2004 and very little contact before that.

But, here is deposition testimony from court appointed evaluator Joanne Feigin in regards to Crystel’s brother Tim. The children’s names have been changed and their parent’s identity slightly veiled. Otherwise, this testimony is verbatim. There was no cross examination in regards to these statements.

Lawyer: At that time you interviewed the child again, this is since the last — since report number one, at that interview the child told you that his dad [Tim] told him to say to you “I want 100 percent with my dad and no time with mom”; is that correct?

Joanne Feigin: Yes.

Lawyer: As a matter of fact, you state in your report on page 24 that the child clearly — you use the word “clearly” — indicated that his father had told him very explicitly — and you use the word “explicitly” –to talk to [Ms. Feigin] about his preference and what to say about it. Is that correct?

Joanne Feigin: Correct.

Later…about an anti-drug video made by Tim with the mother acting as the drug addict, a video given to Joanne Feigin by either Tim or Crystel’s mother Helen, given without the soundtrack and only an explanation they thought the mother was using drugs…

Lawyer: Now, also in report one, I’m just going to just hit on this because you testified to it, that Tim alleged that the mother was using cocaine; correct?

Joanne Feigin: Correct.

Lawyer: He showed you a video which involved the mother?

Joanne Feigin: Correct.

Lawyer: And I think you even stated in the report that the father was disingenuous and deceptive; is that correct?

Joanne Feigin: Correct.

Lawyer: And that’s relating to the video?

Joanne Feigin: Yes.

Lawyer: And how he labeled it?

Joanne Feigin: Yes.

If Crystel’s family was showing this deceptive tape to the court appointed evaluator, who else did they show it to? The children?

And why, after this testimony, did the LASC commissioner transfer custody of the children from the mother to the father? Whether you call it PAS or just “lies told about one parent by the other parent”, isn’t this behavior that does not foster a relationship between both parents?

Crystel Strelioff’s family; History of PAS.

Worst Case of Parental Alienation Ever, Investigator States – Arrest Warrant for PA in Texas Case

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, DSM-IV, DSM-V, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Liberty, Marriage, MMPI, MMPI 2, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Protective Dads, Restraining Orders, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine on November 20, 2009 at 2:55 am

Ireland mom faces U.S. extradition over child snatching

Ireland mom faces U.S. extradition over child snatching | Irish News | IrishCentral.

Ninth Circuit Gives Big Victory to Non-Custodial Father | Glenn Sacks on MND

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, children legal status, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, custody, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, Glenn Sacks, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Protective Dads on November 18, 2009 at 8:21 pm
Wednesday, November 18, 2009

By Robert Franklin, Esq.

A case decided November 10, 2009 by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals could have an enormous impact on fathers’ rights to their children.  (Note: The case is not yet published, so I can’t provide a link to it.)  It holds that even a divorced father with no right of physical custody must be given the opportunity to have custody of his child before a child protective agency can place it in foster care.  Failure to do so by a county child protective agency can subject the county to a suit for damages by the father under the federal civil law governing deprivation of constitutional rights.

To put it bluntly, this is a huge win for non-custodial parents.

The opinion in Burke, et al vs. County of Alameda California, et al now governs everyone within the jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit which encompasses California, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Hawaii, Idaho, Arizona, Nevada, Montana and the territories of Guam and the Northern Marianna Islands.  Unless overturned by the United States Supreme Court, Burke is binding precedent throughout the Ninth Circuit.

The Ninth is the largest federal circuit and one of the most influential on the others.  Of course the opinion in Burke doesn’t govern cases in other circuits, but, given that it was a case of first impression (i.e. a similar case had never been decided before by that circuit) there, it may well be looked to by other circuits in deciding similar cases.  It may also be looked to by the Supreme Court should a similar case reach that level.

David and Melissa Burke lived together and apparently were married.  Melissa’s 14-year-old daughter “B.F.” lived with them.  She was the natural daughter of Melissa and Clifton Farina who had divorced some years before.  David was her stepfather and Clifton was a non-custodial dad.  Frustratingly enough, the opinion doesn’t tell us whether Clifton had an order of visitation, but it seems that he did not because the opinion says that he had no right of physical custody.  Nevertheless, he saw his daughter fairly often even though B.F. testified that his new wife didn’t like her and being around her was uncomfortable for the girl.  Melissa had sole physical custody of B.F.

When B.F. complained to an Alameda County Sheriff’s officer that David hit her repeatedly and often fondled her breasts, the officer, without a warrant, removed her from the Burke home and placed her with the county child protective services agency.  CPS in turn placed her in some form of protective care.

David, Melissa and Clifton Farina sued Alameda County and the sheriff’s deputy under federal statute 42 U.S.C. 1983 which allows civil suits against municipal and state entities which “under color of law” deprive someone of their constitutional rights.  The trial court granted the county’s motion for summary judgment, holding that neither the Burkes nor Farina had any claim against the county on which they could prevail at trial.  The Ninth Circuit agreed that the Burkes had no claim and that the sheriff’s deputy was immune from suit.

But the circuit court reversed the trial court as to Clifton Farina.  It said that, even though he had no right of physical custody, Alameda County could not lawfully ignore Clifton as a possible custodian of B.F.  Failure by the county to “explore the possibility of putting B.F. in his care” violated his constitutional right to a familial relationship and association with his daughter.  His case was returned to the trial court so a jury could hear and decide his claim for damages against the county.

On this blog, both Glenn and I have written about the outrageous preference on the part of CPS agencies for foster care over father care.  Those agencies routinely bypass fathers altogther and place children in foster care.  I reported on an Urban Institute study that showed that, even though CPS agencies know who the father is in some 88% of cases that come before them, attempts to contact him are made in barely over half those cases.  Glenn has written about a girl to whom Orange County, California lied repeatedly over many years, solely to keep her from her father and in foster care.

In short, after this case, CPS agencies can no longer do that without getting sued.  The Burke opinion is not clear on exactly what a county must do to comply with it.  But as I see it, they’ll have to make diligent efforts to locate the father and assess whether his care would be superior to that of a foster home.  If it would be, he would get custody.  In short, when taking a child from its custodial parent due to abuse or neglect, a state within the Ninth Circuit’s jurisdiction may no longer simply ignore the non-custodial parent.

Thanks to Ned for the heads-up.

Lisa Scott’s RealFamilyLaw.com
Shared Parenting Advocate/Family Law Attorney Lisa Scott’s RealFamilyLaw.com exposes the truth about what is happening in our family law system. Lisa, the all-time leader in appearances on His Side with Glenn Sacks, says that she was “tired of having her stuff rejected by elitist bar publications and politically-correct newspapers” and decided to start her own website. RealFamilyLaw.com

Ninth Circuit Gives Big Victory to Non-Custodial Father | Glenn Sacks on MND.

Parental Alienation and the DSM-V: A Call to Action

In Activism, Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, child abuse, Child Custody, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, DSM-IV, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Liberty, Marriage, Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy, National Parents Day, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Protective Dads, Restraining Orders, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine on November 17, 2009 at 1:02 am

Parental Alienation and the DSM-V

A large group of mental health professionals, legal professionals, and other individuals have submitted a formal proposal to have the concept of parental alienation included in the next editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) and the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). The proposal was submitted in November 2009. The authors of the 2009 proposal, who are listed below, represent eleven countries.

Please write to the following individuals and encourage them to include parental alienation in DSM-V:

David J. Kupfer, M.D. Dr. Kupfer is chair of the DSM-V Task Force. His address is: Western Psychiatric Institute, 3811 O’Hara Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15213.

Darrel A. Regier, M.D. Dr. Regier is vice-chair of the DSM-V Task Force. His address is: American Psychiatric Association, 1000 Wilson Blvd., Suite 1825, Arlington, VA 22209-3901.

Daniel S. Pine, M.D. D. Dr. Pine is chair of the DSM-V Disorders in Childhood and Adolescence Work Group. His address is: NIMH, 15K North Drive, MSC 2670, Bethesda, MD 20892-2670.

Principal author of Parental Alienation, DSM-V, and ICD-11 are: William Bernet, M.D. Contributing authors: José M. Aguilar, Ph.D. (Spain), Katherine Andre, Ph.D., Mila Arch Marin, Ph.D. (Spain), Eduard Bakalář, C.Sc. (Czech Republic), Amy J. L. Baker, Ph.D., Paul Bensussan, M.D. (France), Alice C. Bernet, M.S.N., Kristin Bernet, M.L.I.S., Barry S. Bien, L.L.B., Wilfrid von Boch-Galhau, M.D. (Germany), J. Michael Bone, Ph.D., Barry Bricklin, Ph.D., Andrew J. Chambers, J.D., Arantxa Coca Vila (Spain), Gagan Dhaliwal, M.D., Benoit van Dieren, Ph.D. (Belgium), Christian T. Dum, Ph.D. (Germany), John E. Dunne, M.D., Robert A. Evans, Ph.D., Robert Bruce Fane, Ed.D., Bradley W. Freeman, M.D., Prof. Guglielmo Gulotta (Italy), Anja Hannuniemi, LL.Lic. (Finland), Lena Hellblom Sjögren, Ph.D. (Sweden), Larry Hellmann, J.D., Steve Herman, Ph.D., Adolfo Jarne Esparcia, Ph.D. (Spain), Allan M. Josephson, M.D., Joseph Kenan, M.D., Ursula Kodjoe, M.A. (Germany), Douglas A. Kramer, M.D., M.S., Ken Lewis, Ph.D., Moira Liberatore, Psy.D. (Italy), Demosthenes Lorandos, Ph.D., J.D., Ludwig F. Lowenstein, Ph.D. (United Kingdom), Domènec Luengo Ballester, Ph.D. (Spain), Jayne A. Major, Ph.D., Eric G. Mart, Ph.D., Kim Masters, M.D., David McMillan, Ph.D., John E. Meeks, M.D., Steven G. Miller, M.D., Martha J. Morelock, Ph.D., Stephen L. Morrison, Ph.D., Wade Myers, M.D., Olga Odinetz, Ph.D. (France), Jeff Opperman, S. Richard Sauber, Ph.D., Thomas E. Schacht, Psy.D., Jesse Shaver, Ph.D., M.D., Bela Sood, M.D., Richard K. Stephens, Julie Lounds Taylor, Ph.D., Asunción Tejedor Huerta, Ph.D. (Spain), Hubert Van Gijseghem, Ph.D. (Canada), James S. Walker, Ph.D., Randy Warren, J.D., Monty N. Weinstein, Psy.D., Katie Wilson, M.D., and Abe Worenklein, Ph.D. (Canada).

