Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Parental Alienation Sydrome

What on earth does this have to do with me & my husband; Amber, Nikki or type 1 diabetes - well, nothing. Honestly, it is a subject that I have been researching for some classes I'm taking. I felt that the article(s) were very informative and simply wanted to share some of what I've found. I think the subject is a serious one and one that will hopefully gain more attention as more research is done.

What is Parental Alienation Syndrome?

Richard A. Gardner, M.D., first introduced Parental Alienation Syndrome, or PAS, in 1985 as a way to describe what he refers to as a "cluster of symptoms" present in children who, during the process of a child-custody dispute, reject one parent as a direct result of strong, negative claims introduced by the other parent.

In addition, in cases of true Parental Alienation Syndrome, the negative propaganda that is being introduced to the child by the alienating parent is not substantiated by the alienated parent's behavior prior to the dispute. In many PAS cases, the child enjoyed a warm, vibrant relationship with the alienated parent prior to his or her parent's divorce.

Another notable distinction in true cases of Parental Alienation Syndrome is the idea that the child so strongly adopts the alienating parent's point of view that he or she begins to vilify the alienated parent independent of the alienating parent.

Alienated vs. Estranged
Children who are estranged from one parent are typically not victims of PAS. In many cases, when a child is estranged from a parent, that parent chooses (perhaps for a variety of reasons) not to be involved in the child's life.

Alternatively, there are also situations where an older child may be estranged from a parent due to that parent's own behavior. For example, a child whose mom is an alcoholic might choose not to participate in unsupervised visitations. This is not an example of PAS, however, because there is a valid reason for the child to resist contact.

Abuse Cases
Substantiated cases of abuse - whether emotional, physical, or sexual - should be differentiated from cases of PAS as well. When there is abuse, it is reasonable for the child to reject the parent. Therefore, it does not constitute a true example of PAS.

PAS Should be Considered When a Child Consistently, and Without Reason:

Shuns the parent in question

Denigrates, belittles, or disparages the parent

Appears unable to distinguish lies from the truth in regards to the parent

Unjustly hates the parent

Defames the parent with invented stories and lies

Uses inappropriate language to deride the parent in public

Views the parent as singularly bad; sees nothing good in the parent in question

Shows extreme resistence to seeing or maintaining contact with the parent

Degrees of PAS
Parents who contribute to Parental Alienation Syndrome do so to varying degrees. Mild alienation may be perpetrated by a parent who avoids conflict with the other parent and allows pent-up anger and resentment to spill over to the children. Moderate alienation may be perpetrated by a parent who is extremely angry with his or her ex-spouse, but lacks the self-control to manage his or her own behaviors. Thus, the child becomes indoctrinated in the same anger and resentment. In both mild and moderate forms, the alienators may not intend to cause harm to the child's relationship with the alienated parent and usually responds positively to education.

In cases of severe alienation, though, it is more difficult to change the alienator's behaviors. He or she truly believes that the child is better off without the other parent, intentionally withholds the child from the other parent, and purposely uses his or her influence to destroy a once-positive relationship between the child and the alienated parent. (Wolf, 2009)

Gardner's definition of PAS is:
"The parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child-custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child's campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent's indoctrinations and the child's own contributions to the vilification of the target parent." (Excerpted from: Gardner, R.A. (1998). The Parental Alienation Syndrome, Second Edition, Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.)

Basically, this means that through verbal and non verbal thoughts, actions and mannerisms, a child is emotionally abused (brainwashed) into thinking the other parent is the enemy. This ranges from bad mouthing the other parent in front of the children, to withholding visits, to pre-arranging the activities for the children while visiting with the other parent.

One criteria necessary for the detection of PAS is probably the least described or identified, but critically is one of the most important. It has to do with the existence of a positive relationship between the minor children and the now absent or nonresidential parent, prior to the marital separation; and a substantial deterioration, of it since then. Such a recognized decline does not occur on its own. It is, therefore, one of the most important indicators of the presence of alienation as well. as a full measure of its relative "success." By way of example, if a father had a good and involved relationship with the children prior to the separation, and a very distant one since, then one can only assume without explicit proof to the contrary that something caused it to change. If this father is clearly trying to maintain a positive relationship with the children through observance of visitation and other activities and the children do not want to see him or have him involved in their lives, then one can only speculate that an alienation process may have been in operation. Children do not naturally lose interest in and become distant from their nonresidential parent simply by virtue of the absence of that parent. Also, healthy and established parental relationships do not erode naturally of their own accord. They must be attacked. Therefore, any dramatic change in this area is virtually always an indicator of an alienation process that has had some success in the past (Boone & Walsh, The Florida Bar Journal, 2009, sic).

Any attempt at alienating the children from the other parent should be seen as a direct and willful violation of one of the prime duties of parenthood


Louise Uccio said...

PAS is a heart breaking situation. It has been a way of life in my family for generations. However I wouldn't notice the pattern until I myself became an alienated parent.

The pain of not being in your child’s life because of an alienator with power, and political connetions drove me to research PA/PAS in depth.

I'm almost done writing a book on the subject of abusive personalities and the damage they cause.

