In this role-reversal dynamic, the following roles are identified:
- Pathogenic parent: The parent who psychologically manipulates the child to devalue and discard the targeted parent.
- Targeted child: The child within a family system who has been singled out for the attention of the pathogenic parent.
- Targeted parent: The normal-range and affectionately available parent; the “victim” in the story. This is the parent who is scapegoated.
This type of parental alienation incorporates elements of Murray Bowen’s family systems theory, which is based on the dynamics between people in systems.
Bowen believed the family unit was the basic starting point for explaining human behavior.
Bowen believed the family unit was the basic starting point for explaining human behavior. His premise was that “individual behavior seemed determined less by individual choice and more by the individual’s relationship context.” He believed each family member derives their identity from their involvement within the family’s relationship system.