Posted in Alice Miller (psychologist), Alienation

Free From Lies | Alice Miller

Free From Lies
Discovering your true needs

Reading this book is a therapeutic encounter with one’s own life’s story. Dr. Alice Miller, author of such world-renowned books as the Drama of the Gifted Child and The Truth Will Set You Free, has devoted her life to empowering people who have severe symptoms from denying that they suffered physical and emotional abuse as children. Here, in Free from Lies, she tackles uncharted territory as she shows how former victims can finally heal the scars of their youth by finding the true history of their childhood instead of denying it.

Abandoning traditional concepts of psychoanalysis that often – like society on the whole – protect the parents and accuse the child, Dr. Miller explains why a therapist should become a partial, empathic witness to the survivor of obvious cruelty rather than a neutral analyst. She further provides a guide to help patients find the right therapist who will always and unconditionally stay on the side of the wounded child. Dr. Miller explains as well how to identify the causes of the unconscious pain that manifests itself later as depression, self-mutilation, primal inadequacy, and loneliness.

The journey “from victims to destroyer” explores the dynamic that turns once-abused children into abusive parents. Dr. Miller’s revolutionary analysis of this cycle of destruction helps us understand what occurs when the abusive behavior reaches beyond the family unit to threaten the whole society. Abusers are able to deny the most obvious and absolutely undeniable facts without the slightest hesitation. They imitate their parents, who were teaching them to lie by telling their children that they were beaten “out of love.” As Free from Lies makes clear, this cycle of suppression and repression of truth originates in a cultural mindset that accepts, and even condones, child abuse by calling it “the right upbringing.” Excerpts from Dr. Miller’s answers to the startling readers’ letters sent to her Web site show that a wide variety of abuse is inflicted daily on children throughout the world.

The media’s attention is only captured by extreme cases, but the plight of children who are regularly subjected to ordinary abuse in their “upbringing,” like spanking, kicking, and others forms of humiliation, remains silenced or even highly encouraged by many.

Held hostage by anger, guilt, and denial, survivors of child abuse will find in Free from Lies the tools necessary to break the cycle, because Dr. Miller’s compassion, experience, and guidance provide a much-needed liberation from the crippling lies transferred to us for millennia.

Posted in Alice Miller (psychologist), Alienation

The Truth Will Set You Free | Alice Miller en

The Truth Will Set You Free
Overcoming Emotional Blindness and Finding Your True Adult Self

Drawing on the latest research on brain development, Miller speaks out against the increasing popularity of childhood corporal punishment and demonstrates how spanking and other disciplinary traumas are encoded in the brain, stunting our ability to overcome them. Our bodies retain memories of humiliation, causing panoply of physical ills and dangerous levels of denial. This denial, necessary for the child’s survival, leads to emotional blindness and finally to mental barriers that cut off awareness and the ability to learn new ways of acting. If this cycle repeats itself, the grown child will perpetrate the same abuse on later generations, warns Miller.

In this stunning new contribution to her life’s work, Miller not only invites us to confront our own pasts, but reveals how each of us can liberate our present as adults and as parents.

Posted in Alice Miller (psychologist), Alienation

Self-Hatred and Unfulfilled Love (Arthur Rimbaud)

Rimbaud’s mother maintained total control over her children and called this control motherly love. Her acutely perceptive son saw through this lie. He realized that her constant concern for outward appearances had nothing to do with love. But he was unable to admit to this observation without reserve, because as a child he needed love, or at least the illusion of it. He could not hate his mother, particularly as she was so obviously concerned for him. So he hated himself instead, unconsciously convinced that in some obscure way he must have deserved such mendacity and coldness. Plagued by an ill-defined sense of disgust, he projected it onto the provincial town where he lived, onto the hypocrisy of the system of morality he grew up in (much like Nietzsche in this respect), and onto himself. All his life he strove to escape these feelings, resorting in the process to alcohol, hashish, absinth, opium, and extensive travels to faraway places. In his youth he made two attempts to run away from home but was caught and restored to his mother’s “care” on both occasions.

