mkg4583

Archive for the ‘Protective Parents’ Category

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.

House Divided: Hate Thy Father | Psychology Today

In adoption abuse, Alienation of Affection, Autism, Best Interest of the Child, California Parental Rights Amendment, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Child Custody for Mothers, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, Civil Rights, CPS, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, DSM-IV, DSM-V, due process rights, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Protective Dads, Protective Parents, Restraining Orders, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, Single Parenting on December 30, 2009 at 7:30 pm

House Divided: Hate Thy Father

In 1978, after Cathy Mannis and her future husband moved into the same cooperative at U.C. Berkeley, they ran into each other often. She was not immediately smitten. “I detested him at first, and I should have stayed with that feeling,” recalls Cathy Mannis of her now ex-husband. “He was overweight and always very critical. Then he lost weight, became cuter, and started paying attention to me. He was going to be a doctor and he seemed so trustworthy; he said he would never desert his family as his own father had done to him.” They started dating, and she ultimately cared for him enough to marry him. “I thought he’d be a good father, and I was dying to be a mother. I thought we’d have a good life.”

She worked full-time as a legal secretary to put him through medical school. She also bought the two of them a town house with money she’d saved before marriage. When she gave birth to a boy, Matt (not his real name), she was as happy as she’d ever been. Over time, she saw signs that her husband was cheating on her, but she always forgave him.

Their second son, Robby, was born autistic, and things went downhill fast. The boy had speech and learning problems and was frequently out of control. Her husband was appalled. “He’s dumber than a fish,” he said.

Still, they had one more child, Harry (the name has been changed), hoping to give Matt a sibling without Robby’s problems. Harry turned out normal, but he bonded most closely with Robby; they became inseparable.

When Cathy once again became convinced her husband was cheating—he inexplicably never came home one night—she finally threw him out. He filed for divorce before she could forgive him again.

Cathy was granted primary custody of the kids, and her ex soon married the woman he’d been seeing on the side. Because of all she had to do to help Robby as well as her other two kids, Cathy could no longer hold a full-time job. Meanwhile, her ex declared two bankruptcies and, at one point, even mental disability, all of which kept alimony payments to a trickle.

Eventually Cathy was so broke that her electricity was turned off; she and the boys ate dinner by candlelight. Then she became so ill she had to be hospitalized for life-threatening surgery. She had no choice but to leave the kids with her ex. “He promised to return them when my health and finances improved,” she says.

That was almost seven years ago. Her health has long since returned and she has a good job she can do from home, but the only child ever restored to her, despite nonstop court battles, was Robby. In fact, her ex got the courts to rule that the children should be permanently separated, leaving the other two children with him, since Robby was a “threat” to his younger brother’s well-being.

Through all those years, Cathy says she faced a campaign of systematic alienation from Matt and Harry. “When I called to speak to them, I was usually greeted with coldness or anger, and often the boys weren’t brought to the phone. Then my ex sent letters warning me not to call them at home at all. Whenever the kids came to stay with me, they’d report, ‘Dad says you’re evil. He says you wrecked the marriage.’ ” Then he moved thousands of miles away, making it vastly more difficult for her to see her children.

As time has passed, the boys have increasingly pulled away. Matt, now grown and serving in the military, never speaks to Cathy. Thirteen-year-old Harry used to say, “Mommy, why can’t I stay with you? All the other kids I know live with their moms,” before leaving visits with her. Now he often appears detached from her and uninterested in Robby, whom he once adored. His friends at his new home think his stepmother is his mom, because that’s how she introduces herself. “She told me she would take my kids, and she did. The alienation is complete,” rues Cathy. “All I ever wanted was to be a mom.”

Divorcing parents have long bashed each other in hopes of winning points with kids. But today, the strategy of blame encompasses a psychological concept of parental alienation that is increasingly used—and misused—in the courts.

On the one hand, with so many contentious divorces, parents like Cathy Mannis have been tragically alienated from the children they love. On the other hand, parental alienation has been seized as a strategic tool in custody fights, its effects exploited in the courtroom, often to the detriment of loving parents protecting children from true neglect or abuse. With the impact of alienation so devastating—and false accusations so prevalent—it may take a judge with the wisdom of Solomon to differentiate between the two faces of alienation: a truly toxic parent and his or her victimized children versus manipulation of the legal system to claim damage where none exists.

A Symptom Of Our Time?

Disturbed by the potential for alienation, many divorce courts have today instituted aggressive steps to intervene where they once just stood by. And with good reason: Alienation is ruinous to all involved. “In pathological or irrational alienation, the parent has done nothing to deserve that level of hatred or rejection from the child,” explains University of Texas psychologist Richard Warshak, author of Divorce Poison: Protecting the Parent-Child Bond from a Vindictive Ex. “It often seems to happen almost overnight, and neither the rejected parent nor even the rejecting child understands why.”

Often, in fact, it’s the emotionally healthier parent who gets rejected, Warshak adds. That parent tends to understand that it’s not in the child’s best interests to lose the other parent. In contrast, the alienating parent craves revenge against the ex—then uses the child to exact that punishment. “It’s a form of abuse,” Warshak says. “Both parent and child are victims.”

House Divided: Hate Thy Father | Psychology Today.

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.

Tips for co-parenting with a Sociopath

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Child Custody for Mothers, Child Support, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Marriage, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Protective Parents, Restraining Orders, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine on December 21, 2009 at 5:54 pm

LETTERS TO LOVEFRAUD: Tips for co-parenting with a sociopath

Lovefraud received the following e-mail from a woman who we’ll call “Penny.” She’s been in a custody battle with the father of her child, who she believes is a sociopath. Although Penny has been able to gain full physical and legal custody of the child, and has a restraining order against the father, he still has visitation so Penny must deal with child exchanges. She’s provided the following tips for others who are in similar situations.

1. STAY STRONG IN GOD! I know that this is difficult at times because I myself have been tried so much. Go to church regularly and tell the pastor(s) and counselors at your church what you are dealing with and ask them and the congregation to pray for you. Pray and read your Bible. If you are not religious you might want to try this out anyway or meditate to bring peace to your soul. It is absolutely necessary that you find some peace in a situation that is utter chaos and dysfunction.

2. DO NOT TAKE THEIR BAIT! I have read on several websites (including this one), and books like The Sociopath Next Door, by Dr. Martha Stout, and also Without Conscience, by Dr. Robert Hare, that stress this very point. I found this out the hard way and have learned from experience that this only adds to the problem because the sociopath is often trying to get a reaction out of you. Reacting or retaliating against the sociopath only fuels the fire. Although it might sound cliché, one can only truly and successfully fight evil with goodness, especially in this case.

3. DOCUMENT EVERYTHING! Sociopaths (as my ex is) are pathological liars and are bound to contradict themselves in their stories. Thorough logs of all events with the sociopath and also supporting documents such as emails, police documents, medical records, court documents, etc., can all be of help when dealing with a sociopath in a situation such as this. When the time is right (sometimes its smart to let time go by so that the sociopath can implicate, perjure, and hang him/herself some more) you might decide to file the appropriate paperwork in court (i.e. Order to Show Cause for custody and visitation, declarations, motions for contempt of court, etc.) and attach the documents that you have been logging and saving as exhibits/evidence to your court papers (you can ask an attorney, paralegal, or family law self help center or other similar groups how to do this). If you have the financial resources, you might want to consider a deposition as another opportunity to let the animal perjure him/herself some more.

4. REQUEST EXPLICIT COURT ORDERS! I have found through personal experience that sociopaths will exploit and take advantage of any ambiguity or vagueness in court orders to create complete and utter chaos. You must push for detailed court orders when you go to court to prevent this from happening.

5. IF POSSIBLE, ASK THE COURT TO ARRANGE CHILD EXCHANGES AT LOCAL POLICE DEPARTMENTS! Doing this eliminates the opportunity of having to interact with the sociopath at your home or his/her home as well as other places that are easy for chaos to occur. Arrive at the exchange early and let the officers know that you are there for a child exchange (make sure you always have the court orders with you so that the police can see it if need be) and you can ask the desk officers if they can monitor the exchange.

6. HAVE PEOPLE OTHER THAN YOU THAT YOU TRUST AND ARE GOOD PEOPLE DO THE EXCHANGE OF YOUR CHILD(REN) IF POSSIBLE! Making yourself as invisible as possible might increase the chances of cutting the sociopath out of your life since he or she will no longer be able to see you sweat. Remember to always stay calm and collected when the sociopath tries to anger you (you can cry and vent in private) even and especially in court.

7. BE CAUTIOUS IN STATING THAT YOUR EX IS A SOCIOPATH! Many people, including the courts, child welfare organizations, lawyers, etc., are not familiar with this devastating disorder and as a result do not know how to respond properly to the warning signs (as many of us did not know how to until we were caught in a complex web of deception). Therefore, focus on proving the behavior of the sociopath in court using the strategies I suggested earlier and do not accuse your ex as being a sociopath in court. They will not take this seriously since you are probably not a professional licensed to make such a diagnosis.

8. PUSH FOR COMMUNICATION BETWEEN YOU AND THE EX TO BE THROUGH EMAIL ONLY WHEN YOU GO TO COURT! Communication using this vehicle of communication helps to eliminate the possibility of he said/she said. Websites such as www.ourfamilywizard.com are excellent because they provide an opportunity for you to communicate with your ex via email and all the communication is safe and secure and can easily be printed out (all emails also include the date and exact time the emails were sent and viewed by the other party and also include the time any printed emails are generated). Also, the website allows you to input your parenting schedules, input medical information for the child, and offers a journal, free children’s accounts to the child(ren) involved and can also offer professional accounts for minor’s counsel and possible others to oversee the account and monitor what is going on.

9. PUSH THE COURT FOR PERMISSION TO VIDEO OR TAPE RECORD EXCHANGES AND MAKE SURE THIS IS WRITTEN IN THE COURT ORDER! Doing this helps to eliminate any possibility for potential chaos.

10. GET ALL INFORMATION STRAIGHT FROM THE SOURCE! Do not rely on any information the sociopath provides you. Always verify all information concerning the child or children with their doctors, teachers, counselors, etc. If possible have the child(ren’s) doctors, teachers, counselors, etc. document all information they give you.

11. DO NOT CUT THE SOCIOPATH ANY SLACK! Record and document any and all violations of court orders. Recording these violations may be helpful when you go to court.

12. HIRE AN EXPERIENCED COMPETENT ATTORNEY, AND IF POSSIBLE ONE THAT HAS EXPERIENCE IN DEALING WITH SOCIOPATHS OR OTHER SIMILAR PERSONALITY DISORDERS! Child custody cases involving sociopaths are complicated and need the skill, experience, and know-how of a professional.

13. TRUST YOUR GUT! Oftentimes, we doubt our intuitions when we shouldn’t. In my personal experience I found that there were warning signs but did not respond to them as I should have because I took the signs lightly. Likewise, when I was drawn into my ex’s net of deception and chaos, I knew something was wrong, and attempted to explain what I believed was wrong with my ex to my previous attorney, but the attorney did not understand and discouraged me from engrossing myself in research. She stated that doing so could help me to become emotionally and mentally unstable (the attorney did not have experience in dealing with such complex personalities and so did not know how to properly respond to my ex’s actions). I later decided to trust my gut and continued with my research. Through research, trial and error, I have learned how to better deal with my ex and I do not respond to his baits (my ex has accused me of being a sociopath and has falsely accused me of harassing him).

14. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF! Living well is truly the best revenge. As difficult as it may be, try not to let the sociopath make you a bitter, angry, mean person. Remember the ultimate goal of the sociopath is to frustrate you. Enjoy your child(ren) while they are with you and let them know that you love them. Listen to them and model what real love looks like while they are in your care. Let them see you in loving relationships with other people. Criticize their actions and not them in private and DO NOT talk badly about the other parent in their presence (this can give the other parent an opportunity to bring parental alienation charges against you); instead you can let them know that actions like the ones their parents are exhibiting are wrong and hurtful to others and that this behavior is undesirable. Also, don’t forget to eat (like I have in the past), exercise, sleep, and laugh! Do not under any circumstances allow the sociopath to rob you of your ability to laugh.

written by Donna AndersenPermalink

Lovefraud Blog » Blog Archive » LETTERS TO LOVEFRAUD: Tips for co-parenting with a sociopath.

Mental Health Professionals’ Opinion of Parental Alienation

In Activism, Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Marriage, Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parents rights, Protective Dads, Protective Parents, Restraining Orders on December 18, 2009 at 7:13 pm
Mental Health Professionals’ Opinion of Parental Alienation

“‘The long-term implications [of alienation] are pretty severe,’ says Amy Baker, director of research at the Vincent J. Fontana Center for Child Protection in New York and a contributing author of Bernet’s proposal. In a study culminating in a 2007 book, Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome, she interviewed 40 ’survivors’ and found that many were depressed, guilt ridden, and filled with self-loathing. Kids develop identity through relationships with both their parents, she says. When they are told one is no good, they believe, ‘I’m half no good.”–US News and World Report, 10/29/09

“I have seen the very real existence of Parental Alienation Syndrome in case after case where one parent is enraged at the other and proceeds to poison the children against the ‘enemy’ parent. While many times it is a father who is demonized by an angry mother, the gender of the parent being turned into a ‘monster’ by the custodial parent can be reversed. Who the victim of P.A.S. turns out to be is entirely dependent upon the willingness of the parent with physical custody to ‘brainwash’ a child against the other parent. The loss of the child’s relationship to the hated ex-spouse delivers a message that this is the price you will pay for getting a divorce.”–Harvard Medical School Psychiatry Professor Henry J. Friedman, New York Times, 10/17/08.

“In some cases, it’s clear that the child is actively being taught to hate the parent”–Dr. Richard A. Warshak, author of Divorce Poison.

“‘Anyone who works in the field of forensic psychology in the context of divorce will say, yes, it’s possible for a child to be turned away from a loving parent. Everybody knows that happens’”–custody consultant J. Michael Bone, Ph.D., US News and World Report, 10/29/09

“[Court-ordered visitation can] be entangled with Medea-like rage…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.”–Psychologist Judith S. Wallerstein and Sandra Blakeslee

“‘Strong alignment’ [with one parent means] the child consistently denigrated and rejected the other parent. Often, this was accompanied by an adamant refusal to visit, communicate, or have anything to do with the rejected parent…Strong alignments are probably most closely related to the behavioral phenomenon Gardner referred to as parental alienation syndrome…”–Janet Johnston, PhD

“I’ve seen several dramatic cases where the father was the alienator. In one case, the father had no control over his obsession to trash the mother.

“Numerous professionals told him, including the mother, that he could have shared custody if he would be willing to follow the rules. He didn’t have the self-control to do this.”–Dr. Jayne A. Major

Bookmark This Post:

Colman’s Parental Alienation Research

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Marriage, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Protective Dads, Protective Parents, Restraining Orders on December 11, 2009 at 8:14 pm

Colman’s Parental Alienation Research 6/4/2009 I wanted to analyze how the courts of Canada were addressing the challenge of parental alienation.  With the assistance of some students, we looked into the two major case data bases:  Quicklaw and E-Carswell (up to January 31, 2009).  We endeavoured to summarize all of the cases where the court made a finding that Parental Alienation existed based on the facts of the particular case.

SAMPLE: We found a total of 74 cases where parental alienation was found to exist.  The time frame was from 1987 to Jan. 31/09.  The division by gender was:

  • Mother alienator: 50
  • Father alienator:  24

FREQUENCY OF RESIDENCE CHANGE

I wondered how frequently the court had changed custody from the alienator parent to the target parent.  Here is what we found:

  • Of the 50 mother alienator cases, the courts changed residence to the father target parent in 31 of them (62.0%).
  • Of the 24 father alienator cases, the courts changed residence to the mother target parent in 19 of them (79.2%).

I wondered if there was any difference in the more recent cases.  From 2001 to Jan. ’09, here is what the data showed re residence change:

  • Mother alienators have had residence changed 25/35 = 71.4% of the time.
  • Father alienators have had residence changed 14/18 = 77.8% of the time.

FREQUENCY OF ACCESS BEING GRANTED TO ALIENATOR PARENT

When the court changes custody, the court can either grant access to the alienator parent or the court can deny all access to the alienator.  All access is denied (at least for a period of time) to enable the target parent to re-establish a relationship with the child free from the alienator parent continuing to undermine that relationship.  I wondered how frequently access was being granted or denied to the alienator parent when the child’s residence is changed to the target parent.  Here is what we found:

  • Recall from above that of  the 50 mother alienator cases, the courts changed residence to the father target parent in 31 of them (62.0%). Of those 31 cases, the court granted access to the mother alienator in 26 of them (83.9%) and denied access to the mother alienator in only 5 of those 31 cases (16.1%).
  • Recall from above that of  the 24 father alienator cases, the courts changed residence to the mother target parent in 19 of those 24 cases (79.2%). Of those 19 cases, the court granted access to the father alienator in 12 cases (63.2%) and denied access to the father alienator in 7 (36.8%) of those 19 cases.

FREQUENCY OF COUNSELING BEING ORDERED

Counseling can be an effective means to begin to repair relationships and educate parents.  (Of course, much depends on the skill of the counselor and the willingness of a parent to receive guidance.)  I wondered to what extent the courts were requiring the children and parents to participate in counseling.  Here is what we found:

  • Of the 50 mother alienator cases, the courts ordered counseling in 12 cases (24.0%).
  • Of the 24 father alienator cases, the courts ordered counseling in 13 cases (54.2%).
  • Where the mother was the alienator, she was ordered into some form of counseling on 7 of the 50 occasions, or 14%.
  • Where the father was the alienator, he was ordered into some form of counseling on 7 of the 24 occasions, or 29.2%.
  • Of the 16 cases during 2008 plus the one case reported in January 2009, the court ordered counseling in nine of them.  Within those nine cases, the alienator was ordered into counseling in four of them and it was “suggested” that counseling be undertaken in two additional cases.

I am happy to report that there is some reason to be optimistic with respect to how the law is developing in Canada. It would appear to me that the courts of Canada are increasingly taking more drastic measures to ameliorate the effects of parental alienation.  From changing residence, to counseling for all concerned, to making contempt findings (not discussed in the above summary) -  the tendency appears to be in favour of proactively addressing the problem.  The conventional wisdom years ago was that “time heals”.  It is my view (and that of many other professionals who have expertise in this area) that time often does not heal.  Resolute action is required.  Judges seem to be  increasingly aware how important it is to ensure that children are enabled to have a relationship with both parents.

Issues that still need to be proactively addressed include:

  • Obtaining a speedy remedy from the court (many P.A. cases take years to come to trial);
  • Obtaining a cost effective remedy from the court (legal fees tend to be quite high in P.A. cases);
  • Encouraging the court to enforce its own orders immediately upon learning of a violation (courts historically would warn misbehaving parents numerous times before any action would be taken);
  • Instituting procedural reforms in family courts so that high conflict cases such as P.A. cases are managed by one judge (case management exists on paper in some jurisdictions but it is rare for one particular judge to take full control of a case).

I presented my research findings at the First International Symposium for Parental Alienation Syndrome in Toronto on March 27, 2009.  A more comprehensive report is currently being prepared for publication.

Gene C. Colman

March 31, 2009

Colman’s Parental Alienation Research.

Real Protective Parents Never Call Themselves “Protective Parents”

In Best Interest of the Child, Civil Rights, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Fit Parent, Marriage, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Protective Parents, Restraining Orders on December 7, 2009 at 12:53 am

Many father’s and families rights activists hear the term protective parents used by those parents who make false allegations in court all the time.

Court Judges, Commissioners, Attorneys and Psychologists KNOW that what you say about the other parent is what you are saying about your own CHILD.  Children know this intuitively.  If children know you hate  mom or dad, then your children know you hate them.  After all, they are half the other parent.  Children are not stupid, but one wonders about “Protective parents.”

It is time to set the record straight.

Real Protective Parents

1. Never make allegations against the other parent in court, and NEVER make them in the presence of their children.

2. Never refer to themselves as protective parents.  It is a code word, listed below.

3. Support efforts to have Parental Alienation recognized by courts and the American Psychological Association, and never keep a child away from the other.

4. Never refer to their ex-spouse as abuser, drug addict, alcoholic,  neither in court, on the Internet, and NEVER before their children.

5. Encourage the children to see the other parent, actively support the children’s involvement with the other parent.

6. Cooperate with the other parent to raise the children through co-parenting.

7. Never use a restraining order against the other parent as a sword, instead only obtain one as a shield for themselves alone.

The term protective parent is code word that non-custodial mothers groups  invented after losing their children in family court action when they violated one of the basic cannons recognized by family court as be a fit parent.

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.

Michael Robinson is now Fathers & Families’ full-time legislative representative in Sacramento

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Children and Domestic Violence, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, deadbeat dads, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Violence, due process rights, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fathers rights, Marriage, National Parents Day, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parental Rights Amendment, Protective Dads, Protective Parents, Restraining Orders, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, Single Parenting on November 21, 2009 at 12:21 am

A Major Announcement from Fathers & Families

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

By Glenn Sacks, MA for Fathers & Families

In a move that will change the course of the family court reform movement, Fathers & Families has just hired two experienced, accomplished legislative representatives. Soon we will be launching campaigns in support of our family court reform legislation—to get involved, please click here.

California

Readers of www.GlennSacks.com are familiar with Michael Robinson’s work in Sacramento on family court reform legislation, and Robinson and I have often worked together. In 2004 and again in 2006, we helped scuttle two bills (SB 730 and SB 1482) that would have led to unrestricted post-divorce move-aways. This was an important victory for California’s children of divorce, and one that surprised many Sacramento insiders, including Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters.

Robinson and I also worked together to pass family law legislation to help military parents (SB 1082) and on shared parenting and domestic violence reform bills. In 2007 and again this year, Robinson helped build a professional coalition to scuttle AB 612, a bill that would have banned target parents of Parental Alienation from raising PA as an issue in their cases.

Robinson has also been instrumental in passing legislation on paternity fraud (AB 252 and SB 1333), noncustodial parents’ access to school records (AB 164), Collaborative Law (AB 402, AB 189, AB 3051), and protection for disabled veterans with child support obligations (SB 285). He helped create the COAP program, which allows mothers and fathers who are unfairly saddled with inflated, unpayable child support arrearages to settle them for modest cash payments.