Tags: Parental Alienation

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Does DSM-IV Have Equivalents for the Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) Diagnosis?

In adoption abuse, Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, Child Custody, child trafficking, Children and Domestic Violence, children legal status, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, CPS, cps fraud, deadbeat dads, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, DSM-IV, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, federal crimes, Foster CAre Abuse, judicial corruption, MMPI, MMPI 2, mothers rights, Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy, National Parents Day, Obama, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Protective Dads, Protective Parents, state crimes on November 7, 2009 at 6:30 pm

Does DSM-IV Have Equivalents for the Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) Diagnosis?

Richard A. Gardner. M.D.
Department of Child Psychiatry, College of Physicians and Surgeons
Columbia University, New York, New York, USA

Child custody evaluators commonly find themselves confronted with resistance when they attempt to use the term parental alienation syndrome (PAS) in courts of law. Although convinced that the patient being evaluated suffers with the disorder, they often find that the attorneys who represent alienated parents, although agreeing with the diagnosis, will discourage use of the term in the evaluators’ reports and testimony. Most often, they will request that the evaluator merely use the term parental alienation (PA). On occasion they will ask whether other DSM-IV diagnoses may be applicable. The purpose of this article is to elucidate the reasons for the reluctance to use the PAS diagnosis and the applicability of PA as well as current DSM-IV substitute diagnoses.

Mental health professionals, family law attorneys, and judges are generally in agreement that in recent years we have seen a disorder in which one parent alienates the child against the other parent. This problem is especially common in the context of child-custody disputes where such programming enables the indoctrinating parent to gain leverage in the court of law. There is significant controversy, however, regarding the term to use for this phenomenon. In 1985 I introduced the term parental alienation syndrome to describe this phenomenon (Gardner, 1985a).

The Parental Alienation Syndrome

In association with this burgeoning of child-custody litigation, we have witnessed a dramatic increase in the frequency of a disorder rarely seen previously, a disorder that I refer to as the parental alienation syndrome (PAS). In this disorder we see not only programming (“brainwashing”) of the child by one parent to denigrate the other parent, but self-created contributions by the child in support of the alienating parent’s campaign of denigration against the alienated parent. Because of the child’s contribution I did not consider the terms brainwashing, programming, or other equivalent words to be sufficient. Furthermore, I observed a cluster of symptoms that typically appear together, a cluster that warranted the designation syndrome. Accordingly, I introduced the term parental alienation syndrome to encompass the combination of these two contributing factors that contributed to the development of the syndrome (Gardner, 1985a). In accordance with this use of the term I suggest this definition of the parental alienation syndrome:

The parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is a childhood disorder that arises almost exclusively in the context of child-custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent’s indoctrinations and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the target parent. When true parental abuse and/or neglect is present, the child’s animosity may be justified and so the parental alienation syndrome explanation for the child’s hostility is not applicable.

It is important to note that indoctrinating a PAS into a child is a form of abuse—emotional abuse—because it can reasonably result in progressive attenuation of the psychological bond between the child and a loving parent. In many cases it can result in total destruction of that bond, with lifelong alienation. In some cases, then, it may be even worse than other forms of abuse, e.g., physical abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect. A parent who demonstrates such reprehensible behavior has a serious parenting defect, their professions of exemplary parenting notwithstanding. Typically, they are so intent on destroying the bond between the child and the alienated parent that they blind themselves to the formidable psychological consequences on the child of their PAS indoctrinations, both at the time of the indoctrinations and in the future.

Most evaluators, family law attorneys, and judges recognize that such programming and child alienation is common in the context of child-custody disputes. They agree, also, that there are situations in which the child’s alienation is the result of parental programming. Some object to the use of the term syndrome and claim that it is not a syndrome, but that the term parental alienation (PA) should be used. The problem with the use of the term PA is that there are many reasons why a child might be alienated from parents, reasons having nothing to do with programming. A child might be alienated from a parent because of parental abuse of the child, e.g., physical, emotional, or sexual. A child might be alienated because of parental neglect. Children with conduct disorders are often alienated from their parents, and adolescents commonly go through phases of alienation. The PAS is well viewed as one subtype of parental alienation. Accordingly, substituting the term PA for PAS cannot but cause confusion.

Is the PAS a True Syndrome?

Some who prefer to use the term parental alienation (PA) claim that the PAS is not really a syndrome. This position is especially seen in courts of law in the context of child-custody disputes. A syndrome, by medical definition, is a cluster of symptoms, occurring together, that characterize a specific disease. The symptoms, although seemingly disparate, warrant being grouped together because of a common etiology or basic underlying cause. Furthermore, there is a consistency with regard to such a cluster in that most (if not all) of the symptoms appear together. The term syndrome is more specific than the related term disease. A disease is usually a more general term, because there can be many causes of a particular disease. For example, pneumonia is a disease, but there are many types of pneumonia—e.g., pneumococcal pneumonia and bronchopneumonia—each of which has more specific symptoms, and each of which could reasonably be considered a syndrome (although common usage may not utilize the term).

The syndrome has a purity because most (if not all) of the symptoms in the cluster predictably manifest themselves together as a group. Often, the symptoms appear to be unrelated, but they actually are because they usually have a common etiology. An example would be Down’s Syndrome, which includes a host of seemingly disparate symptoms that do not appear to have a common link. These include mental retardation, Mongoloid faces, drooping lips, slanting eyes, short fifth finger, and atypical creases in the palms of the hands. Down’s Syndrome patients often look very much alike and most typically exhibit all these symptoms. The common etiology of these disparate symptoms relates to a specific chromosomal abnormality. It is this genetic factor that is responsible for linking together these seemingly disparate symptoms. There is then a primary, basic cause of Down’s Syndrome: a genetic abnormality.

Similarly, the PAS is characterized by a cluster of symptoms that usually appear together in the child, especially in the moderate and severe types. These include:

     

  1. A campaign of denigration
  2. Weak, absurd, or frivolous rationalizations for the deprecation
  3. Lack of ambivalence
  4. The “independent-thinker” phenomenon
  5. Reflexive support of the alienating parent in the parental conflict
  6. Absence of guilt over cruelty to and/or exploitation of the alienated parent
  7. The presence of borrowed scenarios
  8. Spread of the animosity to the friends and/or extended family of the alienated parent
  9.  

Typically, children who suffer with PAS will exhibit most (if not all) of these symptoms. However, in the mild cases one might not see all eight symptoms. When mild cases progress to moderate or severe, it is highly likely that most (if not all) of the symptoms will be present. This consistency results in PAS children resembling one another. It is because of these considerations that the PAS is a relatively “pure” diagnosis that can easily be made. Because of this purity, the PAS lends itself well to research studies because the population to be studied can usually be easily identified. Furthermore, I am confident that this purity will be verified by future interrater reliability studies. In contrast, children subsumed under the rubric PA are not likely to lend themselves well to research studies because of the wide variety of disorders to which it can refer, e.g., physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and defective parenting. As is true of other syndromes, there is in the PAS a specific underlying cause: programming by an alienating parent in conjunction with additional contributions by the programmed child. It is for these reasons that PAS is indeed a syndrome, and it is a syndrome by the best medical definition of the term.

In contrast, PA is not a syndrome and has no specific underlying cause. Nor do the proponents of the term PA claim that it is a syndrome. Actually, PA can be viewed as a group of syndromes, which share in common the phenomenon of the child’s alienation from a parent. To refer to PA as a group of syndromes would, by necessity, lead to the conclusion that the PAS is one of the syndromes subsumed under the PA rubric and would thereby weaken the argument of those who claim that PAS is not a syndrome.

The PAS and DSM-IV

There are some, especially adversaries in child-custody disputes, who claim that there is no such entity as the PAS. This position is especially likely to be taken by legal and mental health professionals who are supporting the position of someone who is clearly a PAS programmer. The main argument given to justify this position is that the PAS does not appear in DSM-IV. To say that PAS does not exist because it is not listed in DSM-IV is like saying in 1980 that AIDS (Autoimmune Deficiency Syndrome) did not exist because it was not then listed in standard diagnostic medical textbooks. DSM-IV was published in 1994. From 1991 to 1993, when DSM committees were meeting to consider the inclusion of additional disorders, there were too few articles in the literature to warrant submission of the PAS for consideration. That is no longer the case. It is my understanding that committees will begin to meet for the next edition of the DSM (probably to be called DSM-V) in 2002 or 2003. Considering the fact that there are now at least 133 articles in peer-review journals on the PAS, it is highly likely that by that time there will be even more articles. (A list of peer-reviewed PAS articles is to be found on my website, www.rgardner.com/refs, a list that is continually being updated.)

It is important to note that DSM-IV does not frivolously accept every new proposal. Their requirements are very stringent with regard to the inclusion of newly described clinical entities. The committees require many years of research and numerous publications in peer-review scientific journals before considering the inclusion of a disorder, and justifiably so. Gille de La Tourette first described his syndrome in 1885. It was not until 1980, 95 years later, that the disorder found its way into the DSM. It is important to note that at that point, Tourette’s Syndrome became Tourette’s Disorder. Asperger first described his syndrome in 1957. It was not until 1994, 37 years later, that it was accepted into DSM-IV and Asperger’s Syndrome became Asperger’s Disorder.

DSM-IV states specifically that all disorders contained in the volume are “syndromes or patterns” (p. xxi), and they would not be there if they were not syndromes (American Psychiatric Association, 1994). Once accepted, the name syndrome is changed to disorder. However, this is not automatically the pattern for nonpsychiatric disorders. Often the term syndrome becomes locked into the name and becomes so well known that changing the word syndrome to disorder would seem awkward. For example, Down’s syndrome, although well recognized, has never become Down’s disorder. Similarly, AIDS (Autoimmune Deficiency Syndrome) is a well-recognized disease but still retains the syndrome term.

