Posted in Alienation


We can see from the list of factors that explain high conflict separations, how the separation and legal process and the adults various own needs override the children’s needs, despite the best intentions. An integrative approach focuses primarily on the children’s needs to try to achieve what some parents cannot. All legal systems talk of the paramountcy of the child’s best interests. The child’s best interests are for adults to contain their conflicts in order to give the child a relationship with both parents. Even if the parent is a risk or just not much good at being a parent, it may be important to secure a safe enough way for a child to have some kind of relationship with them. When a child does not have a relationship with both parents – unless there is clear reason why not – the child is being emotionally abused. There are short- and long-term effects. Children then may have to protect themselves by, for example, taking sides, covering up, and giving up, ways that look ok but are compromises and may be damaging to them.

So how can adults, professionals and agencies do better for the children by creating more integrative answers to high conflict when parents cannot manage that themselves?  The commonest bad parenting of children is in the effects of high conflict itself on the children, not what one or other parent is doing. This isn’t to say that a parent should just shut up for the sake of superficial peace. And it only takes one conflictual parent to create high conflict for all. Here are some ways others try to provide integrative answers:

If mothers and fathers could find more balanced ways to run their family and share the childcare, that would both reduce separation and make for a much better basis of getting separation right especially for the children when separation does happen. The gendered culture and values of parents tend to fathers delegating home and childcare to the mothers. So many fathers only discover how much they love and want to parent their children AFTER they separate. Strong feminism has found itself fighting the corner of single mothers and female victims so much that it is easy to forget that feminism’s prime aim was to bring fathers more into family life (before and after parental separation). This helps women to access more of what men tend to do outside of the family. Here’s a useful reminder of the original aim from leading women who support shared parenting.

Most separating parents – despite the long list of challenging factors – somehow manage to put their children first. They do this from common sense, from love of their children, from guidance and support from family, friends and helping services. They get informed and they may bring in services like family counselling, family mediation and collaborative family lawyers to help them. Here’s a good brief guideline for separating parents: Emotional wellbeing for parents living apart. And Karen and Nick Woodall’s book: Handbook for Separating Parents.

Make sure the parents who are heading towards high conflict get as little as possible of the ideas and offers that encourage the conflict (e.g. from adversarial lawyers). Make sure parents instead get as much as possible of the ideas and offers of working on integrative answers. One key mistake is to “wait and see”. This may seem sensible when tempers run high, but it is often the way high conflict gets fixed and can escalate. The best way to avoid entrenched harmful patterns is for everyone to encourage separating parents to work their own feelings and conflicts out separately and put their children’s needs first to have a relationship with both parents.

See Ideas from “Changing the Culture” on SCRC.

See Summary of Nick’s Ideas on SCRC.

Unfortunately the controversies and debate surrounding abuse and alienation creates more heat than light. See how long the full SCRC webpage is! And see the section on thinking it through on SCRC. Important headings are: The Child’s View, Feminism, Patriarchy, Unequal Opportunities, Domestic Violence, Coercion of Children, Child Homicides (and interpreting other statistics properly), and Gender Debate.

The pattern is that everyone takes sides. The need is for integrative approaches, for someone to pull things together (for the children at least) when parents cannot. Around family courts, often there is not one single person authorised to do that task and carry it through. A Sheriff (in Scotland) or Judge may be the only integrative professional. The legal process itself may be adversarial all the way, but Judges are most certainly not. Typically family courts have informal child welfare hearings that allow informal settings with parents and child. That provides a golden opportunity for authoritative integrative determination that can prevent many families from escalating their fight to higher levels still.

In many countries other workers team up with courts to assess and integrate plans – in England CAFCASS does a difficult job with limited resourcing and mixed success; Centres for Separated Families and their Family Separation Clinic work within a dedicated integrative approach; in the US and Canada there are Parenting Coordinators, and so on. Alongside these workers, and again linked to the courts, experienced therapists can still engage reluctant families required to attend.

