This article provides an up-to-date critical review of scientific articles on parental alienation. We will begin by reviewing the criteria for its definition, postulated pathogenesis and subtypes in order to lay the foundation for understanding PAS; next, we will delineate how PAS is placed in the psychiatric classification, including its relationship with official diagnostic categories of psychopathology.
Our study systematically reviewed all publications in the MEDLINE/PubMed database searching for the terms “parental alienation”, “parental alienation syndrome”, or “parental alienation disease” as keywords. We included studies and books that: (i) were published online between 1985 and 2015, (ii) included original data or reviews and (iii) were concerned with assessment and/or diagnosis and/or treatment of PAS. Consequently, we excluded publications that concerned child maltreatment or abuse not acknowledged as PAS. In the end, we selected relevant studies according to the inclusion criteria specified above. A total of 28 articles and books were appropriate for this review. This assessment will reveal strengths and weaknesses in the current PAS literature; moreover, we present suggestions for improving the refinement of the literature.