Friday, 25 November 2011


Parental Alienation is Domestic Violence

Running Head: Alienation and Isolation of the children from the other parent or family members is a form of psychological abuse and can be classified as Domestic Violence, which can lead to physical and sexual abuse amongst other horrific outcomes.

Abuse is one of the most gut wrenching issues in our times. Whether it is the abuse of a child, a women, an elder or a man, it is heinous. Abuse comes in three main forms: physical, sexual and psychological also known as emotional. Though I set out to write this paper to prove the high prevalence of male abuse by women, it is the mental and emotional abuse caused by a spouse’s deliberate attempt to destroy the Targeted Parent in the eyes of the children, which will be the focus of this paper. For the past 40 years, women have gotten away with abusing men, because the activist groups had us believing that only men abuse women. Even today, these groups are still claiming this despite over a hundred studies and research projects to the contrary. Parental Alienation, also classified as Hostile Aggressive Parenting, Enmeshed Relationships, Cross-Generational Coalitions, Relationship Triangles and Alienation, is a growing epidemic in divorce proceedings. It is time to change this and make a difference for the children and Targeted Parent of these psychological abuses.

By Joan T. Kloth
July 7, 2004

I set out to write this research paper to prove that “male-battered syndrome” was real, but upon reading Martin S. Fiebert’s long list of references for studies and research, I feel it would be redundant. (Fiebert) In Fiebert’s excerpt of over 125 studies, researches and supporting documentation, it is clear that women are equally or more violent and aggressive toward men or their partners. There are minimal shelters, homes, financial assistance and funding for people abused by women.
Sadly I will begin with this statement; for years, men have been viewed as the aggressor and antagonist in all Domestic Violence (DV) disputes. Alan Kemp, in his book, Abuse in the Family, incorrectly states throughout his book that men abuse women more often. On Page 234, he further states that “when women retaliate it happens after months or years of abuse. Biased first hand accounts and case studies suggest that when women perpetrate violence, it is commonly in response to a protracted cycle of victimization.” This is completely inaccurate. Actually, more men than women do not report abuse. Many women use poison, or other devious means as a deadly weapon and/or falsely claim self-defense. In addition, many women who initiate the aggression hurt themselves either by their aggression or by their partner having to restrain them. These women often falsely report their own aggression as abuse.
During a high conflict divorce involving visitation or custody, women file more false cases of domestic violence and abuse according to the various departments of protection and the courts. (DHHS, 2001 Statistics) This issue is one of international alarm because false reporting takes massive amounts of resoures away from true victims. In addition, the psychological ramifications and loss of reputation for the accused can ruin their lives forever, which is usually the intention with the false allegations. Unfortunately, these same type of women drag their innocent children into their bogus stories, forcing them lie and go through the most horrendous series of tests and interviews, thus scarring them emotionally for life. Even if the accused parent has not committed the crime, the accusations costs the accused thousands of dollars and years to prove their innocence, while the women commit defamation and slander. By all documented accounts, (see Fiebert’s Reference) it is apparent that women are at least as aggressive as men. Some women even admit to deliberately starting fights to gain a man’s attention. These women may deliberately poison them or deadly weapons and revenge acts to hurt the spouse or partners, while psychologically devastating their ex-partners. (Kuhl, P.1)
It is the mental end of this abuse that Bill Kuhl speaks about in his article “Violence Knows no Gender”. Women are devious and use covert physical attacks to catch their men off guard. Kuhl refers to this as the “element of surprise”. (Kuhl, Violence Knows No Gender) This is not only devious but also psychologically stressful. The man never knows if and when it is coming or how; much like a soldier during a sniper attack. They must live their lives as if constantly at war, on edge and in fear. Psychologically they become worn out with nowhere to turn to for help.
This psychological abuse and the toll that these men pay come at a great price. If they stay they chance being seriously injured if not killed. If they leave, they are faced with the humiliation of ‘allowing’ a woman to abuse them. In the course of, they will loose everything, including their children. Most men stay in their abusive marriages for the same reason women stay; that is they have nowhere to go, are being threatened with loosing everything, scared for their children and have been beaten down emotionally and they can no longer stand on their own anymore. Sadly, it is the humiliation and ridicule that a woman has abused them, which prevents most men from reporting the abuse they encounter and prohibits them from leaving home, and the fear of loosing their children forever.
When a parent is denied a relationship, it is the same as isolating the children from the parent. It can be legally termed as an alienation of affection, criminally referred to as domestic violence and psychologically referred to as Parental Alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome (soon to be in the DSM V), Hostile Aggressive Parenting, an Enmeshed Relationship, Triangles in Relationships, Cross-Generational Coalitions or Alienation and Denigration. No matter what it is named, it is not only abusive to the Targeted Parent (TP), but also abusive for the children. The Alienating Parent (AP) sees the children and/or their relationship with the other parent as a possession that they have power over, which in turn controls the TP. By refusing a healthy relationship to exist between the children and the TP, the AP maintains a sense of control and what they feel is a bargaining chip to possess the other parent. Whether it be returning the TP to the AP’s life or revenge ‘for not loving them anymore’, the AP has absolutely no regard for any of the other victims in their plans, only that the AP’s ulterior motive, destroying the TP in anyway it can be accomplished.
This abuse is so subtle and slow when the parent realizes what is occurring, it is often too late and the children are refusing to have a relationship with the TP; especially in the case of high conflict divorce, custody and visitation issues. The once naturally healthy relationship and bonds of a parent with their offspring have been destroyed, their children’s lives are filled with treachery and uncharted waters. The psychological community is just now beginning to understand the ramifications of this type of abuse, while examining a definition to be included in the DSM. Alienation is an insidious type of abuse because proving it’s existence is a nightmare that is still on-going. The psychological community is baffled as to how to stop it and correct the damages to the children.