When children are being abused, all countries have public systems to carefully assess and consider how to intervene. Children in high conflict separations, including those who are alienated and look like they’re just fine, are being emotionally abused. But this fact has not yet filtered into courts and thinking. Even though adult and family court systems variably know little about this field, everyone assumes that those courts are the authoritative and best place. Yet, in Scotland, given the authority and further training, a referral to the Childrens Hearing system would be more child focused, multi-disciplinary, integrative, and cheap. See more on this novel old idea on SCRC

Posted in Alienation, Experts, Nick Child

Off-putting relationships: the essentials of Child Alienation- By Nick Child

The humour of Berger and Wyse’s “custardy” cartoon is to highlight that high conflict family separations are never a laughing matter. Even when families face bereavement, there is usually room for warmth and humour alongside the grief. The lack of a place for humour shows that we are dealing here with some of the hardest “tribal” human predicaments outside of actual war-zones.

This page is an easier general summary of the very full thinking through and resources – written for a Scottish context but still covering the international field – on Scotland’s Children Resisting Contact or SCRC. Please read that if you want more than this summary page has in it. An even more concise summary than this page is in Off-putting relationships: essentials of child alienation.

Separation is the context most widely considered to be where these off-putting relationship patterns happen. But for a wider range of families and individuals and for those professionals helping them, thinking about an alienation pattern – e.g.  where overwhelmingly strong or needy personalities drive unnecessarily broken relationships – can be useful too in families that are not primarily presenting as high conflict separations. Pick up almost any narrative – real ones in families, communities, media or therapy, or fictional ones in mythology, drama or literature – and you will find a three-person pattern of Alienation by any other name, in imposed or chosen plots, of loves, jealousy and secrets, triangular predicaments of divided love and loyalty, that enrich or drive the story. Read more about this broader range of alienation patterns. Here we stick to family separation.

Most separating parents manage to set aside their own conflicts and put their children first in supporting the children’s widely recognised need for a relationship with both their parents – as well as with grandparents and valued others in each parent’s wider family. Children do best when they can have a good relationship with both their separated parents. Even when one parent has not behaved well, children still want to repair and have some kind of safe contact. When it works well, children may volunteer that they get more from their separated parents than if they had stayed together! A few parents find setting aside their conflicts harder to do in order to put their children’s needs first. It only takes one parent not collaborating to result in high conflict that endures. Sometimes a parent may have good cause not to set aside the conflicts. Even where a parent has behaved badly, children mostly still want to repair and continue their relationship with the only parents they have. Sometimes a parent does not have such good cause to keep the conflict going. Remember that – with risk or with the conflict itself – it is the effects on the children that matters most. Parents are so caught up in powerful emotions and conflict that it may be up to others to work out what is best.

The children in the middle have to cope. They can cope better than outsiders think they could, being aware of the repeating patterns of how their separated parents behave. But the evidence is that enduring high conflict is definitely bad for children. They are coping with a conflict between their parents that even uninvolved adults find hard to bridge, and which naturally affects the children more profoundly than anyone else. Children may be most upset when they transition between their tensely conflicted parents. Each parent may then take the child’s upset as a sign that they don’t want to see the other parent, when usually the child is wishing the transition was easier, not that they don’t want it to happen, not that they are rejecting the other parent. Transition processes at handover time is a study in itself. Difficult transitions do not in themselves prove anything about a child’s relationship with either parent. Transitions can be helped in their own right by sensitive detailed planning.

Beyond tense transitions, children faced with enduringly high conflict between their parents are likely to cope in the same way as anyone else does: they side with one parent against the other. Note that it only takes one parent set against collaborating to create high conflict for all the family.  One parent can also, unintentionally and / or purposely, do far more to turn their child against the other parent. Parents are seldom equally responsible for creating the high conflict. One result of children taking sides is an overall presenting pattern of the children resisting post-separation contact with a parent (CRC for short). If they have contact with both parents, they may side alternately with whichever parent they are with at the time. The more alienated child will overwhelmingly side with one against the other. Even if regular contact continues with the rejected parent, strongly alienating patterns of behaviour can still operate. Then the rejected parent has to receive the rejection while finding a way to grow a better relationship again. Extreme unmediated differences can become an utterly miserable and emotionally abusive experience in the longterm for the children.

