Eight Manifestations of Parental Alienation Syndrome
1. A Campaign of Denigration Alienated children are consumed with hatred of the targeted parent. They deny any positive past experiences and reject all contact and communication. Parents who were once loved and valued seemingly overnight become hated and feared.
2. Weak, Frivolous, and Absurd Rationalizations When alienated children are questioned about the reasons for their intense hostility toward the targeted parent, the explanations offered are not of the magnitude that typically would lead a child to reject a parent. These children may complain about the parent’s eating habits, food preparation, or appearance. They may also make wild accusations that could not possibly be true.
3. Lack of Ambivalence About the Alienating Parent Alienated children exhibit a lack of ambivalence about the alienating parent, demonstrating an automatic, reflexive, idealized support. That parent is perceived as perfect, while the other is perceived as wholly flawed. If an alienated child is asked to identify just one negative aspect of the alienating parent, he or she will probably draw a complete blank. This presentation is in contrast to the fact that most children have mixed feelings about even the best of parents and can usually talk about each parent as having both good and bad qualities.
4. The “Independent Thinker” Phenomenon Even though alienated children appear to be unduly influenced by the alienating parent, they will adamantly insist that the decision to reject the targeted parent is theirs alone. They deny that their feelings about the targeted parent are in any way influenced by the alienating parent and often invoke the concept of free will to describe their decision.
5. Absence of Guilt About the Treatment of the Targeted Parent Alienated children typically appear rude, ungrateful, spiteful, and cold toward the targeted parent, and they appear to be impervious to feelings of guilt about their harsh treatment. Gratitude for gifts, favors, or child support provided by the targeted parent is nonexistent. Children with parental alienation syndrome will try to get whatever they can from that parent, declaring that it is owed to them.
6. Reflexive Support for the Alienating Parent in Parental Conflict Intact families, as well as recently separated and long-divorced couples, will have occasion for disagreement and conflict. In all cases, the alienated child will side with the alienating parent, regardless of how absurd or baseless that parent’s position may be. There is no willingness or attempt to be impartial when faced with interparental conflicts. Children with parental alienation syndrome have no interest in hearing the targeted parent’s point of view. Nothing the targeted parent could do or say makes any difference to these children.
7. Presence of Borrowed Scenarios Alienated children often make accusations toward the targeted parent that utilize phrases and ideas adopted from the alienating parent. Indications that a scenario is borrowed include the use of words or ideas that the child does not appear to understand, speaking in a scripted or robotic fashion, as well as making accusations that cannot be supported with detail.
8. Rejection of Extended Family Finally, the hatred of the targeted parent spreads to his or her extended family. Not only is the targeted parent denigrated, despised, and avoided but so are his or her extended family. Formerly beloved grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins are suddenly and completely avoided and rejected.
In a recent study (Baker & Darnall, 2007), targeted parents rated their children as experiencing these eight behavioral manifestations in a way that was generally consistent with Gardner’s theory. Parents reported that their children exhibited the eight behaviors with a high degree of frequency. One exception was alienated children being able to maintain a relationship with some members of the targeted parent’s extended family, which occurred in cases where that relative was actually aligned with the alienating parent. This suggests that the context of the contact with the targeted parent’s extended family (that relative’s role in the alienation) needs to be understood prior to concluding whether this component is present in the child. Signs of Parental Alienation Syndrome And How to Counteract Its Effects (2005) By Ludwig.F. Lowenstein Ph.D Southern England Psychological Services
Signs of Parental Alienation (PA)
A number of signs or indicators of alienation can be identified. It should be recognised that not all these signs appear in all cases, they are numerous but many will in fact apply to those who alienate children against the non-custodial parent. This unfortunately tends to be the father rather than the mother although increasingly fathers are employing such techniques against mothers also. Whoever uses alienation procedures or brainwashing to get the child to hate the other parent is clearly in the wrong and is guilty of causing harm to the child in the present and the future. There is considerable research indicating the harm that is done to children who are alienated against a parent when they are young. Increasing research has also shown that when they become adults such individuals suffer retrospectively from the damage done by an alienating parent.
What follows will be a number of signs some of which interact with other items and should be viewed not in isolation but in combination in this complex problem of the alienation process:
Lack of independent thinking from the child imitating the alienator’s thoughts and feelings. Destroying mail or even presents from the alienated parent. (Not that I am aware of) The alienating parent tends to seek to curtail all communication between the child and the alienated parent. The alienated parent is seen as the scapegoat. He or she is blamed for everything that has gone wrong with the child. There is no sense of ambivalence. The child calls the alienated parent a liar and other abusive names similar to the alienating parent. The child insults, shows disrespect, and humiliates the alienated parent often on front of the alienator. Alienated parents are viewed as being despicable, faulty and deserving of being rejected permanently. Parents who alienate children are seducing the child emotionally and will continue to do this while in control of the child, yet they deny that they are doing anything but encouraging the child to make contact with the alienated parent. The child is made to feel guilty for any love shown towards the alienated parent. The child will deny any involvement with the alienated parent, fearful of what the alienator would do to him or her. The child fears rejection by the programmer in case he or she wishes to say good thing about the alienated parent or wishing to be with him or her. The child is owned, controlled, and indoctrinated by the alienating parent. That parent is viewed as all good, all wise, and all powerful by the child who becomes dependent, manipulated by them. There is never questioning that what the parent says or does is always right. The child tends to paraphrase statements used by the alienating parent. The words used are often untypical of words likely to be used by a child. It is very similar to a cult type of indoctrination. The child suffers from paranoia (hatred) inculcated by the alienating parent who promotes attitudes, intentions, and behaviours of a negative nature to the alienated parent. The child will speak about exaggerated or contrived abuse that has been experienced from the alienated parent. The child or alienating parent makes statements insinuating quasi or actual sexual, emotional, and physical abuse suffered by the child. The language comes indirectly from the alienator such as, “he touches me inappropriately,” or “he has penetrated me,” These are all borrowed scenarios from the alienating parent. Children who are alienated no longer know truth from lies. The child who is alienated against the parent will often be alienated against the parent’s family also. The alienator will also poison the child against the therapist unless the therapist supports the alienator. Hence the therapist is seen as an enemy in the same light as the alienated parent. It is not what alienator says but how it is said. For example when telling a child “father would like to take you out,” it can be said with joy and enthusiasm indicating positive expectations or it can be said with venom indicating negative feelings. This is what is predominantly communicated to the child rather than the verbal message. The alienated child tends to see themselves in a very powerful position, especially in the severity of their antagonism shown to the alienated parent. This is all done following the programming by the alienator. Female alienators will often choose female solicitors as they assume they will be able to identify with them better. Female alienators are often angry due to the fact that the alienated individual has a new relationship, while she has not. Some alienators move away from where their ex partner resides in order to make visits difficult or impossible. (This has only been threatened) Sometimes the name of the child is changed to that of the alienator or the next partner to which the alienator has attached him or herself. Frivolous reasons are often given for not wanting to be with the alienated parent. Even when told that if these frivolous reasons were removed the child will often claim they do not wish to be with that parent under any circumstances. The child is encouraged to be with friends or play on video games in preference to being with the alienated parent. A child who had a history of a good, happy and warm relationship with the now alienated parent before separation or divorce will fail to remember events in the past that made them happy. They may be suffering from amnesia of any good events due to the alienation process.
Signs of Parental Alienation Syndrome And How to Counteract Its Effects
Ludwig.F. Lowenstein Ph.D
Southern England Psychological Services