Welcome and Key Points about Parental Alienation
Definition of Parental Alienation: one parent manipulates a child to reject the other parent (or a step parent or grandparent or etc does the manipulation.) See also, frequently asked questions (answers to common criticisms and complaints). See also support groups in Ohio and around the world.
Greatest Victories in the Fight Against the Form of Child Abuse known as Parental Alienation:
RELIABLE IDENTIFICATION OF PARENTAL ALIENATION: The American Psychological Association (APA) published a paper in 2020 entitled "When Evaluators Get it Wrong", where the author's intent is to bridge the gap between advocates and naysayers. The paper provides guidance and context for helping people avoid errors in either direction. For additional context, refer to the NPO commentary.
SCIENCE AND LAW: A new 682 page book, Parental Alienation - Science and Law, published April 2020 a.) provides scientific information for parental alienation b.) notes how parental alienation meets all standards of admissibility in court c.) provides outstanding references cases in every United States state d.) refutes misinformation. The intended audience includes judges and family law attorneys and professionals. The first 26 pages is available online for free. More information is available on the publishers web site. It includes a refutation of the opinions of Joan Mercer.
JUNK FROM JOAN: Dr. Harman and Demosthenes Lorandos have refuted the work of Joan Meijer by identifying 30 conceptual and methodological errors in her federally funded paper, placing her writing squarely into the junk science genre.
ERASING FAMILY DOCUMENTARY: A fantastic new documentary is available for $9.99 that explains parental alienation in a way that appeals to most people and that is widely endorsed throughout the parental alienation community. View the 3 minute youtube trailer here and the 3 minute teaser here. View an 8 minute news story from ABC Phoenix that explains more about the film and interviews the executive director. View the documentary description on IMDB. The movie's web site erasingfamily.org provides more information, allows you to find the nearest screening to you, and explains how you can host a screening. See a 70 minute interview of the executive director about her earlier documentary on the same topic . That 70 minute interview takes them 15 seconds to get started, so a small amount of patience is needed. Here is another 20 minute interview with the executive director Ginger Gentile. See also the 30 minute video "victims of another war", which was considered for an academy award nomination.
ATTACHMENT-BASED PARENTAL ALIENATION (PATHOGENIC PARENTING): Dr. Childress has provided a diagnostic reformulation of parental alienation based on first principles, with no references to parental alienation literature. This eviscerates the tired old criticisms of parental alienation such as calling it "junk science" and positions ABPA as nothing new, but rather a manifestation of well understood pathology. This flips the tables and makes mental health professionals accountable under state law for diagnosing PA as child psychological abuse. and treating it appropriately. See his rigorous diagnostic criteria for severe parental alienation that rules out other forms of child abuse and exposure to domestic violence. Read a summary of pathogenic parenting. In brief, an alienator creates an imaginary delusion for themselves, their children, and the community that the OTHER parent is inadequate. This allows them to hide from personal fears of inadequacy / abandonment. The motivation for this classical approach comes from the work of Dr. David Foy in getting greater acceptance of PTSD
More tools: Another differential diagnosis tool is the Parental Acceptance Rejection Questionnaire (PARQ), which measures splitting. See the academic paper "AN OBJECTIVE MEASURE OF SPLITTING IN PARENTAL ALIENATION: THE PARENTAL ACCEPTANCE–REJECTION QUESTIONNAIRE". See also the BSQ for adults. And see an informal 10 question interview.And see the extended diagnostic checklist described above. Most importantly, watch Dr. Bernet's talk at the PASG conference on this test.
DSM-5: The authors of DSM-5 explain that parental alienation is included in DSM-5 as child abuse (V995.51). The tired argument that "it's not a syndrome" is invalid, irrelevant, dead, and misleading. Read insightful quotes from the authors of DSM-5. Send a copy of their paper to every under-informed mental health professional, along with some of their best quotes.
ICD-11: Parental alienation is included under PJ22 (Psychological maltreatment) and QE52.0 (child caregiver relationship problem).
ICD-10: This version is currently in use, retains "shared delusional disorder," which is an uncannily accurate description of parental alienation.