His poetry reflects not only his self-hatred but also his quest for the love so completely denied him in the early stages of his life. Later, at school, he was fortunate enough to encounter a kindly teacher who gave him the companionship and support he so desperately needed in the decisive years of puberty. His teacher’s affection and confidence enabled him to write and to develop his philosophical ideas. But his childhood retained its stifling grip on him. He attempted to combat his despair at the absence of love in his life by transforming it into philosophical observations on the nature of true love. But these ideas were no more than abstractions because despite his intellectual rejection of conventional morality, his emotional allegiance to the code of conduct it prescribed was unswerving. Self-disgust was legitimate, but detestation for his mother was unthinkable. He could not pay heed to the painful messages of his childhood memories without destroying the hopes that had helped him to survive as a child. Time and again, Rimbaud tells us that he had no one to rely on except himself. This was surely the fruit of his experience with a mother who had nothing to offer him but her own derangement and hypocrisy, rather than true love. His entire life was a magnificent but vain attempt to save himself from destruction at the hands of his mother, with all the means at his disposal.

Posted in Alice Miller (psychologist), Alienation

The Body Never Lies | Alice Miller en

While examining everything from parental spanking to sexual abuse and emotional blackmail, Miller exposes the societal pressures that converge to harm children. She explains that we have so many societal mechanisms to prevent us from feeling anger or rage against our parents that we tend never to confront our own feelings. To combat the debilitating effects of such jarring and often contradictory emotions, Miller explores the benefits of using a therapist as an “Enlightened Witness” to reaffirm the patient’s repressed reactions to a forgotten childhood experience.

Miller also discusses how institutionalized religion itself can contribute to the crushing guilt that prevents us from being healthy and conscious adults. She urges society to realize that the Fourth Commandment -“Honor thy father and thy mother”- offers immunity to abusive parents. Indeed, she argues, it is healthier not to extend forgiveness to parents whose tyrannical childrearing methods have resulted in unhappy, and often ruined, adult lives.

In a stirring rejection of the “Poisonous Pedagogy” that pardons even the most brutal parenting, Miller examines the cyclical nature of violence and abuse. Parents and guardians who abuse their children, both physically and mentally, leave them embarrassed and hurt. The inability of most children to properly express such feelings causes them to perpetuate the cycle by lashing out at their family, friends, and, above al1, their own children, who will inevitably do the same.

Throughout The Body Never Lies, Miller offers a calm and encouraging voice. Indeed, The Body Never Lies, through its illuminating and provocative insight, affords us a unique understanding of the immense healing powers of the adult self and the body.

Posted in Alienation, Nick Child

Blood-letting: learning from the past

Trusting our professions

The question of trust in professionals and institutions is both ancient and modern. Each generation thinks it’s better than before. Across the world, we have way more democratic influence and access than ever to expanding mountains of information, trading and professional standards, legislation, campaigns, feedback, complaints systems, checks and balances and so on. Yet – or as a result – our present institutions are crumbling as Niall Ferguson showed in his 2012 Reith Lectures. Continue reading “Blood-letting: learning from the past”

Posted in Alienated children, Alienation, Craig Childress, Psy.D., Parental Alienation PA

Standard of Practice in Assessment, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Attachment-Related Pathology

A child rejecting a parent is an attachment-related pathology.  The attachment system is the brain system governing all aspects of love and bonding throughout the lifespan. A child rejecting a parent is a problem in the love and bonding system of the brain; in the attachment system.

Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857 Continue reading “Standard of Practice in Assessment, Diagnosis, and Treatment”

Posted in Alienated children, Alienation, Dr. Craig Childress, Parental Alienation PA

Parental Alienation – A Checklist

Use these checklist’s to find out whether your relationship with your child is being damaged by parental alienation by the other parent – or whether you are responsible for parental alienation yourself

  1. Parental Alienation Processes Pathogenic Parenting – Concern Scale- C.A. Childress,Psy.D

  2. The Parenting Practices Rating Scale




Limiting contact;

Interfering with communication;

Limiting mention and photographs of the targeted parent;

