Posted in Alienation

The effects of neglect: emotional harm

This report is based on a number of premises concerning neglect and emotional harm, drawn from the robust research findings referred to in Section 4 (p29). Neglect of a child can take a variety of forms (see p15). Emotional harm is linked with neglect throughout the report. It is one possible outcome of all forms of maltreatment, and we draw attention to the strength of current evidence that all forms of neglect are particularly associated with damage to children’s emotional competence – their sense of identity, their self-esteem and confidence with others, in ways that compromise all of the Every Child Matters outcomes. Signs of such damage emerge from the pre-school years onwards and can endure into adulthood. Successful substitute care becomes increasingly hard to achieve (see p37, quote p47). This can happen whatever form neglect takes, and whether it is intentional or otherwise. 7 Neglect and other forms of maltreatment Emotional abuse is treated in this paper as a separate form of maltreatment often with implications of intended harm (see p15). It can co-exist with emotional and psychological neglect, particularly in the form of emotional unavailability, indifference or coldness.

Emotional abuse is treated in this paper as a separate form of maltreatment often with implications of intended harm (see p15). It can co-exist with emotional and psychological neglect, particularly in the form of emotional unavailability, indifference or coldness. The overlap between neglect and many other forms of maltreatment to children is one of the many challenges the report identifies. For example, over-discipline of a child by one parent may mask neglect by another, and adults’ problems often have a similar effect of making the child invisible. Neglect is associated with future maltreatment (p24) and the most serious and life-threatening abuse is often found to follow a history of increasing neglect (see p25). It is therefore vital to achieve consistency across agencies in the understanding and use of definitions by the various professionals involved, and in how these are applied to thresholds for action. Agencies should not revise their definitions and thresholds without full consultation, which may itself clarify issues of joint working. Otherwise the debate (“is this neglect?”) has to be repeated at length case by case, delaying the response to a child’s or a family’s needs. Professionals were unanimous in feeling that best practice should mean a sensitive but prompt and pre-emptive response to early signs of child neglect (i.e. if in doubt, respond), rather than the current prevalent “wait and see” approach, which was at best potentially damaging and at worst dangerous. The report describes tools that assist multi professional groups in achieving a more rapid joint assessment of neglect. It pulls out salient features of neglect identified in the study and proposes action points.

Posted in Parental Alienation PA

Fear, Obligation and Guilt (FOG)

Fear, Obligation And Guilt: How We Allow Loved Ones To Control Us

In their 1997 book, Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation and Guilt to Manipulate You, authors Susan Forward, Ph.D. and Donna Frazier state that “emotional blackmail is a powerful form of manipulation in which people close to us threaten to punish us for not doing what they want. Emotional blackmailers know how much we value our relationships with them. They know our vulnerabilities and our deepest secrets. They can be our parents or partners, bosses or coworkers, friends or lovers. No matter how much they care about us, they use this intimate knowledge to win our compliance.” According to Forward and Frazier, fear, obligation and guilt (“FOG”) are the tools of emotional manipulators.

“Emotional Blackmail” and “FOG”, terms coined by psychotherapist Susan Forward, Ph.D., are about controlling relationships and the theory that fear, obligation or guilt (“FOG”) are the transactional dynamics at play between the controller and the person being controlled.  Understanding these dynamics are useful to anyone trying to extricate themselves from the controlling behavior by another person and deal with their own compulsions to do things that are uncomfortable, undesirable, burdensome, or self-sacrificing for others.

Fear, Obligation and Guilt (FOG)

Posted in Alienation

Emotional Abuse – parental alienation

Dear Annie: I am so sad watching the devastating effect that parental alienation is having on my grandchildren, and I feel powerless to help them.

My daughter is the target of an ex-husband who is determined to turn their children against their mother. My 13-year-old granddaughter attempted suicide last week and went to a facility for several days. She is now getting therapy, but I don’t know whether the truth will come out about what is going on in this very messed-up family relationship.

I feel like asking my ex-son-in-law whether he loves his children more than he hates his ex-wife so he will realize who is being hurt most by his actions. My daughter went to counseling for a year before leaving her husband, and the counselor said her husband is very insidious with a narcissistic personality. She left him because he was controlling and emotionally abusive. She was supposed to have custody of the children, but her ex convinced the children that they did not want to leave their neighborhood, school and friends. My daughter did not fight it because it was what the children were encouraged to choose.

She also knows her ex-husband would use the children to hurt her. When she recently went to sign the final divorce papers, he said that if she tries to change the custody arrangement, she will never see her children again.

Is there any recourse for this kind of behavior? My daughter cannot afford to fight this in court, and we do not have the resources to help, either. — Sad Grandmother

Dear Sad: Parental alienation is very real and can happen to either parent. It can cause the children tremendous psychological harm that can last a lifetime if not addressed. Your daughter needs to document every instance where her ex has kept the children from her, encouraged the children to think ill of her, spoken negatively about her in front of the children or threatened her access to the children. At the same time, she should not become angry around her ex, because he will use it against her.

 We know it can be expensive to keep fighting in court, but this is a form of emotional abuse, and she needs to protect her kids as best she can before the damage is permanent. At the very least, suggest that she consult with an attorney who specializes in parental alienation cases.