NEW YORK - The American Psychiatric Association has a hot potato on its hands as it updates its catalog of mental disorders — whether to include parental alienation, a disputed term conveying how a child's relationship with one estranged parent can be poisoned by the other.
There's broad agreement that this sometimes occurs, usually triggered by a divorce and child-custody dispute. But there's bitter debate over whether the phenomenon should be formally classified as a mental health syndrome — a question now before the psychiatric association as it prepares the first complete revision since 1994 of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
"We're gotten an enormous amount of mail — more than any other issue," said Dr. Darrel Regier, vice chair of the task force drafting the manual. "The passions on both sides of this are exceptional."
On one side of the debate, which has raged since the 1980s, are feminists, advocates for battered women and others who consider "parental alienation syndrome" to be an unproven and potentially dangerous concept useful to men trying to deflect attention from their abusive behavior.
"This is a fabricated notion — there's no science to support it," said Joan Meier, a professor at the George Washington University Law School who has written extensively on domestic violence and child custody.
On the other side are legions of firm believers in the existence of a syndrome, including hundreds gathering for a conference on the topic this weekend in New York. They say that recognition of parental alienation in the psychiatrists' manual would lead to fairer outcomes in family courts and enable more children of divorce to get treatment so they could reconcile with an estranged parent.
"This is a problem that causes horrible outcomes for children. ... All the arguments I've heard against it are trivial," said Dr. William Bernet, a psychiatry professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.
Bernet is among the speakers at this weekend's conference, which organizers bill as the largest ever on parental alienation. He will be describing his efforts as lead author of the proposal submitted to the psychiatric association to recognize parental alienation either as a "mental disorder" or a "relational problem."
The psychiatric association first published its manual of diagnostic disorders, known as the DSM, in 1952. The last major revision was published in 1994 and updated in 2000, and the fifth edition — DSM-5 — is due for publication in May 2013.
Work groups in various fields have been reviewing numerous proposals for additions to the 283 disorders in the current edition. Parental alienation remains on a list of proposals that are subject to further review, though it did not pass muster with the work group dealing with childhood and adolescent disorders.
"There is not sufficient scientific evidence to warrant its inclusion in the DSM," Regier said in a statement.
In an interview, Regier — who directs the APA's research division — said the proposal technically remains alive pending final presentations by the end of 2011. But he described chances for inclusion of parental alienation as "slim" — given that it has not been selected for field trials that normally would be a prerequisite for official recognition.
Bernet said it was "flatly ridiculous" for the APA to contend there is not enough information available to warrant including parental alienation in the DSM. He cited legal developments and new research in numerous foreign countries.
His proposal defines parental alienation disorder as "a mental condition in which a child, usually one whose parents are engaged in a high conflict divorce, allies himself or herself strongly with one parent, and rejects a relationship with the other parent, without legitimate justification."
The weekend conference at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine is the brainchild of Joseph Goldberg, who is based near Toronto and in 2008 founded an organization called the Canadian Symposium for Parental Alienation Syndrome.
Goldberg runs a consulting service for lawyers and parents litigating issues related to parental alienation. In his online biography, he says he "fought one of the most brutal case of parental alienation in Palm Beach County history" during a child-custody dispute with his ex-wife in Florida that extended from 2003 to 2006.
"This touches lives of more people than anyone imagines," Goldberg said by telephone from Canada. "It's not just about a child turned against a parent, through hatred. This affects grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, friends — all of them thrown out when a child rejects a parent."
Some of Goldberg's allies doubt the psychiatric association is ready to include parental alienation in its manual. New York-based psychologist Amy Baker, who has written a book about parental alienation, suggested the association might "play it safe" and decline to recognize it for fear of provoking feminist groups.
However, Goldberg is hopeful.
"There's a long way to go over the next few years before they make a final decision," he said. "There will be enormous pressure. ...I think it will be difficult for the APA not to include it."
Parental alienation surged onto the pop-culture radar screen a few years ago as a consequence of the bitter divorce and child custody battle involving actors Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger. Baldwin was harshly criticized by some feminist groups for citing parental alienation syndrome as a source of his estrangement with his daughter.
The concept is a source of confusion and division in the legal profession, as some lawyers try to evoke parental alienation and others challenge that tactic.