Over and above this separated family conflict and the child’s side-taking, resisting of contact and alienation, there will then be more layers of conflict over whose views and allegations are justified. Strong feelings and responses naturally stoke the conflict even further, drawing in friends and family in a tribal form of support system on each side. The widened conflict naturally brings the matter to various legal and other professions for help. Family lawyers and family courts struggle to avoid the inherently adversarial culture of the legal system. Unless a Sheriff or Judge can soon see and determine the best way forward, the case can get more and more entrenched in court too.

Rightly, children’s views are now listened to much more including being part of court hearings. Often all the conflict between adults is so impossible to resolve that what the child says is taken as what’s best for them. This potentially powerful role for children leads key adults to pressurise their children openly or covertly into what the adult wants them to say. Naturally dependent and immature and faced by a parent they love and fear they might lose, children can be readily persuaded to feel and say what the parent wants them to. Taking this context for the child’s views into account requires careful thinking through by adults, professionals and courts. In the UK the resources for this task have been whittled down to way below a minimum required. Here is Paul Bishop’s rich account that shows how skilful the worker has to be – and how essential always to consider the child’s whole context and family in making sense of their expressed views, wishes, feelings or behaviour.

Some countries (e.g. Australia) have put much more resource and skill into sophisticated ways than others (e.g. the UK). They do not directly link this process into the courts, but include the child’s voice primarily for the parents to hear and plan around. Otherwise, when children experience such stress and power placed in their hands (in effect to choose which parent they side with) we know it is not good for them. See Amy Baker’s book “I don’t want to choose” extract hereorder it here.  In effect the child is looking after one of their parents when parents and adults should look after them. The responsibility unwittingly given to children, and the decisions made, may well not be in the child’s best interests.

Just because people don’t think about this situation as emotional abuse doesn’t mean it is not emotional abuse. The naturally adversarial family courts – even in their more informal mode – can add yet another layer to the high conflict. Worse than that, courts do not spot these well-known patterns that happen right in front of them. They make decisions that are meant to resolve the conflict and be in the child’s best interests. But in fact these decisions may actively condone the worst and possibly emotionally abusive outcomes for the child.

Finally this repeating pattern of polarising conflict is replicated in passionate debates between opposing organisations and schools of thought. These are mostly organised around which gender is more generally likely to be right and why. In any particular case, gender will of course carry major significance. But the literature makes it very clear that, in general, high conflict separations and children resisting contact or alienation patterns, all happen in all combinations of gender of parents (and children too). Of course, given the culture’s gender expectations, a mother will experience their child’s rejection rather differently than a rejected father might. The pattern happens to all combinations of gender – including same sex parents – but the experience is not gender neutral.

<span “font-size:10.0pt;font-family:helvetica;mso-fareast-font-family:=”” “MS=”” 明朝”;mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast;mso-bidi-font-family:”times=”” roman”;=”” mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;mso-ansi-language:en-us;mso-fareast-language:=”” en-us;mso-bidi-language:ar-sa”=””>With the reservations about the terminology, the literature is still mostly found under the heading Parental Alienation. Gardner’s PA Syndrome is still a useful checklist (see footnotes here). The valid reason for making it a psychiatric syndrome is that, unless it is in the diagnostic Bibles, at least as a relationship label, it will not be taught to mental health and other helping professions. So professionals will remain unaware and it will continue to be dismissed as insignificant or nonexistent, especially in family courts. Those who campaign against PA’s existence or importance are even more vociferous against these attempts to raise its mental health profile. Many now drop the ‘Syndrome’ tag, even in family courts, choosing more nuanced thinking about the behaviour patterns in each case in terms of the child’s welfare.

Generalised taking of sides like this does not help to do justice to the assessment and needs of each particular family situation, remembering that there is a particular child or children in the middle of it who is most affected and least able to resolve by themselves the disturbing conflict going on. The paramountcy of the best interests of the child gets repeatedly lost in the multi-layered conflicts of all the adults, agencies, and in family courts.

30 years ago in the USA a particular pattern of children resisting contact was described and named “Parental Alienation Syndrome” or PAS by Richard Gardner.  Defined in its pure form, this is when, consciously or not but without reasonable cause, one parent actively turns their child against the other parent, when there had been and could be a safe and good enough relationship with them. See footnotes on SCRC for more about PAS. Since that time the field has grown, matured, and become firmly established in other countries but only slowly in the UK. Most accounts begin with Gardner and PAS but (as mentioned above) starting with that can trigger unnecessary resistance and controversy. This account hopes to avoid the extra controversy.

