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.

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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.

http://blogs.psychcentral.com/therapy-soup/2012/02/what-makes-alienating-parents-tick/

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

Moving Upstream – London Conference on Parental Alienation 2018 – Open for Bookings

The European Association of Parental Alienation Practitioners opens its conference booking today.  Headline speakers include leading researcher and writer  Amy J.L.Baker PhD. Brian Ludmer from Ludmer Law in Canada, Professor Gordana Buljan Flander from the Child Protection Centre in Zagreb, Barristers from 1KBW UK, Linda Gottlieb and Steve Miller from the USA, along with Psychologists and Psychotherapists who are pioneering in this work in Europe.

via Moving Upstream – London Conference on Parental Alienation 2018 – Open for Bookings

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

WORKING WITH ALIENATED CHILDREN AND THEIR TARGETED PARENTS:

By Amy J.L. Baker, PhD, and Katherine Andre, PhD

Divorce affects one million new children every year. Of these children, approximately 20% of their parents remain in conflict, with little, if any, cooperation (Garrity & Baris, 1994; Kelly, 2005). When children get caught in the middle of parental conflict, they are at risk for many psychosocial problems, including alignment with one parent against the other (e.g., Amato, 1994; Johnston, 1994; Wallerstein, Lewis, & Blakeslee, 2001; Wallerstein & Blakeslee, 1996). Especially problematic is when the alignment becomes so entrenched that children join forces with one parent to completely reject and denigrate the other, once-loved parent (Darnall, 1998; Wallerstein & Kelly 1980; Warshak, 2001).

Parents who encourage such alignments employ parental alienation (PA) strategies designed to turn a child against the other, targeted parent. The alienating parent is often filled with hatred, blame, anger, and shame and lacks awareness of the separate and independent needs of the children to have a relationship with the other parent (Ellis, 2005; Gardner, 1998; Rand, 1997). Through various strategies such as bad-mouthing, limiting contact, belittling, and withdrawing love, the alienating parent creates the impression that the targeted parent is dangerous, unloving, or unworthy, thus compelling the child to reject that parent (Baker, 2007a; Baker & Darnall, 2006). At its most extreme, when a child completely rejects the targeted parent, the result is referred to as severe alienation or parental alienation syndrome (PAS) (Gardner, 1998). Continue reading “WORKING WITH ALIENATED CHILDREN AND THEIR TARGETED PARENTS:”

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

An Interview with Amy J. L. Baker, Ph.D. on Parental Alienation

Dr. David Van Nuys: Welcome to Wise Counsel, a podcast interview series sponsored by CenterSite, LLC, covering topics in mental health, wellness, and psychotherapy.

My name is Dr. David Van Nuys. I’m a clinical psychologist and your host.

On today’s show we’ll be talking about parental alienation with my guest, Dr. Amy J.L. Baker. Amy J.L. Baker, Ph.D. is the Director of Research at the Vincent J. Fontana Center for Child Protection in New York City and she is author of the 2007 book, “Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome: Breaking The Ties That Bind”.

Dr. Baker earned her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology at the Teacher’s College, Columbia University in 1989. She is also the author or co-author of over 50 peer-reviewed scholarly publications in topics such as parental alienation, child welfare, parent-child attachment and parent involvement in their children’s education. She has appeared on TV, radio and in the New York Times. She has presented at numerous conferences.

Now, here is the interview…

Dr. Amy Baker, welcome to the Wise Counsel Podcast.

Dr. Amy J.L. Baker: Thanks for having me on the show, David.

David: Well, I’m very glad to have you here and we’re going to be discussing your book, the title of which is “Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome”. So I guess the logical place to start is what’s meant by the term “Parental Alienation Syndrome”?

Amy: That’s a good place to start because there is some confusion, some people use the term “parental alienation”, some use the term “Parental Alienation Syndrome”. The working definition that I use is that parental alienation is a set of strategies that a parent uses to try to effectuate a child’s rejection of the other parent who I refer to as the “targeted parent”.

Parental Alienation Syndrome is the resulting behavior and attitudes within the child who come to believe that the targeted parent is someone unworthy of having a relationship with.