One of the most important (if not the most important) determinants as to whether a newly described disorder will be accepted into the DSM is the quantity and quality of research articles on the clinical entity, especially articles that have been published in peer-review journals. The committees are particularly interested in interrater reliability studies that will validate the relative “purity” of the disease entity being described. PAS lends itself well to such studies; PA does not. One of the first steps one must take when setting up a scientific study is to define and circumscribe the group(s) being studied. PAS lends itself well to such circumscription. PA is so diffuse and all-encompassing that no competent researcher would consider such a group to be a viable object of study. Whether one is going to study etiology, symptomatic manifestations, pathogenesis, treatment modalities, treatment efficacy, or conduct follow-up studies, one is more likely to obtain meaningful results if one starts with a discrete group (such as PAS) than if one starts with an amorphous group (such as PA). One of the major criticisms directed against many research projects is that the authors’ study group was not “pure” enough and/or well-selected enough to warrant the professed conclusions. Studies of PAS children are far less likely to justify this criticism than studies of PA children.

Whereas the PAS may ultimately be recognized in DSM-V, it is extremely unlikely that DSM committees will consider an entity referred to as parental alienation. It is too vague a term and covers such a wide variety of clinical phenomena that they could not justifiably be clumped together to warrant inclusion in DSM as a specific disorder. Because listing in the DSM ensures admissibility in courts of law, those who use the term PA instead of PAS are lessening the likelihood that PAS will be listed in DSM-V. The result will be that many PAS families will be deprived of the proper recognition they deserve in courts of law, which often depend heavily on the DSM.

Recognition of the PAS in Courts of Law

Some who hesitate to use the term PAS claim that it has not been accepted in courts of law. This is not so. Although there are certainly judges who have not recognized the PAS, there is no question that courts of law with increasing rapidity are recognizing the disorder. My website (www.rgardner.com/refs) currently cites 66 cases in which the PAS has been recognized. By the time this article is published, the number of citations will certainly be greater. Furthermore, I am certain that there are other citations that have not been brought to my attention.

It is important to note that on January 30, 2001, after a two-day hearing devoted to whether the PAS satisfied Frye Test criteria for admissibility in a court of law, a Tampa, Florida court ruled that the PAS had gained enough acceptance in the scientific community to be admissible in a court of law (Kilgore v. Boyd, 2001). This ruling was subsequently affirmed by the District Court of Appeals (February 6, 2001). In the course of my testimony, I brought to the court’s attention the more than 100 peer-reviewed articles (there are 133 at the time of this writing) by approximately 150 other authors and over 40 court rulings (there are 66 at the time of this writing) in which the PAS had been recognized. These lists of the PAS peer-reviewed articles and legal citations are frequently updated on my website (www.rgardner.com). I am certain that these publications played an important role in the judge’s decision. This case will clearly serve as a precedent and facilitate the admission of the PAS in other cases—not only in Florida, but elsewhere.

Whereas there are some courts of law that have not recognized PAS, there are far fewer courts that have not recognized PA. This is one of the important arguments given by those who prefer the term PA. They do not risk an opposing attorney claiming that PA does not exist or that courts of law have not recognized it. There are some evaluators who recognize that children are indeed suffering with a PAS, but studiously avoid using the term in their reports and courtroom, because they fear that their testimony will not be admissible. Accordingly, they use PA, which is much safer, because they are protected from the criticisms so commonly directed at those who use PAS. Later in this article I will detail the reasons why I consider this position injudicious.

Many of those who espouse PA claim not to be concerned with the fact that their more general construct will be less useful in courts of law. Their primary interest, they profess, is the expansion of knowledge about children’s alienation from parents. Considering the fact that the PAS is primarily (if not exclusively) a product of the adversary system, and considering the fact that PAS symptoms are directly proportionate to the intensity of the parental litigation, and considering the fact that the court that has more power than the therapist to alleviate and even cure the disorder, PA proponents who claim no concern for the long-term legal implications of their position are injudicious and, I suspect, their claims of unconcern are specious.

Sources of the Controversy Over the Parental Alienation Syndrome

There are some who claim that because there is such controversy swirling around the PAS, there must be something specious about the existence of the disorder. Those who discount the PAS entirely because it is “controversial” sidestep the real issues, namely, what specifically has engendered the controversy, and, more importantly, is the PAS formulation reasonable and valid? The fact that something is controversial does not invalidate it. But why do we have such controversy over the PAS? With regard to whether PAS exists, we generally do not see such controversy regarding most other clinical entities in psychiatry. Examiners may have different opinions regarding the etiology and treatment of a particular psychiatric disorder, but there is usually some consensus about its existence. And this should especially be the case for a relatively “pure” disorder such as the PAS, a disorder that is easily diagnosable because of the similarity of the children’s symptoms when one compares one family with another. Why, then, should there be such controversy over whether or not PAS exists?

The PAS and the Adversary System

The PAS is very much a product of the adversary system (Gardner, 1985a, 1986, 1987a, 1987b, 1989, 1992, 1998). Furthermore, a court of law is generally the place where clients attempt to resolve the PAS. Most newly developed scientific principles inevitably become controversial when they are dealt with in the courtroom. It behooves the attorneys — when working within the adversary system — to take an adversarial stand and create controversy where it may not exist. In that setting, it behooves one side to take just the opposite position from the other if one is to prevail. Furthermore, it behooves each attorney to attempt to discredit the experts of the opposing counsel. A good example of this phenomenon is the way in which DNA testing was dealt with in the OJ Simpson trial. DNA testing is one of the most scientifically valid procedures for identifying perpetrators. Yet the jury saw fit to question the validity of such evidence, and DNA became, for that trial, controversial. I strongly suspect that those jury members who concluded that DNA evidence was not scientifically valid for OJ Simpson would have vehemently fought for its admissibility if they themselves were being tried for a crime, which they did not commit. I am certain, as well, that any man in that jury who found himself falsely accused of paternity would be quite eager to accept DNA proof of his innocence.

The Denial of the PAS is the Primary Defense of the Alienator

A parent accused of inducing a PAS in a child is likely to engage the services of a lawyer who may invoke the argument that there is no such thing as a PAS. The reasoning goes like this: “If there is no such thing as the PAS, then there is no programmer, and therefore my client cannot be accused of brainwashing the children.” This is an extremely important point, and I cannot emphasize it strongly enough. It is a central element in the controversy over the PAS, a controversy that has been played out in courtrooms not only in the United States but in various other countries as well. And if the allegedly dubious lawyer can demonstrate that the PAS is not listed in DSM-IV, then the position is considered “proven” (I say “allegedly” because the lawyer may well recognize the PAS but is only serving his client by his deceitfulness). The only thing this proves is that in 1994 DSM-IV did not list the PAS. The lawyers hope, however, that the judge will be taken in by this specious argument and will then conclude that if there is no PAS, there is no programming, and so the client is thereby exonerated. Substituting the term PA circumvents this problem. No alienator is identified, the sources are vaguer, and the causes could lie with the mother, the father, or both. The drawback here is that the evaluator may not provide the court with proper information about the cause of the children’s alienation. It lessens the likelihood, then, that the court will have the proper data with which to make its recommendations.

Which Term to Use in the Courtroom: PA or PAS?

Many examiners, then, even those who recognize the existence of the PAS, may consciously and deliberately choose to use the term parental alienation in the courtroom. Their argument may go along these lines: “I fully recognize that there is such a disease as the PAS. I have seen many such cases and it is a widespread phenomenon. However, if I mention PAS in my report, I expose myself to criticism in the courtroom such as, ‘It doesn’t exist,’ ‘It’s not in DSM-IV’ etc. Therefore, I just use PA, and no one denies that.” I can recognize the attractiveness of this argument, but I have serious reservations about this way of dealing with the controversy—especially in a court of law.

Using PA is basically a terrible disservice to the PAS family because the cause of the children’s alienation is not properly identified. It is also a compromise in one’s obligation to the court, which is to provide accurate and useful information so that the court will be in the best position to make a proper ruling. Using PA is an abrogation of this responsibility; using PAS is in the service of fulfilling this obligation.

Furthermore, evaluators who use PA instead of PAS are losing sight of the fact that they are impeding the general acceptance of the term in the courtroom. This is a disservice to the legal system, because it deprives the legal network of the more specific PAS diagnosis that could be more helpful to courts for dealing with such families. Moreover, using the PA term is shortsighted because it lessens the likelihood that some future edition of DSM will recognize the subtype of PA that we call PAS. This not only has diagnostic implications, but even more importantly, therapeutic implications. The diagnoses included in the DSM serve as a foundation for treatment. The symptoms listed therein serve as guidelines for therapeutic interventions and goals. Insurance companies (who are always quick to look for reasons to deny coverage) strictly refrain from providing coverage for any disorder not listed in the DSM. Accordingly, PAS families cannot expect to be covered for treatment. I describe below additional diagnoses that are applicable to the PAS, diagnoses that justify requests for insurance coverage. Examiners in both the mental health and legal professions who genuinely recognize the PAS, but who refrain from using the term until it appears in DSM, are lessening the likelihood that it will ultimately be included, because widespread utilization is one of the criteria that DSM committees consider. Such restraint, therefore, is an abrogation of their responsibility to contribute to the enhancement of knowledge in their professions.

There is, however, a compromise. I use PAS in all those reports in which I consider the diagnosis justified. I also use the PAS term throughout my testimony. However, I sometimes make comments along these lines, both in my reports and in my testimony:

Although I have used the term PAS, the important questions for the court are: Are these children alienated? What is the cause of the alienation? and What can we then do about it? So if one wants to just use the term PA, one has learned something. But we haven’t really learned very much, because everyone involved in this case knows well that the children have been alienated. The question is what is the cause of the children’s alienation? In this case the alienation is caused by the mother’s (father’s) programming and something must be done about protecting the children from the programming. That is the central issue for this court in this case, and it is more important than whether one is going to call the disorder PA or PAS, even though I strongly prefer the PAS term for the reasons already given.

In addition, if the court does not wish to recognize the PAS diagnosis there are other DSM-IV diagnoses that are very much applicable in this case. For the alienating father (mother) the following diagnoses are warranted: (the examiner can select from the list provided in the next section of this article). For the PAS child the following DSM-IV diagnoses are warranted: (the examiner can select from the list provided in the next section of this article). With regard to the alienated parent, the mother (father), no DSM-IV diagnosis is warranted. (However, a DSM-IV diagnosis may be warranted, but generally it is not related to the PAS as the symptoms have not played a role in contributing to the disorder).

I wish to emphasize that I do not routinely include this compromise, because whenever I do so, I recognize that I am providing support for those who are injudiciously eschewing the term and compromising thereby their professional obligations to their clients and the court.

