PLEASE KNOW that Parent Alienation and Parent Alienation Syndrome ARE NOT GENDER SPECIFIC! So if this story applies to a father being the alienator, adjust the words, and so be it. I feel that Parent Alienation is personality specific and take note that personality disorders show no preference for gender.
Gordon, R.M. (1998).
"The Medea Complex and the Parental Alienation Syndrome: When Mothers Damage Their Daughter's Ability to Love a Man" The Mother - Daughter Relationship Echoes Through Time. Ed. by Gerd H. Fenchel. Jason Aronson Inc. Northvale, New Jersey.
THE MEDEA COMPLEX AND THE PARENTAL ALIENATION SYNDROME: When Mothers Damage their Daughter's Ability to Love a Man.
Robert M. Gordon, Ph.D.
When doing custody evaluations, I am often struck by the frequency in which mothers aggress against their children's fathers by turning their children against him. In the process, they do great harm to their children. As a therapist, I am often struck by the resistance of patients who were brainwashed as children against a parent. I believe that brainwashing by a mother is both more common and more powerful than that of a father, since the child's bond with the mother is more intense and primitive. Such brainwashing and alienation usually leads to a life long problem with establishing and maintaining a healthy intimacy. Their mother's perception and definition of their fathers, if programmed at an early age becomes a core fundamental belief, and if questioned, the person's core sense of reality seems shaken; "If my mother lied to me about my father, then can I trust her love for me?" Thus there is a great deal of resistance to the awareness of having been brainwashed.
In this chapter I will discuss: The mother-daughter bond, The Medea Complex ( The mother's revenge against her former husband by depriving him of his children), brain washing and the Parental Alienation Syndrome (The children's pathological unconscious wish to please the "loved" parent by rejecting the "hated" parent), the subsequent disturbed intimacies that the brainwashed child suffers later in life, and a case history of three generations of Parental Alienation Syndrome and it's unusual resolution.
In this chapter, I will bring together two separate issues: the Medea complex and the Parental Alienation Syndrome. To my knowledge, I have not seen these two concepts brought together. I believe that the Medea Complex in divorcing mothers is a frequent cause of Parental Alienation Syndrome.
The Mother-Daughter Bond
Mothers are more likely than fathers to be alienators and brainwashers (Gardner,1987). Mothers are more likely to take out their aggression on their children. Selma Kramer (1995) refers to Steele's research (1970) in stating that children are more physically abused by their mothers,and sexually abused by their fathers. Women may have few means of expressing power, and thereby may use their own children as scapegoats.
The mother's brainwashing of a daughter is particularly powerful due to the daughter's identification with the mother. Juni and Grimm (1933) in their study of adults and their parents found that the strongest relationships were between mother-daughter and father-son dyads. Troll (1987) found that mother-daughter relationships "... appear to be more complex, ambivalent and ambiguous than do other parent-child configurations." Olver, Aries, and Batgos (1989) found that, "... First born women had the least separate sense of self and reported the greatest degree of maternal involvement and intrusiveness...Men showed a more separate sense of self than women." They also found that mothers were reported to be more highly involved with and intrusive in the lives of their daughters than their sons. Gerd Fenchel in this text, points out that the mother-daughter relationship is a primitive latent homosexual one, that is intense and ambivalent; one that requires first fusion, then separation for the proper development to occur.
When the mother encourages her daughter to see her father as bad, this may become an Oedipal fixation in that the daughter may be attracted to men who will mistreat her, or she may mistreat them. The daughter will also have problems with separation from the mother and have problems with attachment and abandonment with subsequent love objects. The son has his mother as his Oedipal love object, but is aided in his separation from her when he must go to his father for his male identity. The daughter is more closely tied to her mother as both a primary love object and source of her identity. Her Oedipal drive toward the father fosters development in helping her to separate from her mother and to master the outside world which father represents. If the mother devalues the father, and sees separation as betrayal, the daughter does not make that necessary break from her mother. The daughter remains with a parasitic mother, insecure and dependent.