Withdrawal of love/ expressions of anger;

Telling the child that the targeted parent does not love him or her;

Forcing the child to choose;

Creating the impression that the targeted parent is dangerous;

Confiding in the child personal adult and litigation information;

Forcing the child to reject the targeted parent;

Asking the child to spy on the targeted parent;

Asking the child to keep secrets from the targeted parent;

Referring to the targeted parent by their first name;

Referring to a step-parent as mom or dad and encouraging the child to do the same;

Withholding medical, social, academic information from the targeted parent and keeping his/her name off the records;

Changing the child’s name to remove association with the targeted parent; and

Cultivating dependency on self / undermining authority of the targeted parent.


Posted in Alienated children, Alienation, Amy J. L. Baker, Experts

What Makes Alienating Parents Tick?

What makes an alienating parent tick? Do they suddenly wake up one day, go into revenge-mode, and begin attempting to destroy their child’s relationship with the other parent? Obviously not. The roots of amputative behavior are present (and sometimes hidden) before the abuse begins.


In psychological researcher Amy J. L. Baker, PhD’s important book, Breaking the Ties That Bind: Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome, the author identifies three family patterns that may be present in cases where parental alienation takes place.

Although we should keep in mind that men too, can be alienating parents, based on the interviews Dr. Baker did with 40 adult children of parental alienation syndrome, two of three patterns she identifies name mothers as the alienating parent. Most professionals believe that the ratio of fathers to mothers who are alienating parents is 50-50. Although some are very passionate and vocal about this being specifically a man’s or woman’s issue, the truth is that parental alienation can be perpetrated by members of either sex.

Also, though the sample of the adult children of PAS that Baker interviewed were interviewed in depth, making for a richer understanding of how PAS occurs, the author acknowledges that “perhaps the worst cases [of PAS] were most likely to want to participate in the research” and might have contributed to sampling bias. In any case, the information on patterns is enormously helpful and mirror what we can report on an anecdotal basis.

Pattern one: Narcissistic Mother in Divorced Family (14 families); pattern two: Narcissistic Mother in Intact Family (8 families), (PAS sometimes does occur in families where the parents are not divorced or separated); pattern three: Rejecting/Abusive Alienating Parent (16 families).

In Dr. Baker’s sample, narcissistic mothers comprised a significant portion of alienating parents. This is important because it implies the presence of a personality disorder in the alienating parent.

Breaking the Ties That Bind also identifies “notable themes and clinical and legal implications.” We will mention only three of them here (there are more). These include co-occurring maltreatment in which the alienating parent hasn’t just emotionally abused the child but has physically/sexually abused them, too.

Also, co-occurring alcoholism. She points out that because alcoholism is often linked with personality disorders, and many professionals believe that personality disorders are often or even usually present in an alienating parent.

In fact, the next theme is co-occurring personality disorder. The author points out that based on the interviews she did, many alienating parents could be considered to have a type B personality disorders (narcissistic, histrionic, anti-social, and borderline personality disorders). C.R. and I strongly agree and even say that perhaps a type B personality disorder must be present in an alienating parent. That’s because the types of behaviors involved are generally included in definitions of type B personality disorders. We should point out that this does not mean that people with type B pds will become alienating parents, but based on our experience, we believe that alienating parents all have at the very least a significant number of traits that are present in type B pds.

For an upcoming article C.R. recently interviewed a twenty-two year old woman who believes she is a victim of parental alienation syndrome.  Of interest is the fact that the family is intact and the alienating parent has character traits which include those found belonging to narcissistic and anti-social personality disorders and are obviously not confined to the parent’s relationship with her children. In other words, these kinds of behaviors are actually present in all of her relationships.

In a description of her parent’s actions, the daughter, who is in therapy without her parents’ knowledge, said: “My mom [who is the editor of a magazine] would think nothing of plagiarizing when she could get away with it. She insists writers include verbatim paragraphs from the Internet, banking on the idea that no reader will ever check and find out. She quotes ten year old scientific studies and says the information is brand new. She does her best to put competing publications out of business and literally spies on them. Publishing is the perfect career for her because she gets a real thrill from the power of controlling what people read and then end up believing. Also she thinks no lie or immoral behavior is really off limits for her, especially when it comes to her “baby” magazine.

