June 25th, 2009 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
Here‘s an excellent video on PAS (TVO, 6/12/09). It’s a Canadian public affairs TV show called The Agenda with Steve Paikin. The guests are psychologists Dr. Amy Baker and Barbara Fidler, Toronto Family Court Justice Harvey Brownstone and Toronto Family Attorney, Jeffery Wilson. The discussion is excellent and informative.
There are several main points worth repeating. First, PAS is now being considered for inclusion in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, although none of the panelists knew if it would be included.
Second, whether PAS is officially a syndrome or not, it is a very common occurrence among divorced parents and married parents. Justice Brownstone said that he sees it in his court every day to some degree or other. Another Toronto judge recently complained in the Globe and Mail that PAS cases take up a disproportionate amount of family court time. That’s true in part because the cases never end; the alienating parent continues to alienate and the other parent tries to stop it, resulting in a series of court hearings that only stops when the child becomes an adult.
Third, Dr. Richard Warshak’s program designed to reconnect parents with alienated children has shown very promising preliminary results. Of 22 alienated children, 21 successfully reconnected with the non-custodial parent. Of those, 17 were long-lasting, and of the four that relapsed, it was determined that they had been allowed renewed contact with the original alienator too early. (Anti-PAS/anti-dad commentators attempt to denigrate Warshak’s work by calling it “deprogramming.” But apparently he’s having some promising results.)
Fourth, Dr. Baker has studied adults who were alienated as children by a parent, and found that they often experience serious depression stemming from the alienating family dynamic. Baker also emphasized that to turn a child against a parent is to turn the child against him/herself, since the child’s wellbeing requires both parents. Many of Baker’s subjects said that, as children, they had wished the non-custodial parent had “called their bluff.” In other words, they knew at the time that they didn’t believe what they were saying about the non-custodial parent, and wished someone had seen through it.
The video is 37 minutes long and well worth it.
Thanks to Dr. Amy Baker for bringing it to our attention.