The American Psychological Association (APA) will appoint a work group to review parental alienation, according to a petition update and according an official statement from the APA, as the result of to an because of significant public concern.
An APA endorsed study shows that child psychological abuse is as harmful as child sexual abuse. This APA press release was endorsed by the APA council. A similar study in Canada obtained the same results.
The 2015 APA Handbook of Forensic Psychology provides extensive information about parental alienation. There is no excuse for custody evaluators to not understand it or miss it.
The APA published a technical paper in its own journal that confirms that parental alienation is child abuse.
Please sign the petition to ask the APA to update their position statement on parental alienation
AAP: The American Academy of Pediatrics has provided guidance to doctors on treating parental alienation
APSAC: The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC) has included parental alienation in its 2017 Practice Guidelines for the Investigation and Determination of Suspected Psychological Maltreatment of Children and Adolescents
IT'S EMPIRICAL: Over 6 empirical, peer reviewed studies show that parental alienation is child psychological abuse.
TOP HOSPITAL WEIGHED IN: The top us psychiatric hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) notes in its "Massachusetts General Clinical Psychiatry Guide" that "confining or withholding of interactions with other caregiver" is child psychological abuse (V995.51).
VICTIMS SPEAK OUT: Formerly Alienated Teens and Formerly Alienated Adults have spoken out, telling how it happens, how they were fooled and manipulated, including about 40 incredible videos from Ryan Thomas that explain how he was tricked and explain the perspective of the alienated child.
WIDESPREAD CHILD ABUSE: 13.4% of parents say they are alienated from a child, per a survey of 610 adults in North Carolina. About 10 million US parents say the alienation is severe
PARENTAL ALIENATION IS GENDER NEUTRAL: The studies are done. The numbers are in. The number of male and female alienators are approximately equal.
DoJ: The United States Department of Justice says that "damaging one's relationship with his or her children" is domestic violence.
Effective treatments exist: See what treatments for parental alienation work and which don't . You would simply never know that highly effective treatments exist because 99% of the time people prescribe treatments that rarely work.
THE LITTLE APA: The "American Psychiatric Association Textbook of Personality Disorders" perfectly describes disordered parenting and parental alienation.
THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN'S KIDS: The head of the British child protection agency CAFCASS, Mr. Anthony Douglas, said "It's undoubtedly a form of neglect or child abuse" and in a March 2017 debate in Parliament, Simon Danczuk said "Parental alienation is another form of child abuse that has gone both unreported and under-discussed." Mr. Douglas is also reported to have said that he was alienated as a child, said that parental alienation usually has a part to play in every high conflict case, and that CAFCASS is behind on the issue just as it had been behind on domestic violence a decade ago, and that it is a emotional and psychological abuse.
Alienators Caught Red Handed: active child abuse is usually a private, confidential, and highly personal matter, usually happening behind closed doors. But there is a growing library of public domain examples of parental alienation. Anyone confused about parental alienation may wish to review these examples of parental alienation.
A Minnesota appeals court issued an opinion (Amerrah v. Amerrah, 2018 Minn. App. LEXIS 368) that interference by one parent in child visitation (custody) with the other parent was prima facie evidence of endangerment of the child's emotional health. This cased is discussed further in an article in Psychology Today (near the bottom).
CATCH ME IF YOU CAN: The trauma to a child of a judge asking them if they want to live with their mother or father is well documented in a talk given by " Frank Abagnale at Google. When they judge asked him if he wanted to live with his father or mother, both of which were good parents, he immediately ran out of the court and began his life of deception. Later, he raised a family and says that children need a mother and a father.
Support Group Meeting times and dates: Columbus, Cleveland/Akron, Cambridge, all over Ohio, and all over the United States and around the world.
