Posted in Alienation

Helping Adult Children with Parental Alienation Syndrome

When parents use children as pawns in their divorce, the psychological consequences can be devastating. Parental alienation (PA) is the act of deliberately alienating a child from a targeted parent (TP) by an alienating parent (AP) and can cause a psychological condition referred to as parental alienation syndrome (PAS). Although this term is relatively new, the damage this type of behavior inflicts is not. When one parent denies a child access to the TP, the child struggles with feelings of hatred and fear towards the TP. These children often live in an environment riddled with malicious and derogatory remarks about the TP, and as they age, maintain guilt over harboring these feelings toward their parent.

Research on children of divorce has shown that this pattern of behavior can cause children to have social impairments that negatively impact their quality of life as adults. But until now, no study has looked specifically at PAS and its effect on key factors of development. To address this issue, Naomi Ben-Ami of Yeshiva University in New York evaluated 118 adult children of divorce and compared the children who experienced PAS to those who did not. She assessed several areas of social and psychological well-being, including depression, trust, self-hatred/esteem, anger, guilt, marital status, and achievement and identity problems.

Ben-Ami found that the PA participants had substantially lower levels of achievement than the non-PA group, which was demonstrated by fewer college degrees, less overall employment, lower college enrollment, and more economic hardship. They also exhibited attachment issues, impaired relationships, and decreased self-esteem, possibly as a result of the lack of attention they received from their APs. The controlling behavior of an AP was also shown to increase feelings of anger and guilt in the PA participants. These emotions, coupled with diminished self-sufficiency, elevated the risk for depression in the children who were exposed to PAS. Ben-Ami believes these findings support previous research that shows the destructive and long-term consequences that a child must bear when he or she becomes entangled in a parent’s highly fueled emotions arising from a divorce or separation. This type of evidence, if made available to parents and involved psychological and legal experts, could help prevent this type of activity and maintain the integrity of relationships, present and future. Ben-Ami added, “Ideally, the trajectory can be interrupted successfully to allow children to maintain healthy relationships with both parents, to be loved by them and loving with them.”


Posted in Alienation

Brainwashed and programmed?

Most child psychiatrists have encountered warring separated or divorced parents, where one or even both are determined to exclude the other from contact with the children. This is accomplished by convincing the children that the other parent is disinterested, drunk, dangerous or otherwise unfit to parent them. This is a minefield for the unwary psychiatrist, replete with misinterpretations, mistaken assumptions, or downright lies. Great difficulties can be encountered with children who have been thoroughly brainwashed and programmed.

They are completely unaware of, and unable to comprehend, how they have been misled.

This book promised a better understanding of this problem, and some guidelines for management.

Divorce Poison

Posted in Alienation

Adult Children of Parental Alienation – Resources

Expanding the parameters of parental alienation syndrome

GF Cartwright – American Journal of Family Therapy, 1993 – Taylor & Francis
most children of divorced parents usually learn much earlier. inability of the lost parent to become
reinvolved, the absence or death of the lost parent, and the While longitudinal studies have related
child and adolescent adjust- ment following parental separation to a variety of

The alienated child: A reformulation of parental alienation syndrome

JB Kelly, JR Johnston – Family Court Review, 2001 – Wiley Online Library
and ideas of the older sibling and are kept in the mode of parental rejection by And some relied
heavily on the stability, attention, and unconditional love of the parent who left to withstand the
intense pressures of the custody battle and the aligned parentsalienating behaviors.

Legal recognition of the parental alienation syndrome

NR Palmer – 1988 – Taylor & Francis
Judges throughout our country will need to take a stronger stand regarding parents who try to
alienate their child or children from the other parent. of child psychologists who have done research
and can testify ade- quately on the parental alienation syndrome may provide

[BOOK] Adult children of parental alienation syndrome: Breaking the ties that bind

AJL Baker – 2010 –
Three fourths of the participants’ parents were divorced and in all but six cases the alienating
parent was the Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome tionship with targeted parent prior
to the alienation, strategies utilized by the alienating parent, impact of the alienation

The long-term effects of parental alienation on adult children: A qualitative research study

AJ L. Baker – The American Journal of Family Therapy, 2005 – Taylor & Francis
Another form of repetition was seen in a particularly tragic long-term outcome of parental alienation:
many of the Fully half of the 28 participants who were parents at the time of the interview were
Not only were they unloved by a parent but they were unloved by their own child as

The parental alienation syndrome: an analysis of sixteen selected cases

JE Dunne, M Hedrick – Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 1994 – Taylor & Francis
a change of custody oc- curred voluntarily, the children eventually had little contact with the
alienating parent. PAS dynamic may be so toxic that a relationship with both parents may not be
evaluated on its own merits and the identification of a parental alienation syndrome is not

