Alienation Versus Alienation Syndrome
I should note that parental alienation differs slightly from parental alienation syndrome, a term coined 20 years ago by psychiatrist Richard Gardner, and which is not the subject of this article. Parental alienation syndrome, or PAS, is defined as “a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child-custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent’s indoctrinations and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the target parent.” Although PAS is not recognized as a disorder by the medical or legal communities, and in fact is heavily criticized by legal and medical professionals, it is closely related to parental alienation, which is recognized as a factor in family law cases, particularly those involving custody. Psychologists differentiate between parental alienation and PAS by linking parental alienation with behaviors exhibited by the parents, while PAS is characterized as a rejection or hatred of a targeted parent by the child.