Greatest Parental Alienation Awareness Videos of all Time:
How to Alienate a Child in
Three Five Six Easy Examples: 1.) Parental Alienation Caught on Camera: an erasing parent "supervises" a conversation between child and soon to be erased parent. Click here to see this picture. Question: is that child getting the message that a relationship with the other parent is not encouraged? Question: is that child going to feel comfortable relating to the soon to be erased parent? Does the erasing parent somehow feel that the other parent is somehow unsafe, unloving, or unavailable, and is the erasing parent communicating that to the child? Will the child feel tremendous pressure just to block the other parent out of his/her life? 2.) Parental Alienation Caught on Audio Tape: listen to the mp3 or wma recording, where an alienator records a session with his child where he manipulates a child into saying she does not like her mother, then submits the tape into testimony, evidently not realizing that it is a textbook example of how to alienate a child. 3.) Parental alienation Caught on Video Camera: see the youtube video above (currently the first one) or click here. 4.) You can also read some more theoretical information about the beginnings of parental alienation. 5.) Here is another example of an alienator in action, on an accidental voice mail. 6.) Expert Bill Eddy of the High Conflict Institute has a brilliant and uncanny explanation of how it happens by using a hypothetical example of turning a child against a dentist, in his "dental alienation" story. It is remarkably accurate.
Also view the entire 2017 and 2018 Parental Alienation Study Group conferences and second here on youtube
Overview and Introduction
People who are in a position to see parental alienation most often know it is real. In a survey at the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts in 2010, 98% of 300 respondents agreed with the question “Do you think that some children are manipulated by one parent to irrationally and unjustifiably reject the other parent.” [Lorandos, D., W. Benet and S.R. Sauber (2013). Overview of Parental Alienation. In Lorandos, D., W. Bernet and S.R. Sauber (2013) Parental alienation. The Handbook for Mental Health and Legal Professionals. Charles C Thomas, Springfield.]
Parental alienation can be defined it as “undermining and interfering with the normal child parent bond.” [paawareness.org] “Parental alienation is the term used to describe a family dynamic in which on parent (referred to as the alienating or favored parent) engages in behaviors (referred to as alienation strategies) to foster a child’s unjustified rejection of and disaffection for the other parent (referred to as the rejected or targeted parent” [Baker, Amy, Surviving Parental Alienation]
Through alienation strategies, such as denigration of the other parent and limiting a child’s contact with the other parent, a targeting parent is able to make a child feel rejected by the targeted parent, causing the child to treat the targeted parent with behavior normally reserved for one’s worst enemy. Counter-intuitively, the child aligns with the parent that does not have their best interest in mind. “Parental behaviors that seem particularly ripe for exploitation by the other parent have to do with money, remarriage, and moving out of the family home.” [Amy Baker, “Co-parenting with a toxic ex”]
When a social worker or counselor or neighbor hears a litany of complaints from one parent that appear to be confirmed exactly by each of the children involved, it is natural to assume that they are telling the truth, unless a detailed and disciplined investigation is conducted. [Amy Baker, “Working with Alienated Children and Families: A Clinical Guidebook”.] An incorrect assessment only serves to reinforce the misunderstanding of the exploited child.
Alienated children can suffer from depression, lack of trust, anger, and self-hatred, and substance abuse. [Amy Baker, “Adult Survivors of Parental Alienation”]
Targeted parents may be baffled and ashamed, while targeting parents may be angry or jealous and may suffer from a personality disorder.
However, all children deserve to be loved by both parents and to be able to love them in return.
Saramento Family Court News Description, April 18, 2014: Parental alienation is a social dynamic where one parent sabotages the relationship of the other parent with the child - sometimes euphemistically called 'aggressive parenting' This happens physically by boycotting or "hijacking" any contact between them, but also psychologically by bullying the other parent away and by brainwashing the child. This will lead up to a situation where ultimately the child itself expresses unjustified hatred or unreasonably strong dislike of one parent, making access by the rejected parent even more difficult or impossible The alienating parent can now hide very well that he/she was solely responsible for this destruction of the relationship with the other parent, and the crime is complete: the child has lost a parent and grandparents.
Huffington Post, 5/26/2015 by Traci Slatton, "The child basically constructs an alternate reality where the parent is some kind of monster. There’s no longer any sense of the parent as a human being with the ordinary nuances of the gray scale, or as a good-enough parent; the parent’s actions and statements are twisted, distorted, and massaged to “prove” that the parent is unworthy of contact."