Warshak (1999, 2001), has also addressed the PA vs. PAS controversy. He emphasizes the point that espousers of both PA and PAS agree that in the severe cases the only hope for the victimized children is significant restriction of the programmer’s access to the children and, in many cases, custodial transfer—sometimes via a transitional site. Warshak concludes that the arguments for the utilization for PAS outweigh the arguments for the utilization of PA, although he has more sympathy for the PA position than do I. Elsewhere, I have also addressed myself to this issue (Gardner, 2002).

DSM-IV Diagnoses Related to the Parental Alienation Syndrome

Examiners writing reports for and testifying in courts of law can generally find diagnoses in DSM-IV that are immune to the argument, “It doesn’t exist because it’s not in DSM-IV.” These diagnoses are not identical to the PAS, but they have common elements that can justify their utilization. None of them, however, are identical to the PAS and cannot be used as substitutes for it. I present here those that are most applicable and potentially useful in courts of law.

Diagnoses Applicable to Both Alienating Parents and PAS Childrem

297.3 Shared Psychotic Disorder

     

  1. A delusion develops in an individual in the context of a close relationship with another person(s) who has an already-established delusion.
  2. The delusion is similar in content to that of the person who already has the established delusion.
  3.  

This DSM-IV diagnosis is warranted in some of the severe PAS cases in which the programmer is paranoid, and the child’s campaign of denigration incorporates the same paranoid ideation. In a sense, most of the moderate, and even some of the mild cases of PAS, are examples of the folie à deux phenomenon. However, one cannot justifiably consider the mild and moderate cases of PAS to warrant the label psychotic with the implication of complete break with reality. In severe cases we do see bona fide delusions of persecution that can justifiably be considered paranoid. Most often, the delusional system is circumscribed to the alienated parent. It is important to note that this single diagnosis can be applied to both the alienator and the alienated child.

V61.20 Parent-Child Relational Problem

This category should be used when the focus of clinical attention is a pattern of interaction between parent and child (e.g., impaired communication, overprotection, inadequate discipline) that is associated with clinically significant impairment in individual or family functioning or the development of clinically significant symptoms in parent or child.

This diagnosis generally applies to a dyad. Obviously, there are a wide variety of parent-child relational problems that have nothing to do with PAS. In fact, it is reasonable to state that parent-child relational problems probably began with the first families that existed. This diagnosis is an excellent example of the aforementioned principle that none of the DSM-IV diagnoses described here can be reasonably substituted for the PAS. Rather, they are best viewed as disorders that have some symptoms in common with the PAS and may therefore justify being listed as additional diagnoses.

In the PAS situation there is a pathological dyad between the alienating parent and the child and another pathological dyad between the alienated parent and the child. The pathological dyad between the alienated parent and the child is one in which the child is being programmed into a campaign of denigration against the previously loving parent. The child is being programmed to exhibit any and all of the primary symptomatic manifestations of the PAS. With regard to the relationship between the child and the alienated parent, the child exhibits inordinate hostility, denigration, and fear of the target parent to the point where that parent is viewed as noxious and loathsome. Examiners using this criterion do well to emphasize that two separate parent-child relational problems are manifested.

Diagnoses Applicable to Alienating Parents

297.71 Delusional Disorder

     

  1. Nonbizarre delusions (i.e., involving situations that occur in real life, such as being followed, poisoned, infected, loved at a distance, or deceived by spouse or lover, or having a disease) of at least 1 month’s duration.
  2.  

Of the various subtypes of delusional disorder, the one that is most applicable to the PAS:

Persecutory Type: delusions that the person (or someone to whom the person is close) is being malevolently treated in some way

This diagnosis is generally applicable to the PAS indoctrinator who may initially recognize that the complaints about the behavior of the alienated parent are conscious and deliberate fabrications. However, over time, the fabrications may become delusions, actually believed by the programming parent. And the same process may ultimately be applicable to the child. Specifically, at first the child may recognize that the professions of hatred are feigned and serve to ingratiate the child to the programmer. However, over time the child may come to actually believe what were originally conscious and deliberate fabrications. When that point is reached the delusional disorder diagnosis is applicable to the child. Generally, this diagnosis is applicable to relentless programmers who are obsessed with their hatred of the victim parent, by which time the child will have probably entered the severe level of PAS. It is to be noted that when the PAS is present, most often one observes a circumscribed delusional system, confined almost exclusively to the alienated parent. This diagnosis may also be applicable to the PAS child, especially the child who is in the severe category.

301.0 Paranoid Personality Disorder

     

  1. A pervasive distrust and suspiciousness of others such that their motives are interpreted as malevolent, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by four (or more) of the following:
    1. suspects, without sufficient basis, that others are exploiting, harming, or deceiving him or her
    2. is preoccupied with unjustified doubts about the loyalty or trustworthiness of friends or associates
    3. is reluctant to confide in others because of unwarranted fear that the information will be used maliciously against him or her
    4. reads hidden demeaning or threatening meanings into benign remarks or events
    5. persistently bears grudges, i.e., is unforgiving of insults, injuries, or slights
    6. perceives attacks on his or her character or reputation that are not apparent to others and is quick to react angrily or to counterattack
    7. has recurrent suspicions, without justification, regarding fidelity of spouse or sexual partner
  2.  

PAS programmers who warrant this diagnosis would often satisfy these criteria before the marital separation. A detailed history from the victim parent as well as collaterals may be important because the programming parent is not likely to directly reveal such symptoms. They may, however, reveal them in the course of the evaluation, because they are such deep-seated traits, and are so deeply embedded in their personality structure, that they cannot be hidden. Most people involved in protracted child-custody litigation become “a little paranoid,” and this is often revealed by elevations on the paranoid scale of the MMPI. After all, there are indeed people who are speaking behind the patient’s back, are plotting against them, and are developing schemes and strategies with opposing lawyers. This reality results in an elevation of the paranoid scale in people who would not have manifested such elevations prior to the onset of the litigation. We see here how adversarial proceedings intensify psychopathology in general (Gardner, 1986), and in this case, paranoid psychopathology especially. The PAS child is less likely to warrant this diagnosis. When the severe level is reached PAS children may warrant the aforementioned Shared Psychotic Disorder diagnosis. On occasion, the diagnosis Schizophrenia, Paranoid Type (295.30) is warranted for the programming parent, but such patients generally exhibited other manifestations of schizophrenia, especially prior to the separation. It goes beyond the purposes of this paper to detail the marital symptoms of schizophrenia which should be investigated if the examiner has reason to believe that this diagnosis may be applicable.

It is important for the examiner to appreciate that there is a continuum from delusional disorder, to paranoid personality disorder, to paranoid schizophrenia. Furthermore, in the course of protracted litigation, a patient may move along the track from the milder to a more severe disorder on this continuum.

301.83 Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

A pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

     

  1. frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.
    Note:Do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5.
  2. a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation
  3. identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self
  4. impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating).
    Note Do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5.
  5. recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior
  6. affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g. intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days)
  7. chronic feelings of emptiness
  8. inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights)
  9. transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms
  10.  

Some alienators may exhibit some of these symptoms prior to the separation. However, as a result of the stresses of the separation, the symptoms may progress to the point where the diagnosis is applicable. Criterion (1) is likely to be exhibited soon after the separation because the marital dissolution is generally associated with real feelings of abandonment. Criterion (2) is often seen when there is a dramatic shift from idealization of the spouse to extreme devaluation. The campaign of denigration is the best example of this manifestation of BPD.

Criterion (4) may manifest itself by excessive spending, especially when such spending causes significant stress and grief to the alienated parent. Following the separation, alienating parents may satisfy Criterion (6) with affect instability, irritability, and intense episodic dysphoria. Although such reactions are common among most people involved in a divorce, especially when litigating the divorce, patients with BPD exhibit these symptoms to an even greater degree. Chronic feelings of emptiness (Criterion [7]) go beyond those that are generally felt by people following a separation. Criterion (8) is extremely common among PAS programmers. The tirades of anger against the alienated parent serve as a model for the child and contribute to the development of the campaign of denigration. The stress-related paranoia, an intensification of the usual suspiciousness exhibited by people involved in litigation, may reach the point that Criterion (9) is satisfied.

The examiner should note which of the symptoms are present and comment: “Five criteria need to be satisfied for the BPD diagnosis. Ms. X satisfies four. Although she does not qualify for the diagnosis at this point, she is at high risk for its development. Furthermore, when one lists diagnoses at the end of the report one might note the DSM-IV diagnosis and add in parenthesis “incipient.”

301.81 Narcissistic Personality Disorder

A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

     

  1. has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements
  2. is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  3. believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
  4. requires excessive admiration
  5. has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
  6. is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
  7. lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
  8. is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
  9. shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
  10.  

My experience has been that most PAS indoctrinators do not satisfy enough criteria (five) to warrant this diagnosis. However, many do exhibit three or four of them, which is worthy of the examiner’s attention and should be noted in the report.

Criterion (5) is especially common in PAS indoctrinators. They act as if court orders have absolutely nothing to do with them, even though their names may be specifically spelled out in the ruling. Unfortunately, they often violate these orders with impunity because courts are typically lax with regard to implementing punitive measures for PAS contemnors. As mentioned in other publications of mine (Gardner, 1998; 2001), the failure of courts to take action against PAS programmers is one of the most common reasons why the symptoms become entrenched in the children.

Criterion (6) is often frequently satisfied by the programmer’s ongoing attempts to extract ever more money from the victim parent, but feels little need to allow access to the children. There is no sense of shame or guilt over this common form of exploitation. The programmer’s lack of empathy and sympathy for the victim parent is quite common and easily satisfies Criterion (7). The PAS, by definition, is a disorder in which a programmer tries to destroy the bond between the children and a good, loving parent. In order to accomplish the goal, the alienator must have a serious deficiency in the ability to empathize with the target parent. Criterion (9) is often seen in that PAS indoctrinators are often haughty and arrogant and this symptom goes along with their sense of entitlement. Again, if warranted, the diagnosis can be listed as “incipient.”

DSM-IV Diagnoses Applicable to PAS Children

312.8 Conduct Disorder

  1. A repetitive and persistent pattern of behavior in which the basic rights of others or major age-appropriate societal norms or rules are violated, as manifested by the presence of three (or more) of the following criteria in the past 12 months, with at least one criterion present in the past 6 months:
  2.  