PAS or Parental Alienation Syndrome Defined
Dr. Richard Gardner, of Creskill, NJ, a child psychologist, was one of the leading authorities on children of dysfunctional families. What he found in his research is that no matter the financial or cultural background, alienation of one parent from the other could occur. (
According to Dr. Richard Gardner, PAS is described as “a disturbance in which children are obsessively preoccupied with depreciation and/or criticism of a parent. In other words, denigration that is unjustified and or exaggerated.” ( In effect, these children are taught to hate the other parent to the point of wanting to eliminate them from their lives. Dr. Gardner considers this psychological abuse and it is the only form of psychological abuse that has clear-cut unmistakable signs and symptoms and therefore the only psychological abuse that can be easily diagnosed.
PAS can be further described as a form of psychological kidnapping ( where the child’s mind has been forced to prejudicially believe and discriminate against the other parent. This is perpetrated by creating fear, not of the outsider parent, but of the parent whom the child must reside with, or as Gardner calls it, the “hostage taker” parent. ( It is also called the Stockholm Syndrome and best compared to the Patti Hearst kidnapping.
In these cases, the hostages are so isolated from the outside world that they begin to associate with their hostage takers. Actually refusing to accept any overt actions from the outside that contradict their captor’s motives. This has been documented in cult situations where the followers are literally brainwashed to believe that the cults objectives are the only way to think, act or believe.
This also applies in PAS where the children learn to side with the aggressor avoid being victims of the same abuse. As Roland Summit (Kemp, P. 16) and John Briere (Kemp, P. 239-240) call it, Abuse-Related Accommodation. Abuse-related accommodation occurs when a person’s natural survival instincts are enabled them to “adapt” to the abuse. This adaptation includes distortions of thought, altered emotions (such as depression and anxiety), and dissociation by disconnecting from the trauma. It is these adaptive techniques that will determine whether a child will develop personality disorders such as multiple personalities, anti-social behaviors or psychotic tendencies. (Kemp P. 239). Briere further breaks it down into 3 stages of adaptation. First is the initial reaction stage of fear, anxiety, hurt, betrayal or abandonment, because they are so isolated they have nowhere to turn. In the second stage, accommodation to on-going abuse, they try to pacify and soothe the abuser. With children of PAS this might be avoiding issues that trigger anger, such as positive comments about the other parent. Finally in the 3rd stage called Long-Term Elaboration and Secondary accommodation, the victims life centers around avoiding and living with the abuse, which now affects every mechanism for coping and behavior. The abuse actually becomes so internalized that their entire world changes to accommodate it. A PAS victimized child might denigrate and spew hatred about the targeted parent with no valid and justifiable reasons.
No matter how we describe it or compare it, the ultimate truth is that PAS destroys the children and the parents it is directed at. Despite our courts supposed protection of children from this kind of abuse, it is happening even more. This type of abuse is directly correlated with marital issues involving parental separation, divorce, custody and visitation. It became even more prevalent in the 60’s with the introduction of No-Fault Divorce. Despite the high incidence of this type of abuse, it is barely recognized in the courts until recently when it passed the Frye Test validating it existence (, which now permits it’s open testimony and use in court. With the passage of the Frye test, the State of Connecticut mandated Court Support Family Services to get training in Parental Alienation Syndrome. Unfortunately, at present this training is very inadequate and riddled with missing data. If only we can finally get the courts to put aside their prejudices against men and non-custodial parents.