Michael Robinson is now Fathers & Families‘ full-time legislative representative in Sacramento, and we will be introducing several family court reform bills into the California legislature in February. Starting soon, Fathers & Families activists will be meeting with legislators throughout the state. We want your participation–to get involved, please click here.

Massachusetts

Enzo Pastore, our new deputy director, has worked on health care reform legislation in Washington DC, Albany, NY, and Boston, MA for 15 years. Pastore designed and promoted model prescription drug legislation that was introduced in 27 states in 2001. He led a successful legislative campaign in New York in 2007 to fund special housing for senior citizens and the disabled. In 2005, he helped defeat a federal Bush initiative that would have drastically cut Medicaid funding and services.

In January, we will launch our campaign to pass HB 1400, the Massachusetts Shared Parenting bill, and Pastore will be spearheading our campaign.

Through Fathers & Families’ efforts, over one-quarter of the Massachusetts Legislature has expressed clear, public support for our Shared Parenting Bill, many of them signing on as co-sponsors. We gathered thousands of signatures to place shared parenting on the 2004 Massachusetts ballot and led a successful campaign for its passage, winning 86% of the vote. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick told the Legislature that if they pass Fathers & Families’ Shared Parenting, he will sign it, and F & F recently met with Governor Patrick.

We need volunteers to meet with legislators, do media work, and help build our campaign–to volunteer, please click here.

Federal Legislation, plus Legislation in Texas & Many Other States

Robinson has worked with legislators and staffers in many other states on military parent legislation, and many states have passed bills modeled in part on SB 1082, the military parents bill we passed in California in 2005. These include: Florida, North Carolina, Arizona, Ohio, Michigan, Oklahoma, Utah, Mississippi, Alaska, Missouri, and others.

Robinson worked with Texas Senator Jane Nelson to pass SB 279, a bill to protect military parents’ custody rights which was signed by Texas Governor Rick Perry earlier this year.

Robinson worked with Mark Sullivan, Committee Chair of the Family Law Section of the American Bar Association’s Military Committee, on the National Defense Reauthorization Act (HR 2647), which was signed by President Obama last month. The bill mandates that the Secretary of Defense produce a report on child custody litigation involving members of the Armed Forces, as well as international intrafamilial abductions of servicemembers’ children.

The Secretary of Defense will submit its report to the Armed Services Committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives by the end of March. Robinson says:

“Fathers & Families can play a major role in the implementation of this legislation. We need to make sure that the impact isn’t watered down, that it’s powerful, not sugar-coated.”

This problem affects both fathers and mothers who serve. If you are a military mother or father whose custody rights have been adversely affected due to your service, we want to make sure your story is included in the Secretary of Defense’s report. To submit your story for inclusion, please fill out our form here.

Prominent Biotechnology Executive Mark Benedyk, PhD Joins Our Board of Directors

Dr. Benedyk is the head of The Pfizer Incubator, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Pfizer, Inc., the world’s largest research-based pharmaceutical company. The Pfizer Incubator was initiated by Pfizer to support life science start-ups and to explore novel approaches to discovering new medicines.

Dr. Benedyk has over 15 years experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, where he has been involved in business development, product management, and corporate fundraising. His business strategy and fundraising skills will be invaluable for Fathers & Families, and we welcome him as our newest national board member.

What You Can Do

Experienced legislative experts like Robinson and Pastore cost money, as does the organizational work we do surrounding their efforts–please make a tax-deductible gift to support our important work by clicking here.

One very affordable way to help build Fathers & Families is to make a monthly gift–to do so, click here and enter an amount under “monthly contribution.”

The Family Court Reform Movement will not progress unless we engage in the political process on a professional level, as our opponents do.

Fathers & Families has the largest membership base, the highest media profile, the most funding, and now the best legislative advocates of any family court reform organization. The time to take this movement to a higher level is now, and it takes money to do it–please give generously by clicking here.

To volunteer to help, please 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

A Major Announcement from Fathers & Families | Glenn Sacks on MND.

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 Syndrome: How to Detect It and What to Do About It

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Children and Domestic Violence, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Department of Social Servies, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, Family Rights, fatherlessness, fathers rights, mothers rights, Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parental Rights Amendment, Parents rights, Protective Dads, Protective Parents, Restraining Orders on November 6, 2009 at 1:45 am

by J. Michael Bone and Michael R. Walsh
THE FLORIDA BAR JOURNAL, VOL. 73, No. 3, MARCH 1999, p 44-48

Although parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is a familiar term, there is still a great deal of confusion and unclarity about its nature, dimensions, and, therefore, its detection.(1) Its presence, however, is unmistakable. In a longitudinal study of 700 “high conflict” divorce cases followed over 12 years, it was concluded that elements of PAS are present in the vast majority of the samples.(2) Diagnosis of PAS is reserved for mental health professionals who come to the court in the form of expert witnesses.

Diagnostic hallmarks usually are couched in clinical terms that remain vague and open to interpretation and, therefore. susceptible to argument pro and con by opposing experts. The phenomenon of one parent turning the child against the other parent is not a complicated concept, but historically it has been difficult to identify clearly.

Consequently, cases involving PAS are heavily litigated, filled with accusations and counter accusations, and thus leave the court with an endless search for details that eventually evaporate into nothing other than rank hearsay. It is our experience that the PAS phenomenon leaves a trail that can be identified more effectively by removing the accusation hysteria, and looking ahead in another positive direction.

For the purpose of this article the authors are assuming a fair degree of familiarity with parental alienation syndrome on the part of the reader.(3) There are many good writings on PAS which the reader may wish to consult now or in the future for general information. Our focus here is much more narrow. Specifically, the goal is twofold. First we will describe four very specific criteria that can be used to identify potential PAS.

In most instances, these criteria can be identified through the facts of the case, but also can be revealed by deposition or court testimony. Secondly, we wish to introduce the concept of “attempted” PAS; that is when the criteria of PAS are present, but the child is not successfully alienated from the absent parent. This phenomenon is still quite harmful and the fact of children not being alienated should not be viewed as neutral by the court.

Any attempt at alienating the children from the other parent should be seen as a direct and willful violation of one of the prime duties of parenthood.

The criteria described below are fairly easy to identify separate and apart from the court file. When there is uncertainty about any of them, these criteria can be used to guide the attorney in the deposing of witnesses as well as in their examination in court.

Criteria I: Access and Contact Blocking

Criteria I involves the active blocking of access or contact between the child and the absent parent. The rationale used to justify it may well take many different forms. One of the most common is that of protection. It may be argued that the absent parent’s parental judgment is inferior and, therefore, the child is much worse off from the visit. In extreme cases, this will take the form of allegations of child abuse, quite often sexual abuse.

This will be addressed in more detail in Criteria II, but suffice it to say that often this is heard as a reason for visitation to be suspended or even terminated. On a more subtle and common level, an argument heard for the blocking of visitation is that seeing the absent parent is “unsettling” to the child, and that they need time “to adjust.” The message here is that the absent parent is treated less like a key family member and more like an annoying acquaintance that the child must see at times. Over time, this pattern can have a seriously erosive effect on the child’s relationship with the absent parent. An even more subtle expression of this is that the visitation is “inconvenient,” thereby relegating it to the status of an errand or chore. Again the result is the erosion of the relationship between the child and the absent or “target” parent. One phenomenon often seen in this context is that any deviation from the schedule is used as a reason to cancel visitation entirely.

The common thread to all of these tactics is that one parent is superior and the other is not and, therefore, should be peripheral to the child’s life. The alienating parent in these circumstances is acting inappropriately as a gatekeeper for the child to see the absent parent. When this occurs for periods of substantial time, the child is given the unspoken but clear message that one parent is senior to the other. Younger children are more vulnerable to this message and tend to take it uncritically; however, one can always detect elements of it echoed even into the teenage years. The important concept here is that each parent is given the responsibility to promote a positive relationship with the other parent. When this principle is violated in the context of blocking access on a consistent basis, one can assume that Criteria I has been, unmistakably identified.

Criteria II: Unfounded Abuse Allegations

The second criteria is related to false or unfounded accusations of abuse against the absent parent. The most strident expression of this is the false accusation of sexual abuse.(4) It has been well studied that the incident of false allegations of sexual abuse account for over half of those reported, when the parents are divorcing or are in conflict over some post dissolution issue.(5)

This is especially the situation with small children who are more vulnerable to the manipulations implied by such false allegations. When the record shows that even one report of such abuse is ruled as unfounded, the interviewer is well advised to look for other expressions of false accusations.

Other examples of this might be found in allegations of physical abuse that investigators later rule as being unfounded. Interestingly our experience has been that there are fewer false allegations of physical abuse than of other forms of abuse, presumably because physical abuse leaves visible evidence. It is, of course, much easier to falsely accuse someone of something that leaves no physical sign and has no third party witnesses.

A much more common expression of this pattern would be that of what would be termed emotional abuse. When false allegations of emotional abuse are leveled, one often finds that what is present is actually differing parental judgment that is being framed as “abusive” by the absent parent.

For example, one parent may let a child stay up later at night than the other parent would, and this scheduling might be termed as being “abusive” or “detrimental” to the child. Or one parent might introduce a new “significant other” to the child before the other parent believes that they should and this might also be called “abusive” to the child. Alternatively one parent might enroll a child in an activity with which the other parent disagrees and this activity is, in actuality, a difference of parental opinion that is now described as being abusive in nature. These examples, as trivial as they seem individually, may be suggestive of a theme of treating parental difference in inappropriately subjective judgmental terms. If this theme is present, all manner of things can be described in ways that convey the message of abuse, either directly or indirectly. When this phenomenon occurs in literally thousands of different ways and times, each of which seems insignificant on its own, the emotional atmosphere that it creates carries a clearly alienating effect on the child.

Obviously, this type of acrimony is very common in dissolution actions but such conflict should not necessarily be mistaken or be taken as illustrative of the PAS syndrome; however, the criteria is clearly present and identifiable when the parent is eager to hurl abuse allegations, rather than being cautious, careful. and even reluctant to do so. This latter stance is more in keeping with the parent’s responsibility to encourage and affirmatively support a relationship with the other parent. The responsible parent will only allege abuse after he or she has tried and failed to rationalize why the issue at hand is not abusive. Simply put, the responsible parent will give the other parent the benefit of the doubt when such allegations arise. He or she will, if anything, err on the side of denial, whereas the alienating parent will not miss an opportunity to accuse the other parent. When this theme is present in a clear and consistent way, this criteria for PAS is met.

Criteria III: Deterioration in Relationship Since Separation

The third of the criteria necessary for the detection of PAS is probably the least described or identified, but critically is one of the most important. It has to do with the existence of a positive relationship between the minor children and the now absent or nonresidential parent, prior to the marital separation; and a substantial deterioration, of it since then. Such a recognized decline does not occur on its own. It is, therefore, one of the most important indicators of the presence of alienation as well. as a full measure of its relative “success.” By way of example, if a father had a good and involved relationship with the children prior to the separation, and a very distant one since, then one can only assume without explicit proof to the contrary that something caused it to change. If this father is clearly trying to maintain a positive relationship with the children through observance of visitation and other activities and the children do not want to see him or have him involved in their lives, then one can only speculate that an alienation process may have been in operation. Children do not naturally lose interest in and become distant from their nonresidential parent simply by virtue of the absence of that parent. Also, healthy and established parental relationships do not erode naturally of their own accord. They must be attacked. Therefore, any dramatic change in this area is virtually always an indicator of an alienation process that has had some success in the past.

