Injustices faced by non-custodial parents
Submitted by stepmom008 on Wed, 02/24/2010 – 2:12pm.
Families torn apart … the stories behind the divorces
More than one in three youngsters – 38 per cent – go without having their father around after their parents split, and nearly one in ten are so traumatised they consider SUICIDE.
The findings, by a leading law firm, also discovered children are being caught in bitter custody battles, and many later turn to drink and drugs.
Sandra Davis, head of family law firm Mishcon de Reya, which surveyed 4,000 people, said: “This research shows that, despite their best intentions, parents are often using their children as emotional footballs.”
Here NIKKI WATKINS, NICK FRANCIS and JENNA SLOAN speak to four people who have been affected by divorce.
We hear from a mum whose husband left for Australia, a man who tracked down his long-lost dad and two fathers who haven’t seen their kids in years.
RICHARD separated from his long-term partner in May 1998, after six years.
The 43-year-old, from Carshalton, Surrey, who is on sick leave from his job as a train-driving instructor, has not seen his 15-year-old daughter for more than eight years, despite suffering with leukaemia.
His ex-partner moved 600 miles away, which makes visiting impossible as his leukaemia treatment is carried out in his home town.
Richard says: “We came to an understanding about contact times that worked out initially.
“Then my ex started mucking about with it. I said, ‘we need to sort this out’, as I didn’t want to go down the route of court because it is expensive and pits parent against parent.
“It becomes a battle of parents rather than what is right for the child.
“The advice I got at the time was to avoid the court system.
“I said that it was in our daughter’s best interests to continue seeing me.”
Richard eventually ended up seeking the advice of a solicitor.
He says: “The day before we were due for a directions hearing my ex phoned me and asked me what I wanted. I said the same as before and she said, ‘that is fine’.
But the situation changed when Richard’s ex got engaged and moved to Scotland.
Richard says: “I got a letter from her solicitor saying the contact schedule wouldn’t work.”
He has since been diagnosed with leukaemia and when faced with chemotherapy told doctors not to worry about his fertility, as he was too traumatised to have more children.
He wrote to his ex and daughter to explain about his illness, but says he got no response.
Richard says: “I don’t get anything back – I haven’t in eight years. I just want an acknowledgement to say my daughter is aware of what has happened and sends her love. It’s an awful situation.
“I know they get to the address because everything is recorded delivery, the birthday presents and Easter eggs.
“I had to have counselling about losing my daughter. It has affected me in a big, big way.
“Children have a right to know both parents.”
MELANIE divorced her husband of 13 years after he left her and their two sons without warning.
When Melanie, 33, came home one day to find hubby Trevor leaving, she thought for a moment that he was going to the shops – before realising he meant he was going for good.
He left for a new life in Australia, since then having no contact with sons Oliver, then 3, and Joshua, then 8.
Melanie, a photographer from Durham, says: “Trevor left on March 8, 2008. I wasn’t aware of any real problems in our marriage, just the usual bickering. I came home from work and he said he was leaving.
“My oldest boy Joshua, who is now ten, has a lot of issues and has to see a counsellor.
“Because he was there when his dad was packing his things in the car, he blames himself for his dad leaving.
“My other son, Ollie, who’s five, was only three when his dad left so I think he has got off a bit lighter.
“They are both very clingy, though. I con-stantly have to reassure them.
“I’m worried about how it’s going to affect Ollie in the future. I also worry about my boys because there isn’t a male role model in the house.
“Trevor has my numbers and can get in touch with the boys if he wants, he just chooses not to.
“He took me to court this year to try and get access.
“We came to an agreement that he could come and see them over the summer but just one week before he was due, he cancelled.
“After spending thousands of pounds on a court case in this country, despite not having paid any money for the boys, he goes and disappoints them like that.
“If Trevor is the kind of man who can do this to his family then he’s not the sort of person I want around my kids.”
JAMES TAYLOR tracked down his long-lost dad, James Dennis, 52, through the internet after his parents divorced.
James 33, a mortgage adviser from Glasgow. says: “My mum and dad married when they were 17 and 18, which was very young.
“My dad, who was a welder, moved to Reading to find work and initially my mum went with him. But things didn’t work out and my mum came back to Scotland.
“My parents ended up divorcing and lost contact. I think it was a combination of the pressure on them, as they were so young, and the distance between them.