There has been much controversy and discussion in and outside the field. This has resulted in most people dropping the “syndrome” tag, and focusing more on “child alienation” since we should all be most concerned with the child. Most commonly now the simple term “alienation” is used for unjustified turning of children against the other parent. Where there is good reason to resist contact “alienation” would not be used. Of course parents and professionals need to use this term with great care because just throwing the word about merely adds yet another layer of conflict on top of all the rest. It is important to remember the reason for the argument, that is, wanting the best for the children. But if adult argument and conflict has taken priority, then the argument and conflict may be harming the child without any extra help. At all levels of these layers of adult conflict, the task is to think things through carefully and to de-escalate the high conflict.

To recognise the wide variation and complexity of patterns and factors, a more neutral and inclusive description of the alienation pattern may be used, such as “children resisting contact”. Most often assessment does not find pure alienation anyway. The resisting of contact is seen to result from a mixture of multiple factors including factors in the child, and those from other parental reactions and limitations, further complicated by true or false allegations of risk and abuse that then need to be properly and promptly assessed. The result can be huge conflict and distress for all as these matters are played out, dragged out, and worked out by agencies involved.

Where there has been abuse between parents or to the child, it is obviously very serious. It is essential that risks are assessed and secure plans made. Even then, the child’s need for a relationship with both parents should still be attended to if at all possible. For the few families where a child has been genuinely and purely alienated from a parent with whom they did and could have a good relationship and for no good reason, this is not just puzzling and distressing for everyone including the child. Evidence now shows, in the long term too, that this is damaging and tragic for all of them, and most especially for the child. The child may loudly declare their exclusive loyalty to the favoured parent, but actually they need and benefit from something different than that. If their needs are not promptly seen and planned for, they may grow up to lose one good enough parent, and then fall out permanently with the other one when they see them as having duped them.

The high conflict patterns in separation make up for being uncommon by the rapid spread of the fire and heat they can generate. The heated professional debate is mainly about gender. Yet abuse and alienation happen in any gender pattern. In the face of any particular – and therefore gendered – situation, it is extremely hard not to have gendered views take hold. But patterns of abuse and alienation can more generally be readily explained without bringing gender into the account.

Of course social structures and beliefs and patterns about childcare, services and decision-making are influenced by gender. And any individual struggling to find confidence and power or protection may use any resources available, and often those will be gendered. So men use their typical strengths, women use theirs, men and women will look to others and to agencies to support their cause. At its extreme, men and women may use abuse or violence, and men and women may use their children or the courts to gain position. Previous childhood or other experience of attachment hurt informs, sensitises and affects adults separating. And since this will have been gendered, then naturally gender becomes a hook for the repeat of being hurt. Just reversing the gender roles at separation shows the different gendered cultural expectations e.g. of childcare being women’s work not men’s … here’s a BBC radio discussion between women who “left” their children but whose experience could be the same (except for the stigma) for fathers who “leave” their children.

So gender certainly counts in the particular situation, and it affects the wider statistics too. But patterns of abuse and alienation are not done or suffered only by one gender on only the other gender. And of course children of both genders suffer in the middle. Gender vividly colours each situation, shapes the statistics, and ignites the most heated debates. But gender is not a necessary part of a general explanation of high conflict patterns. These patterns also happen in same-sex and other LGBT separations. To read more on the gender debate and a glossary of gender terms, go to “Difficult Thinking” towards the bottom of SCRC.