So How Do We Recognize and Diagnose PAS?
The following is a list of behaviors exhibited by children of PAS according to Richard Gardner. (
1) A campaign of denigration
2) Weak, absurd, or frivolous rationalizations for the deprecation.
3) Lack of Ambivalence
4) The “independent thinker” phenomenon
5) Reflexive support of the AP in the parental conflict
6) Absence of guilt over cruelty to and/or exploitation of the alienated parent
7) The presence of borrowed scenarios
8) Spread of the animosity to the friends and/or extended family of the alienated parent.

In effect, PAS is a form of prejudice and discrimination that isolates the children from the TP, extended family and friends. Through a series of well-planned actions, the alienating parent is able to influence the children to hate the targeted parent and extended family. In particular, the AP instills such loathing and anger toward the TP that it could easily be classified as a hate crime.
Classifying PAS
According to Kemp in his book Abuse in the Family, domestic violence is defined as “A form of Maltreatment perpetrated by a person with whom the victim has or had a close personal relationship.” (Kemp, P.36) Furthermore, Kemp, categorizes Child Psychological Maltreatment as rejecting (spurring/degrading), terrorizing, corrupting, denying essential stimulation, denying emotional responsiveness, denying availability, unreliable and inconsistent parenting, mental health neglect, medical neglect, educational neglect, degrading/devaluing (spurring), isolating and exploiting. (Kemp, P. 74-77). One look at each of these categories and we can derive that PAS is a form of psychological maltreatment and falls under the heading of Domestic Violence.
PAS can involve any and all of these areas. For example, by alienating the victims from other family members and social supports, isolation is occurring. The whole premise of PAS is to isolate and alienate the children from the other parent or any other individual who supports the targeted parent. If the alienator uses threats or denigrating tactics, to force the victims to comply, this can be seen as terrorizing. (Kemp, P. 225-228) As well, verbal bashing and abuse of the targeted parent is very prominent and a key indicator of PAS. In addition, DV includes the exploitation and use of the children for personal gain. Thus in PAS when the children are used to destroy the other parent by denying visitation or a relationship between TP and them or is used for monetary gains such as excessive expenses beyond child support, they are in affect committing DV. It is for these reasons that PAS or alienating the children from the other parent can be considered as a form of domestic violence.

Control Issues of Abuse
Abuse is about control, not gender. When a person feels that they have lost the power to control their ex-spouse, they resort to various methods of abuse from physical to mental to gain back that control. For example, in a relationship situation where one partner refuses to do as the other partner demands, the aggressor or abuser will attempt to force the person to listen and do, as the abuser wants. Furthermore, if the relationship is failing but one spouse does not want it to end, they might use the children as pawns to keep the spouse. This is the same idea as a female who deliberately gets pregnant with the hopes that the man will love them more and that it will fix the marriage or relationship. In a situation where the children are already in existence, the spouse might feel that denying a relationship between the other spouse and the children will put the control in their hands because they believe they can make them return. If the first denial of visitation does not work, then they begin to manipulate the children to change how the children feel about the other parent. The ultimate motive is to gain and keep control.
With their inability to act and think rationally or with appropriate emotions and feelings, they become a megalomaniac and damage all around them, particularly their children. In fact, these people are stagnant in this stage of understanding how their actions affect others that their emotional development becomes stunted and they continue on this downward spiral, unable to function in their own lives. It is a selfish stage and one where they are afraid of being abandoned. Taking this idea one step further, we can look at their emotional development as being immature or under-developed. They are usually narcissistic, a personality trait that stems from low self-esteem and low self-worth. Because they truly do not think they have what they need to be loved and wanted, they resort to all sorts of horrible tactics to get that love and devotion. One way to guarantee this love and devotion is to make sure the children hate the other parent and refuse to have anything to do with them and that the children are solely dependent upon them for all their human needs, but especially love. By creating this hostile attitude in the children, they feel they are guaranteeing the children to love and be devoted to only them.
Experts are uncertain whether the cause of the AP’s disorder is organic, there has been some speculation that the Alienating Parent (AP) may have a physical or mental dysfunction in the Amygdala of the brain. The Amygdala is located at the base of the brain and is responsible for understanding and sensing emotions and feelings of others. ( Some scientists feel that if the Amygdala shrinks, atrophies or is damaged in some way, that it prevents or causes the person to inappropriately respond emotionally. Optimistically, if this dysfunction is not caused by physical damage, it can be corrected but only if the person is willing to go to counseling and therapy. This is the crux of the problem for an AP, whether it is a physical or mental problem, or just uncontrollable rage, APs are so narcissistic and self-centered, that they refuse to believe that they have a problem. They vehemently refuse to attend counseling or if they do go, they cause such havoc that no progress can be attained. In addition, they interfere with their children’s counseling even when it is court ordered. Unfortunately, the courts refuse to sanction the offending parent for fear of monetarily hurting or otherwise jeopardizing the children, and thus the AP continues to get rewarded for their poor behavior, dysfunction and manipulation.

