The absence of guilt is one of the most striking features of parental alienation. It is especially noteworthy when it occurs in the context of otherwise morally intact children. The child’s hatred of the parent stands in marked contrast to a personality organization that is generally modulated by guilt. How is it possible to feel hatred for one who previously has been loved?
Johnson and Szurek noticed the paradox of antisocial behavior in delinquent children who otherwise presented no pervasive disorder of conscience. These children violated norms and acted on forbidden impulses selectively rather than universally. In other spheres of their lives, they lived in accordance with rules and social conventions. They evidenced a capacity for moral deliberation and, in some instances, possessed a developed ethical sense. Johnson and Szurek explained the paradox thusly: