Maria Cristina Verrocchio
The recently published article by Clemente and Padilla-Racero made incorrect statements regarding Richard Gardner and the mental condition that he identified, parental alienation syndrome. Clemente and Padilla-Racero conducted research on children and concluded, ” Gardner’s ideas about parental alienation syndrome, and in particular the ease of parental manipulation of children, were not empirically verified. ” When we reviewed the data from their own research, we arrived at the opposite conclusion, i.e., that over 40% of child subjects, age 6 to 12, were manipulated by adult suggestion to describe a non-event. We conclude that the data of Clemente and Padilla-Racero were consistent with Gardner’s theory that a parent can influence a child to make false statements about the other parent and to develop false beliefs and ultimately false memories of non-events. That article, which features misinformation and methodological flaws, should be withdrawn from publication. Clemente and Padilla-Racero (2015) recently published a research paper in Children and Youth Services Review, which was titled, ” Are children susceptible to manipulation? The best interest of children and their testimony. ” The purpose of their research was to test empirically the concept of parental alienation syndrome (PAS), a clinical condition that was described 30 years ago by Richard Gardner (1985). We identified many serious problems with the research design of Clemente and Padilla-Racero, their conclusions, and the text of the published paper. We appreciate the willingness of the editorial staff of Children and Youth Services Review to consider the publication of this commentary , which we hope will clear up the misunderstandings and errors that appeared in the Clemente and Padilla-Racero article.