This diagnosis is often applicable to the PAS child, especially in situations when the conduct disturbances are the most salient manifestation. Under such circumstances, an examiner who is not familiar with the PAS may erroneously conclude that this is the only diagnosis. Such a conclusion necessitates selective inattention to the programming process, which is the hallmark of the PAS. Once again, we see here how a diagnosis, although in DSM-IV, cannot be used as a substitute for the PAS, but may be used as an additional diagnosis. I will not list here all 15 of the DSM-IV criteria, but only those that are most applicable to the PAS:

    Aggression to people and animals

     

  1. often bullies, threatens, or intimidates others
  2. often initiates physical fights
  3. has used a weapon that can cause serious physical harm to others (e.g., a bat, brick, broken bottle, knife, gun)
  4. has been physically cruel to animals
  5. has stolen while confronting a victim (e.g., mugging, purse snatching, extortion, armed robbery) Destruction of property
  6. has deliberately engaged in fire setting with the intention of causing serious damage
  7. has deliberately destroyed others’ property (other than by fire setting)Deceitfulness or theft
  8. often lies to obtain goods or favors or to avoid obligations (i.e., “cons” others)
  9. has stolen items of nontrivial value without confronting a victim (e.g., shoplifting, but without breaking and entering; forgery)Serious violations of rules
  10. has run away from home overnight at least twice while living in parental or parental surrogate home (or once without returning for a lengthy period
  11.  

As can be seen, most of the 15 criteria for the conduct disorder diagnosis can be satisfied by PAS children, especially those in the severe category. The target parent is very much scapegoated and victimized by PAS children. In severe cases they are screamed at, intimidated, and sometimes physically assaulted with objects such as bats, bottles, and knives. The child may perpetrate acts of sabotage in the home of the victim parent. Destruction of property in that person’s home is common and, on rare occasion, even fire setting. Deceitfulness is common, especially fabrications facilitated and supported by the alienator. Stealing things, such as legal documents and important records, and bringing them to the home of the alienator is common. Running away from the home of the target parent and returning to the home of the alienator is common, especially in moderate and severe cases.

309.21 Separation Anxiety Disorder

     

  1. Developmentally inappropriate and excessive anxiety concerning separation from home or from those to whom the individual is attached, as evidenced by three (or more) of the following:
  2.  

I reproduce here those of the eight criteria that are applicable to the PAS:

1) recurrent excessive distress when separation from home or major attachment figures occurs or is anticipated

4) persistent reluctance or refusal to go to school or elsewhere because of fear of separation

8) repeated complaints of physical symptoms (such as headaches, stomachaches, nausea, or vomiting) when separation from major attachment figures occurs or is anticipated

It is important for the reader to appreciate that the original diagnosis for separation anxiety disorder was school phobia. The term separation anxiety disorder is a relatively recent development emerging from the recognition that the child’s fear was less that of the school per se and much more related to the fear of separation from a parent, commonly an overprotective mother (Gardner, 1985b). DSM-IV recognizes this and doesn’t necessarily require the school to be the object of fear, but rather separation from the home, especially from someone with whom the child is pathologically attached.

It is important to note that the PAS child’s hatred of the victim parent has less to do with actual dislike of that parent and has much more to do with fear that if affection is displayed toward the target parent, the alienating parent will be angry at and rejecting of the child. At the prospect of going with the victim parent, the child may exhibit a wide variety of psychosomatic symptoms, all manifestations of the tension associated with the visit. The distress may be especially apparent when the alienating parent is at the site of the transfer. The child recognizes that expression of willingness or happiness to go off with the alienated parent might result in rejection by the alienator. The separation anxiety disorder diagnosis is most often applicable to the mild and moderate cases of PAS. In the severe cases, the anxiety element is less operative than the anger element.

When applying these criteria to the PAS child, one does well to substitute the PAS indoctrinating parent for the parent with whom the child is pathologically attached. At the same time one should substitute the alienated parent for the school or other place outside the child’s home. When one does this, one can see how most of the aforementioned criteria apply. When the child with a separation anxiety disorder is fearful of leaving the home to go to many destinations, the school is the destination the child most fears. It is there that the child feels imprisoned. In contrast, PAS children generally fear only the target parent and are not afraid to leave the programming parent and go elsewhere, such as to the homes of friends and relatives. In short, the PAS child’s fear is focused on the alienated parent. In contrast, the child with a separation anxiety disorder has fears that focus on school but which have spread to many other situations and destinations.

300.15 Dissociative Disorder
Not Otherwise Specified

This category is included for disorders in which the predominant feature is a dissociative symptom (i.e., a disruption in the usually integrated functions of consciousness, memory, identity, or perception of the environment) that does not meet the criteria for any specific Dissociative Disorder. Examples include:

     

  1. States of dissociation that occur in individuals who have been subjected to periods of prolonged and coercive persuasion (e.g., brainwashing, thought reform, or indoctrination while captive).
  2.  

Of the four categories of dissociative disorder (NOS), only Category 3 is applicable to the PAS. This criterion was designed for people who have been subjected to cult indoctrinations or for military prisoners subjected to brainwashing designed to convert their loyalty from their homeland to the enemy that has imprisoned them. It is very applicable to PAS children, especially those in the severe category. Such children have been programmed to convert their loyalty from a loving parent to the brainwashing parent exclusively. Cult victims and those subjected to prisoner indoctrinations often appear to be in a trance-like state in which they profess their indoctrinations in litany-like fashion. PAS children as well (especially those in the severe category) are often like robots or automatons in the way in which they profess the campaign of denigration in litany-like fashion. They seem to be in an altered state of consciousness when doing so.

Adjustment Disorders

The following subtypes of adjustment disorders are sometimes applicable to PAS children:

309.0 With Depressed Mood.

309.24 With Anxiety.

309.28 With Mixed Anxiety and Depressed Mood.

309.3 With Disturbance of Conduct.

309.4 With Mixed Disturbance of Emotions and Conduct

Each of these types of adjustment disorders may be applicable to the PAS child. The child is indeed adjusting to a situation in which one parent is trying to convince the youngster that a previously loving, dedicated, and loyal parent has really been noxious, loathsome, and dangerous. The programmed data does not seem to coincide with what the child has experienced. This produces confusion. The child fears that any expression of affection for the target parent will result in rejection by the alienator. Under such circumstances, the child may respond with anxiety, depression, and disturbances of conduct.

313.9 Disorder of Infancy, Childhood or Adolescence Not Otherwise Specified

This category is a residual category for disorders with onset in infancy, childhood, or adolescence that do not meet criteria for any specific order in the Classification.

This would be a “last resort” diagnosis for the PAS child, the child who, although suffering with a PAS, does not have symptoms that warrant other DSM-IV childhood diagnoses. However, if one still feels the need to use a DSM-IV diagnosis, especially if the report will be compromised without one, then this last-resort diagnosis can justifiably be utilized. However, it is so vague that it says absolutely nothing other than that the person who is suffering with this disorder is a child. I do not recommend its utilization because of its weakness and because it provides practically no new information to the court.

DSM-IV Diagnoses Applicable to Alienated Parents

In most PAS cases, a diagnosis is not warranted for the alienated parent. On occasion that parent does warrant a DSM-IV diagnosis, but its applicability usually antedated the separation and usually has not played a role in the PAS development or promulgation. As mentioned elsewhere (Gardner, 2001), the primary problem I have seen with alienated parents is their passivity. They are afraid to implement traditional disciplinary and punitive measures with their children, lest they alienate them even further. And they are afraid to criticize the alienator because of the risk that such criticism will be reported to the court and compromise even further their position in the child-custody litigation. Generally, their passivity is not so deep-seated that they would warrant DSM-IV diagnoses such as avoidant personality disorder (301.82) or dependent personality disorder (301.6), because such passivity does not extend into other areas of life and did not antedate the marital separation. One could argue that they have an adjustment disorder, but there is no DSM diagnosis called “adjustment disorder, with passivity.” Accordingly, I will often state for alienated parents, “No Axis 1 diagnosis.”

If, indeed, the alienated parent did suffer with a psychiatric disorder that contributed to the alienation, then this should be noted. Certainly, there are situations in which the alienated parent’s psychiatric disorder is so profound that it is the primary cause of the children’s alienation. In such cases, the PAS diagnosis is not warranted. Under such circumstances, this disorder should be described instead as the cause of the children’s alienation.

Final Comments About Alternative DSM-IV Diagnoses for the PAS

As mentioned, the primary reason for using these diagnoses is that the PAS, at this point, is not recognized in some courts of law. They cannot be used as substitute diagnoses for the PAS, but sometimes share in common some of the symptoms. Accordingly, they can be used as additional diagnoses. It is too early to expect widespread recognition because it was not feasible for the PAS to have been placed in the 1994 edition, so few were the publications on the disorder when the preparatory committees were meeting. This will certainly not be the case when the committees meet in the next few years for the preparation of DSM-V, which is scheduled for publication in 2010. None of the aforementioned substitute diagnoses are fully applicable to the PAS; however, as mentioned, each one has certain characteristics which overlap the PAS diagnosis. Because no combination of these alternative diagnoses can properly replace the PAS, they should be used in addition to rather than instead of the PAS. There is hardly a diagnosis in DSM-IV that does not share symptoms in common with other diagnoses. There is significant overlap and often fluidity in DSM diagnoses. None are “pure,” but some are purer than others, and the PAS is one of the purer ones.

At this point, examiners who conclude that PAS is an applicable diagnosis do well to list it in the appropriate place(s) in their reports (especially at the end). At the same time, they do well to list any DSM-IV diagnoses that are applicable for the alienator, the alienated child, and (if warranted) for the alienated parent. Accordingly, even if the court will not recognize the PAS diagnosis, it will have a more difficult time ignoring these alternative DSM diagnoses.

Conclusions

Controversies are likely when a new disorder is first described. This is predictable. The PAS, however, has probably generated more controversy than most new diagnostic contributions. The primary reason for this is that the PAS is very much a product of the adversary legal system that adjudicates child-custody disputes. Under such circumstances, it behooves opposing attorneys to discredit the contribution and to find every argument possible for obstructing its admission into courts of law. And this is what happened with the PAS. The purpose of this article has been to help evaluators involved in such disputes understand better the nature of the controversy and to deal with it in the context of the present legal situation. Like all compromises, the solution is not perfect. None of the additional diagnoses are identical to the PAS, but they do serve a purpose in a court of law in that they are established psychiatric diagnoses that are applicable to PAS alienators, PAS children, and (on occasion) the alienated parent. Ultimately, if PAS is admitted into DSM-V, the main argument for its inadmissibility in courts of law will no longer be applicable and the need for listing these additional diagnoses in courts of law will be reduced.