Psychology Today Blog, 5/2/2013 by Edward Kruk, "As Amy Baker writes, parents who try to alienate their child from the other parent subtlely or overtly convey a three-part message to the child: I am the only parent who loves you and you need me to feel good about yourself; the other parent is dangerous and unavailable; and pursuing a relationship with the other parent jeopardizes your relationship with me."
Judge Lisa O. Gorcya, 7/2015 "Any lawyer, judge, mental health professional, or case worker who has ANY involvement in the family court is aware that one of the most devastating issues we face is that of Parental Alienation" .... and speaking to an alienated child "I’ve never seen anything like this. One day you can watch this video and realize that you two have been brainwashed. Your dad is a good man. Your dad is a good man who loves you. You have been brainwashed. This is not normal behavior. Only—no adult in this courtroom, except one, thinks this is normal. Every single adult in this courtroom thinks you have been brainwashed. Your dad is a good man. And wipe that smirk off your face.”
Texas Supreme Court Justice Debra Lerhmann, chair of the American Bar Association's family law section, said in Oct 2010 .... "Anyone who's in this business knows there are situations where that [parental alienation] in fact is happening ... " she said.
"Over Loving" a Child 7/2015 To try to explain parental alienation and why an alienator would harm a child, some have proposed an analogy of "over loving" a child. It would be like the alienator hugging a child too hard and harming them ([Ryan Thomas]). To extend the over love metaphor, it would be for the alienator to love a child so much that they failed to recognize that the child was a separate person, with separate needs to connect with their other parent. To "over love" them would be to hyper protect them from every nuance of every minor, exaggerated, and mostly imagined slight. These imagined slights include the alienator's own weaknesses, projected over to the other parent. All rules of "fair play" are ignored by the alienator out of a belief that they are right so rules do not apply.
Workshop on Parental Alienation This is a 100 page slide deck from a workshop on parental alienation
Dr Childress explains that, in brief, under the pressures and self doubts caused by a divorce, a parent with unresolved childhood family relationship trauma that left them acutely vulnerable to fears of inadequacy or abandonment can have these fears re-triggered by the divorce.
To survive their crushing emotions, the alienating parents uses 3 psychological defense mechanisms:
1.) delusion: the alienating parent creates a self delusion that the other parent is worthy of rejection and abandonment
2.) splitting: thinking their ex to be all bad
3.) projection: imagining that every personal negative feeling is a thing done by their ex. For example, my feelings of abandonment are really my ex's feelings of actually being abandoned.
They can say to themselves, "See, I am not the abandoned, unworthy parent. My ex is".
To support their self delusion, they manipulate their child to reject/abandon the other parent, thus triangulating them into the marital conflict. Once the child claims (false) victim hood status, most people and most therapists naively make the mistake of piling on against the rejected parent, therefore validating the delusion of the alienating parent, which spreads to the child
Said in another way, as excerpted from Foundations: "At its foundational core, parental alienation represents the reenactment of a false drama of abuse and victimization from the childhood of a narcissistic/borderline parent that is embedded in the internal working models of the "alienating" parent's attachment networks. This false drama of a the reenactment narrative is created by the the psychopathology of a narcissistic/borderline parent in response to the psychological stress of the divorce and the reactivation of attachment trauma networks as a consequence of the divorce experience. In truth, there is no victimized child, there is no abusive parent, and there is no protective parent. It is a false drama, an echo of a childhood trauma from long ago"
Here is an important excerpt from pages 17-22 Of Dr Childress' “An Attachment-Based Model of Parental Alienation"
The psychological processes involved in attachment-based “parental alienation” are complex, but they become increasingly self-evident with familiarity. The primary reason for the initial apparent complexity of the dynamics is that they involve the psychological expressions within family relationship patterns of a narcissistic/(borderline) personality structure that has its origins in early attachment trauma from the childhood of the parent which is influencing, and in fact driving, the patterns of relationship interactions currently being expressed within the family. The inner psychological processes of the narcissistic/(borderline) mind are inherently complex and swirling, and linking these distorted personality processes into the functioning of the underlying attachment system adds another level of complexity. However, the nature of the pathology is stable across cases of “parental alienation,” so that this consistency in the pathology provides ever increasing clarity of understanding from increasing familiarity for the concepts.