Fathers are very important to their daughter's feminine development. Biller's research review (1971) supports that girls who had positive relationships with their fathers were more likely to have satisfying heterosexual relationships. When a mother poisons her daughter's love of her father, she is also compromising her daughter's ability to maturely love any man. The mother is programming her daughter to be her ego extension without a will of her own, and to be with her and no one else, narcissistically bound.
Although both boys and girls are greatly harmed when they are turned against a parent, the harm is often different. Studies indicate that boys suffer the most harm when the boys are stuck with mothers who express hostility towards their fathers- the source of their male identity ( Hodges, 1991; Kelly,1993). This chapter, however, will focus only on the mother-daughter bond in the Parental Alienation Syndrome. Although the daughter's self esteem may not suffer as much as the son's, her ability to deal with separation and mature relationships with men is very deeply affected. Wallerstein's (1989) 10 year longitudinal study of girls from divorced families found that the nature of the mother-daughter relationship, and the daughter's identification with her mother were predictive of the daughters' ability to address the tasks of their relationships with men later on. Daughters who identified with hostile mothers had the poorest adjustment.
A woman has two internal sexual love objects, the mother representation-the original love object, and the father representation-the later Oedipal love object. Both affect object choice. The boy has a more narrow band of "chemistry". His love for a woman will always be affected by his internal mother representation. He has his mother as his ever powerful love object. His father is a latent homosexual love object and source of identification that does not play the same gyroscopic object role as does the mother. A man will not marry a woman like his father. A woman however will choose a man in reaction to her mother or her father. If the daughter is brainwashed against her father by a hostile paranoid mother (which is often the case), the daughter has internally two core love objects, the hostile mother and the devalued father. These internal objects will guide her love choices and her behaviors in relationships with men. By picking, provoking or by distorting , she will try to repeat her emotional past with men. I caution the reader to the distinction of "emotional past" verses "actual" past. Our neuroses may be based on real events as well as on false perceptions and fantasies. For example, in the Parental Alienation Syndrome the "hated" parent may in fact be loving, and the "loved" parent may be very disturbed and unloving. This sets up a complex system of layering of object relations in the ego. At one level the child is traumatized by the perceptions and not the reality of the "hated" parent and consciously hates that parent, yet at the unconscious level, the child often secretly loves that parent, who was in fact loving. The "loved" parent may be loved on the conscious level, but feared and hated on the unconscious level. The patient may start therapy claiming that she was traumatized by her father, and later in therapy realize that her trauma was based partly on the image of her father, and largely on the her mother's exploitation and hostility. The patient who was brain washed will not present this as a problem, and has special defenses to guard against this awareness.
Why would a mother do this to her own children? The story of Medea may help us to understand such motives. The Greek drama served the purpose to not just entertain, but to provide a catharsis for the collective unspoken traumas and pains of the audience. These classic stories express most beautifully powerful human conflicts characteristic of our universal psychology.
The Medea Complex: The myth.
Euripides wrote Medea around 400 .B.C.. It is a story of intense love turned to such intense hate, that Medea kills her own children to get back at her husband for betraying her. Medea is so madly in love with Jason, that she tricks her own father, King Aeetes, who guards the Golden Fleece, and kills her own brother so that Jason could steal the Golden Fleece. (Jason might have done well to consider how she treated her father and brother before he married her.) Jason leaves Medea to marry yet another princess. Medea plans her revenge. The chorus blames Aphrodite for causing all the trouble, in having intense passion turns to hate. (The Greeks often displaced their psychodynamics onto their gods.) Medea offers the bride her gifts of a beautiful robe and chaplet. When Jason's new bride puts on the gifts, her head and body burst into flame and she dies a horrible, painful death. When her father embraced her corpse, he too bursts into flames and dies the same tortured death. Medea then takes her sword and kills their two children. The chorus amazed at the degree of Medea's vengefulness doubt that anything can rival a mother's slaughter of her own innocent children. Medea escapes Jason with a dragon drawn chariot. She taunts Jason not allowing him to embrace or bury his sons. She rejoices at having hurt him so.