References

American Psychiatric Association (1994), Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Third Edition, Revised (DSM-IV). Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association.

Boyd v. Kilgore, 773 So. 2d 546 (Fla. 3d DCA 2000) (Prohibition Denied)

Kilgore v. Boyd, 13th Circuit Court, Hillsborough County, FL., Case No. 94-7573, 733 So. 2d 546 (Fla. 2d DCA 2000) Jan 30, 2001

Gardner, R. A. (1985a), Recent trends in divorce and custody litigation. The Academy Forum, 29(2):3-7.

_______ (1985b), Separation Anxiety Disorder: Psychodynamics and Psychotherapy. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.

_______ (1986), Child Custody Litigation: A Guide for Parents and Mental Health Professionals. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.

_______ (1987), The Parental Alienation Syndrome and the Differentiation Between Fabricated and Genuine Child Sex Abuse. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.

_______ (1987), Child Custody. In Basic Handbook of Child Psychiatry, ed. J. Noshpitz, Vol. V, pp. 637-646. New York: Basic Books, Inc.

_______ (1989), Family Evaluation in Child Custody Mediation, Arbitration, and Litigation. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.

_______ (1992), The Parental Alienation Syndrome: A Guide for Mental Health and Legal Professionals. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.

_______ (1998), The Parental Alienation Syndrome, Second Edition. Cresskill, New Jersey: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.

________ (2001), Therapeutic Interventions for Children with Parental Alienation Syndrome. Cresskill, New Jersey: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.

_______ (2002), Parental alienation syndrome vs. parental alienation: Which diagnosis should be used in child-custody litigation? The American Journal of Family Therapy, 30(2):101-123.

rgardner.com, Articles in Peer-reviewed journals and Published Books on the Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS). www.rgardner.com/refs

_______, Testimony Concerning the Parental Alienation Syndrome Has Been Admitted in Courts of Law in Many States and Countries. www.rgardner.com/refs

Warshak, R. A. (1999), Psychological syndromes: Parental alienation syndrome. Expert Witness Manual, Chapter 3-32. Dallas, TX:State Bar of Texas, Family Law Section.

_______ (2001), Current controversies regarding parental alienation syndrome. The American Journal of Forensic Psychology, 19(3):29-59.

©2002 Richard A. Gardner, M.D.

Parental Alienation – The Kidnapper’s Trick

In Activism, Best Interest of the Child, child abuse, Child Custody, child trafficking, Children and Domestic Violence, children legal status, Childrens Rights, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, kidnapped children, Marriage, MMPI, MMPI 2, mothers rights, Obama, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Protective Dads on November 7, 2009 at 12:30 pm

by Nathan Thornburgh

Around the globe, millions have followed the story of Natascha Kampusch, the girl who was kidnapped at age 10 and held prisoner for eight years in a windowless basement near Vienna, Austria. They have clicked through snapshots of her dungeon posted on the Internet, speculated in chat rooms about why she had never been discovered, and marveled at her eloquence in her first television interview last week.

But in the U.S., one group is intently focused not on the physical layout of Kampusch’s captivity but on the mental landscape of a girl who grew up thinking her parents had abandoned her–counselors who work with children of divorced couples. Long-term abductions by strangers are thankfully rare, but psychologists say the trauma of Kampusch, 18, who was told for years that her parents had simply forgotten about her, echoes the fallout from the more common nightmare of a custody dispute in which a child is irrevocably poisoned against one parent. However composed she appears now, they warn, Kampusch has a long, treacherous road to recovering her relationship with her parents.

Convincing children that their parents don’t love them is a brutally effective way to secure children’s allegiance. Steven Stayner was kidnapped in Merced, Calif., in 1972, at age 7. For seven years, he lived with his abductor as a son, going to a public high school, often left alone but never escaping. According to Sharon Carr Griffin, a friend of Stayner’s who is writing a book about his life, Stayner’s kidnapper told him that his dad had died and his mother had signed custody of Stayner over to the kidnapper. “If you can convince a child that their parents don’t care, then you own them,” says J. Michael Bone, a mental health counselor in Winter Park, Fla.

Bone has counseled scores of victims of a phenomenon known as “Parental Alienation Syndrome,” in which one parent accuses the other of brainwashing their child and turning him or her against the parent. Parental alienation is a controversial legal theory. Some say it’s just a smoke screen for abusive or negligent parents who deserve to be hated by their children. But practitioners say that in extreme cases, parents can implant false memories of abuse or otherwise stir a child into a permanent and completely irrational rage against the targeted parent.

From the Magazine | Behavior The Kidnapper’s Trick An Austrian girl escapes her captor, but the lies he told about her parents may be harder to outrun By NATHAN THORNBURGH SUBSCRIBE TO TIMEPRINTE-MAILMORE BY AUTHOR Posted Thursday, Sep. 14, 2006 Around the globe, millions have followed the story of Natascha Kampusch, the girl who was kidnapped at age 10 and held prisoner for eight years in a windowless basement near Vienna, Austria. They have clicked through snapshots of her dungeon posted on the Internet, speculated in chat rooms about why she had never been discovered, and marveled at her eloquence in her first television interview last week.

But in the U.S., one group is intently focused not on the physical layout of Kampusch’s captivity but on the mental landscape of a girl who grew up thinking her parents had abandoned her–counselors who work with children of divorced couples. Long-term abductions by strangers are thankfully rare, but psychologists say the trauma of Kampusch, 18, who was told for years that her parents had simply forgotten about her, echoes the fallout from the more common nightmare of a custody dispute in which a child is irrevocably poisoned against one parent. However composed she appears now, they warn, Kampusch has a long, treacherous road to recovering her relationship with her parents.

Convincing children that their parents don’t love them is a brutally effective way to secure children’s allegiance. Steven Stayner was kidnapped in Merced, Calif., in 1972, at age 7. For seven years, he lived with his abductor as a son, going to a public high school, often left alone but never escaping. According to Sharon Carr Griffin, a friend of Stayner’s who is writing a book about his life, Stayner’s kidnapper told him that his dad had died and his mother had signed custody of Stayner over to the kidnapper. “If you can convince a child that their parents don’t care, then you own them,” says J. Michael Bone, a mental health counselor in Winter Park, Fla. Bone has counseled scores of victims of a phenomenon known as “parental alienation syndrome,” in which one parent accuses the other of brainwashing their child and turning him or her against the parent. Parental alienation is a controversial legal theory.

Some say it’s just a smoke screen for abusive or negligent parents who deserve to be hated by their children. But practitioners say that in extreme cases, parents can implant false memories of abuse or otherwise stir a child into a permanent and completely irrational rage against the targeted parent. Increasingly, family courts are ordering a treatment called reconciliation therapy. One technique is to have the child look through an album of photos of the alienated parent to humanize that person again. Another is to show studies about how easily the mind is tricked, to let children know it’s not their fault that they have come to believe falsehoods about their parent. But those first steps toward rebuilding the parent-child relationship can be wobbly.

That is why counselors are saluting the caution being shown in Natascha Kampusch’s case. At first blush, it seems counterintuitive: after eight years of wrenching separation, she hasn’t returned home to either of her parents (who divorced before the abduction). Instead, she has been living at Vienna General Hospital, where she is likely to stay for at least another month in the care of a cadre of social workers and psychologists. She has arranged brief, if frequent, visits with her mother but in the first week saw her father only once.

In fact, an odd custody battle for Kampusch’s allegiance appears to be playing out publicly between her father and the memory of her captor, who threw himself under a train hours after Kampusch escaped. Christoph Feurstein, the journalist who conducted her television interview, says Kampusch is angry at her father for speaking on her behalf to the media; he told an interviewer that she would celebrate her captor’s death. Kampusch, in fact, visited the morgue and saw her abductor before he was buried, and told the world she mourned his death.

When Stayner escaped 26 years ago, there was little idea that such ambivalent feelings could exist in a child. He was immediately returned to his childhood home, but by many accounts struggled to fit back in. Nine years later, he died in a motor- cycle crash.

Kampusch says she was fighting with her mother on the day she was abducted. “My mother always used to say that we should never part ways angry,” she said during her television interview, “because something could happen to her or me and we’d never see each other again.” But in the aftermath of such cruel captivity, seeing each other again comes with its own challenges.

The original article can be found here: http://www.jmichaelbone.com/jmb_site_files/jmb_site_files/jmb_site_files/page24.html

Expanding the Parameters of Parental Alienation Syndrome

In Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Child Custody for Mothers, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, children legal status, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Liberty, Marriage, Non-custodial fathers, Non-custodial mothers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Protective Dads, Protective Parents, Restraining Orders, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, Single Parenting, Sociopath on November 5, 2009 at 6:30 pm

The American Journal of Family Therapy, 21(3), 205-215, 1993

Expanding the Parameters of Parental Alienation Syndrome

Glenn F. Cartwright
Department of Educational Psychology and Counselling, McGill University

3700 McTavish, Montreal, QC, Canada H3A 1Y2

Abstract

The newness of the parental alienation syndrome (PAS) compels its redefinition and refinement as new cases are observed and the phenomenon becomes better understood. New evidence suggests that alienation may be provoked by other than custodial matters, that cases of alleged sexual abuse may be virtual, that slow judgements by courts exacerbate the problem, that prolonged alienation of the child may trigger other forms of mental illness, and that too little remains known of the long term consequences to alienated children and their families.

Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS), first defined by Gardner (1985), results from the attempt by one parent (usually the custodial parent and usually but not always the mother) to behave in such a way as to alienate the child or children from the other parent. It includes a series of conscious programming techniques like “brainwashing” as well as subconscious and unconscious processes by the alienating parent combined with the child’s own contribution denigrating the allegedly hated parent (Gardner, 1992).

Gardner (1992) lists eight, broad manifestations indicative of PAS. First, there is a campaign of denigration in which there is the continuing profession of hatred of the absent parent by the child. This litany is easily evoked by teachers, lawyers, judges, or social workers and is often most strong in the presence of the “hated” parent. The child begins to withdraw from the lost parent, speaks indirectly (“You tell Daddy I don’t want to see him”), and avoids taking clothes or toys home from the lost parent to avoid “contaminating” the favored parent. Chameleon-like (Johnston, Campbell, & Mayers, 1985), the child may initially experiment, denigrating each parent while with the other, covering his or her tracks by extracting promises from each not to tell the other. However, as the years go by, the child learns that what “sells” best is whatever tale is told in the custodial home–the home base where most of the child’s time is spent. Children quickly learn on which side their bread is buttered.