Texas Supreme Court Justice Debra Lerhmann, chair of the American Bar Association's family law section, said the issue of possible alienation can be raised in child custody proceedings whether or not any such phenomenon is classified as a disorder by health professionals.
"Anyone who's in this business knows there are situations where that in fact is happening — and sometimes it's alleged but is not happening," she said. "Even if it's not in the manual, relevant evidence can still be brought in."
Meier, the George Washington law professor, has urged judges to be cautious in how they allow the topic to be raised in cases where one estranged parent is accused by the other of abuse.
"You've got to assess the abuse first, without poisoning it with a claim of alienation," Meier said. "Only after abuse is ruled out do you then move on to the question of alienation."
Elizabeth Kates, a Pompano Beach, Fla., lawyer who deals often with child custody cases, is skeptical of the role parental alienation can play in such disputes: "It's a very easy claim to make ... but the problem arises when it's used in court to obscure the investigation of whether there's been abuse."
She said the initial impetus for recognition of parental alienation syndrome came in large part from the fathers' rights movement, but suggested much of the momentum now comes from psychologists, consultants and others who could profit if the concept had a more formal status in family court disputes.
"It's monetary," Kates said. "These psychologists and therapists make huge money doing the evaluations and therapies."
Original Article- Hot topic: psychiatry experts grapple with whether to classify parental alienation as disorder StarTribune.com
Symposium on Parental Alienation Syndrome: http://www.cspas.ca/
Critique of PAS: http://www.leadershipcouncil.org/1/pas/faq.htm
American Psychiatric Assn.: http://www.psych.org/MainMenu/Research/DSMIV.aspx
My two cents- As most of my regular readers know I am 150% for inclusion of Parent Alientation and Parent Alienation Syndrome into the D.S.M. however, some of my newer readers might not know why. Well here goes..
I was a child of abuse. Children of abuse only know abuse, so therefore we attract abusers- PERIOD!
I happen to be a female, but there isn't a gender for abusers nor is there a gender for those that are abused.
Abusers male or female take over where the abusive parent left off.. the sad thing is that the abused have no idea they are actually inviting abusers to abuse them.
How so? We learned early in like to do whatever it took to appease the abuser!
We learned to dote on their every whim. To satisfy their every need. To bow down, give in, and do whatever it took to keep them from abusing us.
Often times sacrificing our own needs. We weren't allowed to have needs. If we had needs that meant that the abusers needs would have to take a back seat.
Well that isn't gonna happen!
So when we were growing up we were actually being conditioned to serve the evil bastards that raised us. (yeah, yeah I know~ your parent isn't an evil bastard.)
YES they were- and dealing with that fact is the only way to stop being abused as an adult! PERIOD!!
Ya see, this is how it works. As a child of one of these abusers (emotional or physical) we believed "that was normal" Normal doesn't necessarily equate to healthy- PERIOD!
Here's where my favorite quote comes in "How would you know you were limited if you couldn't see past your limitations" ~ me.
Answer~ You wouldn't! PERIOD!
So here we are, busted, broken and alienated.. and all we can think is- why are 'they' doing this to us. Why won't 'they' stop! Why, why, why- all I want is peace. I just want to raise my kids without the drama.. blah blah blah blah WAKE UP!
As long as we need to keep the peace.. cuz that is what we learned to do to stay alive as children. KEEP THE MOTHER-FUKIN-PEACE.. avoid the next beating, avoid the wrath of emotional terror abusers can reign on an innocent child... Don't rock the abusers boat, hope they appreciate our passivity.. more blah blah bullshit!
Then we (the abused) become the persecutors! We yell, scream, storm out..' blah blah.. we use one of a dozen or more defenses.. what-the-fuck-ever we learned to do as children to 'get away' from our original abusers..
But guess what? We didn't walk away.. we didn't put a stop to the abuse. No, we were conditioned as abused children to be the peace makers, the laid back.. the don't rock the boat- ABUSED! Or we learned to lash out! Show them just how pissed of they got us. Teach them a lesson. Yeah, OK!
The only lesson we taught them was that we would 'allow' them to do this to us OVER AND OVER AGAIN!
WE FUCKIN STAY! PERIOD!