Fully understanding these seemingly complex psychological and family factors requires an integrated recognition of the psychological and interpersonal dynamics across three interrelated levels of clinical analysis, 1) the family systems level, 2) the personality disorder level, and 3) the attachment system level. Each of these levels individually provides a coherent explanatory model for the dynamics being expressed in “parental alienation,” and yet each individual level is also an interconnected expression of the pathology contained at the other two levels of analysis as well, so that a complete recognition of the psychopathology being expressed as “parental alienation” requires a conceptual understanding of the process across all three distinctly different, yet interconnected, levels of analysis.
The family systems processes involve the family’s inability to successfully transition from an intact family structure that is united by the marital relationship to a separated family structure that is united by the continuing parental roles with the child. The difficulty in the family’s ability to transition from an intact family structure to a separated family structure is manifesting in the child’s triangulation into the spousal conflict through the formation of a cross-generational coalition with one parent (the allied and supposedly favored parent) against the other parent (the targeted-rejected parent). These principles are standard and established family systems constructs that are extensively discussed and described by preeminent family systems theorists, such as Salvador Minuchin and Jay Haley.
The problems occurring at the family systems level of analysis have their origin in the narcissistic/(borderline) personality dynamics of the allied and supposedly favored parent. The personality pathology of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent is creating a distorted emotional and psychological response in this parent to the psychological stresses associated with the interpersonal rejection and perceived abandonment surrounding the divorce. The inherent interpersonal rejection associated with divorce triggers specific psychological vulnerabilities for the narcissistic/(borderline) parent, who then responds in characteristic but pathological ways that adversely influence the child’s relationship with the other parent.
The characteristic psychopathology of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent draws the child into a role-reversal relationship with the parent in which the child is used by the narcissistic/(borderline) parent as an external “regulatory object” to help the narcissistic/(borderline) parent regulate three separate but interrelated sources of intense anxiety that were triggered by the divorce,
Narcissistic Anxiety: The threatened collapse of the parent’s narcissistic defenses against an experience of core-self inadequacy that is being activated by the interpersonal rejection associated with the divorce;
Borderline Anxiety: The triggering of severe abandonment fears as a result of the divorce and dissolution of the intact family structure;
Trauma Anxiety: The activation and re-experiencing of excessive anxiety embedded in attachment trauma networks from the childhood of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent that become active when the attachment system of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent activates in order to mediate the loss experience associated with the divorce.
At the core level of the psychological and family dynamics that are traditionally described as “parental alienation” is the attachment trauma of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent that is being triggered and then reenacted in current family relationships. It is this childhood attachment trauma of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent that is responsible for creating the narcissistic and borderline pathology of this personality. The childhood attachment trauma experienced by the narcissistic/(borderline) parent subsequently coalesced during this parent’s adolescence and young adulthood into the narcissistic and borderline personality structures that are driving the distorted relationship dynamics associated with the “parental alienation.” The childhood attachment trauma (i.e., a disorganized attachment) creates the narcissistic and borderline personality structures that then distort the family’s transition from an intact family structure to a separated family structure.
At the foundational core for triggering this integrated psychological and interpersonal dynamic is the reactivation by the divorce of attachment trauma networks from the childhood of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent that are contained within the internal working models of this parent’s attachment system. The representational schemas for this childhood attachment trauma are in the pattern of “victimized child”/“abusive parent”/“protective parent,” and it is this trauma pattern from the childhood of the “alienating” narcissistic/(borderline) parent that is being reenacted in the current family relationships.