Fred Pine (1995) refers to Medea as an example of a particular form of hatred found in women." Medea's internal experience is a compound of a sense of injury- a sense that builds to imagined public humiliation and a sense of righteousness. ... The righteousness implied here in "the wrong they have dared to do to me" has struck me clinically. It is a frequent accompaniment of hate and hate-based rage. I think it stems from something self-preservative ("I have been so mistreated that I have this right...") and some flaw in the super-ego, possibly based on identification with the child's experience of the rageful mother's giving herself full permission- and without subsequent remorse- to express her rage toward the child." (p.109). That is, Pine suspects that for a mother to be so destructive to her own children, she herself must have been exposed to her own mother's unremorseful hostility.
Jacobs' (1988) paper entitled, "Euripides' Medea: A psychodynamic model of severe divorce pathology" views the Medea mother as "narcissistically scarred, embittered dependent woman...(who) ...attempts to severe father-child contact as a means of revenging the injury inflicted on her by the loss of a self-object, her hero-husband." Jacobs' idea that the Medea mother is so dependent that she cannot deal with the loss, and thus holds on with hate.
Medea certainly has a flaw in her superego. We know this early on when she betrays her father and kills her brother to help Jason steal from them. But she not only kills his new bride and her father, but her own children. Her love turned to hate is so passionate that she destroys that which intimacy between them produced. The hate goes beyond her instinctive need to protect her own children. Medea must make Jason suffer more than she suffers for it to be a punishment with revenge.
Jason, "You loved them, and killed them."
Medea, "To make you feel pain."
The Medea Complex involves a mother who is still pathologically tied to her (ex)husband. She has a great deal of rage probably as Pines suggests (1995) from her interactions with her hostile mother. This rage is rooted in part with a wish to destroy the child, whom she at some level resents being stuck with and may turn her rage into overprotectiveness as a reaction formation. She is unable to let her children separate from her. She tells them the harm that will befall them when they are out of her control. When the mother wishes to punish the father by turning their children against him, she is also aggressing against the children. In her unconscious, both the children and the husband represent the same thing (others that did or might betray), and destructiveness is wished on them both. In short, a mother who brain washes her children against their father has a Medea Complex. She probably has paranoia or at least paranoid features within a borderline or psychotic character structure. She can not deal with the loss, and remains tied to her (ex)husband in an intimate hate, and keeps her children tied to her out of fear.
A Medea mother must kill off her own femininity in order to be destructive to her own children. As Lady Macbeth prays so that she will be able to help murder, "Come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, and fill me from the crown to the toe topful of direst cruelty!" (Macbeth, act 1, scene 5 ).
Brain Washing and Parental Alienation Syndrome
I agree with Gardner's (1987) assessment that most mothers in custody disputes do some form of brain washing. I have done custody evaluations for over 15 years. I have found that mother's attempts to turn their children against their fathers in custody disputes are very common. I have also found that this is by far the most destructive aspect of divorce on children. I now consider brain washing children against a parent as a form of child abuse, since it leads to enduring psychopathology.
Kelly's (1993) longitudinal research of child's postdivorce adjustment found that the majority of children adjust to divorce, and older children express relief. Most symptoms last 6 months to 2 years post separation, and usually only involve adjustment disorders. Only about 10% of divorcing couples with children fight over custody. Of this group, at least one parent often has hostile and paranoid features. In a study of MMPI's given to parents in custody evaluations, the MMPI's of the parents who lost the custody dispute had significantly higher scores in Psychopathic Deviant (hostility), Paranoia, and Mania (narcissistic and impulsive tendencies), than parents who won the custody dispute (Otto and Collins, 1995). Children do adjust to divorce, except if a disturbed parent uses them as a pawn to punish the other parent. This traumatizes the child, and it's effects may be life long, and is often passed on generation after generation. (side note here from ME especially to MY children. This may be true, except in cases where the parent that won custody HAD POLITICAL CONNECTIONS and [il]legally won custody deapite being the lesser of the two parents.)
