Alienation is a cruel experience because it removes from a child or young person the opportunity to engage with all of the aspects of people who love them in ways that enable them to accept that people can do good and bad things. It causes children and young people to adopt coping mechanisms of cutting out or running off, of avoidance of conflict and of heightened self righteousness in the wrong place at the wrong time. In the brain of the child, the critical firing of neurons and synapses fails to take place and the opportunity to build conflict resolution skills, perspective and a strong sense of self is lost. The false self which emerges through the missing years when a child is alienated is a ghost like persona, fragile and uncertain, masking fears and anxieties and a sense of self which is both over inflated and crumbling all at the same time. What happens to children and young people who are pushed into an alienation reaction is that so much more is lost than the relationship with a once loved parent. That is why prevention of this harm done to children is so essential, those missing years steal more than love from a parent, they steal the very chance a child has to build a normal and secure sense of self.
Source: The Missing Years