Mix together universal things we know about and high conflict will result. Here are some common elements – that occur to people of all genders and ages – that explain troubled family patterns and the wider polarisations too. Read more about them on SCRC:

  • Attachment patterns (i.e. love) that goes right and patterns when attachment/love goes wrong
  • Attachment, attachment harm, and its repair, are all seen in this 2 min video, the Still Face Experiment.
  • Remember that attachment happens at all ages and is a universal survival pattern
  • So that when we fear the loss of our safe base, our feelings are a fear of losing our life, a fear of death
  • Our gut responses to survive are overpowering – protest, fight, withdraw, turn or run away, or surrender
  • These neurobiological “high arousal” survival emotions of fight or flight fuel conflict situations
  • And they make it very hard to think clearly and behave constructively – “counting to ten” may not be enough.
  • In separations, three or more are involved in a multi-layered situation of attachment threat and loss
  • Any childhood or past attachment hurts shape the vulnerability, expectations and feelings at separation
  • They also shape some people’s aggressive or nastier ways, even our whole personalities, for good or bad
  • Often couple conflict repeats earlier scenarios aggravating further the hurts of separation
  • And that can aggravate the concerns to protect or make things right for the children you love.
  • So no wonder that thinking and feeling can get polarised, escalated and stuck
  • And no wonder that victims of earlier abuse or traumatic separation are extremely roused by a repeat
  • Roused that is to mixtures of fear, defence, attack and control
  • Again, these will be shaped by cultural and gendered patterns, but men and women can do any of them.
  • Add into the mix and conflict the natural coercion of all childrearing (also based on love and attachment),
  • Note the normal universal milder patterns of family affiliation, alliance, division and loyalty
  • Add in the normal human reversion under stress to tribal thinking, support and loyalty.
  • Along with how people are anyway different and have complex stories, characters and faults.
  • That people have stronger and weaker personalities that come into play under stress especially.
  • Then add in the normal aspects of any separation process that naturally generate vicious circles including:
  • Differences between the parents about what is important for children
  • Differences in parenting styles and old hopes and sore spots being touched
  • Other negative perceptions in a tense if not vengeful and stressful changing separation situation
  • Given there may be few or no constructive attitudes or communication channels to sort these out
  • With the often adversarial social and legal processes that replace more constructive channels
  • And that give a child’s voice a power that invites parents to pressurise and influence what the children say

With this long list of factors laying their part within a wider system, it is not hard to explain why high conflict overwhelms some couples when they fall out and separate. Gender may shape a person’s experience of all these, but all of them may happen to anyone of any gender or age. There are multiple factors here, but perhaps the best framework for families might be attachment theory.  <span “font-size:24.0pt;font-family:helvetica;=”” mso-bidi-font-family:”lucida=”” sans”;color:#1f1f1f”=””>Wider social factors in more developed countries have opened up bigger arenas that play out and amplify such hurt and disturbed attachments. Where couples self-select each other and children are more exclusively raised by their parents not by ‘a village’; where parental separation is common, family law the place for disputes, and the child’s view is the decider there; then attachment loss and hurt will readily get magnified into patterns like Child Alienation.   Given the long list of factors, what is surprising is that so many separating couples manage to do so well in putting their conflict aside in favour of what their children need, that is, to have a relationship with both parents. And children must be very resilient in high conflict situations to hold onto a relationship with both their parents.

Attachment theory, of course, is one important way to get the focus on the child’s needs. But it opens up further arguments in theory and for separating couples. For example, especially when parents separate with young children (under 4), there is a debate about general and specific questions about whether a child can manage living in two places, and whether it’s good for them for a less involved parent before separation to have so much of the time after it. Here is Penelope Leach clarifying on Women’s Hour (June 2014) the reaction to her book on Family Breakdown. Where parents are able to collaborate and where a parent (mother or father) has been involved and attached, she approves of more shared care for under-4s. The evidence she uses can be refuted by other evidence. She holds to the almost impossible ideal for separated parents of young children having a constant (not alternating) home base. Different views on attachment / main-carers are often used in family courts as part of the battle.  In contrast, illogically neutral solutions like boarding school (for older children) appear as well as these hotly fought battles about attachment. In that resolution of conflict, both parents prefer to delegate to others the care of their child, hardly bothered about the question of attachment to them. Some children too prefer residential homes or boarding schools to living with warring parents.

Perhaps again it is the parents’  collaboration or battling that are the more important factors (than the attachments) in whether the children’s welfare is good enough. The battling usually arises from the adults’ own emotions and issues, and that is by definition, not child-focused. The task is to ensure that the inevitable hurt or harsh adult business can be separated from collaborating for the child’s benefit.