“I was their only child, and I saw my dad once when I was about seven, but that was it. It didn’t really occur to me to ask about him.
“All I’d ever known was my mum, Brenda, who remarried. But when I went to secondary school I began to wonder why I didn’t have a dad like the other kids did.
“When I was 17 my mum passed away due to complications in childbirth. It really made me think about things and start to question who my family was.
“I have four step-daughters with my wife Georgina and we have a boy Joshua, who is seven. I also have two step-granddaughters.
“Having my own children did make me think even more about getting in touch with my dad. My wife was very supportive but I was worried about finding Dad. What if he didn’t like me?
“In 2006 I logged on to the Genes Reunited website and typed in my father’s name. I hadn’t seen him for 23 years. One match came up that turned out to be my aunt, I was delighted when I got an email from her.
“She passed my contact details on to my dad and we arranged to meet.
“Going to meet him for the first time was very emotional. I’d only seen him in his old wedding picture, with long hair in the 1970s, so I didn’t recognise him straight away.
“But when it finally dawned on me that this was my dad I was thrilled. We have some of the same characteristics – our eyes are similar – and we have similar mannerisms too.
“And I have a half-brother and half-sister that I’d never met, along with aunties, uncles and cousins. I’m so glad I logged on to that website.”
DAD Paul is a full-time carer for his elderly father.
He split with his wife of 25 years and lost contact with his son, then aged seven, 12 years ago.
Paul, 57, from Hampshire, is still coming to terms with his loss. He says: “My wife decided that she wanted the relationship to finish and we divorced.
“Very quickly it became difficult to have contact with my son.
“You get cursory visits once every two weeks. It was difficult right from the beginning, but I saw him for about a year, every other weekend. That isn’t sufficient for a relationship.”
Paul went to court to try tomaintain the contact but thesituation deteriorated.
He says: “If one parent is trying hard to stop contact, the court doesn’t really do anything to enforce contact with the absent parent.”
That is why Paul finds the new statistics about so many children not seeing their fathers unsurprising.
He says: “I wrote many articles and did some charity work for a time for all of the charity groups who were trying to get the system changed.
“I did it because there are probably about a million kids out there who have not got what you could call a decent family.
“If you include the extended family then the number of people involved is just colossal. The figure of 38 per cent doesn’t surprise me at all. It almost destroys you. You miss everything.
“I don’t even know categorically if my son is alive – simple as that.
“I took it all the way to the highest court and that got me experienced in the legal system.
“So I was advising other people how to keep the cost down and how to do it themselves.
“I have moved on now – it took me several years to get to that stage and it was a very desperate state. I have been divorced 12 years now and I fought for five years in the courts. My life could always be better.
“More than anything I would want my son to know that I care and that I am still caring.”
Why is it so difficult for men who are being controlled by narcissistic, borderline, histrionic and other abusive women to end the relationship? What keeps them tethered to these abusive personalities sometimes even after the relationship has ended?
There are two basic hooks this kind of woman uses to keep men on a readily yank-able chain: the fear of loss and the need for approval. These are the two most powerful control devices in their arsenal. The worst part is that, in many cases, men unwittingly play right into their hands.
The Fear of Loss
The fear of loss is an especially powerful mechanism. It could be the fear of losing the relationship, fear of losing your children, your reputation or your money and other assets. Inducing fear, guilt, shame and a sense of obligation are how abusive women control you. If you’re afraid of loss and your wife/girlfriend/ex knows it, you’re basically at her mercy.
Abusive women will:
Many of these women will implicitly or explicitly communicate that you’ll never meet anyone else like them. Let’s hope not. The resulting fear is that no other women will want you or find you attractive, which is nonsense. The reality is that emotionally abusive women are a dime a dozen. There’s nothing special about them—except for their highly dysfunctional and toxic characterological traits. You need to change your mindset. Perhaps by “losing” the relationship, you will, ultimately, “win.”
There are far better woman in the world who will treat you with kindness, respect, generosity and mutual consideration. You’re not lucky this woman “puts up with you;” she’s lucky that you put up with her. Being alone is better than being in an abusive relationship. If being on your own is too difficult at first; get a dog or a goldfish.