Now, it’s important to know that not all cases of the child rejecting a parent qualify as Parental Alienation Syndrome.

David: Interesting.

to read or download the full interview click here:- http://www.pvmhmr.org/82-parenting/article/14784-wise-counsel-interview-transcript-an-interview-with-amy-j-l-baker-phd-on-parental-alienation

Posted in Alienation, Amy J. L. Baker, Experts, Parental Alienation PA

What is Success? by Amy J. L. Baker, PhD

When prospective expert witness clients call to find out about my services and fees, one question they often ask is whether I believe that my services are successful. I truly understand the motivation underlying this question. Bringing an expert witness onto a legal team increases costs and most people want to know that they will get their money’s worth. However, this is not a question that can easily be answered. Here’s why.

Partial Wins

First, if a client files a motion asking for ten things and is awarded some but not all of them, is that a success? Some would say so while others may not. Who am I to say whether that is a success or not.

Custody Settlements

Second, some clients settle prior to my testifying or after I have testified but before the judge has ruled. Is that a success? It depends on what is in the settlement agreement, which I had little if anything to do with. In a few cases, I conducted the case file review but the client never filed a motion.

http://www.amyjlbaker.com/blog/what-is-success.html

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

Protecting Your Clients in Parental Alienation Cases

Attorneys should no longer tolerate parental alienation, because of the damage it does to children and the cycle of abuse it supports.

By Plinio J. Garcia, CEO & Consultant, Major Family Services

A very prestigious attorney in Century City recently told me that sometimes the family court system in Los Angeles rewards the behavior of alienating parents with legal and physical custody of their children because it is in “the best interest of the child to stop the tug-of-war between parents.” This counsel was trying to explain to me why we sometimes have to “give up” on our children to minimize the psychological damage of alienation. I was shocked! How can a parent give up on a child, knowing that the other parent is traumatizing him or her? Attorneys should no longer tolerate parental alienation, because of the damage it does to children and the cycle of abuse it supports. Provided below is practical advice for lawyers who feel ethically compelled to protect innocent children from parental alienation.

Definitions

Parental alienation, or PA, can be said to occur “any time one parent communicates in a derogatory way about the other parent in a manner that affects their child or children emotionally, psychologically or even physically.”[1] Based on my observations and those of Amy Baker, PhD, there are four types of parents who alienate:[2]

  1. Narcissistic parent in an intact family

  2. Narcissistic parent in a divorced or separated family

  3. Abusive or rejecting parent in an intact family

  4. Abusive or rejecting parent in a divorced or separated family

Briefly, the narcissistic parent will engage the child emotionally and with material things in order to win the child over and make him or her reject the other parent. Typically, an abusive or rejecting parent is never affectionate to the child and mistreats the child so as to cause him or her to reject the other parent. In either case, the psychological damage is usually long-lasting (sometimes permanent) and even creates a cycle of alienation throughout various generations of a family.[3] To end this pattern of abuse, we have to stop trying to appease the alienating parent.

Law Enforcement

Many attorneys seem afraid to get the police involved in cases of parental alienation, and they counsel their clients to try to come to some sort of resolution without involving the authorities. This advice is perfectly fine when both parents are truly looking out for the best interests of the child. However, when one parent is not, attorneys should advise their clients that if they believe the other parent is causing the child physical or psychological harm, whether in the clients’ presence or in private time spent with the child, they should call law enforcement. Parents in high-conflict divorces should get to know their local law enforcement officers. Obtain the phone number of the local police station or sheriff’s office to avoid calling 911. Attorneys should be willing to communicate with the authorities to protect their clients and their clients’ children. Many times, an experienced juvenile detective can look out for alienating behavior in order to minimize its trauma on children. If visits are monitored, the exchanges should take place at the local law enforcement office.

Children’s Services Agencies

When my own children were demonstrating alienating behavior during the process of separation/divorce, my attorney told me not to involve the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). That was a mistake; I have since learned that the DCFS can help. What is most important when engaging an agency like the DCFS is to communicate in detail what is happening. Neither you nor your client should be afraid to explain your concerns. Advise your client that it is a bureaucratic process and it takes time, but time spent with the staff of these agencies sometimes pays off and saves your client more time and a lot of money. It also lets the other parent know that you and your client will protect the children using all of the resources available.