So, in short (short my ass- well, it is what it is.. this story can't be taught in short anything) But, anywho.. our learned behavior, invites abusers to abuse. Part of the abusers make up is -- entitlement! They were conditioned by one of us.. a parent that put up with our spouses abuse! It was then that the future abuser learned to feel entitled, like the abuser they were raised by. They decided as children to not get abused.. to instead ABUSE!
Parent Alienation is nothing short of an abuser feeling 'entitled' to hurt the other, using any means possible.. what better way to hurt your partner than to get whomever it is on YOUR side? To tell your lies to.. to sell your delusions to.. to align with? Whom better to destroy your partner with, than your children?
There is no-one better! The children are the perfect tool to abuse with.
So believing that parent alienation is not an abusers tool.. a way of life for the 'entitled' is in fact lying to yourself. Or in the case of those women's groups.. it is to keep your/their head in the sand and do whatever it is, to take the heat off you/them- THE ABUSER! (depending on who's reading this)
Bottom line? Women abuse just as much, if not more than men. The difference is often (not always) between emotional and physical abuse. But, remember.. abuse is abuse.. PERIOD! Abusers have no boundaries! Abusers (parents that will and do alienate) play victim- that's their M.O! Poor me!!
Then the world- including their own children (the future alienated children who suffer from Parent Alienation Syndrome- aka Stockholm Syndrome) feel so bad.. they do whatever it takes to make mommy or daddy feel better.
EVEN IF- it means turning on their other parent (the Alienated). These poor kids (and or weak minded adults) are brainwashed (for lack of a better and or much longer explanation)!
Viola! There you have it.. someone that use to love another- now believes it's their opinion to hate the one they originally loved! They have no idea they were brainwashed..
With these facts in mind..
(1) Abusers play victim to manipulate..
(2) An abusers make up, is to feel entitled..
(3) Abusers keep their victim[s] under their control..
(4) Abusers are relentless in getting the world to see their side..
(5) The abused is feed lie after lie..
(6) The lies contradict what the abused knows..
(7) The abused becomes stressed out listening to the abuser day in and day out.. bad mouth the future alienated parent (lover-neighbor-sister-stranger- whomever is the target)..
(8) Those conflicting messages overwhelm the future brainwashed..
(9) Those lies include telling the future alienated how lucky they are that the abuser is there to 'protect' the abused from the perceived enemy!
(10) Instead of the abused having a breakdown by their own minds conflicting messages/beliefs.. they must align with the abuser.. it becomes survival!
So, is it possible for only men to act like this?
With our culture of wanting to 'protect' the abused woman..
Of needing to 'protect' the victim..
How easy would it be for an abuser who feels entitled, to use our 'learned protectiveness' to abuse?
How easy? Ask those women's groups!
Ok, ok, ok.. hold on- don't get your panties in an uproar!
I'm NOT saying that abused women abuse! No, I'm not even hinting at that!!
I know abused women.. are abused period!
But what I AM saying is.. that unless you know the M.O.(profile) of an abuser and the M.O. (profile) of 'the abused' along with knowing the politics of those women's groups.. and then you factor in the millions of dollars given by our federal government in funding.. to 'save the abused!' You are willing to believe the lie!
Pfttttttttttt they lie that parent alienation is an abusers excuse to abuse!
Truth is parent alienation aka Stockholm Syndrome is VERY REAL! And used BY abusers to align the innocent/or in some cases the stupid public WITH the abuser aka the alienator!
Then they cry abuse play the victim, to hide the truth.. that THEY are the abuser not the abused!
And they 'professionals' that disagree with this very real truth.. must somehow be involved with the politics of it all! Follow the money!
This is MY OPINION, after years of research..I KNOW the truth. Don't be an asshole and just blindly believe me! Stop being abused! Learn the real truth for yourself!!
Please see the links below for earlier posts which explain the psychological science of how this happens.
It's a cycle! The abuse cycle.. and it will go on for generations to come.. until someone says NO, ENOUGH- PERIOD!
Personality Disorder Glosary - Alienated
A post for someone very special, a dear friend of mine
By George.. I think I've got it! PA/PAS
The Long History of PAS
Parent Alienation Leaves bruises deep inside
Domestic violence: Male entitlement mentality a factor
Stop the Gender Wars
My Personal Debate over Maternal Alienation and Parent Alienation
Refresh - Go to homepage