Summary of Pathogenic Parenting

Summary: Pathogenic Parenting is not a new syndrome, but rather, a manifestation of standard and  well established pathologies. It only uses references to classic works of psychology and none related to parental alienation syndrome. This gives it tremendous power, making it something that any mental professional operating within their boundaries of competence should already understand, making it a possible violation of state law to not understand it. Refer to the three diagnostic criteria and 12 associated clinical signs.

 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. These parents then expel their feelings of inadequacy or abandonment onto their former partner by using the defense mechanisms of projection and splitting. Because of splitting, the ex-spouse must become the ex-parent of the child. 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. This can be done by eliciting criticism from the child about the other parent and then enthusiastically validating it, and by mixing in partially true lies. These parents then use their children as a narcissistic supply (or regulatory-other), creating a role reversal relationship that shows a lack of empathy for their children’s own developmental needs.

It is a standard reenactment of childhood trauma with a standard false narrative related to their own childhood, where the child's other parent symbolizes an inadequate or abusive parent, the child symbolizes a victim of the other parent, and the parent using harmful parenting practices symbolizes a good parent ostensibly trying to protect their child. However, in reality, the other parent is neither inadequate nor abusive; but rather, the parent using the harmful parenting practices is abusive. In effect, the parent who fears inadequacy or abandonment is able to project their fears onto the other parent because all can "plainly see" that it is the other parent who is rejected and abandoned by the child.

This results in 3 diagnostic criteria in the child: attachment system suppression, personality disorder traits, and delusional belief. This rises to the level of DSM 5 Child Psychological Abuse, V995.51. The psychological fingerprints of the parent with the personality disorder are on the child.

Pathogenic Parenting also goes by the name Attachment-Based Parental Alienation.

See also:

Other worthwhile topics:

by Howie Dennison