Gardner (1987) stated, "Although the mothers in these situations may have a variety of motivations for programming their children against their fathers, the most common one relates to the old saying, 'Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.'(Or in MY case a Narcissist/psychyopath man) ... Because these mothers are separated, and cannot retaliate directly at their husbands, they wreak vengeance by attempting to deprive their former spouses of their most treasured possessions, the children. And the brainwashing program is an attempt to achieve this goal."p.87. Gardner also feels that these mothers are aggressing against their own children by brain washing them against their fathers. "These mothers exhibit the mechanism of reaction formation, in that their obsessive love of their children is often a cover-up for their underlying hostility."p.87..."And when these mothers "win", they not only win custody, but they win total alienation of their children from the hated spouse. The victory here results in psychological destruction of the children which, I believe, is what they basically want anyway." P.88
Brain washing are conscious acts of programming the child against the other parent. But Gardner went on to describe what he refers to as "Parental Alienation Syndrome". The concept of the Parental Alienation Syndrome includes the brain washing component, but is more inclusive. It includes not only conscious but unconscious factors within the programming parent that contribute to the child's alienation from the other parent. Furthermore, it includes factors that arise within the child- independent of the parental contributions. The child may justify the alienation with memories of minor altercations experienced in the relationship with the hated parent. These are usually trivial and are experiences that most children quickly forget. These children may even refuse to accept evidence that is obvious proof of the hated parent's position. Commonly these children will accept as 100 percent valid the allegations of the loved parent against the hated one. "All human relationships are ambivalent... the concept of 'Mixed feelings' has no place in these children's scheme of things. The hated parent is 'all bad' and the loved parent is 'all good'(Gardner,1987).p.73.
Dunne and Hedrick (1994) in their research found that Parental Alienation Syndrome, "appeared to be primarily a function of the pathology of the alienating parent and that parent's relationship with the children. PAS did not signify dysfunction in the alienated parent or in the relationship between that parent and child." This study supports Gardner's definition of Parental Alienation Syndrome as a pathological reaction to a parent, and not a conflict arising out the real relationship with the rejected parent.
Gardner also refers to factors arising within the child which contributes to Parental Alienation Syndrome, such as the fear of losing the love of the alienating mother, since "the loved parent is feared much more than loved." p.90. Additionally, Oedipal factors are sometimes operative in the Parental Alienation Syndrome. A daughter may resent the father's new female partner, and may identify with her mother's jealousy and rage, and the daughter may revenge by rejecting him.
Damaged Ability for Separation and Intimacy
A daughter has first her mother as the primary love object, and then shifts to her father as the Oedipal love object. These two internal objects guide her attractions and patterns of intimacy. If she had in fact a rejecting father, but a healthy loving mother who does not turn her against the father, the daughter will have damaged relationships with men. But she has a good prognosis for overcoming this problem. Since her mother was healthy, the daughter can form love relationships built on that basic love relationship. (In my children's case I pray they can all over come the damage that thier alienating father has done to them) If however, her mother has a Medea Complex, that is she turns her daughter against her own father out of revenge, the daughter is more likely to have a damaged ability to love maturely. Both her primary love object, the mother and Oedipal love object, the father, are internally driving her to self defeating relationships. To love a man is to betray her mother. And, she can only love as she has been taught and shown. The daughter will find unconscious ways to undermine relationships. She can unconsciously undermine them in three ways: picking, provoking and distorting. (Here I somewhat disagree- I believe that any adult child of a malignant Narcissist/psychopath will undermine any relationship they have, no matter the gender- because of the Narcissist parents programing of the child to not let anyone else in!)
