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How do I recognize Parental Alienation?

How do I recognize Parental Alienation?

The report "Family Wars, The Alienation of Children" lists specific behaviors that are associated with PAS. It's normal to see some of the listed behaviors on occasion, but if there is a definite pattern, then you need to do something about it.

What's the difference between Parental Alienation and Parental Alienation Syndrome?

What's the difference between "Parental Alienation" and "Parental Alienation Syndrome"?

The difference between simple "Parental Alienation" and "Parental Alienation Syndrome" is mainly a matter of degree, completeness, and intensity. 

The degree to which the alienation takes place is the level pervasiveness of the alienation, whether or not it is a constant in the child's life, occurring in most or many areas and times. 

'Completeness' relates to there being enough of the recognized symptoms of PAS present to have met the criteria and be deemed as having the actual syndrome. (A syndrome is a cluster of symptoms some of which may or may not be present at the same time. 

Some symptoms may not in fact not ever appear, yet the presence of enough of the other symptoms can be used to diagnose and qualify the syndrome.) 

The intensity of the alienating behavior is also a factor; the more extreme it is, the more likely the alienation would be judged as being indicative of the actual syndrome rather than just simple alienation.

Is PAS real? Is it a genuine 'syndrome'?

Is PAS real? Is it a genuine 'syndrome'?

First of all, keep in mind that the terms 'parental alienation' and 'parental alienation syndrome' should not be used interchangeably. They are not the same thing. 

'Parental Alienation' is definitely real, and that it occurs is indisputable; what is not clear is whether or not alienating behavior can at some point be clinically defined as a 'syndrome'. Currently this topic is being actively discussed and debated by members of the psychiatric and medical community.

It is our feeling that it is entirely unimportant as to whether any particular alienating behavior qualifies as a 'syndrome' or not; we believe that alienating behavior in and of itself is harmful to the child regardless of how it is classified or labeled, and that such behavior should be taken seriously by judges and mental health professionals as a clear indication of an inability to parent effectively in a positive manner.

Why do people practice parental alienation?

Why do people practice parental alienation?

This is a good question with no simple answer. Alienators vary widely in their motivation(s) and the aggressiveness with which they practice alienating behaviors. A few of the more common reasons for engaging in parental alienation are given here.

  • Some alienators may feel insecure in their relationship with their child, and hope that by denigrating the other parent they'll somehow strengthen their bond with their child.

  • Some alienators are acting out of emotional distress (often stemming from the divorce), and the children happen to be easy and convenient targets to involve and/or manipulate.

  • Some alienators are bound up emotionally with extreme hatred for their former spouse, and want to validate their feelings by causing the children to also hate their former spouse.

  • In a similar vein, some alienation is driven by simple revenge and/or the desire to hurt the other parent at any cost. Destroying the relationship between the other parent and the children is an effective way to hurt the other parent and cause them pain. This kind of alienator will typically go to any length to achieve their goal, including making false allegations of abuse.

  • Some alienators believe that by alienating the children from the other parent, they will gain some sort of advantage in litigation (or perhaps in an evaluation). This is nearly always untrue, but alienators are often unaware of the actual effects of their actions.

  • Some alienators genuinely believe that contact between the children and the other parent should be prevented because of perceived 'bad' qualities or deficiencies in the other parent. Although this person was good enough to sleep with and have a child with, now they are suddenly deemed 'not good enough' to help raise or parent the child.

What can I do about Parental Alienation?

What can I do about Parental Alienation?

According to Dr. Douglas Darnall, (www.parentalalienation.org), there is no cure for severe parental alienation. It is absolutely essential that it be stopped before it gets to that point. Other professionals have had some success in treating severe PAS through a change of custody and complete isolation from the alienating parent, but you will have a hard time convincing the courts that is what the child needs. 

The most effective way to deal with PAS is to maintain frequent contact with the child(ren) and make sure you express your love on a continual basis. Make sure your time with the child(ren) is quality time. 

When the child is secure in their relationship with you, then the other parent cannot so easily sabotage that relationship. It is also absolutely essential that you carefully DOCUMENT everything so that, if/when you have to go to court, you can demonstrate a pattern of behavior that is not in the child's best interest. 

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