As for losing your assets, your children and your reputation, these are very real losses. However, if you’re persistent, you can regain and rebuild anything you lose. It won’t be exactly the same, but the longer you stay with this woman, the more you’ll lose—financially and emotionally. It’s confounding. Men are punished by the courts (i.e., spousal support) for staying in the marriage longer in an effort to work things out. You think you’re doing the right thing by hanging in there, but you’re actually giving your wife more power to hurt you when you finally divorce. Therefore, it’s better to get out sooner than later when you notice how lopsided, hurtful and inequitable your relationship is.
Kids are a tough one. You may well lose time with and access to your child(ren). On the other hand, consider what you’re modeling by staying in an abusive relationship. It’s better for a child to have one healthy and strong parent than two dysfunctional ones.
Exactly what are you afraid of losing? The abuse? The emotional withdrawal and rejection? Being made to feel less than? If this were anyone other than your wife/girlfriend/ex, would you want to even know this person? Have you challenged these fears with your intellect or are you being led by your “gut?”
When you fear loss, you need to stop “listening to your gut” and use your mind to reality test your fears. Abusive women are master manipulators who employ emotional reasoning that has very little to do with the facts of a situation. The emotionally based attacks also serve to confuse you and cloud your judgment. Therefore, when you’re afraid, stop listening to your gut and start reasoning with your brain.
Don’t just succumb to your fears; CHALLENGE THEM with your intellect, not the emotional reasoning that only reinforces them. More often than not, your fears are just distorted, self-limiting beliefs sown by your wife/gf/ex. By giving into your fear, you’re voluntarily walking into a cage and handing her the key. The truth is you have the power to release yourself. You will love again. You will find happiness. But you will only do so without this woman.
The Need for Approval
Another highly effective device abusive women use to control you is denying approval and acceptance. It’s natural to want to be liked and admired—especially by the person you love. Being criticized, demeaned, rejected and told repeatedly, “not good enough,” “you don’t measure up,” or that you’ve “failed again” is demoralizing. It also spurs you on to try even harder to please her and herein lies the problem: These women are never satisfied. Nothing you do will ever be good enough. She will never bestow upon you the kind of love and acceptance you seek.
You’re perpetuating a sick dynamic by seeking approval from someone who’ll never give it to you. Why? Because these women experience giving approval to others as a psychological and visceral loss. To tell you, “nice job” or “I appreciate you” somehow makes her feel less than and, as you well know, these women won’t tolerate that for a second.
Why does your wife’s/girlfriend’s/ex’s approval mean so much to you? Do you actually respect her and the way she conducts herself? A woman like this is an abusive, entitled and incredibly self-serving bully, so why do you care what she thinks? Seeking approval from someone who takes pleasure in cutting you down is a recipe for disappointment and pain.
The Way Out
Don’t let her solicited and unsolicited opinions get to you anymore. Recognize them for what they are: Abusive control tactics. Your overall goal is emotional detachment, which means you’re not invested in the outcome of this relationship. Once you’re no longer afraid of “losing” or care about receiving her approval, you’ll see the balance of power in the relationship shift.
She will be less able to “get to you,” which is a good thing. You’ll begin to care less, which is psychologically freeing. You’ll become more immune to the traps she sets and she won’t be able to figure out what the hell is happening. As you step out of this dysfunctional emotional dynamic, she’ll escalate her nasty behaviors as she frantically tries to maintain control and bully you back into place. She’ll be uncharacteristically speechless when her tried and true control devices no longer work.
Just remember, the more you commit to taking care of yourself, the more embittered she’ll grow. She’ll accuse you of being “selfish,” “inconsiderate” and “uncaring.” This is a good sign—for you. Abusive women view any attempt you make at self-care and growth as a grave betrayal. How dare you do something positive for yourself? How dare you not let her make you feel bad?
The more you put your needs first, the stronger and healthier you’ll become and your attraction to this supremely unhealthy woman should diminish. Abusive women remain in control by keeping you disoriented, hurting and in a psychologically weakened state. This is why she becomes alarmed when she sees you taking care of yourself.
Even if you don’t initially believe it, the freedom from abuse you’ll gain by ending this relationship will eventually outweigh any material losses you incur. You need to realize that you don’t have an actual relationship with this woman; it’s an autocracy in which she’s the petty tyrant and you live to serve. Furthermore, a woman like this isn’t capable of true intimacy and empathy, which are prerequisites for a healthy relationship. Your happiness lies in the future with someone else; not her.