The reason for my leaving this is to as you, if you have researched "Trauma or Betrayal bonds?" I noted you made a comment above "When there is abuse, it is reasonable for the child to reject the parent."

After reading " The Betrayal Bond Breaking Free of Exploitive Relationships - by Patrick J. Carnes, Ph.D. I have to say, your statement needs more research.

Hopefully, in my book "Connecting The Dots: Why we are, where we are now, I will clear up any misconceptions about trauma, abuse and Parent Alienation.

Wish me luck lol

Anonymous said...

Interesting that you should have chosen an investigation into Parental Alienation(PA). Makes me wonder why.

At any rate there cannot be enough said about it partially from the aspect that malevolent forces are at work to claim at their every opportunity that PA does not exist. One such group took my daughter from me using some of the materially richest law firms in America, Fulbright and Jaworski, Llp. Other such firms are involved too such as people from Haynes and Boone, Llp. A female attorney from Haynes stated to the Houston Chronicle on May 2, 2007 that Parental Alienation is just something a sexually abusing father will use in retaliation within the context of a custody suit. These words were spoken by Alene Ross Levy who was about to go to work for Justice For Children, Houston, Texas. And her words were not unique only to herself as this group, has overtly stated that it rejects the credibility of PA. Imagine that we are even supporting 501 c 3 tax status for groups that claim to be for children but which cannot recognize all forms of child abuse and which by their material power go directly into family courts and take children from their parents!

If you should doubt for a moment that PA exists, just ask me.
Robert Gartner

No Sugar Needed said...

Louise, I definitely wish you luck! Please note that this blog entry is directly quoted from an article, not my own words. I just wanted to clarify one thing: "After reading " The Betrayal Bond Breaking Free of Exploitive Relationships - by Patrick J. Carnes, Ph.D. I have to say, your statement needs more research." The article was specifically saying that in cases of actual abuse it's normal for a child to not want contact with his/her abuser -- and this situation is completely different from PAS.

Robert, I am sorry for what you have gone through and I agree that our elected officials should ALWAYS put every child above politial views and it is troubling to have a valid, documented condition simply tossed away for what are apparently reasons only known to her.

I appreciate both of your responses.

Anonymous said...

Please do look into PAS. A great place to start is and search for their petition filed with the IACHR. This petition details the human rights and due process rights violations perpetrated by the US government against 7 moms and one adult child who had PAS used against them. These mom were NOT engaging in PAS, they were married to abusive men who had the money to fight these women in court. Or do a search for Collins or go to Amercian Children Underground and read Jennifer amd Zachary Collins story of how their abusive father had them removed from their mother and their protective mother was not allowed to see them - ever. These children told over and over how their father was abusing them - so badly that one time he broke his son's skull!!! Jennifer and Zachary are now grown and are trying to help other children so they do not have to be placed against their wishes with an abusive parent. The Collins family was granted ASYLUM in the Netherlands due to the abuse the children and Holly suffered.

Also if a father abuses the mother - he is 40-60% more likely to abuse the children? And in contested cases with alleged abuse, the abuser will get some form of custody in 70% of the cases?

Protective mothers believe the courts will protect both her and the children from abuse, but when an abuser gets wind of "PA" or "PAS", this is out the window, because the protective mother is looked at like she is hysterical (and she likely is due to being forced to send these little people to an abusive man and she is not able to be there any longer to protect these children. Sadly some of the people posting in favor of PAS/PA (I said some not all) are actually alleged abusers.

So please look at who comments and what they say :-) One parting note, were you aware that Gardner (of PA/PAS fame) never had any of this work peer reviewed, and it was only published in his own vanity press? And then he killed himself in a most aggregious manner?

I do appreciate you publishing information about child abuse, but please look into this. Justice For Children (mentioned by Robert Gartner above) has done some great work and saved many children from being placed with an abusive father.

Just for one minute imagine this scenario if you can:

You are a depserate mother who has been beaten to a pulp by the man you swore to love for life. You do not understand this but you know you must leave, you must do something in order to stay alive. You call up your local dv shelter and they have a place for you. The police come get you and take you to the shelter. You finally have one sleep filled night. You go apply for financial assistance because your husband has cut off all access to the bank accounts. You look for work while you are out but it is difficult because you could not keep a job due to your husband and his controlling ways. After a busy day you return to the shelter. You fall to sleep around 9 or 10 and hope for another good sleep. At 2am you are awoken. You wonder why. Standing there at the foot of your bed is your husband!!!! You jump up wondering how he found you. This shelter was supposed to be secret. You notice multiple bruises on his face and arms. In his hand is a gun. He looks at you and says, "I told you I would never let you leave." He then shoots you and you are gone. Your children are motherless. And who knows what or who your husband may now hurt.

How did he find you? How did he get into what was supposed to be a secret shelter?

The same people who spread the propoganda about PA/PAs is how. If these men and women have their way, they will make shelters co-ed. All one will need to do is phone the police and tell them your spouse beat you, have visible marks of a beating and the police will transport you to the shelter. In my scenario, the woman's husband got into a fight in order to sustain injury so he could go to the shelter and "finish the job."

This is what people who spread the untruths about PAS/PA do. I beg that you research this issue carefully.