The Alienating Parents Psychological Make-up
In order to show that this issue in the past 10 years has changed to a non-gender specific issue, I have chosen to use the term AP (alienating parent) for any person, man or woman, who refuses or destroys the relationship between the children and the other parent. I have also chosen the acronym, TP to represent the targeted parent. Why does the AP do what they do? To begin with, it may come from unfounded feeling of entitlement. When a person feels slighted by another, even if only in their imagination, they experience intense emotions of anger and resentment, seeking habitually to even the score. (Baron & Byrne, P. 466) They use every tactic they can conceive of to harm the target. In High Profile Divorces, the AP will go as far as to use contrived scenarios of Domestic Violence or Rape, in manipulating the children, courts, attorney’s, counselors and anyone else they can contact. They denigrate and deliberately alter information to maintain control.
Further research reveals that that they are probably narcissistic, that of megalomanic, believing that the world evolves around them and only them. (Baron and Byrne, P. 456). In other words, rules are made for everyone else with exclusion to them. For example, the AP may refuse to abide by the court orders for visitation, counseling and to refrain from derogatory comments about the other parent, or TP. They reason in their minds that this rule does not apply to them but only everyone else. Yet, hypocritically, they file immediate contempt charges if child support is one day late.
Furthermore, narcissistic individuals are especially affected by negative inter-personal experiences, which explains why the AP might deliberately destroy the TP’s relationship with his kids. If the AP cannot have the TP, then no one, not even the children, should be allowed to have any thing resembling a relationship with the other parent. The TP is not permitted any happiness.
Their egotism causes them even more frustration by not being able to manipulate everything they want. They have lost control; and their image of holier than thou appears tarnished. In fact, re-marriage by the TP can trigger even more abuse when they realize that the ex-spouse is no longer available. (Warshak, Their pronounced anger and loss of control is evidenced in their retaliation methods of refusing visitation and further denigration of the TP. Also known as Frustration-Aggression, they became exceedingly more dangerous in their disregard for the children and ex-spouse’s safety, security and emotional states. (Baron and Byrne, P. 443) In their mind, they depersonalize theTP and all associated with them. In fact, the covert aggression gets so out of control that they will deliberately lie about such things as telephone contact and mail contact from the other parent. Another example of frustration-aggression might be repeatedly telling the other parent the children are not around and then telling the children that the other parent never tries to contact them. They belligerently try to control the formation of any relationship between the children and the other parent. Their anger is so consuming that it extends to any family members who sides against them. Repeatedly they will try to destroy the new marriage using continual court harassment, serving of subpoenas in the middle of the night and backstabbing them to the children. These last examples of outrageous responses are forms of obstructionism. (Baron p. 466) Though usually applied to business situations, it is classified as behaviors designed to impede the TP relationship and performance. (Baron & Byrne, P. 466) In some cases, their refusal to let the children receive telephone calls, have visitation, destroying mail or returning it to sender and failing to give the TP sport game schedules are clearly obstructive and classifiable as isolation and thus a form of domestic violence. In addition, they attempt to control contact times, only allowing visitation during the other parents work hours while knowing full well it interferes with the other parent’s ability to perform his parental responsibilities to provide financial support.
It is like a crime of passion in their attempts to get revenge. (Baron & Byrne, P. 453) Though most not use physical force, they use indirect aggression techniques intended to destroy any close relationships for the TP or their family. In fact, their hostile personality and intentions are indicative of a very stressful Type A personality. (Baron & Byrne, P. 455) They aggress with the prime objective of committing intentional harm upon innocent people. And though according to Kemp, females are thought to be less physically aggressive, this fact has been clearly refuted by the numerous reports and research by Mark Fiebert. In addition, if a woman attacks, they often sustain injuries from the man trying to defend or protect himself. When this happens, the women are quick to file false accusations of Domestic Violence to frame the men.
These false accusations, in fact, are one of the prime indicator issues that Dr. Richard Gardner speaks about repeatedly.( According to Dr. Gardner, false allegations of abuse come up at one of two points in PAS problems. First they may be the result of thwarted efforts to be rid of the TP or they may be related to underlying psychiatric disorder of the AP and surface prior to the separation or immediately post. (Rand, Deirdre, In fact, these behaviors are quite typical of Narcissistic APs and can be more detrimental to the children than if the actual abuse had occurred because the children are not emotionally able to handle the discrepancies between illusory truth and lies. (Rand, Deirdre,
The AP’s personality can further be described as manipulated affiliation behavior, when one does not have people who are thinking and behaving similar to their ways, they deliberately do everything in their power to make sure that at least the children are on their side. This reaction comes out of fear that they will be alone in their own thoughts and anger toward the other parent and that eventually the children might turn against them. To boost their own self-esteem and social comparative needs backing up their “demented” perceptions for the ex-spouse, they psychologically abuse the children with fear or terror to enlist the children in the denigration and hatred of the other parent. With the children on their side, they preserve their self-esteem, self-concept and other personal images. Without the children’s support, they are alone and vulnerable to the truth about their own anger, fear and irrational behavior. All of this anger and hatred has traumatic life long affects upon the children. If the children are not discovered and corrected immediately, the abuse will persist into their own adulthood and with their own relationships and families.