Sadly, you may well see your children less or suffer through watching your ex turn them into her human shields, protectors and weapons to hurt you. However, by staying in an abusive relationship you’re exposing your children to a very unhealthy model of adult relationships. Nevertheless, this is a heartbreaking choice for many fathers. It may cost you money and potentially damage your relationship with your children, but what’s the cost of happiness, sanity and freedom from abuse?
by Dr Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD
Originally posted on July 27, 2009 at A Shrink for Men.
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“I was hoping you were a writer I could promote. Then you said that being fatherless can lead to being gay. I’ve read enough… ” Teri Stoddard at Associated Content
in a comment to Alex S. Gabor on an article related to a $100 Billion Fathers and Children’s Rights Class Action Lawsuit Being Developed by “The Penny King.
She writes about children, mothers, fathers, child custody, family law reform, families, parents rights, civil rights, parental alienation, false accusations, domestic violence policy reform, but so far has only published 18 articles, has less than a handful of friends, and by posting some negative comments about an article written by this author, it has triggered the following letter from the Penny King which I, his exclusive scribe have written out for the general public to read as a matter of historical record.
“I see you being an activist but highly ineffective…prove me wrong, please!
“Children deserve fully functioning, natural, loving, dedicated relationships with both of their parents, I infinitely agree with you, but where is the balance between father’s rights, mother’s rights, children’s rights, human rights and humanocracy?
“Justice is about balancing life to serve us with equal rights and you have to admit the scales have been tipped in the wrong weighting toward denying children their rights to see their fathers, denying fathers their rights to see their children, and the subsequent consequence of denying more than one person their human rights in their pursuit of life, liberty and happiness, except that women somehow have managed to convince the court systems in America that have penis leads to less than a humanocratic system of parental and children’s rights.
In response to her cutting remarks,”The Penny King” sent her the following text privately but he has given me permission to publish this response here online at Associated Content.
Some grassroots Conservatives want the government to scrap its controversial new protection for parental rights in the Human Rights Act.
At an annual general meeting Thursday night for Progressive Conservatives in Education Minister Dave Hancock’s riding, Edmonton-Whitemud, members passed a motion to put Bill 44 back on the agenda when the party meets in Red Deer in November.
The government voted in changes to the Human Rights Act earlier this month which recognize gay rights and create new protection for parents to pull their kids from classroom lessons dealing with religion, human sexuality or sexual orientation.
Critics fear teachers and school boards could be brought before human rights commissions if they misstep under the new rules.
While Hancock said early in the spring debate he believed such parental rights belonged in the School Act, he defended the new law alongside Culture Minister Lindsay Blackett.
Hancock was not present for the final vote in the legislature. He said Friday his association’s resolution came as no surprise because some members had long been passionate about the bill.
The Bill 44 resolution may not make it to the party’s official agenda in November, depending on what items are brought forward by other constituencies.
If the resolution to scrap parental rights were ultimately passed, the onus is only on the government to respond to the motion, not act on it.
“The government is a government for all Alberta, so it’s not dictated to by party resolution,” Hancock said.
Tory Ken Chapman said the resolution could send an important message from the party to the government.
But “if it doesn’t pass it will be a very important message to progressives.”
There are many, many ways I can think of that women are not yet equal to men. We still only make a fraction of what men do on a per-dollar basis. (76 cents I believe?) We are not allowed into full combat in the military. We are judged on our ability to be mothers and housekeepers before our ability to do our jobs. All of that is real and I am the last person to say there aren’t a million other reasons that women have not yet attained equal status with men.
However, I have a bone to pick with my female counterparts. Feminism is all about each woman having the right to choose her own path. We should be allowed to do whatever we want in this life and not be judged by society’s arbitrary sex roles, right? Absolutely.
What about men? Do they enjoy this right?
Bob and Jane are a middle class couple. They have two children. They get an amicable divorce. There is a custody hearing. Both of them are good parents. Both of them want to be the primary custody holder. Who gets the children? Seriously, every single time, unless Jane lights up a crack pipe in the courtroom she will get physical custody.
Bob is expected by society to be happy with every other weekend and two weeks in the summer. Don’t believe me? What would you think if you heard that a woman only saw her children every other weekend and a few holidays?
I PROMISE you would think, “What did she do to lose her kids?” But, with men, that’s just the way it goes, right?
