When children of high-conflict divorced parents prefer one parent and resist or refuse visitation with the other parent, some authors have spoken of this situation as parental alienation (PA). PA refers to cases of avoidance of a parent in which the preferred parent is alleged to have manipulated the child’s thinking and created antagonism toward the non-preferred parent, and in which neither abuse nor neglect has been substantiated. Advocates of the PA concept have offered treatment methods that entail court-ordered separation of the child from the preferred parent, followed by intensive treatment and aftercare through specialized counseling, with separation and treatment sometimes lasting years. This paper examines the published evidence and other material related to the safety and effectiveness of PA treatments, and concludes that the treatments have not been shown to be effective, but are in fact potentially harmful. Suggestions are made for research approaches that could help to explain avoidance of a parent and that could yield effective treatment for such avoidance.
Recommendation: If you do not have any contact with a mother or a father (and especially extended family), I invite you to start reading and communicating with those who had been parentally alienated and parentally abducted and start processing the emotions. Realize that love is stronger than mind control and there is no better time to begin the healing process than now! I have recently talked with Dana Laquidara who is writing a memoir about her journey. Here is a blog she wrote called “The Stranger I call Mother“. She is a terrific writer and she is learning more about cult mind control patterns as they applied to her father’s influence.
Clinical data suggest that Kernberg’s description of splitting as a defense mechanism is useful in conceptualizing the psychological consequences of abuse in childhood in certain patients. The splitting in these patients is similar to his description of splitting in borderline patients in that it compartmentalizes and sequesters certain overwhelming and painful ego states accompanying negative introjects of the betraying primary object and the betrayed self. These sequestered introjects, furthermore, act as automatons, generating behaviors that arbitrarily re-enact their content even though the patient remains consciously unaware of their historical meaning. Another consequence of the sequestration of these traumatic introjects is that their affects retain their initial power and primitive quality, unmodulated by the usual homogenizing process that is a part of the synthesis of part-object introjects into whole-object introjects; the sequestration, therefore, often painful in itself, must nevertheless be rigidly maintained lest traumatic anxiety in the face of overwhelming affects be re-experienced. Shengold calls the sequence of events that results in this brittle but stubborn painful constriction of the personality “soul murder.” He borrowed the phrase from Freud who used it to refer to what Schreber had suffered at the hands of his sadistic father. That phrase–“soul murder”–may sound melodramatic, but it powerfully conveys what these patients communicate of their experience of themselves. As with Kernberg’s patients, the defensive splitting serves to protect the positive introjects. These patients fear their negative introjects, even more than they feel uncomfortable about the split. They fear their desperate rage will destroy their love objects, and leave them feeling abandoned and hating themselves. As one of my patients put it: “I fear that my destructive anger will leave me all alone in a sea of rubble of my own making.” In the transference, he feared destroying me and our positive bond. In these cases it would seem that the turning to splitting occurred at a later age than it does with Kernberg’s borderline patients. His proposition is that the developmentally normal “splitting,” related to the undifferentiation of the infantile ego, persists as a defensive splitting, perhaps as a consequence of a consistently derailed mother-child dialogue; whereas in my patients it would seem that the normal developmental splitting had waned as ego differentiation proceeded, but that in the face of overwhelming trauma ta at perhaps 3 or 4 years of age, the primitive defense was invoked regressively. Continue reading “Splitting as a consequence of severe abuse in childhood.”
1. in Kleinian analysis and Fairbairnian theory, a primitive defense mechanism used to protect oneself from conflict, in which objects provoking anxiety and ambivalence are dichotomized into extreme representations (part-objects) with either positive or negative qualities, resulting in polarized viewpoints that fluctuate in extremes of seeing the self or others as either all good or all bad. This mechanism is used not only by infants and young children, who are not yet capable of integrating these polarized viewpoints, but also by adults with dysfunctional patterns of dealing with ambivalence; it is often associated with borderline personality disorder. Also called splitting of the object.
2. in cotherapy, divisiveness that a client provokes between therapists to polarize them on treatment decisions and to undermine the therapeutic process. Also called splitting situation. Continue reading “A primitive defense mechanism”
It’s quite easy to know if everyone is splitting a concept. Here are a few signs.
- The person thinks in absolutes or divides concepts into two opposing camps.
- This person believes that everyone is either good or bad. Never in-between or morally ambiguous.
- Believes that someone with a different viewpoint is against them. They also don’t entertain the viewpoint or look into it.
- Someone who splits can easily turn. They can turn into your best friend who idolizes you, but if you do something they don’t like, they may turn you into public enemy number one.
- They may think that by making fun of those who think differently, they are somehow improving their self-esteem.
- Someone who splits can change their mind over issues with a drop of the hat. Usually, it takes a bit for someone to change their mind, but someone who divides concepts may sometimes switch them easily. They may switch allegiance easily.
- They can’t keep a relationship, be it a friendship or their partners. This is because if a friend or partner disagrees with them, they are automatically their enemy.
- They may change moods easily. They may view their mood as either being happy or sad, calm or angry.
- Someone who splits may present themselves differently depending on the circumstances.
Psychological splitting might seem to be an unhealthy way of thinking, but it is a necessary mental process. It allows us to make sense of the world. As we progress through life, we are bombarded with a huge amount of information and experiences. In order to understand all of this, we need to group all of this information into categories. As we experience more and more, we begin to split all this knowledge into meaningful groups. These groups then help us understand unfamiliar events.
So clearly, we all use psychological splitting at some point, but when does it become unhealthy? Psychological splitting starts to be problematic when a person fails to bring together their opposing views.
Splitting occurs when the only views someone accepts are extreme ones. A person that exclusively focuses on the positive or negative, or one that cannot bring together their opposing views is likely to split off. Continue reading “What Is Psychological Splitting”
A parent who alienates his child from the other parent would likely be horrified if he learned about another parent behaving in the very same manner. In his own case, however, he is convinced that he is “rescuing” the child. Facts do not matter. What the alienating parent believes is all that counts.
The truth is that by performing this “rescue,” the alienator eliminates a critically important part of his child’s life. The damage inflicted on the child and others may be permanent. Continue reading “View of the Self as Virtuous: Thinking Makes It So”
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