Most notably, if a careful evaluation of the pre-separation parental relationship is not made, its omission creates an impression that the troubled or even alienated status that exists since is more or lees an accurate summary of what existed previously. Note that nothing could be further from the truth! An alienated or even partially or intermittently alienated relationship with the nonresidential parent and the children after the separation is more accurately a distortion of the real parental relationship in question. Its follow-through is often overlooked in the hysterical atmosphere that is often present in these cases. A careful practitioner well knows that a close examination is warranted and that it must be conducted with the utmost detail and scrutiny.

If this piece of the puzzle is left out, the consequences can be quite devastating for the survival of this relationship. Also, without this component, the court can be easily swayed into premature closure or fooled into thinking that the turmoil of the separation environment is representative of the true parent-child relationship. Once this ruling is made by the court, it is an exacting challenge to correct its perception.

In a separate but related issue, a word should be said about the use of experts. First, it must be understood that all mental health professionals are not aware of nor know how to treat the PAS phenomenon. In fact, when a mental health professional unfamiliar with PAS is called upon to make a recommendation about custody, access, or related issues, he or she potentially can do more harm than good. For example, if the psychologist fails to investigate the pre-separation relationship of the nonresidential parent and the children, he or she may very easily mistake the current acrimony in that relationship to be representative of it, and recommend that the children should have less visitation with that parent, obviously supporting the undiagnosed PAS that is still in progress. If that expert also fails to evaluate critically the abuse claims or the agenda of the claimant, they may be taken at face value and again potentially support the undiagnosed PAS. If that professional is not also sensitive to the subtleties of access and contact blocking as its motivator, he or she may potentially support it, thereby contributing to the PAS process. When these things occur, the mental health professional expert has actually become part of the PAS, albeit unwittingly. Alarmingly, this happens often. Suffice it to say, if PAS is suspected, the attorney should closely and carefully evaluate the mental health professional’s investigation and conclusion. Failure to do so can cause irreparable harm to the case, and, ultimately to the children.

Criteria IV: Intense Fear Reaction by Children

The fourth criteria necessary for the detection of PAS is admittedly more psychological than the first three. It refers to an obvious fear reaction on the part of the children, of displeasing or disagreeing with the potentially alienating parent in regard to the absent or potential target parent. Simply put, an alienating parent operates by the adage, “My way or the highway.” If the children disobey this directive, especially in expressing positive approval of the absent parent, the consequences can be very serious. It is not uncommon for an alienating parent to reject the child(ren), often telling him or her that they should go live with the target parent. When this does occur one often sees that this threat is not carried out, yet it operates more as a message of constant warning. The child, in effect, is put into a position of being the alienating parent’s “agent” and is continually being put through various loyalty tests. The important issue here is that the alienating patent thus forces the child to choose parents. This, of course, is in direct opposition to a child’s emotional well being.

In order to fully appreciate this scenario, one must realize that the PAS process operates in a “fear based” environment. It is the installation of fear by the alienating parent to the minor children that is the fuel by which this pattern is driven; this fear taps into what psychoanalysis tell us is the most basic emotion inherent in human nature–the fear of abandonment. Children under these conditions live in a state of chronic upset and threat of reprisal. When the child does dare to defy the alienating parent, they quickly learn that there is a serious price to pay. Consequently, children who live such lives develop an acute sense of vigilance over displeasing the alienating parent. The sensitized observer can see this in visitation plans that suddenly change for no apparent reason. For example, when the appointed time approaches, the child suddenly changes his or her tune and begins to loudly protest a visit that was not previously complained about. It is in these instances that a court, once suspecting PAS must enforce in strict terms the visitation schedule which otherwise would not have occurred or would have been ignored.

The alienating parent can most often be found posturing bewilderment regarding the sudden change in their child’s feelings about the visit. In fact, the alienating parent often will appear to be the one supporting visitation. This scenario is a very common one in PAS families. It is standard because it encapsulates and exposes, if only for an instant, the fear-based core of the alienation process. Another way to express this concept would be that whenever the child is given any significant choice in the visitation, he or she is put in the position to act out a loyalty to the alienating parent’s wishes by refusing to have the visitation at all with the absent parent. Failure to do so opens the door for that child’s being abandoned by the parent with whom the child lives the vast majority of the time. Children, under these circumstances, will simply not opt on their own far a free choice. The court must thus act expeditiously to protect them and employ a host of specific and available remedies.(6)

As a consequence of the foregoing, these children learn to manipulate. Children often play one parent against the other in an effort to gain some advantage. In the case of PAS, the same dynamic operates at more desperate level. No longer manipulating to gain advantage, these children learn to manipulate just to survive. They become expert beyond their years at reading the emotional environment, telling partial truths, and then telling out-and-out lies. One must, however, remember that these are survival strategies that they were forced to learn in order to keep peace at home and avoid emotional attack by the residential parent. Given this understanding, it is perhaps easier to see why children, in an effort to cope with this situation, often find it easier if they begin to internalize the alienating parent’s perceptions of the absent parent and begin to echo these feelings. This is one of the most compelling and dramatic effects of PAS, that is, hearing a child vilifying the absent parent and joining the alienating parent in such attacks. If one is not sensitive to the “fear-based” core at the heart of this, it is difficult not to take the child’s protests at face value. This, of course, is compounded when the expert is also not sensitive to this powerful fear component, and believes that the child is voicing his or her own inner feelings in endorsing the “no visitation” plan.

Conclusion

All the criteria listed above can be found independent of each other in highly contested dissolutions, but remember that the appearance of some of them does not always constitute PAS. When all four are clearly present, however, add the possibility of real abuse has been reasonably ruled out, the parental alienation process is operative. This does not necessarily mean, however, that it is succeeding in that the children are being successfully alienated from the target parent. The best predictor of successful alienation is directly related to the success of the alienating parent at keeping the children from the target parent. When there are substantial periods in which they do not see the other parent, the children are more likely to be poisoned by the process. Another variable that predicts success is the child’s age. Younger children generally are more vulnerable than older ones. Also, another variable is the depth and degree of involvement of the pre-separation parent-child relationship. The longer and more involved that relationship, the less vulnerable will be the children to successful alienation. The final predictor is the parental tenacity of the target parent. A targeted parent often gives up and walks away, thus greatly increasing the chances of successful alienation.

The question remains: What if all four criteria are present, but the children are not successfully alienated? Should this failure at alienation be seen as nullifying the attempt at alienation? The answer to that should be a resounding “No!” It should be, but often it is not. It is very common to read a psychological evaluation or a GAL’s report that identified PAS but then notes that since it was not successful, it should not be taken very seriously. Nothing could be further from the truth. Any attempt at alienating the children from the other parent should be seen as a direct and willful violation of one of the prime duties of parenthood, which is to promote and encourage a positive and loving relationship with the other parent, and the concept of shared parental responsibility.

It is our feeling that when attempted PAS has been identified, successful or not, it must be dealt with swiftly by the court. If it is not, it will contaminate and quietly control all other parenting issues and then lead only to unhappiness, frustration, and, lastly, parental estrangement.

1 PAS syndrome applies and relates equally to the nonresidential, as well as the residential parent. D.C. Rand, The Spectrum of Parental Alienation Syndrome. 15 Am. J. Forensic Psychol. No. 3 (1997).

2 S.S. Clawar and B.V. Rivlin, Children Held Hostage: Dealing with Programmed and Brainwashed Children, A.B.A. (1991).

3 M. Walsh and J.M. Bone. Parental Alienation Syndrome: An Age-Old Custody Problem, 71 Fla. B.J. 93 (June 1997).

4 N. Theonnee and P.G. Tjaden, The Extent, Nature and Validity of Sexual Abuse Allegations in Custody Visitation Disputes, 12 Child Abuse and Neglect 151-63 (1990).

5 National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, Washington, D.C.: Department of Health and Human Services, 2998, Contract 105-85-1702.

6 The appointment of a guardian ad litem, the appointment of an expert to conduct a psychological evaluation of the child and the parents, the employment of make-up or substitute access and contact, or an enlargement of same to the nonresidential parent, and as previously suggested by the authors in their last article, a consideration for entry of a multidirectional order. Walsh and Bone, supra note .3

J. Michael Bone, Ph.D., is a sole practice psychotherapist and certified family law mediator in Maitland. He concentrates in divorce and post-divorce issues involving minor children, and has a special interest in PAS. He has served as on expert witness on these and related topics and has been appointed by the court to make recommendations involving PAS and families.

Michael R. Walsh is a sole practitioner in Orlando. He is a board certified marital and family law lawyer, certified mediator and arbitrator, and a fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. For more than 20 years, he has been a frequent lecturer and author for The Florida Bar.

This column is submitted on behalf of the Family Law Section, Jane L. Estreicher, chair, and Sharon O. Taylor, editor.

The original article can be found here: http://www.fact.on.ca/Info/pas/walsh99.htm

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.

1 in 4 Children of Divorce Suffer Parental Alienation Syndrome | angiEmedia

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, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Marriage, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parents rights, Protective Dads, Protective Parents, Restraining Orders on November 5, 2009 at 12:45 pm

1 in 4 Children of Divorce Suffer Parental Alienation Syndrome

Written by: Paco

November 3rd, 2009

 

Psychology researchers Jose Canton Duarte, Rosario Cortes Arboleda, and Dolores Justicia Diaz from the University of Granada have written a book on the psychological problems caused by parental alienation during child custody conflicts entitled Conflictos entre los padres, divorcio y desarrollo de los hijos (English: Marital Conflicts, Divorce, and Children’s Development). In much of the United States and of course in countries south of the border, there are a large number of families going through difficult divorces who speak Spanish as their primary language. While there is a wealth of English-language information on the form of emotional child abuse known as parental alienation, the selection of such titles for Spanish-literate populations has been more limited. If you know of a Spanish-speaking family with intense conflict between divorced parents, this title might be helpful for their extended family to read to understand what is happening to the child who used to love them but who now avoids and even lies about them after being brainwashed by the parent who has primary custody.

1 out of 4 children involved in a divorce undergoes Parental Alienation Syndrome

In the 1980’s, PAS was defined by scientist Richard Gardner of Columbia University. Men are usually the target parent, since in most cases the mother has custody of the child.

According to Mª Rosario Cortés, “the so-called alienating parent is the one who has custody and uses it to brainwash the child, turning him or her against the alienated parent”. In most cases, the process is very subtle the custodial parent stating such things as “if I just told you some more things about your father/mother…”, or by making the child feel sorry for “abandoning” every time he or she visits the alienated parent.

As pointed out by the group of researchers of the University of Granada, there are many other factors which influence PAS apart from the unacceptable attitude of the custodial parent, such as children’s psychological vulnerability, the character and behaviour of parents, dynamics among brothers, or the existing conflicts between the two divorced parents. Very often children not only reject their father, but also his family and close friends. Grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins, and the new partner of the non-custodial parent are also affected by this syndrome, and children undergoing PAS can even “expel them from their life.”