Second, there are weak, frivolous, or absurd rationalizations given by the child for deprecating the lost parent. “He makes noise when he eats.” “He took me to Disneyland when I didn’t want to go.” “He always talks about moon rockets.” “He makes me take out the trash.” This is the child’s expression of a parallel phenomenon seen by lawyers in alienating parents:

…in parental alienation syndrome, the hostility of the alienating client just never seems to be reasonably linked to the seriousness of the incidents alleged. The alienating client often relies blithely on his child’s professed refusal to see the other parent as evidence of the inadequacy of the other parent (Goldwater, 1991, p. 125).

Coupled with this is a complete lack of ambivalence in both the alienating parent and the child which normally typifies all human relationships. Lawyers see it in their alienating clients:

The insistence upon the negative aspects of the spouse’s character and behaviour coupled with the inability to see existing or even potential positive traits in the spouse are manifestations of an alienating attitude. Such a client appears to objectify his spouse as an evil thing, no longer a person with at least a few redeeming qualities. There is a loss of the ambivalence which characterizes healthy human relationships. Indeed, such objectification of the spouse as “all bad” should be taken to be a sign of significant disorder in the client himself (Goldwater, 1991, pp. 125-126).

Similarly, PAS children …express themselves like perfect little photocopies of the alienating parent (Goldwater, 1991, p. 126) and can see no good in the lost parent and no bad in the loved parent. Given a list of “good” things the child did with the lost parent, the child will explain a few as being unenjoyable, others as being forced, still others as “all Dad’s idea”, and claim no memory of the rest. The process resembles amnesia wherein the child’s good memories appear to be completely destroyed.

Fourth, there is the contention that the decisions to reject the parent are the child’s. This is referred to by Gardner (1992) as the “Independent Thinker” phenomenon and is often invoked by alienating parents in courtroom testimony. “I want him to see his father but if he doesn’t want to, I will fight to the end to ensure his decision is respected.” However, as Goldwater (1991, p. 133) has argued:

No custodial parent would expect a judge to accept that the child be permitted not to attend school because he didn’t feel like going. Why then should a judge accept that a child not visit his other parent for the same reason?

Children who claim to be their own thinkers often use words and phrases of the alienating parent which belie their claim. Similarly, alienating parents often act in ways as that indicate the idea to reject a parent was not the child’s own. Says Gardner (1992):

Children are not born with genes that program them to reject a father. Such hatred is environmentally induced, and the most likely person to have brought about the alienation is the mother (p. 75).

Fifth, there is an almost automatic, reflexive support by the child for the loved parent. Understandably, this reflexive support may flow either from a belief that the loved parent is an ideal person who can do no wrong or from the child’s perception of the loved parent as the weaker of the two parents who needs defending.

Sixth, there is an almost complete absence of guilt regarding the feelings of the lost parent. “He doesn’t deserve to see me.” Gratitude for gifts, favors, or child support is non-existent. believes thatGardner (1992):

The lack of guilt here is not simply explained by cognitive immaturity (often the case of very young children), but is a statement of the degree to which children can be programmed to such points of cruelty that they are totally oblivious to the effects of their sadism on innocent victims (p. 77).

Seventh, is the presence of borrowed scenarios. The litanies the children produce have a rehearsed, coached quality to them and often include expressions and phrases of the loved parent. “Daddy’s new girlfriend is a whore!” Are these the words of a five-year-old?

Finally, there is an obvious spread of the animosity to the hated parent’s extended family. “His mother called me a brat.” Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins are all tarred with the same brush as the child argues that all they do is try to get him or her to “like” the lost parent.

Though these are the classic manifestations PAS, the newly recognized nature of the syndrome compels its definitional refinement and enlargement as new parameters are discovered. This is especially important given the contention that the problem is growing in our society and now affects 90% of all children in custody litigation (Gardner, 1992). The following observations suggest that the parameters of PAS may be wider than previously believed.

1. Parental alienation syndrome may be precipitated by parental disagreements on matters other than custody.

It was originally suggested that PAS was a relatively new disorder emanating principally from changes in the criteria by which custody was decided. These criteria basically concerned the court’s shift toward the best-interests-of-the-child presumption (favoring the placement of the child with the parent who would best meet the child’s needs) at the expense of the tender-years presumption (always favoring the placement of the child with the mother), and the court’s increasing preference for joint custody rather than sole custody placements. Since PAS is of a serious nature, it seemed reasonable to suppose that it would be provoked only by an equally serious emotional dispute, such as the question of custody is for most parents. However, while disagreement over custody remains implicated as the chief cause of PAS, it now appears that other, non-custodial disagreements on such matters as finance, property division, or child support may also trigger the syndrome by inducing an emotional climate conducive to PAS. This suggests that the etiology of PAS may be much broader than previously believed. If it is really the intensity of the emotional conflict between the estranged spouses which provokes PAS, then it must be wondered whether virtually any disagreement, serious or frivolous, may be a potential trigger. Similar parallels are found in other examples of human behavior: neighbors who stab each other over a noisy lawn mower and motorists who shoot each other over an illegal turn. To an observer, such consequent behavior is clearly out of proportion to the precipitating event. An illegal turn does not cause murder, but it may trigger an emotional state which does. So it may be with PAS. Whatever the precipitating disagreement, it may be just enough to trigger an irrational emotional state conducive to PAS.

Unfortunately, because PAS results from the interaction of the alienating parent with the child, wherein each reinforces the other, once the vicious circle has begun, it becomes self-reinforcing, complex to diagnose, and difficult to terminate. Complicating matters is the fact that PAS may be encouraged by third parties: a new spouse, new in-laws, or even unscrupulous lawyers whose wish it may be to extend rather than resolve the litigation.

2. Allegations of fabricated sexual abuse may be virtual.

Since the designation of PAS is inappropriate in cases where abuse is real, it has been customary (and necessary for the good of the child) first to distinguish between allegations of abuse that are real and those that are fabricated. Gardner (1991) has outlined how fabricated abuse may be detected. However, in the cases of fabricated abuse, a new and more subtle variety of allegation is beginning to appear. I have called these virtual allegations.They refer to those cases in which the abuse is only hinted, its real purpose being to cast aspersions on the character of the noncustodial parent in a continuing program of denigration. For the alienator, virtual allegations avoid the need to fabricate incidents of alleged abuse with their attendant possibility of detection and probability of punishment for perjury. For example, in one case, though no sexual abuse was ever alleged, it was hinted at in the allegation by the mother that the father had shown the child a rented videotape containing pornography. Though the videotape was a Hollywood comedy starring Chevy Chase rented from a family video store and chosen by the child, the mother asserted in court that the child was disappointed in the movie because it was suggestive, erotic, and pornographic. After interviewing the child extensively, the judge disagreed that the movie was pornographic and said that while the child was indeed disappointed with the film, it was not because the film was pornographic but because it wasn’t funny. The number of virtual allegations of abuse may be expected to increase in the future because of their more subtle nature, the greater difficulty in disproving them, and because judges and lawyers familiar with PAS are becoming increasingly skilled at detecting outright fabrications.

3. Time heals all wounds, except alienation.

There is some evidence that adolescents who experienced parental separation most recently were most likely to be affected adversely (Frost & Pakiz, 1990). While this tends to support the old adage that time heals all wounds, such is not the case with PAS, where the passage of time worsens rather than heals the affliction. This is not to say that time is unimportant: on the contrary, time remains a vital variable for all the players. To heal the relationship, the child requires quality time with the lost parent to continue and repair the meaningful association that may have existed since birth. This continued communication also serves as a reality check for the child to counter the effects of ongoing alienation at home. Likewise, the lost parent needs time with the child to ensure that contact is not completely lost and to prevent the alienation from completely destroying what may be left of a normal, loving relationship. Time used in these ways helps to counter the negative effects of alienation.

The alienating parent, on the other hand, requires time to complete the brainwashing of the child without interference. The manipulation of time becomes the prime weapon in the hands of the alienator who uses it to structure, occupy, and usurp the child’s time to prevent “contaminating” contact with the lost parent, depriving both of their right to spend time together and furthering the goal of total alienation. Unlike cases of child abuse where time away from the abuser sometimes helps in repairing a damaged relationship, in PAS time away from the lost parent furthers the goal of alienation. The usual healing properties of time are lost when it is used as the primary weapon to inflict injury on the lost parent by alienating the child.

There is another reason why time is so important a weapon in the hands of the alienator. With the passage of time, the child grows to be staunch collaborator. A judge who might not listen to a nine-year-old pleading not to see his or her father, might be more disposed to listen to an older, “wiser”, and more articulate thirteen-year-old. Spreading out the court proceedings over time not only aids in the brainwashing and contributes to the wearing down of the petitioner but ensures for the alienator a stronger child ally when a final court date is set.

So it is that time is often “bought” through false allegations, by assertions the child is in danger from contact with the lost parent, and by requests to the court for delays, continuances, and postponements. Sometimes even psychological assessment and psychiatric evaluation are pressed into service as part of the delaying tactic, then dropped when the sought-after delay has been achieved. On other occasions psycho-legal expertise is advanced …with the psychologist cast as the hired gun engaged to put forth to the court the negative opinion of the contesting parent under the guise of an “expertise” (Goldwater, 1991, p. 123). The goal of the alienator is crystalline: deprive the lost parent, not only of the child’s time, but of the time of childhood.

4. The degree of alienation in the child is directly proportional to the time spent alienating.

Alienation does not occur overnight. It is a gradual and consistent process that is directly related to the time spent alienating. The longer the child or children spend with the alienator, the more severe will be their alienation. Their supposed hatred of the lost parent does not lessen with time away from that parent but rather grows stronger, precisely because in the hands of the alienator they are continually taught hatred, have unlimited opportunity to practice that hatred, and have no time at all to learn an alternate response. This is one of the reasons why, in serious cases, Gardner (1992) recommends complete removal of the child from the alienating parent, with supervised visitation reinstated gradually.

5. Courts slow to render judgements may unwittingly further the alienating parent’s scheme of alienation.

The court needs time too, to assess each case. Taking the best interests of the child to be paramount, and always moving cautiously, the court must ensure that the child is in no danger and determine if the case is truly one of parental alienation. But once the determination of PAS has been made, speedy judgement must be rendered to stop the alienation process immediately. Both the child and the petitioning parent deserve no less. Unfortunately, court postponements and continuances are more often the rule than the exception. Proceedings which are dragged out after a determination of PAS has been made, judgements which fail to take into account fully the rights of the non-custodial parent, and unnecessary interim judgements and delays, however well-intentioned, sadly tend to favor the continuation of the custodial parent’s alienating behavior.