The childhood trauma patterns for role-relationships contained within the internal working models of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent’s attachment system are being reenacted in current family relationships. The current child is adopting the trauma reenactment role as the “victimized child.” The child’s role as the “victimized child” then imposes the reenactment role of the “abusive parent” onto the targeted parent, and the coveted role in the trauma reenactment narrative of the all-wonderful “protective parent” is being adopted and conspicuously displayed by the narcissistic/(borderline) parent to the “bystanders” in the trauma reenactment. The “bystanders” in the trauma reenactment are represented by the various therapists, parenting coordinators, custody evaluators, attorneys, and judges. Their role in the trauma reenactment is to endorse the “authenticity” of the reenactment narrative. These “bystanders” also serve the function of providing the narcissistic/(borderline) parent with the “narcissistic supply” of social approval for the presentation by the narcissistic/(borderline) parent as being the idealized and all-wonderful “protective parent.”
At its foundational core, “parental alienation” represents the reenactment of a false drama of abuse and victimization from the childhood of a narcissistic/(borderline) parent that is embedded in the internal working models of the “alienating” parent’s attachment networks. This false drama of the reenactment narrative is created by the psychopathology of a narcissistic/(borderline) parent in response to the psychological stresses of the divorce and the reactivation of attachment trauma networks as a consequence of the divorce experience. In actual truth, there is no victimized child, there is no abusive parent, and there is no protective parent. It is a false drama, an echo of a childhood trauma from long ago, brought into the present by the pathological consequences of the childhood trauma in creating the distorting narcissistic/(borderline) personality structures of the alienating parent.
The child, for his or her part, is caught within this reenactment narrative by the distorting psychopathology and invalidating communications of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent that nullify the child’s own authentic self-experience in favor of the child becoming a narcissistic reflection for the parent. Under the distorting pathogenic influence of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent, the child is led into misinterpreting the child’s authentic grief and sadness at the loss of the intact family, and later at the loss of an affectionately bonded relationship with the targeted parent, as representing something “bad” that the targeted parent must be doing to create the child’s hurt (i.e., the child’s grief and sadness). The (influenced) misinterpretation by the child for an authentic experience of grief and loss is then further inflamed by distorted communications from the narcissistic/(borderline) that transform the child’s authentic sadness into an experience of anger and resentment toward the targeted parent who (supposedly) caused the divorce and who (supposedly) is causing the child’s continuing emotional pain (i.e., the child’s misunderstood and misinterpreted feelings of grief and sadness).
Through a process of distorted parental communications by the narcissistic/(borderline) parent, the child is led into adopting the “victimized child” role within the trauma reenactment narrative. Once the child adopts the “victimized child” role within the trauma reenactment narrative, this “victimized child” role automatically imposes upon the targeted parent the role as the “abusive parent,” and then the combined role definitions of the “abusive parent” and “victimized child” that are created the moment the child adopts the “victimized child” role allows the narcissistic/(borderline) parent to adopt the coveted trauma reenactment role as the all-wonderful nurturing and “protective parent,” which will then be so conspicuously displayed to the “bystanders” for their validation and “narcissistic supply.”
The description of an attachment-based model for the construct of “parental alienation” will uncover the layers of pathology, beginning with the surface level of the family systems dynamics involving the family’s difficulty in making the transition from an intact family structure to a separated family structure. The description will then move into the personality disorder level to describe how the pathological characteristics of the narcissistic/(borderline) personality structures become expressed in the family relationship dynamics, particularly surrounding the formation of the role-reversal relationship of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent with the child in which the child is used (exploited) as a “regulatory other” for the psychopathology and anxiety regulation of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent. Finally, the origins of the “parental alienation” process in the attachment trauma networks of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent will be examined, with a particular focus on the induced suppression of the child’s attachment bonding motivations and the formation and expression of the trauma reenactment narrative.
Following this discussion of the theoretical foundations for an attachment-based model of “parental alienation,” a broad overview of the diagnostic considerations emanating from an attachment-based model of “parental alienation” will be discussed, and three definitive diagnostic indicators for identifying attachment-based “parental alienation” will be described. A descriptive framework for a model of “reunification therapy” will also be presented which will be based on the theoretical underpinnings for an attachment-based model of the “parental alienation.” Finally, a discussion of the domains of knowledge necessary for professional competence in diagnosing and treating this special population of children and families will be identified.