[HTML] The empowerment of children in the development of parental alienation syndrome

RA Gardner – American journal of forensic psychology, 2002 –
As they grow older, healthy children learn to accept parental qualities that are desirable and This
situation is worsened by courts typically warning divorcing parents never to criticize one another
Accordingly, the parent who confronts the children with the fact that they are being

[PDF] Parental alienation syndrome

JL Price, KS Pioske – The American family, 1994 –
Parents are less sensitive to that child’s emotional needs during divorce, and require assistance
from the nurse to strengthen the parent-child relationship Understanding the dynamics of parental
alienation syndrome will position the nurse to recognize it as a symptom of

Remarriage as a trigger of parental alienation syndrome

RA Warshak – American Journal of Family Therapy, 2000 – Taylor & Francis
to be successful without the support of the court in enforcing access between the target parent
and child, and Parental conflict and other correlates of the adjustment of school-age children whose
parents have separated. Psychological syndromes: Parental alienation syndrome.

Patterns of parental alienation syndrome: A qualitative study of adults who were alienated from a parent as a child

AJL Baker 1 – The American Journal of Family Therapy, 2006 – Taylor & Francis
professionals who come into contact with parents and children should become versed in the
patterns of parental alienation syndrome and the strategies parents use so that Only then can
the targeted parent rethink their current parenting style and relationship with their child.
Posted in Alienation

Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome:

Based on interviews with 40 adults who believe that — when they were children — they were turned against one parent by the other, “Adult children of parental alienation syndrome,” describes the experience of being an alienated child from the inside and explains how it is possible that a child can reject one parent in order to please the other.

The book describes different familial patterns of parental alienation, compares alienation to a cult, explains how it is a form of emotional abuse, details the different catalysts to having the realization that one is an adult child of PAS, and describes the painful long-term consequences.

The books also offers advice for parents and for mental health professionals working with populations affected by the issue of parental alienation.

Caring and Sharing

Posted in Alienation

Compassion and the alienator

It’s remarkable to look at the general lack of compassion in those parents willing to attack their own son or daughter’s relationship with an ex. And it’s not only a lack of compassion in dealing with their own child’s emotional well-being. These high level brainwashers (read more here) can be downright vicious, callous, and cold-blooded towards anyone they decide has wronged them. Not just an ex.

When I look at the adults that have alienated children against their own parent, I see people who have a very dark side. They are perfectly capable of coming across as nice and sweet as the social situation dictates, but if they feel like they are a victim in a relationship, friendship, or business partnership, they will lash out with vengeance that would make your head spin. They are highly toxic when they feel they have been “screwed over.” They are pulling a manure spreader, so to speak, behind them… spraying their outbursts and negativity to everyone in their orb.

The inability to show compassion– especially towards their own children– is the hallmark of the worst brainwashers. They also have a deep victim mentality… and the damage that they can do to children is quite substantial.

images (3)

Posted in Alienation

Parental alienation “horror show”

“There is no question that parental alienation is a form of child abuse. It is a horror show. The damage to children is enormous. When a child loses a parent, they are killing off a part of themselves because there is an identity between the child and both parents. The result is that they become self-injurious. I see all the warning signs and all the flags of the self-hatred: nightmares, anxiety, oppositional behaviors in school, presence of gastrointestinal syndromes, failing school grades, more susceptibility to peers with oppositional behaviors, juvenile delinquency, substance abuse, and depression” – Dr. Raymond Havlicek

Brainwashing_3,_acrílico_sobre_lienzo,_80_x_100_cms (1)

Posted in Alienation

How Do You Counter Programming and Brainwashing?

How Do You Counter Programming and Brainwashing?


The fact that this often happens unconsciously and unintentionally is bad enough. Adults who consciously and actively engage in these behaviors are reprehensible. This is a form of child abuse for which there are rarely repercussions for the offending parent. In many cases, alienation begins while the marriage is still intact and very early on in a child’s life.

It happens when Mom says something that makes Dad look incompetent or uncaring. Your father can’t be trusted with the simplest task. Mom to the rescue! Or, Your father cares more about his career than us. That’s why he spends so much time at the office. Never mind that Mom refuses to get a job to contribute to the household, which would allow Dad to spend more time at home. Or, Good Christians go to Church, which is why your mother is going to go to hell. The devil has your mother.

If you know this is occurring, you need to do some gentle, but firm reality testing with your kids as soon as possible. Kids typically can’t substantiate the programs they parrot. Gently ask them to give you examples of when you were mean or selfish or never spent any time with them or whatever the accusation is. Show them pictures of you having fun together. Remind them of when you took time of from work to take care of them when they were sick. Ask them if those are the actions of a bad parent who doesn’t love them.