The judicial wish to maintain the status quo in the lives of children pending the outcome of hotly contested litigation may work in favour of an alienating custodial parent. The longer the children are in a non-supportive environment, the further they will drift away from their non-custodial parent (Goldwater, 1991, p. 130).

While there is no denying that courts have a difficult job at best, on balance it would appear that the prevailing tendency has been toward delaying judgement in the hope that the problem will go away, solve itself, or at the very least prove that no judgement is preferable to a wrong judgement. Courts must resist this tendency which doubtless is harmful to PAS children in the long run. More than two decades ago, Watson (1970, p.64) wrote of the court’s slowness in rendering decisions:

The most serious aspect of these vacillating and dilatory tactics is the effect they have on the children. As will be noted, one of the critical aspects of a child’s development is the need for stability in order to develop a sense of identity. When a child is kept suspended, never quite knowing what will happen to him next, he must likewise suspend the shaping of his personality. This is a devastating result and probably represents one of the greatest risks which current procedures pose for children.

Little seems to have changed: where PAS is concerned, it remains a case of “Justice delayed is lost parent denied.”

6. Forceful judgement is required to counter the force of alienation.

The role of the court in cases of PAS goes beyond simply deciding custody issues. First, the precedent of clear, forceful judgement may deter some parents from beginning the alienation of their children. As Levy (1992, p. 277) has noted:

If parents who engage in PAS know that aware judges may give custody to the innocent parent, and perhaps even apply sanctions against parents who use a child to prevent the other parent’s access to the child, the PAS, which is itself a form of child abuse, may suffer a fatal and well-deserved setback.

Second, clear and forceful judgements serve to put an immediate stop to the alienating practices (Palmer, 1988). Family courts can often be of great service in helping to work out a variety of family problems. However, in cases of PAS, courts which try to act as social workers using a “let’s-talk-this-over-and-come-to-some-agreement” approach inevitably fail when one of the feuding parties is insincere and has little wish to solve the problem. The reason is that insincerity, conscious or unconscious, is one of the hallmarks of the alienating parent. While negotiation is often the solution in other forms of litigation, it tends not to work in cases of PAS. In these circumstances, the lack of a swift, clear, forceful judgment is often perceived by the alienator as denoting approval of the alienating behavior. This tends to reinforce the behavior and renders a great disservice to both the child and the petitioning parent. Courts must do more to help; they must not fall victim to the alienator’s scheme of stalling for time in order to continue the program of vilification.

7. Excessive alienation may trigger mental illness in the child.

Johnston, Campbell, and Mayers (1985) reported that one response of latency children (6-12 years) to parental conflict was to act in a diffusely disturbed manner exhibiting anxiety, tension, depression, and psychosomatic illness. Consideration needs to be given to the question of what happens in the long run to children who are alienated. Is the problem self-limiting in that even alienation-caused wounds will heal as the child reaches adulthood? Unfortunately, alienation can become so powerful as to trigger other forms of mental and emotional illness with resultant maladaptive behavior. In one instance, an alienated son tried to poison his father by slipping air freshener into his stomach medicine. The boy later ran away during a non-custodial visit and the police had to be called. The likelihood of such disintegrating behavior during non-custodial visits increases in direct proportion to the amount of alienation experienced by the child at home.

8. Little is known about the medium and long term effects of parental alienation syndrome on its victims.

Perhaps the greatest gap in our understanding of the syndrome remains our lack of knowledge of what happens to the victims of PAS over the medium and long term. The short term consequences are known and obvious. The alienator experiences the sweetness of revenge and the thrill of “victory.” The non-custodial parent experiences the anguish of the loss of a child, or worse, children. One set of grandparents, relatives, and friends are similarly affected and summarily dismissed. Far more serious is the effect on the child who experiences a great loss, the magnitude of which is akin to the death of a parent, two grandparents, and all the lost parent’s relatives and friends, all at once! It can readily be seen that this represents a staggering loss for a child even greater than the actual death of one parent. Moreover, since the child is unable to acknowledge the loss, much less mourn it, it becomes a major tragedy of monumental proportions in the life of the child, the seriousness of which cannot be overestimated.

These are the known and relatively short term consequences. What about medium term effects? The medium term effects concern the continued absence (as opposed to initial loss) of the lost parent (and grandparents, relatives, and friends) and the effect this has on the child’s development. Ordinary children who have grown up without a parent or grandparent often report “something missing” in their childhood. What is lost, of course, is the day-to-day interaction, the learning, the support, and the love that normally flows from parents and grandparents. While in the case of a death such loss is unavoidable, in the case of PAS such a loss is entirely avoidable and therefore inexcusable.

What about the long term effects? Everyone involved in PAS suffers some degree of distress over the long term. Hopefully, this includes the alienator who, despite the initial exhilaration of “winning,” should hardly find the entire experience pleasurable. In later years, even if alienators do not experience some guilt or regret over their actions, they may develop some sympathy for their children of whom they deprived of a parent.

The non-custodial parent experiences both loss and yet continuing concern for the child. The anguish is akin to that felt by parents when a child goes missing. Since the lack of contact with the child may continue for years, the sense of loss can continue for a similar period. Grandparents suffer needlessly and often seriously. Gardner (1992) reports the cases of at least two grandmothers, in otherwise good health, who died of broken hearts, figuratively, over the loss of their grandchildren.

Of course, it is the child who suffers most. In the early stage, the child experiences not only loss of a parent, but the continual barrage of denigration of the lost parent, grandparents, relatives, and friends. Bad enough to lose a parent; worse still to have the good memories of that parent, relatives, and friends deliberately and systematically destroyed.

In the second stage, perhaps years later, the child begins to comprehend what has really happened. The realization of having believed the alienator, of having wrongly rejected the lost parent, and worse, of having been a pliable accomplice and willing contributor, can produce powerful feelings of guilt. The unfortunate consequences of these feelings may be a backlash against the alienating parent. Says Goldwater (1991, p. 128):

When such a child becomes an adult, the awareness of the enforced absence of the alienated parent for those many years may have a devastating impact and leave long-term feelings of guilt and loss. The alienating parent may then suffer the wrath his adult child feels for having precipitated this loss, and be in turn shut out of the child’s life.

Serious emotional problems may ensue. For children to make a successful adjustment, an enormous task faces them: avoiding the tendency of the backlash response to the alienating parent, forgiving that parent, and maintaining a good relationship with that parent; and restoring good memories of the lost parent (which are often wiped out in PAS) and resuming a normal relationship with the lost parent if that parent is still alive, available, and willing. The re-establishment of the relationship with the lost parent is, naturally, a huge task. It involves making up for lost time and experiences, understanding cognitively and emotionally what has happened during the alienation process, re-learning how to interact with the lost parent, restoring a loving relationship, and planning the continuance of the relationship in the future. Therapy for both child and lost parent may be required. On top of this, the child must learn at this late date how to “juggle” the perhaps still feuding parents–a skill which most children of divorced parents usually learn much earlier. These are no small tasks and all this presupposes the child survives the teenage years without other serious emotional, mental, or behavioral problems which often accompany adolescence.

All being well, one would hope that eventual adjustment for these children would be possible. Negative factors which mediate against successful adjustment include the unwillingness or emotional inability of the lost parent to become reinvolved, the absence or death of the lost parent, and the passing on of the grandparents and other relatives and friends leaving an unfillable void in the life of the child.

9. Further research is needed.

While longitudinal studies have related child and adolescent adjustment following parental separation to a variety of variables such as age, gender, frequency and regularity of visitation (cf. Healy, Malley, & Stewart, 1990), what is so terribly lacking in the literature is any kind of longitudinal study to follow PAS children to ascertain what happens to them. What are the long term effects on these children as they enter adulthood? To what degree can their relationship with their lost parent be re-established? Is their relationship with the alienating parent permanently harmed in later adulthood? What happens to PAS children who permanently lose their non-custodial parent through death without ever re-establishing a relationship? Is their guilt intensified and if so, how do they handle it? Can their relationship with their lost parent, and for that matter with their alienating parent, ever approach normalcy? What does this do to their own parenting skills and how does it affect their bringing up their own children? If their relationship with their lost parent is not re-established, then the lost parent may eventually become a lost grandparent. What impact will this have on the grandchildren?

10. The problem of parental alienation syndrome is much more serious than previously imagined.

Viewed in this light, the problem of PAS appears to be extremely serious. We often speak of the preserving family values, but even disintegrated nuclear families have values and rights (like child visitation) which must be preserved and respected to prevent further disintegration and total collapse. To do less, is to sacrifice entire generations of children on the altar of alienation, condemning them to familial maladjustment and inflicting on them lifelong parental loss.

References

Frost, A.K. & Pakiz, B. (1990). The effects of marital disruption on adolescents: time as a dynamic. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 60(4), 544-555.

Goldwater, A. (1991). Le syndrome d’aliénation parentale (in English). Développements récents en droit familial (1991). Cowansville, QC: Les Éditions Yvon Blais. pp. 121­145.

Gardner, R. (1985). Recent trends in divorce and custody litigation. Academy Forum, 29(2): 3-7.

Gardner, R. (1989). Psychotherapeutic and legal approaches to the three types of parental alienation syndrome families. In Family evaluation in child custody mediation, arbitration, and litigation. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics.

Gardner, R. (1991). Parental alienation syndrome and the differentiation between fabricated and genuine child sex abuse. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics.

Gardner, R. (1992). Parental alienation syndrome: A guide for mental health and legal professionals. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics.

Healy, J., Malley, J., & Stewart, A. (1990). Children and their fathers after parental separation. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 60(4), 531-543.

Johnston, J., Campbell, L., & Mayers, S. (1985). Latency children in post separation and divorce disputes. Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, 24, 563-574.

Levy, D. (1992). [Review of Parental alienation syndrome: A guide for mental health and legal professionals.] American Journal of Family Therapy, 20(3), 276-277.

Palmer, N. (1988). Legal recognition of the parental alienation syndrome. American Journal of Family Therapy, 16(4), 360-363.

Watson, A.S. (1970). The children of Armageddon: Problems of custody following divorce. Syracuse Law Review, 21, 55-86.

Expanding the Parameters of Parental Alienation Syndrome.

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