Picking: Denise comes from an upper middle class family. Denise's mother refused to let her father visit her, after their separation when Denise was five. By the time the court ordered shared custody, Denise's mother had brain washed her against her father. Denise refused to go with him. When she did go, the Parental Alienation Syndrome was so entrenched, that she provoked fights so bad, that eventually her father discontinued the shared custody. She had seen very little of her father since,and remained very close with her over protective paranoid mother. Denise and her mother where very symbiotic. Denise was also very protective of her mother, sensing her mother's need for her. When Denise entered treatment at 34, she had not been married, nor has she been able to be in an intimate relationship with a man for more than two years. She only had chemistry for men who were of a lower social class who were rejecting or abusive. She often suffered from depression and anxiety. She had trouble separating from these men. Denise was attracted to men who represented her mother's and her own image of her father as a "bum". Her attraction was also based on her attachment to her mother who was exploitive and destructive to Denise. These two love objects, her mother's view of the father, and the hostile mother- formed her attraction to men. Denise fell in love with men who were in fact both her mother and her fantasized Oedipal father- tainted by the mother. She alternately saw me as the overly controlling mother, or as the rejecting abandoning father. As she worked through the transference in treatment, she began to realize how her mother had distorted her father to her, and how her mother had used and injured her. I actively confronted her trivial complaints against her father as evidence of Parental Alienation Syndrome. Toward the fifth year of analytic treatment, Denise was able to feel deep attraction to and fall in love with a kind and reasonable man. When she felt irrational aggression toward him, she was able to defuse it with insight into her past programming. Denise also reconciled with her father,and enjoyed a new relationship with him.
Provoking: Lora came to treatment for phobias and general anxiety. She had little psychological mindedness, and at 37, though very attractive, had only rationalizations to explain why she had only short term unhappy relationships with men. She spoke about men as a typically disturbed gender. Her parents fought bitterly until their separation when Lora was 10. She lived with her mother who told her that her father was mentally ill and often made fun of him. She saw little of her father, who she devalued as ineffectual and crazy. When Lora would be in a relationship with a man, she would tell him that she is easy going and gets along with everyone. Yet, she would find the most outrageous ways to provoke everyone, particularly her boy friends. Even the most meek would be provoked to outrage. At which point Lora would distort the events and project the blame for the conflict onto the boy friend. She would tell him that he had distorted everything because of his personal problems, but that she could love him anyway. Lora would commonly enact this with me. She would act out. I would interpret her behavior to her, and she would some how rewrite history and complain, "You are projecting your personal problems on to me. How can I get better, if you don't have your own head on straight?" Lora was able to repeat her emotional past by provoking conflicts in her relationships. She resisted any interpretations into her own aggression, or that she was seeing me, and men as crazy and ineffectual. Lora was too tied to her mother's ego to be objective. She constantly tried to provoke fights with me. The transference was very rocky, and she remained provocative and insightless. She soon dropped out of treatment, thinking that I was more disturbed than her, thus repeating her usual pattern.
Distorting: Sue entered treatment at 46, with two failed marriages and many failed affairs. Sue's mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and she was hospitalized several times when Sue was a child. Although her parents remained together, it was a very conflicted relationship. She did not feel close to her cold father. Her mother was unpredictable and was often paranoid about her father. Her mother viewed Sue's developmental stages as separations and betrayals, and guilt induced Sue for her attempts at individuation. Her mother was very hostile to her father and men in general, who were considered the sole source of women's suffering. (Although, in this chapter, I define the Medea mother in the context of revenge in divorce, the Medea complex can exist in marriage where the mother has the paranoid perception of her husband as psychologically abandoning her. She will turn the children against him, and damage her children just the same.) I considered Sue to be a high functioning borderline. She is very intelligent and functioned very well in her profession, and had some close friendships. However, she regressed in intimacies. She became paranoid and depressed in her relationships with men. She would become extremely jealous, demanding, intolerant of separations, controlling and would have fits of rage as a reaction to imaged insults. She would drive even the most tolerant men away, and come to the conclusion that her mother was right all along about them. She distorted the men in her life to justify her rage. She became like her paranoid mother when she was with men. Although Sue in her six plus years of treatment made great progress in her self esteem, and became less likely to fall into deep depressions, she still had the tendency to regress in intimacy. Like most borderlines, she stayed better compensated outside of committed intimacies. Sue's reality testing remained good, except in intense committed intimacies, where the pressure to distort men becomes overwhelming. This distortion is rooted not so much in her relationship with her distant father, but more based on her terrifying relationship with her very disturbed mother. Distorting her perceptions of men allows her to act out and escape from terrifying intimacy, which she unconsciously fears will engulf her as did her mother. Destroying her relationships with men also helps keep her psychically tied to her mother.