What message does it send to men about what sort of fathers they should be when it’s made clear by the courts and their ex-wives that their most important contribution as fathers is a timely child support payment?
Even in less weightier arenas men lose out. If you drive by a house with a dying lawn, is your first thought about what a crappy homeowner the WOMAN is who lives there? Doubt it.
How about at work? Women can openly talk in the break room about the hot new guy in Receiving. What kind of pigs are the men who talk about the hot new manager who happens to be a woman? If a woman asks a male co-worker out on a date, the worst that can happen is rejection. For a man, the worst that can happen is the loss of his job and a sexual harassment suit. Is that gender equality?
Women can wander the world and hug every child they see without suspicion. If a woman gathers the neighborhood children together to organize a community garden, she’s a saint. If a man does it, people wonder if he’s a pedophile.
Don’t believe me? Imagine you’re in a toy store and a woman shopping alone comments on what a beautiful little girl you have. You are pleased and flattered. You fill in the woman’s story in your head. She’s probably an overworked mother out to buy toys for a birthday or holiday. What about the middle-aged man wandering that same store alone? Wouldn’t it at least cross your mind that he could be a pervert? Of course it would.
It’s completely okay, even applauded, when female writers, comediennes, singers, song writers and talk show hosts make sweeping generalizations about ALL men being stupid, sex driven, lazy assholes. How do we feel about men who say that women are all crazy, hormonal, irrational, ditzy, frigid bitches?
Thousands of men in America today are routinely physically abused by women. What shelter do they show up at with their children and the clothes on their backs? What would it take to get you to believe that a six-foot-tall, 200 pound man is abused by his tiny little wife? But, every single one of us has seen a woman who could easily beat her husband’s ass being smacked around by a wiry little Napoleon-like man. What would you think of a man you heard say, “I am afraid of my wife?”
What a wussy, right?
I must say, I don’t know a single man, NOT ONE, who thinks I am a lesser person because I have a vagina. The men I know see women as mysterious, alluring and even holy. Men are now often the stay-at-home parent. Women have the option of being the sole breadwinner in a way they have never been allowed before in human history. I know my husband would do that for me in a second.
People want what they can’t have. Women are sent the message that any man will sleep with them because sex is all they think about. Sex makes them stupid, right? Men are told that women will “hold out on them.” We all want the unattainable, what we can’t have.
What would you think of a man who told a woman he would give her diamond jewelry if she had sex with him? How is that different than “holding out” on a man because he doesn’t give you jewelry? Or take out the garbage? Or mow the lawn? There should be no “price” on intimacy.
We will only have equal rights as women when we FULLY recognize that each person is a human being, regardless of sex, with the same wants, needs and feelings as everyone else. Sure, we’re hooked up differently. But, how can we expect to be treated equally as women when every man is characterized as Homer Simpson?
One final thought – I was clothes shopping with my almost-12-year-old daughter the other day. We saw t-shirts that said, “Girl Power!” – “Girls Rock!” – “Boys Suck!” – and my personal favorite “Boys Are Great, Every Girl Should Own One!”
I also have an almost-11-year-old boy. If he went to school with a shirt that said “Boy Power!” or “Girls Are Great, Every Boy Should Own One,” how long would he last? I guess it just goes without saying that boys can do anything, including staying silent while girls are brought up in a culture that has swung from female empowerment to male bashing.
I suppose all I really want to say here is that it is wrong to judge any sex as a whole. Men and women are individuals. We all begin as children and children do what is expected of them. If we expect men to be stupid, sex-crazed frat boys, many will comply. If we expect girls to think “Boys Suck,” they will comply.
We do NOT have to stand on the backs of men to get ahead.
We can go forward together.
Sometimes I wonder why such dysfunctional adults can be allowed to make decisions regarding children, but the secret to success for those who are parental abusers, (also known as “alienating parents”) is their appearance of being absolutely normal on the surface.
However, bubbling below the surface and now quite so well hidden is their true psychological profile, which psychological testing reveals. Often times they call themselves “protective parents” or “survivors” or “battered” and viciously blame the courts for turning children over to “abusers.” But when asked why the “abusive” parent is not in jail, the sociopath quickly describes “payoffs“, “bribes” and “court corruption” with “collusion” thrown in to save the “abuser” and to “ignore” the evidence. Also they are big into playing the “victim” role and believe that all men commit “domestic violence” just by looking at them.