The Effects on the Children
Child Maltreatment is classified as actions that harm children physically, sexually or psychologically. Victims often use a defense mechanisms to protect themselves called Abuse-Related Accommodation, which has 3-stages of adjustment. The first stage Initial Reaction finds a victim who is so traumatized that their natural coping mechanisms do not operate. Overwhelmed by the abuse, separated from family and friends, these victims are completely defenseless from the perpetrator. In the second stage, known as accommodation to ongoing abuse, the victim attempt to stay neutral, keeping the peace at any cost, just to preserve their safety, sanity, and security to prevent further harm. The third stage, long-term elaboration and secondary accommodation, is characterized by the extension of time the abuse has occurred. The abuse becomes so ingrained into how the person sees and deals with their world, it is hard for them to separate themselves from the abuse. Their entire world is changed to fit the abusers requiring them to adapt and change including how they cope and behave. (Kemp, P.239-240) This model, which was created by J. Briere explains how a psychologically abused individual of PAS’s handles life. With all their normal coping response faculties’ disrupted, personal family contacts broken off and their safety and security in jeopardy, these children have no other choice but to side with their captor.
Furthermore in psychological abuse, such as PAS, the fear of rejection and abandonment by their parent coupled with the verbal abuse can cause severe emotional damages, which often do not surface till much later in the child’s life. By constantly degrading a very important figure in the children’s lives, their own self-concept and self-worth is devalued. (Baron and Byrne, P. 160) This is especially true, if the children see themselves as similar to the opposed parent. Therefore, a change in the children’s self-concept, such as a lowering of self-esteem in identifying with their parent and believing that if the parent is no good, they are no good, can affect their own self-esteem. (Baron and Byrne, P. 168-169)
According to Kemp, in order to protect themselves(P. 239), many of these victims use dissociation, avoidance, and end up developing distorted thinking patterns, becoming highly sensitive in their reactions. Because children do not the have emotional and mental maturity to place the abusive behavior into perspective, they have few choices to protect themselves. The stronger ones will function in exaggeration to compensate for their believed shortcomings, while those that are weaker are more in jeopardy of developing personality issues, such as multiple personalities.
Over time, as they begin to believe that the TP does not love them or accept them, they acquire feelings of inadequacy, loneliness and depression. (Baron and Byrne, P. 173) Include that the AP rewards the children with positive reinforcement for not liking the TP, they become too confused to separate the truth from reality, let alone their own perceptions of themselves. And being cut-off from the TP and their extended family, the children have no way to confirm or disprove what they are being told. If the child’s coping mechanism is completely depleted, this situation could pull the children into a deep depression, which later in life may have devastating affects. (Baron and Byrne, P. 175) The AP’s action causes more harm because the AP has negated the necessary nurturing required to raise emotionally sound, independent and secure children who will go on to have normal family lives.
Carl Rogers, a clinical psychologist, made great strides in the field of personality psychology and self-concept that is today used by social psychologists. (Baron & Byrne, P. 174-175) His research demonstrates that the self is the key to our world and so it is important to maintain and boost the image of the self by seeking “positive regard”. He further describes this as our need for love and affection that comes primarily from our parents. This is also part of Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of human needs for love and belonging. So if a parent disregards this nurturing need and even prevent its occurrence with the other parent, it can only lead to personality conflicts and issues related to our personal safety zone. The child can never be sure of what true love and security mean. In addition, emotional comfort zone problems arise when the child is not given the proper positive cues especially when what the child feels and what the child is taught to feel, do not correlate. Improper positive cues, give rise to low self-esteem and distrust of others, while inconsistency in feelings leads to a distortion of oneself image and an unbalanced perception of ones-self. (Baron and Byrne, P, 174) Thus in the long run, there are children who are deeply depressed and confused about who they are and how they are supposed to feel and who become just like the AP.
In addition to their distorted views of themselves, they have very warped views of the other parent and extended family. They believe no matter how many times it may be disproved, that the other parent hates them. A stigmatism of the TP is then passed on to his extended new family, from new spouse to the children to grandparents, aunts and uncles. In fact, the children’s own anger is fueled by jealousy and the thought that they are no longer needed.
The negative issues toward the TP indirectly affected the children’s self-esteem and desire to pursue any love from that parent. In the end, it will have a profound affect on their well-being. It is documented that the mortality rate of children from divorces is increased because they are less likely to take care of themselves, i.e. they tend to substance abuse more and are more likely to divorce, thus finding similar warped relationships as adults. (Baron and Byrne, P. 343) The children’s interpersonal trust and self-esteem is directly related to their attachment style. This attachment style is developed in infancy by the type of attention the parents give to the children. In other words, children who are given positive attention and unconditional love, are more secure and confident in themselves and the choices they make versus children who were deprived positive emotions and instead reinforced with negativity, anger and hatred. The emotionally deprived children tend to grown up untrusting, scared and angry at the world. (Baron and Byrne, P. 306-309) In fact, one of my recent classmates described her husband who is a victim of PAS abuse as follows: “He does not trust, does not believe and does not care about things that are family oriented.” It is a reminder of how important it is to have the unconditional love and support that we as humans need to survive.