People can repeat the emotional past by: picking someone who is likely to fit within their internal object world, by provoking someone to act in a way consistent with their internal object world, and they can distort so that the person at least temporarily seems part of their internal object world. Although I have presented the ways that people repeat their emotional past as three separate psychological mechanisms: picking, provoking and distorting, they almost always occur together. Many people seem healthier if they had picked a sicker partner. Yet if they are with a healthier partner, they may have to do more provoking and distorting to make them fit within their internal object world. More disturbed individuals provoke and distort more than higher functioning individuals who mainly repeat their past object relations by who they pick.
I have found that those people who have been brain washed against a parent in childhood will have very disturbed relationships. If they are to have a chance at healthy relationships, it will only happen if they can work through their distorted objects in the transference in the analytic frame of a committed intimacy with the therapist. The causal frame and nature of supportive counseling is much too superficial to work through the deep damage to early object attachment and development. Also, many non-analytically trained individuals, not working with unconscious distortions, take at face value the patient's complaints and memories, and thereby reinforce the brain washing and the psychopathology. Patients who have Parental Alienation Syndrome will frequently try to divorce the therapist, using the same or similar complaints of the brain washing parent. The Medea mother is unconsciously feared and she becomes a sacred cow. The adult patient will at first feel guilt at any feelings of aggression towards the mother, and often blames the therapist for feeling the aggression. After confidence is built that the therapist is neither destroyed or destroying, the patient will be able to take on their deeper feelings about their mother, and work them through.
However, when working with children with Parental Alienation Syndrome the work is more concrete and reality based. Rather than working through the transference, a form of "deprogramming" is necessary. This is a deviation from the usual neutral analytic stance. Young children need to idealize their parents as a source of self esteem. This idealization needs to be protected, however "errors" that the mother makes must be overtly pointed out to the brain washed child. The alienated parent is objectified through reality clarifications, and should eventually be brought into treatment with the child.
Three Generations of Parental Alienation Syndrome: Case Study
I offer this particular case study to 1) illustrate how the Medea complex can continue for generations, and 2) to provide a highly unusual example of a successful deprogramming.
Both Richard's parents were the first born of their gender from divorced parents. Both his mother and his father were turned against their fathers by their mothers, who prevented them from seeing or having a loving relationship with their respective fathers. Richard's mother also eventually cut off her relationship with her mother as well. Richard was raised by two parents with Parental Alienation Syndrome, he would marry someone with Parental Alienation Syndrome, and his children developed Parental Alienation Syndrome. His father was cold and distant. His mother was very hostile and paranoid. Richard's normal stages of separation were interpreted by his parents as betrayals. Their Parental Alienation Syndrome expressed itself in their transference that he was the abandoning father. Once Richard moved out of his home after high school, he too cut off his relationship with his family of origin.