Parental alienators will deliberately make up falsehoods, deceive, delay, and play the “victim” in custody proceedings and do so with a sly and manipulative cunning that is best described as sociopath behavior. Like Hitler and the Nazis, these sick individuals enjoy controlling others and “winning,” and creating an environment of hostility and bitterness. Although outwardly they may be seen as successful, charming and winning in the careers, “these ordinary people who have no conscience–no capacity to feel shame, guilt, or remorse–can do absolutely anything to other people without ever feeling guilty . . . These sociopaths learn early on to show sham emotion, but underneath they are cold as a snake and live to dominate and win.” from “The Sociopath Next Door” by Dr. Martha Stout. Dr. Stout estimates that 4% of our population can be described as sociopaths. And, she says that may be a conservative estimate.
Which means between 16 to 40 million Americans are seriously ill and can be classified Sociopaths..
I am reprinting Dr. Richard A. Garnder article here, which partially describes some of the sociopathic behavior of Parental Alienators. The complete original article can be found here: http://www.fact.on.ca/Info/pas/gard02e.htm
by 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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 ) 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.”
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
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.”
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:
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
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.
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:
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
3) 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.
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:
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).
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.
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.
The complete original article can be found here: http://www.fact.on.ca/Info/pas/gard02e.htm
False Domestic Violence Accusations Can Lead To Parental Alienation Syndrome
April 19, 2006
by David Heleniak
Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is a pattern of thoughts and behavior that can develop in a child of separated parents where the custodial parent causes the child, through manipulation and access blocking, to unjustifiably fear and/or hate the other parent. PAS is more than brainwashing, in that the child comes to actively participate in the degradation of the target parent, coming up with original (often ludicrous) reasons to fear/hate him or her.
Domestic violence (DV) restraining orders are a perfect weapon for an alienating parent. Typically, in addition to removing an accused abuser from the marital home, a DV restraining order also “temporarily” bars the accused abuser from seeing his or her children, and “temporarily” gives the accusing parent exclusive physical custody. And temporary, in the Family Court, has a funny way of becoming permanent.
Obtaining a restraining order based on a false allegation of domestic violence gets the target parent out of the house and out of the picture. A father who can’t see his kids, for example, is unable to rebut the lie “Daddy doesn’t love you anymore. That’s why he left you.” Nor can he rebut the alternate lie, “Daddy is dangerous. The wise judge said so. That’s why he can’t see you.”
Often, if an accused abuser is allowed to see his or her children, it is in a supervised visitation center. As Stan Rains observed in “Supervised Visitation Center Dracula,”
The demeaning of the “visiting” parent is readily visible from the minute that a person enters the “secured facility” with armed guards, officious case workers with their clipboards and arrogant, domineering managers…. The child’s impression is that all of these authority figures see Daddy as a serious and dangerous threat. The only time a child sees this type of security is on TV showing prisons filled with bad people.
Not only does visitation in a visitation center send the clear message to the child that the “visiting” parent is a bad person, if children decline to see their parents under such a setting, they are generally not forced to do so. More perversely, if a child is encouraged by the custodial parent to refuse to see the target parent, there will be no significant repercussion to the targeting parent, and, generally, the child will not be forced to see the target parent.
The more time a child spends away from the alienated parent, the worse the alienation will become. As psychologist Glenn F. Cartwright remarked in his article “Expanding the Parameters of Parental Alienation Syndrome,”
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.
Along these lines, Dr. Richard A. Gardner, who coined the term “Parental Alienation Syndrome” in 1985, maintained: “If there is to be any hope of their reestablishing a relationship with the targeted parent, PAS children must spend significant time with him (her). They must have living experiences that will demonstrate that the PAS parent is not noxious and/or dangerous.”
A parent willing to falsely accuse the other parent of domestic violence would probably be willing to poison a child against him or her. Add to this the problem that a judge willing to “err on the side of caution” by entering a DV restraining order based on a dubious false allegation would probably not be willing to do what was necessary to prevent the development of PAS.
PAS is heart-wrenching and, tragically, common. If the DV restraining order system could be reformed so that only real victims obtained restraining orders and only real abusers were thrown out their houses, I predict that the number of PAS cases would be greatly reduced. Let’s try to get there.
David Heleniak is an attorney in Morristown, NJ, and the author of “The New Star Chamber: The New Jersey Family Court and the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act.”