It is obvious that where one parent has been or continues to be a risk to the other, or to the child, then that is a priority. Some abusive situations are totally hellish. No one denies that this is top priority and that it has to be properly attended to. The rest of this webpage is about the less obvious, less believed even, and certainly less known about patterns usually known as parental alienation, which may be defined as:  a rare but striking tribal family pattern, found usually in the context of high conflict separations, where a child is shaped into rejecting their other parent and his/her tribe, even though the child previously had, and could still have, a safe and valued relationship with them. Alienation sits at one end of a scale of family patterns of alignment, loyalty and alliances. And all of those including alienation can begin and grow in families who are living together, not just when separation brings it out in public and in courts. It seems fair to assume that any and all sustained high conflict between separated parents is emotional abuse of their children caught in the middle. And there is firm evidence of life long  consequences of emotional abuse resulting from parental alienation. If so, the real or alleged risks of a child from a parent need to be considered along with the knowledge of the risks of emotional abuse from the high conflict. The best recent UK summary description and research is Sue Whitcombe’s (2014): Powerless: the lived experience of alienated parents in the UK and her article in The Psychologist (2014) Parental Alienation: time to notice, time to intervene.

Posted in Alienation

For All That – Home


Source: For All That – Home

Posted in Alienation

A Jerk, Abuser, or Psychopath?

Source: A Jerk, Abuser, or Psychopath?

Posted in Alienation

The Changes Psychopaths Can Make

Source: The Changes Psychopaths Can Make

Posted in Alienation

Educating the public on psychopathic personalities

So you’ve busted this person in your life–you’ve put “two and two” together; you’ve researched with tireless diligence the traits of narcissism, psychopathy, sociopathy, the “cluster B” personalities, and voila!–now you know you’ve been dealing with a seriously disturbing liar, manipulator, chronic abuser and exploiter–surely a narcissistic, psychopathic or borderline personality, or combination of these personalities that explain this individual’s shocking behaviors.

Now you know, right? You’ve done your research, right? Yet, let’s be honest, your research continues in various forms, for you keep digging, don’t you? But now it’s time to ask, why?? After all, you’ve done your investigations, you’ve drawn your conclusions, and you’re confident in what you’ve concluded, correct? You know what you know, right?

In fact, you really “have” done your homework, you really “have” come to the right conclusion, you really “have” busted this individual as possessing an immutably destructive personality (and personality disorder(s)). And so (and I cannot stress this enough, for it motivates the writing of this piece)…now is the time to “cease” your investigations–to “call it quits!”

You’ve solved the mystery! The investigation is over, yet you won’t end it? Instead, one way or another, you continue rationalizing the pursuit of a case you’ve already solved?

And so now you face a new, perhaps even more difficult challenge– to trust your conclusions, and detach from the investigatory process. This is quite scary because, if you do, now you are beginning a “true detachment” from the exploitive individual you’ve busted as having been just monstrously terrible for you. And that “true detachment,” which is necessary to really begin to “move on,” is real hard to do.

Yet you must do this, if you really want to heal? For your healing won’t advance with your interminable investigations! Your interminable investigations, meaning “investigations” in any form that persist after the solving of the case (and you’ve solved the case!)–they obstruct and delay your healing. What they amount to now–now that you’ve already solved the case–is an exercise in obsessionality and fixation with an individual from whom you consciously want to “move on,” but subconsciously won’t.

But yes, it’s time to “move on.” It is. You’re afraid to, but it’s time to. Yet you’ve convinced yourself–being very self-convincing–that your ongoing investigations into this individual’s personality, his or her history, your history with him or her; that all the detailed, retroactive “puzzle fitting” that was all fantastic, necessary work then, but no longer is because it’s work you’ve finished and it’s yielded what you needed to know–you’ve convinced yourself, and now are rationalizing, that this remains necessary work to continue, as if it advances something important when all it’s really advancing and enabling now is your continuing attachment to this individual in the form of your determination to uncover yet more evidence, more confirmation, more damningly conclusive proof that he or she is (or was) what you already know him or her, conclusively, to be.

When we’ve been victimized by someone traumatically, it activates within us a sometimes furious, insatiable, desperate need to “never let go” of our pursuit of proof of the victimizer’s culpability as a reprehensible, incorrigible human being. This need often persists vehemently, insistently, long after we’ve already established that proof.

