Delusions in Parental Alieation

As Dr. Childress points out in his diagnostic checklist for pathogenic parenting, a child can exhibit "an intransigently held, fixed and false belief regarding the fundamental parental inadequacy of the targeted-rejected parent in which the child characterizes a relationship with the targeted-rejected parent as being somehow emotionally or psychologically “abusive” of the child.  While the child may not explicitly use the term “abusive,” the implication of emotional or psychological abuse is contained within the child’s belief system and is not warranted based on the assessed parenting practices of the targeted-rejected parent (which are assessed to be broadly normal-range).

A parent suffering from a narcissistic or borderline personality disorder can, under unrelenting stress or pressure from divorce, decompensate into persecutory delusions that the other parent is inadequate or abusive. Children become coerced into adopting these delusions.

Here are a few examples of clear delusions:
1. Erased parent is a cannibal, despite the fact that the child's body is intact, with no missing limbs, etc.
2. A child erases a parent, saying they did not pay for college as promised, but the child refuses to acknowledge the evidence of the stack of cancelled checks going into the aligned parent's bank account and the aligned parent owning a car outside their means.
3. A child saying that their erased parent cut off their ear, despite the child having two ears

It can be slightly more subtle when the child holds an encapsulated delusion, a delusion that is indeed within the realm of possibility.

One family court judge notes that "Most of the time, the parents believe the abuse happens, whether or not that belief is factually based or not is something different," Keller said. "The court has to take it seriously because in the very rare instance that it is true."  We do agree that it has to be taken seriously and soberly. Children deserve justice that is right 100% of the time.

According to a psychological work written in 1988,  "All too often, they [the aligned parent] try to involve their children in their delusions about their ex-mate, often utterly undermining the child's sense of reality." When a parent creates delusional psychiatric pathology in a child, that constitutes significant psychological harm, which is Child Psychological Abuse V995.51, which is is just as harmful as child sexual abuse.

As noted by Millon in 2011 Under conditions of unrelieved adversity and failure, narcissists may decompensate into paranoid disorders. Owing to their D/BPD (decompensation into persecutory delusions) [Millon 2011excessive use of fantasy mechanisms, they are disposed to misinterpret events and to construct delusional beliefs. Unwilling to accept constraints on their independence and unable to accept the viewpoints of others, narcissists may isolate themselves from the corrective effects of shared thinking. Alone, they may ruminate and weave their beliefs into a network of fanciful and totally invalid suspicions. Among narcissists, delusions often take form after a serious challenge or setback has upset their image of superiority and omnipotence. They tend to exhibit compensatory grandiosity and jealousy delusions in which they reconstruct reality to match the image they are unable or unwilling to give up. Delusional systems may also develop as a result of having felt betrayed and humiliated. Here we may see the rapid unfolding of persecutory delusions and an arrogant grandiosity characterized by verbal attacks and bombast. . Rarely physically abusive, anger among narcissists usually takes the form or oral vituperation and argumentativeness. This may be seen in a flow of irrational and caustic comments in which others are upgraded and denounced as stupid and beneath contempt. These onslaughts usually have little objective justification, are often colored by delusions, are often colored by delusions, and may be directed in a wild hit or miss fashion in which the narcissist lashes out at those who have failed to acknowledge the exalted status in which he or she demands to be seen" pp. 407-408; emphasis added.

Here is how Karen Woodall describes shared delusions in less formal terminology, in Working with the alienated child: "Children need us to do this work, they need us to teach people how to stop asking them what their wishes and feelings are and to take responsibility for analyzing the child’s reactions and responses in alienation. Far too many children are being tormented by the routine seeking of their wishes and feelings which are, in alienation situations, simply the repetition of the unwell parent’s feelings and beliefs. This is an impossible situation for a child who can only, in such circumstances, repeat the words they have heard and the intentions which are conveyed as a felt sense in the intrapsychic world."


TREATMENTS FOR PERSECUTORY DELUSIONS (not a pretty picture):
Advances in understanding and treating persecutory delusions: a review  This isn't exactly what the paper says, but it almost seems to the extent that one can remove them from situations of worry, from urban environments, from bad feelings about themselves, they may do better. Saying "our children are doing really well" might help?
Delusions Of Persecution: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment  Treatment with antipsychotics and CBT.  (Of course, if someone believes that doctors are entirely evil, they will not take antipsychotics.)
Treatments for delusional disorder  "Delusional disorder is considered difficult to treat. Antipsychotic drugs, antidepressants and mood-stabilising medications are frequently used to treat this mental illness and there is growing interest in psychological therapies such as psychotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) as a means of treatment."







Comments