Richard met Kathy in college. Kathy came from divorced parents, and came from very much the same family dynamics as Richard's mother. Though Richard felt he was attracted to someone from a very different social and religious background, he was never the less picking someone like his mother, who would treat him as did his mother. Kathy's father was an alcoholic and her mother was paranoid and provocative. Her mother would provoke the father to punish the children, but when he would beat them she would act helpless, and later align with her children against the father. She constantly included her children in her suspicions that their father was engaged in affairs. The mother used these suspicions to have an affair for which she felt entitled . Kathy told her father about the mother's affair which ended the marriage. They divorced when Kathy was a teenager. Kathy's experiences with her mother, were very similar to Richard's mother's experience with her mother. Kathy had no relationship with her father after her parent's divorce. She remained ambivalently tied to her mother, both hating her and feeling dependent on her, and had Parental Alienation Syndrome with her father.
Although she felt very dependent on Richard, Kathy was unable to express love and affection to him. Soon after they were married, Kathy accused him of having affairs, and scapegoated him for her fears and insecurities. She like Richard's mother never said that she loved Richard, and Richard never seemed to notice it. After four years of marriage, there were two unplanned pregnancies that gave them a daughter and then two years latter , a son. Kathy was very overwhelmed by this seconded pregnancy. She regressed and became very hostile to Richard. She feared having children, and told Richard that she was afraid that she might abuse them. Richard took an active role with the children, but Kathy began to interfere with his time with their children. She would manage to schedule activities during the times he was to be with his children. During his analysis, Richard was able to accept that his mother was unable to love him , and that he had picked someone who also would scapegoat him and be unloving. When Richard asked Kathy what she felt toward him, she admitted that after ten years of marriage that she never did love him nor could love him, that she was unable to love anyone. She admitted that she could only feel hate for him. This was enough for Richard to finally leave the marriage. Although they had agreed to joint custody of their son who was two and their daughter who was four, as soon as Richard found a loving relationship and he was happy, Kathy told him that he would have to go to court, if he would ever see his children again.
By the time of the home study, ordered by the custody officer, the children were brain washed against him. He had always been very involved with his children, but during the interim visits, the children were clearly more distant and cool to him. The social worker who had done the home study had been recently divorced and was bitter and wrote her report in favor of the mother, taking her complaints against Richard at face value. Richard petitioned the court to have Richard Gardner to be the court appointed impartial evaluator. Richard Gardner told Richard that he was biased in favor of mother's having custody since the mother's bond with the children is stronger. Gardner told him that he would have an up hill fight for 50% physical custody. Richard claimed that Kathy was paranoid and resented his happiness, and that she is bent on destroying his reputation and his professional practice and turn his children against him, and drive him out of town. Richard provided evidence of Kathy lodging a false ethics complaint against him to his local professional group, and spreading false rumors to his referral sources to destroy his practice. Gardner asked the daughter, then 6 years old, why she had to move from her home, she replied, "Because my mother was afraid that daddy would come and knock it down. Mommy said that she could never be happy until he was dead. Mommy hoped he was the one shot at the bank that was robbed" (referring to a mass shooting at a local bank.). Both the daughter and the son went on with their mother's brain washing against the father, all with the view that their father was immoral, evil, dangerous, should not be trusted or loved.
Gardner noted that the father was warmer and interacted more comfortably with the children and understood their emotional needs better than the mother. He stated that Kathy showed signs of paranoid delusions, that she was a fabricator and was brain washing her children against their father. He also stated that if it weren't for the father's prior frequent and positive involvement with his children, the Parental Alienation Syndrome would have been complete. He suggested that Richard have full legal custody and 50% physical custody.
In the years that followed, Kathy did not get involved with men and continued to undermine Richard's relationship with his children. When his children reached adolescence they refused to see him or talk with him. They both provoked and distorted in ways that the father would appear consistent with the mother's view of him. Richard had been sending both the children for therapy. The therapist had inadvertently reinforced many of the children's perceptions of the father, taking much of their complaints of him at face value.