Sometimes it is self-fueled by our holding onto nagging, persistent, obsessive self-doubt–“Is it possible that I’m wrong? Even though I know I’m not, what if I am? Hmmm….maybe if I can find just another…yet one more…just one more…implicating piece of evidence…then I will have no doubts…no residue of doubt! That’s all I’m looking for…just to nail him or her on this last thing!!” But it never ends, that lust for yet one more extra satisfying, extra reassuring, extra implicating thing!

But this is highly complicated because that “residual self-doubt” is something itself to which we cling tenaciously, as it enables us to “hang on” to the victimizer. whom we really refuse, on some level, to “cast off” as the abusive, exploitive individual we know him or her, indisputably, to be. Thus, it can be self-serving (and always deeply self-undermining) to cling to our “self-doubt” which becomes, in time, less “real” than a “self- contrivance” enabling the rationalization of our endless efforts to build an ever-stronger, more “air-tight” case to “denounce” this individual forever.

Talk to me and tell me what you think about this?

This article is copyrighted (c) 2015 by Steve Becker, LCSW.

Here are links to my website, and my latest book (available on Amazon), “The Inner World of the Psychopath: A Definitive Primer on the Psychopathic Personality.”

Posted in Alienation

On the run child snatch mum

A mum on the run in Northern Cyprus with her two young sons has vowed not to return to Britain because she fears they will be taken from her.

Amelia Warnes, 24, defied a High Court judge who expressed “grave concern” for the welfare of Charlie, five, and Kaiton, two.

She insisted: “The kids love it here, they’re happy and healthy. I’ve done nothing wrong.”

Amelia and husband Jason, 26 – father of younger son Kaiton – had been on holiday with the boys when they learned they were “in trouble” with social services.

Fearing they would lose the children, they decided to remain on the island.

But that decision was a devastating blow to Dominic Burt, father of her older son Charlie – who has not seen his lad for almost two years.

Dominic, 25, said: “My son is the only thing I care about.

“I don’t care what happens to Amelia. She’s robbed me of two years of my son’s life and my son’s relationship.”

Last month a judge sparked an international manhunt after taking the rare step of naming the boys and releasing a photograph in the hope they would be returned.

Social services had begun investigating Amelia in October 2013 following an incident in which husband Jason was stabbed with a vegetable knife, leaving him in hospital for three days.

Police investigated, but brought no charges after Amelia said she had injured him accidentally when he surprised her with a hug as she stood at the sink.

But social services launched their own probe amid claims that a health visitor had heard the couple arguing.

The couple, who accused social workers of lying, went on holiday to the island of Cyprus three months later.

While there, Amelia received a phone call from her sister telling her: “Social services say you’re in big trouble when you come back.”

Speaking from a withheld phone number to avoid being traced, Amelia said: “We sat up all night and thought, ‘If we go back, we’re going to lose our children’.

“We left everything – we left our house, our furniture. We started our lives from the beginning again.

“We had to make that decision because nothing is as important as your children. What is there to live for without your children?”

She added: “If they were to drop our case, I’d consider going home for my son to see his father.”

Amelia added: “The only thing I miss about the UK is friends and family.

“If they were to come out and see us then my life here would be perfect.

“We’ve settled into Cypriot life really well, the kids love it here. The last 20 months have been great. It’s sunny every day, the kids are out every day and they really enjoy it.

“Look at the pictures – do they look like they’re in danger?”

To support her case, Amelia released a photo taken last week of her posing with her smiling boys on a sunny beach.

But the happy family snap belies the waves being made back home.

In April, her parents John and Lita Clift were convicted of conspiracy to abduct a child after transferring £6,000 to Amelia while she was abroad.

A judge ruled this proved they helped her flee. Former PCSO John, 46, and ex-nurse Lita, 50, had insisted the money was a belated wedding gift to buy a car.

Both got suspended jail sentences.

And in September, High Court judge Sir Gavyn Arthur took the unusual step of giving permission for Charlie and Kaiton to be named in the hope the children could be found.

Former health care assistant Amelia said: “What did we have to go back for?

“We’d already met quite a few people and they helped, giving us free things like furniture, TVs and stuff.