You also need to get your kids into therapy with a mental health professional who understands the reality of parental alienation and how to combat it. The longer you let this go on without intervention, the more difficult it will be to undo the damage. I recommend any parent, man or woman, who’s about to begin the divorce process to insist upon joint counseling specifically to educate both parents about this issue and the lasting psychological damage it can inflict upon children and ‘other’ parents who are the victims of it.

Granted, if your co-parent is hellbent on destruction, there may not be anything you can do to stop her or him right away, but you can get the documentation ball rolling and the sooner the better.

Posted in Alienation

Programming and Brainwashing Children after Divorce

Programming and Brainwashing

Programming. When one parent attempts to alienate a child from the other parent, she’s essentially teaching the child to hate and fear the other parent. Hatred of the other parent is the end goal or program. It’s like installing computer software—there are directions, procedures and instructions for how to organize information. For example, the other parent is late for the scheduled child visitation pick-up. The programming parent comments, “A good parent who really loves his children would be on time.” This is a set of instruction that translates to: “Your father is a bad parent who doesn’t love you.” This is a negative interpretation of what is most likely a neutral event, but the set of directions from the offending parent don’t allow for neutral interpretations like heavy traffic, a flat tire or being held up at work.

According to Clawar and Rivlin (1991, p.7):

  • The programming may be willful (conscious) or unintentional (unconscious).
  • The goal is to control the child’s thoughts and/or behavior.
  • The program usually contains themes intended to “damage the child’s image of the target parent in terms of his or her moral, physical, intellectual, social, emotional, and educational qualities (as well as his or her parenting abilities).”

Brainwashing. Brainwashing is how the alienating parent teaches the child the program of hate. It’s the application of the program. Brainwashing “is a process that occurs over a period of time and usually involves the repetition of the programme (content, themes, beliefs) until the subject responds with (attitudinal, behavioral) compliance” (Clawar & Rivlin, 1991, p. 8).

The alienating parent teaches the child the program via messages that include verbal and non-verbal cues and rewards and punishment. Brainwashing techniques can be used separately or in combination for a more powerful effect. The alienating parent often uses allies such as friends, family, church members, therapists and the court system to help her or him successfully alienate. Programming and brainwashing typically work in tandem. For example:

The program: You should hate your father and be as angry with him as I am.

The brainwashing techniques: Mother makes faces when child is on the phone with father, rolling eyes and grimacing. Mother asks child questions after child spends time with father and makes negative and fear-instilling statements such as, “Did he remember to feed you? Are you scared sleeping there at night? You can come home if you want to–just call me and tell your father to bring you home. You have more fun with me, don’t you? If it weren’t for me making your father take care of us, he’d spend all his money on his new wife and her kids and we wouldn’t have a roof over our heads.” Mother removes all photos of father from child’s room, computer or photo albums. Mother rewards child with special privileges, gifts or affection if child makes negative statements about the father or refuses to see the father.

The child or brainwashing victim may be either an active or passive participant. “In other words, some children are fully aware of the intent of the programming/brainwashing parent and actively participate. Others may not be aware of the desired ends of the programming and brainwashing parent and are unknowing agents and victims themselves in the process” (Clawar & Rivlin, 1991, p. 8).

Brainwashing Techniques: Isolation, the Stripping Process, Repetition, We-ness and Inferior Status

Isolation serves to keep the child from receiving information that contradicts the program. For example, friends and family members who don’t buy into the abusive parent’s program are vilified and cut out of the child’s life. There is often collateral damage when a parent chooses to alienate because the child is often denied access to grandparents, aunts, uncles and other people who love them.

The stripping process can be physical (taking away toys or privileges) or emotional (withholding love and affection). Repetition or repeating the message or program is essential in any kind of learning endeavor. Remember, the abusive parent is teaching the child to fear and hate the other parent ( and anyone who doesn’t collude with her) and disavow his or her normal and natural feelings of love for the other parent.

We-ness is a sociological term used to distinguish an in-group from an out-group. The alienating parent defines all out-group members as unacceptable. For example, It’s Mom and kids vs. the world. It’s just the three of us now. No one understands us. We have to look out for and protect each other. The targeted parent becomes the outsider from whom the children must be protected.

Inferior status involves making the child feel unfavored or less loved. “Children are keenly aware of being less favored by a parent. Lowering of status within the family can be done by exclusion, rejection, or denial of affectionate contact; it is extremely painful, and, in and of itself, may be powerful enough to bring the child in line with the parental programme” (Clawar & Rivlin, 1991, p. 4). For example, a 10-year old boy sees how his sister is rewarded with praise and gets to stay up late with mom to watch TV for rejecting their father and actively being rude to him, so the boy follows suit in order to raise his family status.