Richard finally asked their therapist if he could be included in joint sessions with his children. Each child had a long list of secret complaints, they had not verbalized to their father, echoing their mother's perceptions of him as a bad person. Consistent with Parental Alienation Syndrome, these perceptions took on a mental life of their own. The complaints were trivial or false memories. The children's therapist immediately saw the unfairness and distortions in their complaints. For example, his daughter claimed that one Christmas when she was six, her father gave her coal for Christmas. His daughter said, "You thought this was funny, I tried not to show my hurt, but I was very hurt." The father firmly stated that this never happened. This denial was evidence according to the children of their father's defensiveness. Richard gave his daughter the phone number of his former girlfriend who was there at the time, so that his daughter might ask her if he ever had given her coal for Christmas. His daughter avoided the phone call, unconsciously needing to maintain her view of her father . The father told the therapist that he had video taped much of their childhood, and said that he was certain that he had recorded the Christmas in question. The next session Richard brought into the session a small TV/video player. He first played a scene about an incident recalled by his son. He claimed that Richard was brain washing him against his mother while playing a board game that he distinctly remembered ten years ago when he was four years old. His son reversed the source and aim of the brain washing, thereby protecting his mother. When his son saw the very scene on the tape, he was struck how young he seemed. He seemed confused that not only didn't the incident occur as he had remembered it, but that his father was being very supportive and sensitive to his needs, and that he was clearly enjoying his father. The Christmas scene showed both children excitedly opening many presents and playing with their cherished toys with utter delight. There was no coal. The both children were amazed by what they were watching. They had been certain of their vivid memories of 10 years ago, when they were small children, and were also certain that their father was a liar. Now they stated that they could have been wrong. In the next session, Richard read the section of Gardner's report stating that their mother had brain washed them against him. The daughter stated to her younger brother who was still struggling with his feelings, that " you are where I was at two years ago. What he is saying is probably true. I know that now." Following that session, Richard's daughter who had not spoken to him for two years asked to go with him on vacation to Oxford, England. The two went off together and their trip was a great success. Eventually both children expressed a wish to see more of their father, after they realized that they were brain washed against him.
Not everyone can produce a video tape to disprove a false accusation, prejudice or to deprogram brain washing, though we often wish we could. This does provide a clear, though unlikely example of the use of reality to deprogram brain washing and Parental Alienation Syndrome. This very active reality confrontation would not have been as effective with children who were not as intelligent and high functioning. Also it was crucial that Richard had fifty percent physical custody since their early childhoods, which helped to reinforce a real loving relationship on an unconscious level. Once the daughter reached almost 16, she felt more independent of her mother, and more receptive to the reality confrontation and could use it constructively. Her brother also began to come around as well. This case illustrates that the Medea complex can continue for generations, in choice of love objects, ability to maturely love, and the treatment of children. As Richard told his children during a session, "This has been going on for several generations, and I'm going to do what ever it takes so that you won't have to go through it. Let it stop here."
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1983-2007 Robert M. Gordon, Ph.D. ABPP. All Rights Reserved. Material may be copied for non-commercial personal use only. A VIDI Website.
Original Article -
MMPI-2 Information, Continuing Education, and Psychology Books by Dr. Robert M. Gordon
In IndianaCRC@yahoogroups.com, "Bud Labitan, MD MBA"
To date Parental Alienation Awareness Day April 25th has been
recognized or proclaimed by:
ONE Canadian City
THIRTEEN US States
click below to view the proclamations/recognitions:
Edmonton, Alberta - Mayor Mandel
Alabama - Governor Riley
Arkansas - Governor Beebe
Connecticut - Governor Rell
Florida - Governor Crist
Georgia - Governor Perdue
Indiana - Governor Daniels
Iowa - Governor Vilsack
Kentucky - Governor Fletcher
Maine - Governor Baldacci
Mississippi - Governor Barbour
Montana - Governor Schweitzer (recognition)
Nebraska - Governor Heineman
West Virginia - Governor Manchin
The Islands of BERMUDA
Below the original author askes
"Where is California and New York?"
Because they have both proclaimed April 25th as Parent Alienation Awareness Day.