Solving for PAS
PAS is one of the most easily diagnosed forms of Psychological Child Abuse if the courts and professionals would just listen. It’s signs and symptoms are so classic and straightforward, that there is little discrepancy when PAS is in existence. The following is a more comprehensive list compiled from websites and information by Richard Gardner, Deirdre Conway-Rand and the Divorce Source of the most basic signs and symptoms of PAS. (, Covey-Rand, & Dishon, A.,
1. A campaign of denigration against the TP with no real substance. Also seen as relentless hatred for/towards the TP.
2. Weak, absurd, or frivolous rationalizations for the deprecation of the TP to the point of delusional and irrational.
3. Animosity toward the TP lacks the ambivalence, which is normal to human behavior.
4. The “independent thinker” phenomenon where in the child asserts that the decision to reject the TP is his or her own.
5. The child reasons for not wanting to visit or spend any time with the TP are obscure and not even of a threatening nature.
6. Impulsive support of the AP (parent causing the alienation) in the parental conflict. In fact, they are totally enmeshed with the AP.
7. Absence of guilt over cruelty to and/or exploitation of the alienated parent.
8. The presence of borrowed scenarios such as the child’s statements reflects themes and terminology of the AP. In fact, they have difficulty making any differentiation between their experiences and the APs.
9. Spread of the animosity to the friends and/or extended family of the alienated parent.
10. They can appear like normal healthy children until asked about the TP that triggers their hatred.

Breaking this chain of events utilizes all the resources such as time and money because of the emotional roller coaster that these children will have to ride to finally get to the realization of the lies and the genuineness of the other parents love for them. Probably hardest of all will be the AP’s unwillingness to be treated, which then spreads to the children. If the AP refuses treatment it can completely devastate any chance of recovery for the children. Though in most cases, counseling is court ordered for the children, the alienated parent and the TP, the AP will refuse to go or will do everything in their power to prevent the children from attending. At this point, it is important for the abusive parent to find specialized counseling or they will continue their tirade of hatred through the children. If the courts would just comply with their own court orders, fines and consequences for any violations, it would be a deterrent for the offending parent. A combative and resistant AP, who constantly refuses to be treated or cooperate should send up red flags for everyone involved to question whether the children are in the right parental home where a healthy relationship between both parents can be nurtured.