Recording Conversations

“It is a crime in California to intercept or eavesdrop upon any confidential communication, including a telephone call or wire communication, without the consent of all parties” (Cal. Penal Code §§ 631, 632).[4] There are similar laws in all 50 states. Although I do not encourage recording phone calls, it may be necessary in order to protect a child when the alienating behavior is extreme. Over the phone, an alienating parent might threaten a child or encourage the child to disrespect the other parent. I have consulted on cases in which, for example, the alienating parent instructs an eight-year-old to tell the other parent, “I hate you. Don’t tell me you love me.” It can be very important to make sure your client is allowed to record conversations between the alienating parent and the child, whether these exchanges take place via phone, Skype, FaceTime, or another technology. If your client obtains a restraining order, make it clear in the order that these communications can be recorded.

Text Messaging

Many parents use text messaging to communicate with each other about their children. The content of a text message becomes a permanent written record. Advise your client always to be polite in text messages and only to convey what is essential about the children. The only time your client should respond to the other parent about an issue unrelated to the children is if the alienating parent accuses your client of a crime. Your client should immediately respond, “This is not true,” and continue to text about the children. Your client does not need to explain himself or herself to the accuser.

It is also important that your client save or capture screenshots of all text messages exchanged with the other parent, for legal purposes. Ask your client, if possible, to send you images of any accusatory or alienating texts in chronological order; you can use these messages to help make a case for the disturbing behavior of the alienating parent when you go before a judge or a government agency representative.

Monitored Visits

If the other parent is dangerous, abusive, alienating, or a substance abuser, insist on monitored visits for your client’s children. However, be very careful about the monitoring agency that you advise your client to use. Remember that the monitoring agency is frequently paid by the supervised parent. If the reports are good, the supervised parent continues with that monitor. If the reports are bad, the supervised parent pushes to fire the monitor. Whenever possible, ask your client to keep a journal of what transpires at the exchanges and when the children return. Are the children acting differently? Are they hungry? Did they meet strange people? Do they begin to disobey your client?

If your client uses Our Family Wizard (software that helps divorced parents manage their children’s schedules), insist that your client record the events in that program. If the monitor writes lengthy reports praising the alienating parent, there may be something wrong, as the monitors’ reports should be factual and unbiased. Make certain the monitor’s reports are consistent with what really happened, based on your knowledge of the facts and your records. Don’t allow false statements to become part of any record. If you don’t like a monitor or if this individual is not doing his or her job correctly, report the problems to the monitoring agency and to the court, and get a replacement.

Friends and Family

Children naturally want to feel safe and happy. It is crucial for you to advise your clients to surround themselves with good friends and family members so that their children feel secure and content. Alienating parents are usually loners, as their actions have pushed away most logical adults. Therefore, it is important for your clients to have normal lives and encourage their children to go on play dates, participate in school outings, and be able to observe non-alienating behavior. Children naturally prefer composed and easygoing parents to those who are always creating negativity. Moreover, children’s services organizations respect parents who have a solid network of friends and family.

It Takes a Village

It is extremely important for attorneys who represent alienated parents to seek out free assistance from the community. Do not be shy about asking your client to obtain declarations from as many supportive professionals and unbiased individuals as possible. The other side can pay for an “expert witness” to say whatever they want to prove alienating behavior from your client, but it is impossible to pay witnesses who are good parents themselves, and who care for the well-being of your client’s children. Seek those witnesses help or subpoena them.

Truth

Many alienating parents are liars. They lie to their children, the courts, their own attorneys, the schools, and whomever they can in order to keep their children from loving the other parent. Alienated parents have to protect themselves from the continuous lies; the truth is what will save them. Explain to your client how important it is to be brutally honest when children ask questions. (Studies show that honesty is the best defense against parental alienation.) If a subject is too mature for a child, the parent should provide an age-appropriate response and explain that they will discuss this adult subject at a future time. Ethical attorneys will even help their clients explain their current legal circumstances to children in a manner that is healthy and honest.

