Through my work, I have had the opportunity to learn from and train with Dr. Amy J. L. Baker, a developmental psychologist and expert on Parental Alienation and its long-lasting negative effects.
According to Dr. Baker, there are seventeen primary parental alienation strategies that have been scientifically identified. They fall into the following five categories:
- poisonous messages to the child about the targeted parent in which he or she is portrayed as unloving, unsafe, and unavailable
- limiting contact and communication between the child and the targeted parent
- erasing and replacing the targeted parent in the heart and mind of the child
- encouraging the child to betray the targeted parent’s trust
- undermining the authority of the targeted parent
Parental Alienation is a form of undue influence in which one parent deceives and manipulates the child to feel fear, anger, disgust, or other negative emotions towards the other parent. The alienating parent may attempt to instill false memories of abuse or phobias about the other parent in the child’s mind. They may encourage the child to spy and tattle on the other parent. In other words, parents who unethically alienate their child against the other parent use similar tactics that cults use to distance their members from family, friends, and ex-members.
Experts have long studied the effects of divorce on children. A landmark study was detailed in the New York Times best-selling book, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce by Wallerstein, Lewis and Blakeslee. It can harm identity formation, disrupt secure attachment, create insecurities about trust and relationships, and more. When a family is broken by divorce or separation, children will usually feel stressed or confused. They may not understand what is happening. Or they may wonder if they are to blame for the break-up. Good parenting will always put the best interest of the child’s well–being as a top priority. It is especially more important than the parent’s ego. Therefore, relationship experts always tell divorcing parents to avoid saying negative things and to encourage a positive relationship with the other parent.
Cult Programming That Causes Parental Alienation is Absolutely Dangerous
Systematic mind control programming of children against their non-custodial parent is absolutely dangerous. As a mental health professional, I have long worked with children and adults who have suffered from parental alienation as a result of exiting a destructive cult, like Scientology and the Jehovah’s Witnesses (but is a very common practice of all cults). The Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, have a documented history of efforts to manipulate ex-members by threatening disfellowshipping and legal wrangling to keep children inside the Watchtower group. Children are told that anyone who rejects the Witness lifestyle is dangerous and “part of Satan’s world”–even immediate family members. Watchtower has even published a guide for followers to use when facing a non-believing parent in court to get custody of the children. A PDF of this document can be accessed here. Scientology has their total disconnection policy if someone is declared a Suppressive Person (SP).