“We only came with enough clothes for two weeks and we brought a small bag of toys for the kids. Our luggage was already 20kg under the allowance.”

She and Jason, understood to be in the Turkish-occupied north of the island, began learning the language and found jobs – Jason in security, Amelia in a bar.

Amelia explained: “I’m learning Turkish and my husband is fluent. It’s quite hard to learn but he picked it up quickly.”

They began planning for the children’s long-term futures in their new home, and hope to send Charlie to school as soon as he turns six next year.

Amelia said the whole family has adapted very quickly, and the boys do not even miss their friends at home in Eastbourne, East Sussex.

She said: “They don’t know any different. Kaiton has spent more of his life in this country than in the UK.

“Charlie was mainly close to my sister’s children, that was it. I Skyped my sister a few times in the last year but that’s about it – he’s got new friends now.”

Amelia said she and Jason even keep a dossier of evidence to convince people they meet that they are innocent.

She said: “Most of our friends here are British. We’ve got all the evidence with us so if anyone asks, all we do is pull up the evidence and go, ‘Look this is proof’.

“Once they see that side of the story they go, ‘Oh my gosh, I feel sorry for you going through this’.

“We’re not using fake names because we’ve done nothing wrong. I used to live in fear, but then I spoke to my solicitor.

“They say there’s nothing to worry about as we’ve had social services from this country come and see us.”

The UK authorities would need a court order and agreement of the Northern Cyprus government to bring the family back.

Officials on the island have said they have visited the family and have no concerns over the children’s safety.

Amelia claims she has even invited Dominic to visit Charlie on the island.

But carpenter Dominic said: “Contact with her was hard enough when she lived 20 miles down the road.

“I have backing from the judge. He said it’s just false hope, it’s just her saying that.”

East Sussex County Council said it was unable to comment.

Posted in Alienation

We Will Not Abandon You

Dr. Craig Childress: Attachment Based "Parental Alienation" (AB-PA)

We Will Not Abandon bannerKay offered a Comment to my On Notice post, and I wanted to respond more fully, so I decided to respond as a separate blog.

It warms me, Kay, that you were with your son again at his 19th birthday and my prayers are with you in your journey of healing.

The trauma was created several generations ago through a profound absence of parental empathy that deeply injured a child. That child victim of childhood attachment trauma then grew up to transmit their own childhood trauma to the next generation, again through a profound absence of empathy, a quality they never acquired from their own childhood. This pathology is one of great suffering, transmitted from one generation to the next; from one person to the next.

But we can bring it to a close… through empathy. The children of alienation were lost. The world of the narcissistic/borderline parent is an…

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Posted in Alienation

On Notice – 10/1/15

Dr. Craig Childress: Attachment Based "Parental Alienation" (AB-PA)

I am sometimes asked by an attorney representing their client to provide expert testimony in an ongoing court case involving the pathology of attachment-based “parental alienation.”   These requests will typically ask that I provide my expert opinion from the perspective of clinical psychology, child and family therapy, and child development, regarding information provided to me, such as child custody evaluations and treatment progress reports from therapists.

My consultation services were recently engaged by a parent for a slightly different purpose than expert testimony in child custody litigation. This parent (a father) had endured a year and a half of incompetent family therapy from a court-appointed “parenting coordinator” who had been tasked by the court with resolving the parent-child conflict between the children and their father.

The father provided me with five treatment progress reports by this “parenting coordinator” to the court over the year and a half period of intermittent…

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Posted in Alienation

Child Protective Services – Topic 2 – Detention of your Child(ren)


Detention: The removal of your child(ren) from your care by Child Protective Services

One thing is very important for people to know and that is Child Protective Services DOES NOT HAVE ANY POWER until YOU GIVE IT TO THEM. Otherwise, they can go take a hike.

If you think there is some kind of law that says that YOU HAVE TO TALK TO THEM you are wrong. No county that I know of has such a law. Often, they arrive with the police. This is merely to INTIMIDATE YOU but also to protect them against you flipping out. We are often shielded from news stories about parents who go postal on social workers who threaten to take their child away. I think so no one gets any crazy ideas. However, a few have made into the mainstream. I have heard of people shooting CPS workers in the face and recently…

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