Parental Alienation Syndrome

Child custody disputes have become increasingly common. As the frequency of child custody disputes has increased, so has the animosity and antagonism parents bring to these conflicts.

Often children are caught in the middle of parental disputes and are enlisted by one parent as an ally against the other parent in a campaign of systematic denigration and alienation of affection.

Often one parent will make vicious and devaluing statements that are designed to thwart one parent's relationship with his/her child.

Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is the systematic denigration by one parent by the other with the intent of alienating the child against the other parent. The purpose of the alienation is usually to gain or retain custody without the involvement of the father. The alienation usually extends to the father's family and friends as well.

This condition arises as a distinctive form of psychological injury to children in high conflict divorce. It occurs when the child becomes aligned with one parent as a result of the unjustified and/or exaggerated denigration of the other parent.

This leads to an impaired relationship with the alienated (target) parent and an absolute loss of parenting as a result of the hostility of the parent producing the alienation.

In most cases of high conflict divorce, there are degrees of alienation. In severe cases, the child's once love-bonded relationship with the target/rejected parent is destroyed.

In most cases of high conflict divorce, there are degrees of alienation. In severe cases, the child's once love-bonded relationship with the target/rejected parent is destroyed.

The following are some links to PAS resources:

  • Family Therapy of the Moderate Type of Parental Alienation Syndrome
    by Richard A. Gardner from The American Journal of Family Therapy. 27:195-212, 1999. This article is a GREAT outline of therapy for the moderate case of PAS that deals with the very specific and knitty-gritty things that the courts and the therapists must do if the therapy is to work.
    Dr. Richard A. Gardner, M.D., who initially derived the name Parental Alienation Syndrome put out a flyer (also in PDF format to advertise his book The Parental Alienation Syndrome: A Guide for Mental Health Professionals and Legal Professionals (available through his website)
  • Parents Who Have Successfully Fought Parent Alienation Syndrome
    by A. Jayne Major, Ph.D. from her website
    This article is a FABULOUS summary of PAS that is very readable and complete. It is, seemingly, only published on her website that is providing information about her parenting course to potential instructors but, because it was so good I have reformatted it and added it to our collection. (It was so good I was ready to sign up for the course!) This document is also available in PDF format.
  • What you do and don’t do when as a loving parent you are confronted with a severe case of PAS in your child
    by William Kirkendale
    Mr. Kirkendale is a father with a child he has not seen for a considerable length of time, and he has put together a list of some of his DO'S and DONTS that many of us have learned to late. Some of his suggestions, especially about approaching the court or accessing the media, are not particularly appropriate in Canada but the underlying fire is right on target.
  • Questioning the Mental Health Expert's Custody Report
    by Ira Daniel Turkat, Ph.D
    from the American Journal of Family Law, Volume 7, 175-179 (1993).
    This article is not specifically about PAS. However, it is an EXCELLENT article to look at when you are selecting an assessor or an expert in a legal case. I wish selecting an expert was easy - this article does give you some suggestions that are extremely relevant. This document is also available in PDF format from the California Divorce & Child Custody Experts.

 

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