Preventative Measures Lead to Specialized Programs
For the past two years, I have been working on a program, which incorporates a short test/questionnaire to help determine the parents who are at a higher risk of using Hostile Aggressive Parenting (HAP) and Parental Alienation (PA), which ultimately leads to PAS. A simple test administered by trained professionals in either the courts, counseling settings or other qualified agencies at the commencement of divorce proceedings.
The Test Questionnaire would consist of 30 Questions, which allow the parent to answer with a range of 5 possible answers from Strongly agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree to Strongly disagree. Depending on the question, each answer would have a score from 1 to 5. A parent scoring between 45 to 60 would indicate a slight risk for perpetrating HAP or PAS or at the least a more nasty divorce situation. While a parent scoring 61 to 75 would indicate a little more risk for committing PAS. And where as a parent scoring 76 and above is at a progressively higher risk of committing PAS. Once this is determined these families would then be referred to a special counseling program designed specifically for parents who are at a risk of committing PAS or HAP. This special counseling program would have a first main goal of assisting the abusive parent or parents to deal with their own demons and feelings of low self-esteem and low self-worth, so that they can continue with their lives and be functional adults. It would then help the TP to learn how to deal with the abusive parent. Instead of antagonizing them, they would learn to understand why the AP’s respond the way they do and to give the TP the tools to assist the children as well. The program would further help the children to gain the knowledge and tools necessary to negotiate the anger and hostility of the parent/s in the divorce. And lastly, this special program could help the innocent extended families that have been dragged into this custody mess.

A Venn of a Democratic View
Taking this one step further, we can apply Doherty’s model of a Democratic View to explain how the whole process could work. Using a Venn diagram, (see figure 1), it can be visualized as three circles with three sub-circles in each. The Left hand circle would be entitled “The Family” and would include three inner circles entitled the Mom(and her extended Family), Dad (and his extended family) and the Children. The Right hand Circle would be entitled “The Professionals” and would include three circles labeled the Attorneys, Counselors/Therapists and Agencies. The third or lower circle would be entitled “The Courts” with three sub-circles called Family Relations, Child Support Enforcement and Criminal/Civil courts. This brings the family’s entire divorcing world together under one “Doherty” Democratic roof. (See figure. 1 below.)

Figure 1:

Types of Treatments
Some models and styles of treatment available to combat psychological trauma have more merit in an abusive situation like PAS. There is a serious issue of low self-esteem for everyone involved, including the abuser. In Carl Roger’s research on Personality Psychology and Self-concept, he discovered that therapists could raise low self-esteem using “client-centered” or “non-directive’ therapy. (Baron & Byrne, P. 174-175) This is accomplished by having the therapist behave as a non-judgmental, open-minded parent/person who does not pass any judgments or values onto the client. In effect, the client is allowed to relive their infancy and childhood, experiencing all the emotions they should have had in the first place. Via this method, it was proved that a client would be able to change their self-image and concept to a more positive one. (Baron and Byrne, P. 174-175)
Another way to initiate change in the children’s perspective of themselves and relationship with the TP’ is inter-related to the Contact Hypothesis (Baron, P.234). For example, the AP’s refusal to allow the children “repeated expose” via visitation with TP reduces contact and experience with the TP. This action lessens the children’s interest and positive attitude toward the TP. (Baron, P. 258-259). They begin to miss out on all the positive experiences and life processes necessary for a normal family and parent relationship. Once the pattern of dislike has been established, repeated exposure tends to create even more hatred for the TP because the children now fear repercussions from the AP for having a good time. This in turn enhances the AP’s views and claim that the children hate the TP. This type exposure is an example of how negative Contact Hypothesis can further drive the children away from the TP. (Baron and Byrne, P. 234). In affect what the contact hypothesis says is that loss of contact breeds a loss of relationship and remembrance of the other parent.
To combat the negativity, under this hypothesis, if we instead increase the contact in a positive nature, such as working together as a whole family unit, the AP no longer divides them. The AP looses any control of the situation and a re-categorizing or new association with the in-group is established. (Baron and Byrne, P. 237). In fact, this change in prejudice has a two-fold affect, by actually diminishing the AP’s overall control, it puts her on the aggressive and defensive side. In a sense, it would be pushing the AP’s buttons thus showing her emotional defects and true devious nature, so that a counselor can more easily hone in on what is needed. This by itself is not enough. One must also change behavior patterns and erroneous thought processes as well. Such treatment for this type of case may require using many different techniques to illicit the necessary changes. Some of the different techniques to approach involve Models of Psychoanalytic, Client/Person-Centered, Behavioral, Cognitive, Affective, Structural Family Theory of Cross-Generational Coalitions as well as Family Therapy.
Using Psychoanalytic Theories, Freud may have some basis with his idea that our behavior is controlled by our desires. Freud’s belief that our desires to seek pleasure and to avoid pain, may very well explain why the abuser behaves in such a destructive manner toward the children and ex-partner. They maybe looking to avoid the pain of feeling abandoned and seek the feeling pleasure from revenge by hurting the other spouse any way possible. As for the children, their avoidance of pain, would include always siding or agreeing with AP’s views of the TP. The children will do anything not to loose the AP’s love and feel the wrath or become ignored by the AP. (Vacc & Loesch P.76) In these ways, Freud’s theories would make sense. The Psychoanalytic process may continue deeper and co-involve the Adlerian and Analytical Theories.
Further involving the Adlerian’s theory, it seems that these behaviors are directly correlated with interaction to others, our life experiences, socially learned behavior (Vacc and Loesch, P. 37) and our self-selected goals. In theory, people should have control of their own destinies and to make the necessary changes; if their respective environments permit them too. (Vacc and Loesch, P.77) In the case of the abuser, they refuse to be civil toward people who are their equal or older. They have minimal respect for ex-spouses or their own parent of the same gender. All of this may have been learned from the family life experiences, which are now passed on to the children. For the children, they are experiencing and learning to process this information as being the way to behave. They are rewarded for following the APs lead and complying with their anger toward the TP. Their family environment rewards them for showing hatred toward their father.
This is an example of Pavlov’s 1927 theory of Classical Conditioning. That is the re-enforcement of a response to a stimuli, i.e. anger toward the TP, elicits rewards from the AP. (Vacc and Loesch, P. 42-43) For example, a mother would use “withdrawal of love” (Vacc and Loesch, P. 44). She might show them love and affection when they behave as she wants in relationship to their father. But if they show any signs of support, happiness or love for their father, she withholds her love. She gives them a warped perception of life and then re-enforces it with conditional love. The more they turn against their father, the more she seems to reward them. Their environment is solely responsible for their reactions and actions toward their father. (Vacc & Loesch P.77)
With the Adlerian Theory, we can strongly see why these children are behaving disrespectfully toward the TP. After all these years of tormented feelings, it would probably stand to reason they have suppressed feelings as well. Thus in order to reverse this situation, the Adlerian theory would need to establish a set of norms for dealing with family members that would allow the children to relieve themselves of these burdens and try to relearn proper family etiquette. This is assuming that the children can be convinced to want to heal and regain a relationship with the ousted parent.
With classical conditioning, Thorndike and Skinner discovered that cessation of a behavior could be accomplished by removal of the positive negative re-enforcement. (Vacc and Loesch, P. 43) In other words, if the AP was kept out of the equation or forbidden to interfere with the children’s attempts at a relationship with TP, no negative responses would be elicited when the children show affection toward the TP. They would not be scared away from loving the TP and finally having a possible relationship. As well, the AP would no longer be permitted to reward rejection, thus removing control from the AP. This would have to be constant to make it consistent and produce a change so the children could regain a positive view of the TP without outside influences opposing it.

Healthy Conclusion to a Unhealthy Situation
In conclusion, PAS appears to be a form of psychological Domestic Violence.
From the isolation of the children and targeted parent, to the denigration and verbal attacks toward the targeted parent in front of the children, to the using of the children as pawns to inflict pain and suffering upon the Targeted parent, the Alienator is a true perpetrator of abuse. But there could be a happy solution if properly planned program of prevention and intervention were instituted at the beginning of the divorce and separation process. If the courts and agencies could work hand in hand along side the families, a community-based support system would be developed that could help to monitor and prevent this type of abuse long before it wreaks irreparable damages on the families.


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Zoompad said...

Joan T. Kloth.

These people have no shame and no morals.

They are experts at twisting things round, calling the abused the abuser, and the abuser a victim.

PAS is NOT domestic violence, it is a junk science theory that a very determined and very crafty bunch of Fathers Rights paedophiles invented.

Zoompad said...

I use my tea cloths for wiping dishes.

Even their psuedo German sounding names are a mockery.