“Mom manipulates her employees, plays mind-games with with staff and family members alike and pits editors against each other. It doesn’t matter who it is. It could be my dad, an employee, my brothers and sister or a grandparent or even a friend. The exact moment someone leaves a room, she rolls her eyes or makes a very subtle, minor put down in a kind of disappointed tone about the person. She wants everyone left in the room to agree with her. Her whole thing is to keep people off balance so they live with constant, low level fear. I don’t know if she even realizes what she’s doing–she’s done this as long as I can remember.

“Even though my parents are still married, I see how mom has set up our family into teams depending on what’s going on. There’s the family against the world, there’s mom and my sibs against dad and against his parents. She needs all these secrets and teams because that feeds her ego. By keeping everyone else down, she stays up.”

The newest volume of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DMS-5), due out in spring of 2013, has not yet decided whether Parental Alienation Disorder (which is currently known as Parental Alienation Syndrome or PAS) will be included. The debate is surprisingly controversial. Those who are adult or child victims or mental health and legal professionals involved in the study and treatment of PAS want this problem recognized by the DSM-5. Those who believe that alienating parents either don’t exist or that their actions don’t affect their children, don’t.

Meanwhile, no one can deny that alienating parents do exist. In order to hurt their former (or sometimes, current) spouse, alienating fathers and mothers use their children as pawns in a war that can leave professional psych-ops in the dust.

We’ve received more than the usual amount of email related to our posts on PAS from both adult children and target parents who shared their experiences with us. Some have asked us to include specific PAS stories. In upcoming blog posts we hope to share snapshots of PAS.

Below are some useful links.

Amy Baker, PhD: Web Site and her Links (Resources) Page

Therapy Soup Posts About PAS and Related Topics:

Parental Alienation Syndrome

Educating An Alienating Parent

When Parents Brainwash

Divorce and Revenge

The Narcissistic Mother’s Game

How To Deal With An Emotional Terrorist

Dr. Richard Warshak, Parental Alienation Syndrome expert and author of Divorce Poison  

Mike Jeffries, Author of A Family’s Heartbreak, Resources Page  for those dealing with parental alienation. It includes lists of support groups, organizations, articles, podcasts, professionals, and more.

Fathers and Families: Current News on Parental Alienation.

Target Parent Blogs, A Sample: Fearless Fathers, Jim Hueglin, Legally Kidnapped. Many target parents, both men and women, are regularly posting about their experiences with their alienating spouses and their children.

Posted in Alienated children, Alienation, Craig Childress, Psy.D., Experts, Parental Alienation PA, PERSONALITY DISORDERS

The Parenting Practices Rating Scale

The Parenting Practices Rating Scale is designed to document the clinical assessment of parenting by the targeted parent. The scale contains four primary items:

1.)  Category Level of Parenting:

2.)  Permissive-Authoritarian Rating

3.)  Empathy

4.)  Issues of Clinical Concern

Dr. Craig Childress: Attachment Based "Parental Alienation" (AB-PA)

The Parenting Practices Rating Scale is designed to document the clinical assessment of parenting by the targeted parent.  The scale contains four primary items:

1.)  Category Level of Parenting:

Item 1, the Category Level of Parenting, identifies deviant-abusive parenting relative to broadly normal-range parenting. 

The Level of parenting is rated on a 4-point Likert scale (abusive, severely problematic, normal-range problematic, normal-range healthy), anchored by descriptive categories of parenting.  Identifying the category of parenting locates the parenting in the corresponding Level of the rating scale. 

The 4-point Likert scale is then brought together into two broad categories of parenting; deviant-abusive (Levels 1 and 2) and normal-range (Levels 3 and 4).  It is this dichotomous classification that is used for diagnostic indicator 1 by the Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting to define a “normal-range parent” (Levels 3 and 4)

Ratings on Item 1: Category Levels should offer parenting examples to support the…

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