Among other symptoms, Professor Cortés points out that children tend to find continual justifications for the alienating parent’s attitude. They denigrate the target parent, relate negative feelings unambivalently towards that parent, deny being influenced by anyone (pleading responsibility for their attitude), feel no guilt for denigrating the alienated parent, or recount events which were not experienced but rather came from listening to others.

The authors of Marital Conflicts, Divorce, and Children’s Development, state that PAS is more frequent among children aged 9 to 12 than among teenagers, and that there are no relevant gender differences in PAS.

Uno de cada cuatro hijos de padres en proceso de divorcio contencioso sufre el denominado ‘Síndrome de Alienación Parental’

El SAP fue definido en los años 80 por el científico Richard Gardner, de la Universidad de Columbia (EE UU), y el afectado suele ser con frecuencia el hombre (por la simple razón de que la custodia suele darse a la madre).

“El progenitor que llamamos ‘alienante’ se sirve de la custodia del hijo para realizarle un lavado de cerebro en toda regla, basado en el dogmatismo, poniéndole en contra del progenitor alienado”, explica Mª Rosario Cortés. En la mayoría de los casos, este proceso se produce de forma muy sutil, siendo frecuente que estos padres empleen frases del tipo “si yo te contara cosas de tu padre/madre…”, o hacen sentir culpables al menor por ‘abandonarles’ simplemente por cumplir el régimen de visitas.

Los investigadores granadinos señalan que, amén de esta intolerable actitud por parte del alienante, “en el Síndrome de Alienación Parental influyen otras muchas circunstancias, como la vulnerabilidad psicológica del niño, la conducta y la personalidad de ambos progenitores, las dinámicas fraternales o los conflictos entre ambos padres. Con frecuencia, suele ocurrir que el niño no sólo llegue a rechazar a su padre, sino también a toda la familia y al entorno de éste. Abuelos, tíos, primos y las nuevas parejas del alienado se ven también afectados por este síndrome, “llegando a ser prácticamente ‘’borrados del mapa’ por el niño que padece el SAP”.

Cortés señala que, entre los síntomas del SAP en el menor, destacan la justificación continuada y sistemática de la actitud del padre ‘alienante’, una campaña de denigración del progenitor ‘alienado’, la ausencia de ambivalencia en los sentimientos negativos hacia dicho progenitor, las afirmaciones de que nadie lo ha influenciado y que ha llegado solo a adoptar esta actitud, la ausencia de culpabilidad por la denigración del progenitor ‘alienado’ o contar hechos que manifiestamente no ha vivido él sino que ha escuchado a otros.

Los autores de “Conflictos matrimoniales, divorcio y desarrollo de los hijos” –libro que ya fue publicado en el año 2000, pero que próximamente será reeditado y actualizado con nuevos datos- señalan que el SAP es más frecuente entre los 9 y 12 años que en la adolescencia, y no existen diferencias significativas por sexos (“se da tanto en niños como en niñas”).

1 in 4 Children of Divorce Suffer Parental Alienation Syndrome | angiEmedia.

Parental Alienation and Borderline Dichotomous Thinking

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parentectomy, Protective Parents, Restraining Orders on November 4, 2009 at 1:22 am

Parents who are reasonable, adaptable and practice Analogous Thinking have no problem functioning in the world either as a married or divorced parents.

It is only parents who are mentally ill, who think in terms of black and white, good and evil, that cause most of the problems, not only for their children and the ex-spouse, but ultimately for themselves. Courts systems prey on such people whos only thought process is its “my way or the highway” that keeps the problem going.

I found the following below under Borderline Personality Disorder, which is one of the core components of Parental Alienation Syndrome, and thought I would point out why Alienating Parents are such Abusers.

From: http://bpd.about.com/od/glossary/g/dichot.htm

Dichotomous thinking is also sometimes called “black or white thinking.” This is when someone is only able to see the extremes of a situation, and is unable to see the “gray areas” or complexities of the situation. For example, a student who engages in dichotomous thinking may believe that if they don’t get an “A” in class then they have failed.

Dichotomous thinking is a very common problem in people with borderline personality disorder (BPD). In this disorder, people tend to see themselves, others, and the world as either “all good” or “all bad.” Dichotomous thinking in BPD is linked to splitting behavior.”

Also Known As: black or white thinking

Analagous Thinking

from: http://www.cdtl.nus.edu.sg/brief/v5n4/sec3.asp
“Higher order thinking requires the manipulation of ideas and information in ways that derive new implications and meaning or modify existing ones. Through such processes as combining ideas and facts to hypothesise, generalise, synthesise, explain and arrive at interpretations or conclusions, students can be led to discover new meanings and solve problems. This article briefly presents, discusses and gives examples of strategies for developing analogous, sequential and interpersonal thinking, three higher order thinking skills (Senge, et al., 2000) which need to be nurtured because they are essential to individual holistic development.1

Analogous thinking begins to develop at a young age and involves comparisons and analogies among separate events. Sequential thinking emerges later when patterns are discerned between events and is commonly applied in mathematical questions involving numbers and patterns in series. Interpersonal thinking, the highest order of these three skills, involves individual personal and social development.

To enhance the development of thinking skills, educators need to provide students with a plethora of application opportunities during lessons and assignments. Doing so not only broadens horizons but also simultaneously helps to develop multiple perspectives. Moreover, the crux of this learning involves a transformation of the way in which learning occurs. In higher education, students should be provided with opportunities to make connections between different events and situations in order to nurture emotional as well as cognitive capabilities.

Efforts should also be made to build the confidence needed for effective interactions with people who have an even wider variety of attitudes, backgrounds and opinions. In a nutshell, students need support, motivation and tangible as well as intangible rewards for continually increasing their abilities to cope with and, indeed, conquer complex situations and problems as needed. So, how is this done? More specifically, what strategies can nurture these thinking skills? “e

Has the American Family Court System Become Totalitarian?

In Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, child abuse, Child Custody, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Department of Social Servies, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, family court, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Foster Care, Foster CAre Abuse, Foster Care Scam, Marriage, Non-custodial fathers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Protective Dads, Protective Parents, Restraining Orders, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine on October 29, 2009 at 7:11 pm

by

A Promise to Ourselves:
A Journey Through Fatherhood and Divorce

Alec Baldwin
St. Martin’s Press, 2008; 240 pages, $24.95

Taken into Custody:
The War Against Fathers, Marriage, and the Family

Stephen Baskerville
Cumberland House, 2007; 368 pages, $24.95

IN 2007, THE MEDIA HAD A FEEDING FRENZY around a voice-mail message actor Alec Baldwin left his daughter. He screamed at her for not answering her phone. The public was shocked: many assumed that he was yet another self-absorbed celebrity, with neither control over himself nor regard for his daughter. But in fact, Baldwin had been caught in the web of the totalitarian nightmare known as the American family court system. His book, A Promise to Ourselves, tells his particular story, while Stephen Baskerville’s book, Taken Into Custody, presents the general problem of which Baldwin’s story is a particular case.

Alec Baldwin is a divorced father, who had been fighting for six years to have some semblance of a normal relationship with his child. Baldwin’s estranged wife, actress Kim Basinger, had been using the family court system to prevent him from doing what most fathers take for granted: seeing his child, talking with his child, and watching her grow up. A Promise to Ourselves chronicles in sickening detail how the court system serves the most vindictive and ruthless parent.

Even without the book, astute observers of this case realized that something was slightly strange about the claims that Baldwin should be denied access to his child. For instance, who released the tape of the call to the public? None other than Basinger and her attorney, in an attempt to smear Baldwin. What kind of mother would use her daughter as a pawn in a spiteful power game with the child’s father? And, what was the “back story” to this particular phone call? Despite having court authorization for phone contact with his daughter, her cell phone would be turned off for long periods of time. On this particular occasion, she was on spring break with her mother and her phone had been turned off for ten days. Moreover, isn’t this odd all by itself that a father who has committed no crime has to have court permission to speak to his own child?

Now, what the media made Baldwin out to be is conceivable: an abusive, out-of-control father who has inflicted irreparable harm on his daughter through verbal abuse. Yet even if the worst about Baldwin were true (by the way, he offers no excuses for yelling at his daughter), his portrait of the Los Angeles County Family Court remains imminently valuable, as it reveals the extent of power that family courts wield over ordinary citizens. His account cannot be easily dismissed, given the extent of detail that he provides and the fact that it accords with too many other reports of family courts. As he tells his story, the leading character and the true villain is the Los Angeles Family Court system, Lady Macbeth, Iago, and Shylock all rolled into one. Even from the viewpoint of a wealthy and famous man, Baldwin generates plenty of sympathy for the obscure and the less wealthy of both sexes who are caught in the grip of the family court.

He first noticed the financial intrusion. During “financial settlement conferences,” both husbands and wives must reveal all their assets. While Baldwin accepts the necessity of preventing people from hiding their true net worth, he noticed this side effect: “The lawyers on both sides now know, inarguably, how much money you have and, therefore, how deeply into this hole you can go. And they do not hesitate to throw you down as deeply as they possibly can.” Throughout the rest of the story, the lawyers extract as much money as possible from him.

But money isn’t the half of it. Baldwin had to continually look over his shoulder at the court and its representatives to ensure that he did not run afoul of their requirements. He tells of the menagerie of minions appointed by the court to manage the divorcing process and the inevitable post-divorce conflict: forensic accountants, custody evaluators, therapists, visitation supervisors, parenting class instructors, anger management instructors. These are all professionals that most people normally never see, but who have abnormally large impacts on the lives of divorcing families. Think of this: the courts and their appointees are controlling the day-to-day lives of a man innocent of any wrongdoing. A negative report from any one of these professionals can jeopardize a father’s chances of having more time with his own child.

Baldwin does not discuss the ease of divorce ushered by the no-fault divorce revolution. Like most Americans, Baldwin has probably made peace with no-fault divorce, believing easy divorce to be an enhancement of individual liberty. But Baldwin’s story of his life after Basinger decided she had no use for him illustrates that the opposite is more true. Easy divorce opens the door for an unprecedented amount of government intrusion into ordinary people’s lives. This unacknowledged reality is the subject of Taken Into Custody, by Stephen Baskerville. With penetrating insight, the political scientist exposes the truly breathtaking consequences of no-fault divorce for the expansion of state power and the decline of personal autonomy.

First, no-fault divorce frequently means unilateral divorce: one party wants a divorce against the wishes of the other, who wants to stay married. Kim Basinger dumped Baldwin for no particular reason, unleashed the power of the Los Angeles Family Court system to inflict pain on him and, in the process, inflicted untold damage on their child. Second, the fact that one party wants to remain married means that the divorce has to be enforced. Baldwin wanted to stay married and to continue to be a husband and father. Yet, the coercive and intrusive machinery of the state must be wheeled into action to separate the reluctantly divorced party from the joint assets of the marriage, typically the home and the children.

