Profiles of Mothers Engaged in Parental Alienation

Parental alienation (PA) describes a family dynamic in which a parent engages in behaviors that are likely to foster a child’s unjustified rejection of the other parent. PA is considered a particular form of child psychological maltreatment with both short- and long-term negative consequences. Parents who attempt to turn a child against the other parent in cases of separation/divorce can be difficult to identify. Increasing our understanding of the personality features of these parents via psychological assessment may enable us to identify PA more quickly following the onset of abuse. In the present study, the personality characteristics of mothers engaging in PA were examined through a comparative analysis of MMPI-2 profiles. The results indicated that alienating mothers presented higher moral virtue and extroversion. They were more vulnerable to interpersonal stress and they demonstrated unsuccessful self-representation. The findings provide a preliminary model for understanding the profile of mothers who engage in PA.

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