Posted in Parental Alienation & Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Parental Alienation – A Potentially Serious Mental Disorder

Treating a pathological situation of mental illness leading to parental alienation

There have been a number of studies carried out to deal with concerns related to pathological or abnormal behaviour by the alienating custodial parent in relation to a programme of denigration and alienation of the child against the other parent. Warshak, (2006) in his chapter in “The International Handbook of Parental Alienation” concerns himself with the treatment of such irrational alienation procedures in one parent against another. He, like Gardner (1997) recommends transfer of custody to the alienated parent and/or the use of transition sites to facilitate the conciliation between the alienated child and the alienated parent. Hence, the child is recommended to spent time with the rejected parent irrespective of the feelings of the child who has been brainwashed against this. It is unfortunate but understandable that frequently such children resist this and this could and should lead to transfer of legal custody (Kelly & Johnston, 2001).

Baker (2007) in her book “Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome” considers the alienation process practiced by either parent as a form of “emotional abuse” of the child. The child as a result feels isolated with total control being provided by the custodial parent and used against the non custodial parent. She believes very much in Gardner’s guidelines for therapists and the need for court ordered therapy for families in which PAS plays a significant role especially when such alienation is highly pathological and hence related to a mental illness type condition. In treating these children such statements as: “I hate him/her”, referring to the absent parent should be investigated for the basis of such a remark. If they are attributable to the custodial parent eventually then we have a severe situation of alienation which has corrupted the child’s possibility of having any close relationship with the absent parent.

The mental state of parents who seriously abuse children through alienation

The experiment which follows is based on 15 years of study of alienating parents and having measured their personality traits in three areas: psychoticism, neuroticism, and empathy. The test used for this purpose was the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire which already has norms for the average population based on age and sex.

Although the sample is small consisting of 15 women and 10 men who have been found to seriously alienate their children against the other party, it is at present the only study carried out to measure objectively the personality traits of such individuals compared with the norms on psychoticism, neuroticism and empathy.

The tables which follow provides the norms and standard deviations of the non alienating normal group and compares this with the alienators on the three dimensions measured.

  1. Psychoticism

Table 1

Psychoticism – age norms, means and standard deviations for different age groups for the general population, and parental alienating group (in brackets)

Age Group (yr) N= Males

(No. in group)

Mean Standard Deviation
21-30 148 (2) 8.65 (13.3) 4.56
31-40 117 (5) 6.69 (12) 3.58
41-50 107 (3) 7.0 (10.3) 4.65
Age Group (yr) N= Females Mean Standard Deviation
21-30 256 (4) 6.20 (15.5) 3.86
31-40 135 (8) 5.87 (10.3) 3.72
41-50 109 (3) 4.62 (9.25) 3.05

The results indicate that alienators appear to have a higher score on psychoticism indicating signs of mental illness of disturbance related to these symptoms.

  1. Neuroticism

Table 2

Neuroticism – age norms, means and standard deviations for different age groups for the general population, and parental alienation group (in brackets)

Age Group (yr) N = Males

(No. in group)

Mean Standard Deviation
21-30 148 (2) 11.08 (18.0) 5.37
31-40 117 (5) 11.92 (17.0) 5.70
41-50 107 (3) 11.22 (16.0) 5.97
Age Group (yr) N = Females Mean Standard Deviation
21-30 256 (4) 12.53 (17.5) 4.78
31-40 135 (8) 11.71 (15.5) 4.94
41-50 109 (3) 6.79 (19.5) 3.74

  1. Empathy

Table 3

Empathy – age norms, means and standard deviations for different age groups for the general population, and parental alienation group (in brackets)

Age Group (yr) N = Males

(No. in group)

Mean Standard Deviation
20-29 97 (2) 11.76 (5.0) 3.17
30-39 69 (5) 11.87 (8.5) 3.36
40-49 31 (3) 11.82 (9.5) 3.0
Age Group (yr) N = Females Mean Standard Deviation
20-29 191 (4) 14.39 (4.78) 2.87
30-39 101 (8) 14.17 (4.94) 3.19
40-49 126 (3) 14.14 (3.74) 2.98

Results

The results indicate that:

  1. Alienators appear to have a higher score on psychoticism and neuroticism indicating signs of mental illness or emotional disturbance related to these symptoms.
  2. Alienators also appear to have a lower score in the area of empathy than the norm of men and women assessed in the general population in the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire Manual.

Conclusions from table data

It is concluded that there are signs of mental disturbance if not mental illness related to those individuals who carry out the process of alienation. Furthermore they are likely to be low on empathy indicating that their relationship with their children is strictly on the basis of the enmity they display towards their former partner in influencing the child/children accordingly against the non custodial absent party. It is important that other researchers carry out a study of a larger sample of alienators.

Discussion of results

Table 1 indicates that those who have been alienating a child/children against an absent parent have a much higher psychoticism mean score than the normal population based on comparison with a control group of the Eysenck norms. This is both for males and females. The numbers in brackets show the actual numbers participating in the experimental PAS group. Males are somewhat lower in number than females as alienators as they do not normally have custody of the children.

The mean psychoticism score for males between 21-30 years of age was 8.65 while the mean score for males who were alienators was 13.3. In the case of females of the same age group it was also noted that while the control group had mean of 6.20 the alienating group had a mean score of 15.5. The tables on the whole are self explanatory.

In the case of neuroticism alienators also had a much higher mean score than non alienators or the control group. This may be exemplified by the group 21-30 which unfortunately had only a small number of males (2), but even among those the mean for the normal non alienating group was 11.08 while the mean of the alienating group was 18. In the case of females similar results occurred in comparison with the normal mean of 12.53 with the mean of the alienator at that age group being 17.5. The remainder of the table has a similar trend for the different age groups.

The empathy group again showed differences between alienators, whether male or female, compared with ordinary individual norms of both sexes. For the age group 20-29 the mean for the non alienating group was 11.76 while for the alienating group it was 5. Hence alienators tend to have a lower empathy score. Again the remainder of the table has a similar trend for the different age groups.

The conclusions that can be reached are:

  1. The conclusions deal with the fact that alienators whether male or female tend to score high on psychoticism than non alienators based on the norms of the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire.
  2. The same can be said for neuroticism in that alienators score higher on neuroticism and hence have more problems relating to their lifestyle with considerable anxiety, worry and other symptoms of mental disturbance.
  3. On the empathy scale it was noted that the alienator scored much lower than the non alienator based on the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire. Hence a lack of empathy may be associated with a tendency toward alienating.

    Parental Alienation –  A Potentially Serious Mental Disorder

    L.F. Lowenstein

 

http://www.parental-alienation.info/publications/54-PASeriousMentalDisorder.htm

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Living the dream in SW France-Retired Love Swimming, Rambling, Labrador's, Pilates, Photography, Astronomy, Reiki, Travelling. Currently studying Psychology, and member of NAAP. I believe in truth, honesty, karma and integrity! KEEPING IT REAL - No one likes someone who lies and lives a different life on social media than they do in real life. ≧◔◡◔≦

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