Third, enforcing the divorce means an unprecedented blurring of the boundaries between public and private life. People under the jurisdiction of family courts can have virtually all of their private lives subject to its scrutiny. If the courts are influenced by feminist ideology, that ideology can extend its reach into every bedroom and kitchen in America. Baldwin ran the gauntlet of divorce industry professionals who have been deeply influenced by the feminist presumptions that the man is always at fault and the woman is always a victim. Thus, the social experiment of no-fault divorce, which most Americans thought was supposed to increase personal liberty, has had the consequence of empowering the state.

Some might think the legacy of no-fault divorce is an example of the law of unintended consequences in operation. That assumes its architects did not intend for unilateral divorce to result in the expansion of the state. But Baskerville makes the case in this book—as well as his 2008 monograph, “The Dangerous Rise of Sexual Politics,” in The Family In America—that at least some of the advocates of changes in family law certainly have intended to expand the power of the state over the private lives of law-abiding citizens.

Who are these people? They are the Marxists, who call themselves advocates of women: the feminists. Unbeknownst to the general public, the Marxists have had marriage in their cross-hairs from the very beginning. Frederick Engels, Karl Marx’s closest collaborator, dreams of the mythic, pre-historical, pre-capitalist time in The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State (1884). Not only was there primitive communism in which property was owned in common, but there was also group marriage, in which the collective raised the children. Men and women lived together in harmony in groups, having sex without becoming possessive and without caring about the biological relationship between parents and children. Sin entered this Garden of Eden, not through a serpent and an apple, but through the rise of private property and capitalism, monogamous marriage, and patriarchy.

This background ideology explains why the Left—whether the Bolsheviks in Russia in 1917 or the Socialist government of Spain in 2005, both of which placed the liberalization of divorce law among their first items of business—has spent so much effort attacking the family in general and marriage in particular. The goal is to return women into “social production” outside the home, where they can be completely independent of the oppression of men. This of course, requires the collective rearing of children. It also requires the obliteration of the distinction between the private sphere of the home and the public reach of the law. Many conservatives, who otherwise are very alert to Leftist ideology, have no idea about this entire effort at centralizing power and insinuating the control of the state into the lives of ordinary people.

Baldwin closes his book with an interview with Jeannie Suk, author of an important 2006 Yale Law Journal article, entitled, “Criminal Law Comes Home.” In this article, Suk expresses second thoughts about some consequences of feminist jurisprudence. For this reason, Baldwin thought the young Harvard law professor would have some sympathy for his situation. Nonetheless, even this relatively sensible law professor has drunk deeply from the feminist fountains. As Baldwin comments after his discussion with her family law class of eighty students:

I was surprised to hear a number of women and men—many more than I would have expected—say that women generally are at risk of male violence. A few students, male and female, even thought the law should view the sex act as subordinating of someone and should assume that sex is rape unless women explicitly and verbally give their consent.

Note the Marxist undercurrent here: the sexual act is a special case of class conflict, with the man as the presumed oppressor and the woman the presumed victim.

More troubling is what Professor Suk admits in her interview with Baldwin:

  • Governance feminism is the idea that feminism, which once criticized the law from the outside, is today actually in charge in many places in the law—among police, prosecutors, lawmakers, judges and other legal actors. The feminism that often ‘governs’ today is that strand developed by legal scholar Catharine MacKinnon and that focuses on the subordination of women by men, particularly in intimate and sexual relationships. Her influence on our legal system’s understandings of men and women cannot be overstated.
  • The overwhelming majority of domestic violence arrests are for misdemeanor crimes, which, by definition, do not involve serious injury . . . . The definition of violence itself has expanded to include a lot of conduct that is not physical violence.
  • Family law is an area where we’ve seen feminist developments that prefer wives over husbands and mothers over fathers . . . . The legal vision of the home has increasingly become that of a man being violent toward his wife.
  • The legal system has little means to distinguish (protective) orders that actually protect endangered women from those sought for strategic reasons.
  • Suk doesn’t seem to realize how indicting these statements sound to someone outside the Feminist Legal Theory Game Preserve. In fact, her Yale Law Journal article reveals that feminists specifically attack the lines between public and private in the interests of protecting women from domestic violence.

    She at least recognizes that the law has gone too far. But her principle complaint is that women’s autonomy interests are compromised. Once the Domestic Violence Machinery has been set into motion, even the victim herself cannot stop it. She reports that approximately 80 percent of domestic violence victims recant or refuse to cooperate after initially filing criminal charges. But she can’t bring herself to point out the injustice to men of being excluded from their own homes, often with minimal evidence. She has absolutely nothing to say about the harms done to children from being pawns in their parents’ quarrels with each other and with the state. The inertia of forty years worthy of Marxism posing as champions of women is so strong that even someone like Professor Suk cannot bear to distance herself from the term “feminism.”

    Likewise, despite the explicit ideological position of the Harvard law students, Baldwin cannot bring himself to be angry:

    I was fascinated to hear some of these law students talk about the world as though men inevitably have the upper hand in relationships and women’s fear of sexual violence is prevalent and normal, not unusual. This picture was so interesting and so foreign to me. In my own experience, women have lots of power of various kinds, and sexual power works both ways.

    Baldwin seems reluctant to conclude that the feminist worldview is not based upon verifiable facts or empirical evidence. The strongest description Baldwin can conjure against the law students is “fascination” and “interesting.” So mesmerized by the terminology of “feminism” that he cannot see that the attitudes of Suk’s students are the very toxins that poisoned his life.

    Fortunately, we have Professor Baskerville as the great theorist of the feminist influence within the divorce-industrial complex. He sees Marxist feminism for what it is: a totalitarian movement that seeks power and control over every aspect of people’s personal lives. The claim of its foot soldiers to be the sole authentic advocates for women has been questionable for some time. But until Americans see that the goal of modern feminism is raw power, even its victims like Alec Baldwin will have trouble freeing themselves from its iron hand.

    Dr. Morse, a former professor of economics at Yale and George Mason University, is founder and president of the Ruth Institute, a project of the National Organization for Marriage, in San Marcos, California.

     


     

     

    Even without the book, astute observers of this case realized that something was slightly strange about the claims that Baldwin should be denied access to his child. For instance, who released the tape of the call to the public? None other than Basinger and her attorney, in an attempt to smear Baldwin. What kind of mother would use her daughter as a pawn in a spiteful power game with the child’s father? And, what was the “back story” to this particular phone call? Despite having court authorization for phone contact with his daughter, her cell phone would be turned off for long periods of time. On this particular occasion, she was on spring break with her mother and her phone had been turned off for ten days. Moreover, isn’t this odd all by itself that a father who has committed no crime has to have court permission to speak to his own child?

    Now, what the media made Baldwin out to be is conceivable: an abusive, out-of-control father who has inflicted irreparable harm on his daughter through verbal abuse. Yet even if the worst about Baldwin were true (by the way, he offers no excuses for yelling at his daughter), his portrait of the Los Angeles County Family Court remains imminently valuable, as it reveals the extent of power that family courts wield over ordinary citizens. His account cannot be easily dismissed, given the extent of detail that he provides and the fact that it accords with too many other reports of family courts. As he tells his story, the leading character and the true villain is the Los Angeles Family Court system, Lady Macbeth, Iago, and Shylock all rolled into one. Even from the viewpoint of a wealthy and famous man, Baldwin generates plenty of sympathy for the obscure and the less wealthy of both sexes who are caught in the grip of the family court.

    He first noticed the financial intrusion. During “financial settlement conferences,” both husbands and wives must reveal all their assets. While Baldwin accepts the necessity of preventing people from hiding their true net worth, he noticed this side effect: “The lawyers on both sides now know, inarguably, how much money you have and, therefore, how deeply into this hole you can go. And they do not hesitate to throw you down as deeply as they possibly can.” Throughout the rest of the story, the lawyers extract as much money as possible from him.

    But money isn’t the half of it. Baldwin had to continually look over his shoulder at the court and its representatives to ensure that he did not run afoul of their requirements. He tells of the menagerie of minions appointed by the court to manage the divorcing process and the inevitable post-divorce conflict: forensic accountants, custody evaluators, therapists, visitation supervisors, parenting class instructors, anger management instructors. These are all professionals that most people normally never see, but who have abnormally large impacts on the lives of divorcing families. Think of this: the courts and their appointees are controlling the day-to-day lives of a man innocent of any wrongdoing. A negative report from any one of these professionals can jeopardize a father’s chances of having more time with his own child.

    Baldwin does not discuss the ease of divorce ushered by the no-fault divorce revolution. Like most Americans, Baldwin has probably made peace with no-fault divorce, believing easy divorce to be an enhancement of individual liberty. But Baldwin’s story of his life after Basinger decided she had no use for him illustrates that the opposite is more true. Easy divorce opens the door for an unprecedented amount of government intrusion into ordinary people’s lives. This unacknowledged reality is the subject of Taken Into Custody, by Stephen Baskerville. With penetrating insight, the political scientist exposes the truly breathtaking consequences of no-fault divorce for the expansion of state power and the decline of personal autonomy.

    First, no-fault divorce frequently means unilateral divorce: one party wants a divorce against the wishes of the other, who wants to stay married. Kim Basinger dumped Baldwin for no particular reason, unleashed the power of the Los Angeles Family Court system to inflict pain on him and, in the process, inflicted untold damage on their child. Second, the fact that one party wants to remain married means that the divorce has to be enforced. Baldwin wanted to stay married and to continue to be a husband and father. Yet, the coercive and intrusive machinery of the state must be wheeled into action to separate the reluctantly divorced party from the joint assets of the marriage, typically the home and the children.

    Third, enforcing the divorce means an unprecedented blurring of the boundaries between public and private life. People under the jurisdiction of family courts can have virtually all of their private lives subject to its scrutiny. If the courts are influenced by feminist ideology, that ideology can extend its reach into every bedroom and kitchen in America. Baldwin ran the gauntlet of divorce industry professionals who have been deeply influenced by the feminist presumptions that the man is always at fault and the woman is always a victim. Thus, the social experiment of no-fault divorce, which most Americans thought was supposed to increase personal liberty, has had the consequence of empowering the state.

    Some might think the legacy of no-fault divorce is an example of the law of unintended consequences in operation. That assumes its architects did not intend for unilateral divorce to result in the expansion of the state. But Baskerville makes the case in this book—as well as his 2008 monograph, “The Dangerous Rise of Sexual Politics,” in The Family In America—that at least some of the advocates of changes in family law certainly have intended to expand the power of the state over the private lives of law-abiding citizens.

    Who are these people? They are the Marxists, who call themselves advocates of women: the feminists. Unbeknownst to the general public, the Marxists have had marriage in their cross-hairs from the very beginning. Frederick Engels, Karl Marx’s closest collaborator, dreams of the mythic, pre-historical, pre-capitalist time in The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State (1884). Not only was there primitive communism in which property was owned in common, but there was also group marriage, in which the collective raised the children. Men and women lived together in harmony in groups, having sex without becoming possessive and without caring about the biological relationship between parents and children. Sin entered this Garden of Eden, not through a serpent and an apple, but through the rise of private property and capitalism, monogamous marriage, and patriarchy.

    This background ideology explains why the Left—whether the Bolsheviks in Russia in 1917 or the Socialist government of Spain in 2005, both of which placed the liberalization of divorce law among their first items of business—has spent so much effort attacking the family in general and marriage in particular. The goal is to return women into “social production” outside the home, where they can be completely independent of the oppression of men. This of course, requires the collective rearing of children. It also requires the obliteration of the distinction between the private sphere of the home and the public reach of the law. Many conservatives, who otherwise are very alert to Leftist ideology, have no idea about this entire effort at centralizing power and insinuating the control of the state into the lives of ordinary people.

    Baldwin closes his book with an interview with Jeannie Suk, author of an important 2006 Yale Law Journal article, entitled, “Criminal Law Comes Home.” In this article, Suk expresses second thoughts about some consequences of feminist jurisprudence. For this reason, Baldwin thought the young Harvard law professor would have some sympathy for his situation. Nonetheless, even this relatively sensible law professor has drunk deeply from the feminist fountains. As Baldwin comments after his discussion with her family law class of eighty students:

    I was surprised to hear a number of women and men—many more than I would have expected—say that women generally are at risk of male violence. A few students, male and female, even thought the law should view the sex act as subordinating of someone and should assume that sex is rape unless women explicitly and verbally give their consent.

    Note the Marxist undercurrent here: the sexual act is a special case of class conflict, with the man as the presumed oppressor and the woman the presumed victim.

    More troubling is what Professor Suk admits in her interview with Baldwin:

  • Governance feminism is the idea that feminism, which once criticized the law from the outside, is today actually in charge in many places in the law—among police, prosecutors, lawmakers, judges and other legal actors. The feminism that often ‘governs’ today is that strand developed by legal scholar Catharine MacKinnon and that focuses on the subordination of women by men, particularly in intimate and sexual relationships. Her influence on our legal system’s understandings of men and women cannot be overstated.
  • The overwhelming majority of domestic violence arrests are for misdemeanor crimes, which, by definition, do not involve serious injury . . . . The definition of violence itself has expanded to include a lot of conduct that is not physical violence.
  • Family law is an area where we’ve seen feminist developments that prefer wives over husbands and mothers over fathers . . . . The legal vision of the home has increasingly become that of a man being violent toward his wife.
  • The legal system has little means to distinguish (protective) orders that actually protect endangered women from those sought for strategic reasons.
  • Suk doesn’t seem to realize how indicting these statements sound to someone outside the Feminist Legal Theory Game Preserve. In fact, her Yale Law Journal article reveals that feminists specifically attack the lines between public and private in the interests of protecting women from domestic violence.

    She at least recognizes that the law has gone too far. But her principle complaint is that women’s autonomy interests are compromised. Once the Domestic Violence Machinery has been set into motion, even the victim herself cannot stop it. She reports that approximately 80 percent of domestic violence victims recant or refuse to cooperate after initially filing criminal charges. But she can’t bring herself to point out the injustice to men of being excluded from their own homes, often with minimal evidence. She has absolutely nothing to say about the harms done to children from being pawns in their parents’ quarrels with each other and with the state. The inertia of forty years worthy of Marxism posing as champions of women is so strong that even someone like Professor Suk cannot bear to distance herself from the term “feminism.”

    Likewise, despite the explicit ideological position of the Harvard law students, Baldwin cannot bring himself to be angry:

    I was fascinated to hear some of these law students talk about the world as though men inevitably have the upper hand in relationships and women’s fear of sexual violence is prevalent and normal, not unusual. This picture was so interesting and so foreign to me. In my own experience, women have lots of power of various kinds, and sexual power works both ways.

    Baldwin seems reluctant to conclude that the feminist worldview is not based upon verifiable facts or empirical evidence. The strongest description Baldwin can conjure against the law students is “fascination” and “interesting.” So mesmerized by the terminology of “feminism” that he cannot see that the attitudes of Suk’s students are the very toxins that poisoned his life.

    Fortunately, we have Professor Baskerville as the great theorist of the feminist influence within the divorce-industrial complex. He sees Marxist feminism for what it is: a totalitarian movement that seeks power and control over every aspect of people’s personal lives. The claim of its foot soldiers to be the sole authentic advocates for women has been questionable for some time. But until Americans see that the goal of modern feminism is raw power, even its victims like Alec Baldwin will have trouble freeing themselves from its iron hand.

    Dr. Morse, a former professor of economics at Yale and George Mason University, is founder and president of the Ruth Institute, a project of the National Organization for Marriage, in San Marcos, California.

    The Family in America:
    Retrospective and Prospective
    Allan C. Carlson

    The Deconstruction of Marriage,
    Part 1:

    The Law and Economics of Unilateral
    No-Fault Divorce

    George Steven Swan

    The Message in the Meltdown:
    How the Downturn Reveals Forgotten
    Family Assets

    Bryce J. Christensen

    Counting the Cost of Divorce:
    What Those Who Know Better Rarely
    Acknowledge

    David G. Schramm

    BOOK REVIEWS
    The Striking Contradiction of a
    Sociologist Under the Spell of
    Feminism

    The Marriage-Go-Round
    by Andrew J. Cherlin
    Reviewed by Kay S. Hymowitz

    Has the American Family Court
    System Become Totalitarian?

    A Promise to Ourselves
    by Alec Baldwin
    Taken into Custody
    by Stephen Baskerville
    Reviewed by Jennifer Roback Morse

    Reason to Quiver?
    Quiverfull
    by Kathryn Joyce
    Reviewed by William R. Mattox Jr.

    The Marriage Tango
    Bad Girls Go Everywhere
    by Jennifer Scanlon
    Beside Every Successful Man
    by Megan Basham
    Reviewed by Janice Shaw Crouse

    NEW RESEARCH
    Bryce J. Christensen and
    Robert W. Patterson

    The Family in America
    A Journal of Public Policy

    Volume 23 Number 3 Fall 2009

    Founding Editor and Publisher
    Allan C. Carlson

    Editor
    Robert W. Patterson

    Editor-at-Large
    Bryce J. Christensen

    Editorial Board of Advisors
    Stephen Baskerville
    Allan R. Crippen II
    William A. Donohue
    Rod Dreher
    William C. Duncan
    Patrick F. Fagan
    Bruce P. Frohnen
    Kay S. Hymowitz
    Bill Kauffman
    Peter Augustine Lawler
    Phillip J. Longman
    William R. Mattox Jr.
    Paul T. Mero
    Mark T. Mitchell
    Douglas C. Minson
    Jennifer Roback Morse
    John D. Mueller
    Brian C. Robertson
    Lynn D. Wardle
    W. Bradford Wilcox
    Richard G. Wilkins
    Charmaine Crouse Yoest

    The Family in America.

    Britain to press Japan on foreign fathers’ rights to access children › Japan Today: Japan News and Discussion

    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, fatherlessness, fathers rights, Non-custodial fathers, parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parentectomy, Protective Dads, Protective Parents, Restraining Orders, Single Parenting, UNCRC, United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child on October 18, 2009 at 1:02 am

    Britain to press Japan on foreign fathers’ rights to access children

    LONDON —

    London is to put fresh pressure on Tokyo to improve the rights of its nationals seeking access to their children living in Japan with estranged partners.

    Britain is trying to assist its citizens who are either seeking the return of their kids to the United Kingdom, or are denied access to their children by the Japanese civil courts.

    The Foreign Office in London believes Japanese courts presiding in custody cases could be breaching obligations under the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.

    In Japan, courts will generally side with the Japanese parent and order the children remain in their care in Japan.

    Critics argue that, due to cultural reasons, Japanese courts will always grant custody to the mother in separation battles, and the idea of joint custody—more common in Europe—is an anathema. Even if a court grants limited visiting rights for the father, they are not enforceable.

    Shane Clarke, a father trying to gain access to his two daughters in Japan, recently received an e-mail from Helen Paige, a child abduction caseworker at the Foreign Office.

    In the Oct 12 message, she states, ‘‘We will ask the British ambassador in Japan to raise with the Japanese government the obligations of states to develop and undertake all actions and policies in the best interests of the child, referring in particular to article 10.2.’’

    This article asserts that a ‘‘child whose parents reside in different countries shall have the right to maintain on a regular basis … personal relations and direct contacts with both parents.’’

    Paige said the British government is willing to raise cases with Tokyo and cite the convention if an individual has gone through the legal process and remains dissatisfied.

    Clarke said he is happy that Britain has ‘‘acknowledged’’ the convention and that ‘‘it applies to these situations.’’

    While it is claimed that Japanese society accepts that mothers must be given priority in custody battles, many foreigners who married Japanese women find the position intolerable.

    And the growing number of mixed marriages, and subsequent separations and divorces, has meant the issue is being put on the international agenda.

    Despite Britain’s attempts to force Japan to honor its convention obligations, officials readily admit there is no method of ‘‘international enforcement’’ if it is judged that a Japanese court has failed to heed the convention’s strictures. Clarke disputes this point, claiming the International Court of Justice could provide this role.

    However, the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which Britain has been pressing Japan to adopt, does provide an enforcement mechanism.

    This convention requires that if a child has been taken by one parent to another country following an estrangement, the child must be returned to the country where he or she is ‘‘habitually resident.’’

    It also seeks to standardize laws and ensure custody decisions can be made by appropriate courts and protect the access rights of both parents.

    Many Japanese women have returned to their home country realizing that it offers a safe haven from any court orders arising in other countries.

    Clarke’s Japanese wife returned to Japan with their two daughters after a four-year marriage in Britain. The British courts have ordered that the children should be returned to Britain where they are ‘‘habitually resident’’ but this is not recognized in Japan, according to Clarke.

    Britain, along with the United States, is pressing Japan to sign The Hague convention. In correspondence with Clarke, Britain’s Ambassador David Warren has said he is ‘‘concerned’’ about the number of ‘‘abductions’’ and is hoping to hold meetings with the new government on the issue.

    Japan is currently investigating whether to sign The Hague convention. There are fears it could make it harder for Japanese women to flee abusive relationships in one country and return with their children to Japan. The government denies Japanese courts are ‘‘institutionally racist’’ against foreign fathers.

    This issue has been thrust into the spotlight recently with the arrest of Christopher Savoie, a 38-year-old American, who was released Thursday in Fukuoka after he snatched his children from his Japanese ex-wife as they walked to school.

    His wife took their two children to Japan in August from their home in Tennessee. In his wife’s absence, the U.S. courts gave Christopher Savoie full custody and issued an arrest warrant for his wife. Before his wife left, Savoie had tried to obtain court orders which prevented her from leaving the country.

    Britain to press Japan on foreign fathers’ rights to access children › Japan Today: Japan News and Discussion.

    What is Parental Alienation Syndrome?

    In Best Interest of the Child, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Department of Social Servies, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, Marriage, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, Parents rights, Protective Parents, Restraining Orders on October 17, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    WHAT IS PAS?

    Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is the systematic denigration of one parent by the other with the intent of alienating the child against the other parent. The purpose of the alienation is usually to gain or retain custody without the involvement of the father. It is often practiced because custodial parents are advised by their attorneys how they can effectively deny or restrict visitation to achieve other desired goals in the divorce litigation. The alienation usually extends to the family and friends of the non-custodial parent as well.

    (Before reading the following quote from Dr. Richard Gardner, an authority on PAS, please understand that his references to “mothers” and “fathers” could be interchangeable. I did not write the book, he did. But his point is important, even if he was insensitive at the time he wrote it to how mothers can be victims and fathers can be perpetrators, too.)