Patience

In parental alienation cases, experts say that the alienated parents put in extra effort to not resort to the same tactics. Attorneys of alienated parents have to be more patient with these clients than with those who are not experiencing parental alienation. Alienated parents are usually caring individuals who are constantly harassed by the other parent and must repeatedly defend themselves against things they never did. Many of these clients have suffered from a form of PTSD due to years of appeasing the alienating parent. I strongly suggest that attorneys have extra sympathy for these clients so that they are able to cope with the situation and continue to guide and love their children.

Challenge the Other Side

Alienated parents who are always looking out for their children’s best interests tend to retain the services of well-intentioned attorneys who also look out for the children’s best interests and view having a two-parent family as important. Good people seek out good professionals. By the same token, narcissistic alienating parents who are only looking at what is important for them often hire law firms that encourage alienating behavior. If you are an attorney who is facing such an adversary, you have to point out to the court everything that is wrong with the other side’s declarations, witness reports, selection of monitors, selection of evaluators, etc. You cannot allow anything false or inaccurate to go unchallenged or unnoticed. As judges are overworked and understaffed, they may need your help to remind them of the details of every case. It is your obligation to point out any concerns. Re-read stipulations and orders prepared by the other side several times before you agree to them and consider having an objective colleague also read documents prepared by opposing counsel. If the other side recommends a monitor, evaluator, or psychologist, research the suggested person or have your client interview him or her. Do not simply agree because you want to “cooperate.” Do not assume that everyone is as prepared or as ethical as you are.

Alienating parents, who are represented by law firms that are more concerned about billable hours than about the psychological effects of alienating behavior on innocent children, must be stopped. It is up to good-intentioned and ethically moral attorneys like you to stop the abuse caused by parental alienation.

Notes

  1. Jayne Major, “Parental Alienation (PA) & Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)” (Major Family Services, 2010).

  2. Amy J. L. Baker, Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome: Breaking the Ties That Bind (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2007).

  3. P. Garcia, “Helping Your Clients When Parental Alienation Happens,” Valley Lawyer Magazine (May 2013): 30.

  4. “Recording Telephone Calls: State-by-State Directory,” Mr.CustodyCoach.com, http://www.mrcustodycoach.com/blog/resources/recording-telephone-calls-laws-state-by-state-directory.

http://familylawyermagazine.com/articles/protecting-your-clients-in-parental-alienation-cases-when-the-courts-don%E2%80%99t

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

Protect Yourself and Your Kids from a Toxic Divorce, False Accusations, and Parental Alienation

“When three great minds like these collaborate, a prism is created through which a light of wisdom can shine in the darkest of places. A mustread for all people touched by this unfathomable dilemma.”
—Judge Michele Lowrance (ret), mediator and author of The Good Karma Divorce and Parental Alienation 911

“In each journey through parental alienation, it is easy to lose the way. What seems to be a clear and just path in navigating family court is not always reality. Amy J. L. Baker, Brian Ludmer, and J. Michael Bone have given alienated parents a comprehensive road map that allows them to make their journey through this highly emotional period with level heads and hearts. The authors’ work empowers readers and leaves them feeling revived, secure, and confident as they travel to their final destination: reunification with their children.”
—Jill Egizii, president of the Parental Alienation Awareness Organization, USA

“The HighConflict Custody Battle is a joint effort by writers with complementary skills and expertise: Amy J. L. Baker, PhD, is a research psychologist who has studied child psychological abuse; J. Michael Bone, PhD, is a clinical and forensic psychologist; and Brian Ludmer, BComm, LLB, is an attorney whose practice focusses on high conflict family law. The three authors have created a book that is both scholarly and highly practical, which will be helpful for mothers and fathers who find themselves coping with a difficult, overly litigious marital separation or divorce. The book addresses in detail the personal and legal crises that frequently occur in highconflict divorce, such as parental alienation; allegations of domestic violence and child sexual abuse; and undertaking a child custody evaluation. It is notable that the authors acknowledge that all the participants in these legal battles have both flaws and biases, so no one is expected to be perfect. Although this book is primarily intended for divorcing parents, it will also be good reading for mental health and legal professionals, including judges.”
—William Bernet, MD, professor emeritus in the department of psychiatry, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN

“Having recently tried the most publicized parental alienation case to a successful conclusion, I highly recommend this book for parents coping with an alienating spouse. The authors have provided an effective guide to assist parents through difficult litigation. This book should be read by every targeted parent.”
—Jim Pritikin, fellow of The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

About the Author
Amy J. L. Baker, PhD, has a doctorate in developmental psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University, and is a professional writer and researcher. She is the author of Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome and coauthor of Coparenting with a Toxic Ex, among other books and articles on parental alienation and parentchild relationships.

J. Michael Bone, PhD, has a doctorate from the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science of the New School for Social Research in New York, NY. He has served as a mental health expert, consultant, and advisor to the court on parental alienation cases around the United States, and maintains a consulting practice in Florida.

Brian Ludmer, BComm, LLB, is an attorney whose practice is based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He has a Bachelor of Commerce (1982) and Bachelor of Law (1985) from the University of Toronto. Ludmer has practiced corporate and securities law for twentyseven years and in parallel he conducts a family law practice focused on situations involving custody disputes, child estrangement, and parental alienation, as well as high net worth divorce litigation and business valuation.

http://www.amazon.com/High-Conflict-Custody-Battle-Accusations-Alienation-ebook/dp/B00MQCLJI2/ref=sr_1_16?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1432831890&sr=1-16&keywords=parental+alienation

Posted in Alienation, Amy J. L. Baker, Experts, Parental Alienation PA, PASG, William Bernet

Lost Parents: When High Conflict Divorce Leads to Parental Alienation

The space of time sandwiched between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day can bring unique anguish for people whose children have become alienated from them through a high conflict divorce.

Parental alienation happens when a child becomes enmeshed with one parent, strongly allying himself or herself with that parent, and rejects the other parent without legitimate justification. These children are encouraged by one parent, the favored parent or alienating parent, to unjustly reject the other parent, the targeted parent. The children can fall prey to the alienating parent’s tactics as a means of escaping the conflict.

According to psychiatrist Dr. William Bernet, professor emeritus of Vanderbilt University and a researcher into the phenomenon, “Almost every mental health professional who works with children of divorced parents acknowledges that PA—as we define it—affects thousands of families and causes enormous pain and hardship.” (Parental Alienation, AACAP News, Sept 2013, pp. 255-256.)

Bernet and other researchers refer to eight criteria for diagnosing parental alienation, including a campaign of denigration against the targeted parent, the child’s lack of ambivalence, frivolous rationalizations for the child’s criticisms against the target parent, reflexive support of the alienating parent against the target parent, the child’s lack of guilt over exploitation and mistreatment of the target parent, borrowed scenarios, and the spread of the child’s animosity toward the target parent’s extended family or friends.

These criteria sound academic but their effect is exquisitely awful in the most human and primal way. The child basically constructs an alternate reality where the parent is some kind of monster. There’s no longer any sense of the parent as a human being with the ordinary nuances of the gray scale, or as a good-enough parent; the parent’s actions and statements are twisted, distorted, and massaged to “prove” that the parent is unworthy of contact.

Children will adamantly maintain that they themselves have compiled their list of rationalizations for the parentectomy in progress. This is called the independent thinker phenomenon.

For a parent who would willingly give his or her heart or liver to a beloved child who needs it, it’s a nightmarish turn of events. The pain is surreal, and it’s frequently heightened both by outright viciousness on the child’s part and by the child’s complete lack of remorse about the way he or she has treated the targeted parent. The child feels entitled to demonize the targeted parent and justified in doing so, and therefore entitled to behave with extreme nastiness toward the parent.

Amy J. L. Baker, PhD, one of Bernet’s research colleagues, writes about seventeen primary strategies used by the alienating parent to foster conflict and psychological distance between the child and the targeted parent.

2015-05-21-1432235958-4142575-rsz_38428480_s.jpg

These include poisonous messages to the child about the targeted parent in which he or she is portrayed as unloving, unsafe, and unavailable, such as, “your mother is a rage monster who shames you”; erasing and replacing the targeted parent in the heart and mind of the child, “you can trust mommy, she doesn’t judge and malign you like daddy does”; encouraging the child to betray the targeted parent’s trust, “how bad was daddy this weekend?”; and undermining the authority of the targeted parent, “your mom’s rules don’t apply, you don’t have to listen to your mother, do whatever you want.”

The targeted parent can feel bewildered when witnessing the alienating parent’s strategies, because the distance itself is so unthinkable. It doesn’t feel real in the context of a history of a normal loving relationship with a son or daughter. It’s shocking and heart-rending when those toxic tactics succeed. “Alienation occurs when one parent gives the child permission to break the other parent’s heart,” Baker notes.

Older children can be particularly eloquent and cutting in their reasons for rejecting a parent while simultaneously insisting that the parent has rejected them. A parent trying with the greatest love to effect rapprochement can find older children completely recalcitrant.

“They must choose between the pain of self-inflicted alienation and torture on the one hand and the hard work of life: working it out with people with whom you should work it out. Free will. It is their choice,” said one psychiatrist. But do they even know they have a choice, after having basically been brainwashed to despise a parent?

In an extensive program of research, Baker has found that children exposed to the 17 primary parental alienation strategies and those who become alienated suffer in the long run, as do their parents. “To turn a child against a parent is to turn a child against himself,” she says.

Some groups oppose the concept. Some advocates of victims of domestic violence and child abuse claim that there is no such thing, that children reject a parent only when the parent has been abusive. Dr. Richard Gardner, a psychiatrist who formulated a specific theory of parental alienation syndrome, was roundly criticized. To this day, parental alienation per se has not been incorporated into the DSM-5.

Fortunately, thanks to the efforts of Bernet, Baker, and colleagues, the spirit of parental alienation recently made its way into the DSM, even if the exact term “parental alienation” has not. There are now diagnoses that reflect the mental illness of this terrible phenomenon, in particular parent-child relational problem and child affected by parental relationship distress.

Of child affected by parental relationship distress, Bernet writes, “It is an important new diagnosis used ‘when the focus of clinical attention is the negative effects of parental discord (eg, high levels of conflict, distress, or disparagement) on a child in the family, including effects on the child’s mental or other physical disorders.’”

To study this sad phenomenon and to educate the public, Bernet founded the Parental Alienation Study Group (PASG). PASG is an international, not-for-profit corporation with about 220 members – mostly mental health and legal professionals – from 32 countries. PASG members are also interested in developing and promoting research on the causes, evaluation, and treatment of parental alienation.

For a targeted parent, it can help to know that there is support. In addition to the PASG website, there are several books, some good ones written by Baker herself. There are therapists and coaches who can offer compassionate support and strategies for responding to the alienating tactics without becoming engulfed in anger or despair.

Alienation can last for many aching years but reconciliation is a possibility. There’s no making up the lost time, but the parent sometimes is found again.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/traci-l-slatton/lost-parents-when-high-co_b_7400462.html

Posted in Alienated children, Alienation, Amy J. L. Baker, Antisocial Personality Disorder, Brainwashing - Mind Control, Experts

PREREQUISITES TO BRAINWASHING

PREREQUISITES TO BRAINWASHING:- my own adult children have been subjected to every one of these since the ages of 11 and 13 – where do you go from here????

(Programming parents need be effective in at least one of these measures, with the objective being to create psychological dependence and to prevent exposure to competing views of reality.)

  1. Isolation: Parents who have the most access to the children tend to be more effective at the brainwashing, but this is not a pre-requisite. Parents with little access can also alienate their children. (See my post: https://waiting4ethan.wordpress.com/2015/02/27/whose-fault-is-alienation-the-gender-question). The alienator will sabotage visits with the other parent one way or another to reduce their time, restrict communication, and screen phone calls. Gradually, the time the child spends with the Target Parent is reduced to zero. Isolation leads the child to becoming more and more dependent on the alienating parent. The negative messages about the Target Parent eventually become ‘the truth’ because there is no access to people who can offer the child any competing views.
  2. Stripping: The emotional and symbolic connection with the Target Parent is broken through stripping. The child is ‘stripped’ of any reminders of the Target Parent, whether physical (photos, gifts received from the Target Parent) or simply conversational.
  3. Fear: The Favored Parent demonstrates aggressive behavior, lashes out at the Target Parent in front of the child. The child does not want to become the next target. To the child, it is ‘safer’ to choose the parent who is abusive. In some cases, the child has also been a victim of abuse (aside from the alienation efforts) from the alienating parent.
  4. Age: While Dr. Warshak doesn’t list age as a prerequisite factor in Chapter 5, he does point out in his book “Divorce Poison” that children ages 9 to 12 are the most susceptible to alienation.

OVERT AND COVERT TACTICS:

  1. Names: Alienators will encourage the child to use the Target Parent’s first name, signifying that the Target Parent does not deserve the respect that accompanies being a parent. The child may also hear the Target Parent referred to as a “witch” or other perjorative labeling that the child will use the same terminology.
  2. Repetition: Per Dr. Amy J. L. Baker, the alienator will repeatedly (overtly or covertly) convey to the child the that “basically that parent doesn’t really love you, they’re not really around, they’re not really doing anything to take care of you and in some cases, the message is that person is dangerous.” “In fact, studies have found that if just one person repeats the same opinion three times, it has a whopping 90 percent chance of converting three different people in the group to have the same opinion.” http://www.cracked.com/article_21309_6-incredible-ways-you-can-use-words-to-brainwash-people.html
  3. Selective Attention: This tactic is a “potent image shaping tool” whereby the alienator capitalizes on the child’s natural mixed feelings (all healthy children have mixed feelings about both parents) of the Target Parent by selectively magnifying the minor negative thought the child may have had and making it into a reason worthy of rejecting the other parent. At the same time, the alienator will intentionally leave out any mention of positive aspects of the Target Parent. This tactic can be obvious, or very calculatingly subtle. “While braiding her daughter’s hair, a mother asked, “Does Daddy do this for you?” (pg. 154 Divorce Poison)
  4. Judging Behavior out of Context: This tactic is a way to train the child to misinterpret the Target Parent’s behavior to always support the message that the parent does not love the child, is unavailable, and is unsafe. The Target Parent who is working long hours and cannot take time off from work to come to the child’s sporting event is judged by the alienator to the child as selfish and unloving.
  5. Exaggeration: The Target Parent who has started to date occasionally is portrayed to the child in an exaggerated way, e.g., preoccupied with men/women. Exaggerated messages that are repeated enough times will become integrated into the growing distortion of the Target Parent.
  6. Lying: Blatant lies may be told particularly if the child has been resistant to the brainwashing tactics described above. “Though such behavior is common among psychotic parents who have lost touch with reality, it also occurs among less disturbed people.” (Divorce Poison, Ch. 6)
  7. Revisionist History: The alienator devalues the formerly warm, close relationship the child and Target parent have/had. The alienator will review the pre-divorce family life with the child in the terms that supports the alienator’s distorted view. Especially if isolated from the Target Parent, the child will gradually adopt this revised family history, sometimes to the point that the child demonstrates a form of amnesia.
  8. Suggestions, Innuendos, and Implications: These are the more sneaky and subtle ways to program the child that can be especially potent and more difficult to prove. Dr. Amy J. L. Baker provides a good example of this category in an interview. Dr. Baker explains that, “It’s the trick that the alienating parent — one of their strategies — is that they send their kids for visitation trying to have a big fight with the targeted parent. The targeted parent often takes the bait and then they end up spending the whole visitation fighting with their kids. Then, the kid leaves and goes, “Mom’s right! Dad is unsafe. All he did was yell at me all weekend.”http://www.pvmhmr.org/82-parenting/article/14784-wise-counsel-interview-transcript-an-interview-with-amy-j-l-baker-phd-on-parental-alienation
  9. Exploitation: The alienator will support and encourage the child’s efforts to denigrate and disrespect the Target Parent. It is another expression of alienation.
  10. Projection: An Alienator’s repeated accusations about the Target parent that have no basis in reality are actually self-descriptive.  Don’t dismiss cues of projection just because it seems too obvious. These texts from an alienator to a Target parent shed light into what the alienator subconsciously thinks about himself and his own real danger he presents to the child. He wrote:

    You are absolutely crazy, a bad person. You are angry and bitter. [The child] is downright scared of you. [The child] is a prisoner in your own home…don’t get mad or defensive…stop ignoring [your] deficiencies and embrace them…deeply concerned at the prospects of your current mental state…Is something wrong that I don’t know about? You do need help! Holy Shit!…I’m very scared for the children to be in your custody…I’m going to do everything in my power to make you undergo psychological evaluation to confirm you are fit to have the children. I really do not think you are [fit to have the children]…I am very sad for the kids…scared for their well-being…I feel very sad for [the child] to continually suffer at he hands of your actions…I am very sad the kids are continually being adversely impacted…[you are] immature…[a] joke…manipulative…petty…There will come a day when the kids’ opinions will matter. You are not going to like that day. Personally, I can’t wait for that day. You are having a hard time differentiating between your feelings and the right of the kids to have their own feelings. You need to talk to someone with whom you can be totally honest.

  11. Rationalization: “A lie that is intended to seem plausible.” The alienator will rationalize to defend their own behavior…and attempt to convince themselves and others that they did nothing wrong. It can also be used to make the Target parent’s behavior look bad.
  12. Holier Than Thou: The child is exposed to the alienating parent’s particularly self-righteous hatred for the other parent. Children are particularly suggestible to this tactic.
  13. The “Truth” : Alienators (and cult leaders alike) will talk about “the truth” repeatedly, which is code for their own distorted sense of reality. The child who is being brainwashed will have heard the alienator’s description of ‘the truth’ so many times, that if the child is interviewed by a court professional about whether or not he/she was coached, the child will proclaim that the parent only said for him/her to tell the truth!
  14. Overindulgence: Gifts, extra privileges, not expecting the child to partake in age appropriate responsibilities are all ways for the alienator to “avoid rejection of the child,” “counteract the malevolent associations built up by the programmer,” “cement the children’s alliance with them while furthering the alienation from the target parent.” This tactic is particularly effective if the child is kept from enjoying time with the Target Parent. One way to ensure that is for the alienator not to pay child support (if otherwise expected) so that the Target Parent is unable to afford the same quality of life.
  15. Encroachment: This tactic is something that is done while the Target parent still has custodial time with the child. The alienator will ‘encroach’ on this time in order to ensure that the brainwashing efforts are not diminished. The alienator will call the child multiple times and keep the child on the phone for lengthy conversations during this custodial time.
  16. Cloak and Dagger: This tactic is employed once the alienator is more confident in the child’s loyalty. The alienator will “instruct the children to keep secrets, to spy, and to report back to the other parent…An element of excitement accompanies such collusion and appeals to children of all ages.” The child may be asked to break into the Target Parent’s email, particularly to find communication between the Target Parent and a new boyfriend or girlfriend and then to deliver it back to the other parent.
  17. Cognitive Dissonance: The more the child behaves in a rejecting, hateful way to the Target Parent, the more the child needs to confirm that he truly feels hatred for the Target Parent. In general, people want to have their behaviors and thoughts/feelings match.
  18. Conspiracy: The alienator’s parents, siblings, and close family friends collectively put enormous pressure on the child to maintain loyalty only to the alienator and to reject the other parent.
  19. Tamper Resistant Packaging: A way to confirm and solidify that the child is brainwashed and will remain so going forward, the alienator will tell the child ‘signs’ to look for that in fact the other parent will try to brainwash the child. The alienator will tell the child that if the Target Parent tries to tell you certain things, i.e., rational messages that counter the brainwashing, then the child feels as though the alienator must be right because they knew ahead of time that the Target parent would try to ‘manipulate’ him/her.

Divorce Poison

Taken from https://waiting4ethan.wordpress.com/2015/03/05/23-parts-to-programming-your-child/