Amy J.L. Baker, Ph.D., in Divorce Mag, states alienation happens in dysfunctional families, whether the parents end up divorcing or not. It is likely the parent trying to alienate the child suffers from a personality disorder, engages in child emotional abuse or worse, and acts like a cult leader.
Dr. Baker states given how these parents act, many have a distorted way of relating to others, narcissism, and an antisocial personality. Some alienating parents also physically and sexually abuse their children.
Child alienators use similar techniques as cult leaders, according to a survey of adults subjected to alienation as children. These parents used:
- Emotional manipulation strategies such as withdrawing love, trying to bind the child with a sense of loyalty, and cultivating dependency
- Brainwashing techniques like repeating negative statements about the other parent and use of extreme and absolute thinking
Dr. Baker sees parental alienation as emotional abuse for at least two reasons.
- The strategies used are emotionally abusive. The alienating parent verbally assaults, isolates, corrupts, rejects, terrorizes, ignores, and pressures the child to alienate the targeted parent
- Dividing a parent and child for no legitimate reason is also abusive