    Dr. Richard Gardner in his book ‘The Parental Alienation Syndrome’ states (P.74) “Many of these children proudly state that their decision to reject their fathers is their own. They deny any contribution from their mothers. And the mothers often support this vehemently. In fact, the mothers will often state that they want the child to visit with the father and recognize the importance of such involvement, yet such a mother’s every act indicates otherwise. Such children appreciate that, by stating the decision is their own, they assuage mothers guilt and protect her from criticism. Such professions of independent thinking are supported by the mother who will often praise these children for being the kind of people who have minds of their own and are forthright and brave enough to express overtly their opinions. Frequently, such mothers will exhort their children to tell them the truth regarding whether or not they really want to see their fathers. The child will usually appreciate that “the truth” is the profession that they hate the father and do not want to see him ever again. They thereby provide that answer – couched as “the truth” – which will protect them from their mother’s anger if they were to state what they really wanted to do, which is to see their fathers. It is important for the reader to appreciate that after a period of programming the child may not know what is the truth any more and come to actually believe that the father deserves the vilification being directed against him. The end point of the brainwashing process has then been achieved.”


    HOW COMMON IS IT?

    Nearly every community has some experience of it. There are cases where children as young as two years old ‘claim’ not to want to see their father again, and cases where all children of a family will all decide that they do not wish to see their father again. (Again, the same could be said of families in which children declare their desire to not see their Mom, if Dad is the one they live with.) It comes up to some degree in virtually every case where one parent is attempting to get or extend contact, and most appeals will include aspects of PAS being a factor in the stopping or disruption of access.


    WHY IS IT SO COMMON?

    It is a very effective legal device for achieving what is effectively sole custody, even when the court has ruled otherwise. There are two reasons for this. First the Children Act of 1989 took more consideration of ‘the child’s wishes’, and secondly most Child Support agencies separate the issues of court orders for maintenance and contact.

    A parent who stops or disrupts contact ‘defined by a court order’ is actually in contempt of court, and in some states may be fined or jailed. However, there are very few cases of this actually happening because the courts will state “it is of no benefit to the child for the custodial parent to be punished.” And while it does mean that he or she may be repeatedly brought back to court for being obstructive, it is the non-custodial parent who usually ends up paying the legal fees because the custodial parent claims to be without the funds.

    To avoid being held in contempt the custodial parent will state “The child does not wish to see the other parent”. A Court Welfare Officer (who is either ignorant of or untrained how to recognize PAS) will then interview the child and usually echo the child’s statement that it does not wish to see the other parent. The ‘child’s wishes’ will then be taken into consideration and the court will stop the other parent’s contact. The custodial parent will have prevailed and the non-custodial parent will have lost contact, probably for several years until the child is old enough to become independent of the parent they lived with growing up. In some cases the child will eventually return to the other parent, but it is often too little, too late and the lost years of relationship cannot be recovered. Interviews with adults who have been through this experience as children make the common statement that ‘they did not know how to cope with the situation, so they avoided their other parent rather than hate him or her’.

    WHAT CAN WE DO?
    One thing we can do is the stated goal of this Facebook group: work together to make PA a crime in family courts from coast-to-coast. Presumably, this group will bring together many people from diverse backgrounds and regions who can pool resources and information for everyone’s benefit. Twenty years ago, the media coined the term “deadbeat dad” to raise public awareness about the plight of single moms who cannot collect the child support they are owed. However, nobody has ever published the studies that illustrate the high percentage of cases in which support is withheld as a counter-measure to visitation interference and PAS behavior. As we have learned much in recent decades about how to treat behavioral diseases like alcoholism, we have work to do to protect children and non-custodial parents from the damaging effects of PAS behavior. When the day comes that PAS behavior is considered child-abuse, we will know we have succeeded.

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=17997784040&ref=share

    Spread the Word: Domestic Violence Laws Violate Civil Liberties

    In Best Interest of the Child, Child Custody, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, Department of Social Servies, Divorce, Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, Family Court Reform, Family Rights, fathers rights, Foster Care, Foster CAre Abuse, Foster Care Scam, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Marriage, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parental Rights Amendment, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Protective Dads, Protective Parents on October 13, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    At her recent keynote address at the annual conference of the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Amanda McCormick, an employee of Praxis International, showed overt disdain for male victims of domestic violence. As reported by Trudy Schuett, McCormick announced, I think I know a lot of men who deserve to be beaten.”1

    Praxis International, according to their website, “is a nonprofit research and training organization that works toward the elimination of violence in the lives of women and children…. Since 1996, [they] have worked with advocacy organizations, intervention agencies, and inter-agency collaborations to create a clear and cooperative agenda for social change in their communities.”2

    Over the last fifteen years, in the name of combating domestic violence, an entire area of law has been carved out in which those rights and liberties guaranteed under the Bill of Rights no longer apply. Discrimination against male victims is just one of the many ways domestic violence laws violate civil liberties.

    RADAR has identified that the laws:

    1. Fund education and training programs that stereotype all men as abusers;
    2. Expand the definition of “domestic violence” to include minor verbal disagreements, thus inviting heavy-handed state intervention into private family matters;
    3. Short-circuit due process protections and remove the presumption of innocence;
    4. Provide incentives to file false allegations;
    5. Encourage the issuance of restraining orders, even in the absence of physical violence;
    6. Promote mandatory arrest policies, even for minor violations of civil restraining orders;
    7. Fund “predominant aggressor” policies that profile men as abusers;
    8. Support mandatory prosecution policies;
    9. Refuse legal assistance to persons falsely accused of domestic violence; and
    10. Discriminate against male victims.

    RADAR has prepared a flyer for distribution to help you inform the public. See http://www.mediaradar.org/docs/RADARflyer-DVAM2009-issues.pdf

    Commenting on the flyer, vlogger Bernard Chapin points out that the mainstream media will not cover this story.3 It’s up to all of us who know the truth to spread the word as best we can. Let’s get to it!



    Date of RADAR Release: October 13, 2009

    R.A.D.A.R. – Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting – is a non-profit, non-partisan organization of men and women working to improve the effectiveness of our nation’s approach to solving domestic violence. http://www.mediaradar.org

    The Making of a Modern Dad | Psychology Today

    In Activism, Alienation of Affection, Best Interest of the Child, child abuse, Child Custody, Child Custody for fathers, Child Support, Children and Domestic Violence, children criminals, children legal status, children's behaviour, Childrens Rights, Civil Rights, custody, Department of Social Servies, Domestic Violence, due process rights, False Allegations of Domestic Violence, family court, National Parents Day, Non-custodial fathers, parental alienation, Parental Kidnapping, Parental Relocation, parental rights, Parentectomy, Parents rights, Protective Dads, Protective Parents, Restraining Orders, Sociopath, state crimes on October 9, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    The Making of a Modern Dad

    “One of my first memories growing up was wishing that my father would be home more” recalls Andrew Hudnut M.D, a family doctor in Sacramento, California. “I was 8, and we had just returned from a canoe trip. I remember thinking, ‘I don’t want a bigger house or more money. I just want my dad around.’”

    When his wife gave birth, Hudnut arranged his practice so he could be home to take care of his son, Seamus, two days a week; he sees patients on the other three workdays. “It was a very natural transition,” he reports. “I’m grateful to have the opportunity my father never had.”

    Part of a new generation of men who are redefining fatherhood and masculinity, Hudnut, who is 33, is unwilling to accept the role of absentee provider that his father’s generation assumed. With mothers often being the breadwinners of the family, many young fathers are deciding that a man’s place can also be in the home—part-time or even full-time.

    According to census figures, one in four dads takes care of his preschooler during the time the mother is working. The number of children who are raised by a primary-care father is now more than 2 million and counting. By all measures, fathers, even those who work full-time, are more involved in their children’s lives than ever before. According to the Families and Work Institute in New York City, fathers now provide three-fourths of the child care mothers do, up from one-half 30 years ago.

    Is Father Nurture Natural?

    Many men and women wonder if all of this father care is really natural. According to popular perceptions, men are supposedly driven by their hormones (primarily testosterone) to compete for status, to seek out sex and even to be violent—conditions hardly conducive to raising kids. A recent article in Reader’s Digest, “Why Men Act As They Do,” is subtitled “It’s the Testosterone, Stupid.” Calling the hormone “a metaphor for masculinity,” the article concludes, “…testosterone correlates with risk: physical, criminal, and personal.” Don’t men’s testosterone-induced chest-beating and risk-taking limit their ability to cradle and comfort their children?

    Two Canadian studies suggest that there is much more to masculinity than testosterone. While testosterone is certainly important in driving men to conceive a child, it takes an array of other hormones to turn men into fathers. And among the best fathers, it turns out, testosterone levels actually drop significantly after the birth of a child. If manhood includes fatherhood, which it does for a majority of men, then testosterone is hardly the ultimate measure of masculinity.

    In fact, the second of the two studies, which was recently published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, suggests that fathers have higher levels of estrogen the well-known female sex hormone—than other men. The research shows that men go through significant hormonal changes alongside their pregnant partners changes most likely initiated by their partner’s pregnancy and ones that even cause some men to experience pregnancy-like symptoms such as nausea and weight gain. It seems increasingly clear that just as nature prepares women to be committed moms, it prepares men to be devoted dads.

    “I have always suspected that fatherhood has biological effects in some, perhaps all, men,” says biologist Sue Carter, distinguished professor at the University of Maryland. “Now here is the first hard evidence that men are biologically prepared for fatherhood.”

    The studies have the potential to profoundly change our understanding of families, of fatherhood and of masculinity itself. Being a devoted parent is not only important but also natural for men. Indeed, there is evidence that men are biologically involved in their children’s lives from the beginning.

    Is Biology Destiny for Dads?

    It’s well known that hormonal changes caused by pregnancy encourage a mother to love and nurture her child. But it has long been assumed that a father’s attachment to his child is the result of a more uncertain process, a purely optional emotional bonding that develops over time, often years. Male animals in some species undergo hormonal changes that prime them for parenting. But do human dads? The two studies, conducted at Memorial University and Queens University in Canada, suggest that human dads do.

    In the original study, published in Evolution and Human Behavior, psychologist Anne Storey, and her colleagues took blood samples from 34 couples at different times during pregnancy and shortly after birth. The researchers chose to monitor three specific hormones because of their links to nurturing behavior in human mothers and in animal fathers.

    The first hormone, prolactin, gets its name from the role it plays in promoting lactation in women, but it also instigates parental behavior in a number of birds and mammals. Male doves who are given prolactin start brooding and feeding their young, Storey found that in human fathers, prolactin levels rise by approximately 20 percent during the three weeks before their partners give birth.

    The second hormone, cortisol, is well known as a stress hormone, but it is also a good indicator of a mother’s attachment to her baby. New mothers who have high cortisol levels can detect their own infant by odor more easily than mothers with lower cortisol levels. The mothers also respond more sympathetically to their baby’s cries and describe their relationship with their baby in more positive terms. Storey and her colleagues found that for expectant fathers, cortisol was twice as high in the three weeks before birth than earlier in the pregnancy.

    To see the rest of the article:

    The Making of a Modern Dad | Psychology Today.

    Follow

    Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

    Join 114 other followers