News Release about Dr. Childress
NEWS RELEASE, FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 8/24/2015
For more information contact:
Howie Dennison, Advocate for Children
Central Ohio Parental Alienation
Breakthrough in Fighting Child Abuse
8/24/2015, Columbus, OH - Dr. Craig Childress of Pasadena, CA, has made a scientific breakthrough that will help countless children worldwide who have been subjected to psychologically distorted parenting, according to Howie Dennison, an advocate for children at the Central Ohio Parental Alienation. Dr. Childress' theoretical model explains what happens to these children and how to help them.
Dr. Childress, a clinical psychologist, explained to Howie Dennison that, in simplified terms, some parents are so afraid to face their buried fears of being unlovable and unwanted, that when they face significant rejection during a divorce or breakup, they retreat into a fantasy world. In that fantasy world, they imagine that their ex partner is the unlovable and unwanted person, an abusive parent, and a fundamentally bad person. To build their fantasy, they coerce their children to reject their other parent by bringing them into the adult relational conflict through triangulation. To complete their fantasy, they then assume the coveted role of being an “all wonderful” parent who is ostensibly trying to protect their children from their “abusive” former partner. The “wonderful” parent then uses their children to satisfy their own emotional needs.
Dr. Childress has made it easy for professionals to identify when a child is a victim of this type of psychological abuse, because the child will show a unique behavior pattern: 1.) a rather sudden, unwarranted lack of attachment (feelings of love and affection) for the “rejected” parent 2.) feelings of being superior to the “rejected” parent which appear as arrogance, entitlement, a lack of empathy, and splitting (black and white thinking that one parent is all bad and the other parent is all good) 3.) a fixed but false belief that the “rejected” parent is inadequate.
In the language of standard psychology, a parent suffering from a narcissistic or borderline personality disorder can, under unrelenting stress or pressure, decompensate into a persecutory delusional state. These parents then expel their feelings of inadequacy or abandonment onto their former partner by using the defense mechanisms of projection and splitting. Through triangulation, psychological enmeshment with their children, and the formation of a cross generational alliance with their children, they influence their children to share their delusion. These parents then use their children as a narcissistic supply (or regulatory-other), creating a role reversal relationship that shows a lack empathy for their children’s own developmental needs.
Dr. Childress calls this pathogenic parenting or an attachment model of “parental alienation.” His theoretical formulation avoids controversy because it uses only accepted psychology about attachment, family systems, and personality disorders.
This fundamental advance in understanding will help abused children worldwide.
The overwhelming certainty of parental alienation
According to an APA Peer Reviewed Journal: In a 2010 survey of professionals, 98% of the 300 respondents agreed with the question, "Do you think some children are manipulated by one parent to irrationally and unjustifiable reject the other parent?
To Do Nothing is to participate in the continued abuse of children
"Dr. Baker defined an "alienated child" as one who unjustifiably rejects one parent (the 'disfavoured parent') and is aligned with the other parent (the 'favoured parent')," Blok wrote. "This is distinct from the "realistic estrangement" of a child, who has rejected a parent but has done so for an objectively good reason." In her report, Baker described parental alienation as "a form of emotional abuse. To do nothing is to participate in the continued abuse of children."
Here is how one psychiatrist described it, without jargon: "False accusations of hostility, divisiveness and hatred occur not infrequently in marriages with high levels of conflict and with impending separation or divorce. When of an extremely severe nature, such anger can lead to demonizing a spouse in an effort to undermine the trust of the children in that spouse and to obtain their loyalty instead. This pathological behavior is referred to as parental alienation and is clearly psychologically damaging to Catholic youth, spouses and families. Spouses who make false accusations against a husband or wife frequently have serious lifelong psychological conflicts often with excessive anger, a compulsive need to control and intense selfishness with an inflated sense of self. The goal of the accusations is primarily to control the spouse and children, as well as to gain custody of the children through divorce litigation. The origins of these actions are often from unconsciously modeling their presence in a parent or from giving into the pull of selfishness in the culture."
Convicted felons can see their children but erased parents often cannot. See the research.