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.
- 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.