Posted in Parentification

The debate around the inclusion of Parental Alienation in DSM-5

Trainee Prize Award Winner
Psychopathology and theconceptualisation of mental disorder:The debate around the inclusion of Parental Alienation in DSM-5
Sue Whitcombe
Content and Focus:
This paper will briefly consider the general conceptualisation of mental disorder before focusing on the specific case of Parental Alienation (PA), variously termed a disorder or a syndrome.By virtue of the recent debate surrounding its potential inclusion in the newest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), this is a topical example. A critical analysis of the petition for its inclusion within DSM-5 will both highlight the range of professionals’ views, and also consider ethical and practical issues inherent in the conceptualisation of a mental disorder and its classification within the evolving DSM. Following this general and specific conceptualisation of mental disorder, the tensions that diagnosis raises for counselling psychology will be briefly deliberated. The positive aspects of classification and diagnosis will be acknowledged, whilst highlighting the focus on the subjective experience of individual clients.
Despite the controversy about the concept, validity and reliability of PA, the evidence suggests that there is more agreement than disagreement among practitioners and professionals in the field. Whilst there is a general consensus that alienation exists within a distinct population who would benefit from intervention, there is no consensus on its inclusion in DSM-5. Irrespective of its inclusion in any nosology,the recent debate has highlighted the need for further research. A greater understanding of the processes,symptoms and behaviours involved in PA will enable the needs of children and families involved in high- conflict separation to be better addressed.

Posted in Alienation

Parental Alienation – Westermarck effect

Parental Alienation – Westermarck effect

One of the outcomes of PA that is not well known, documented or discussed is the Westermarck effect in some families. To understand it you first have to know about

Oedipus complex
Oedipus complex denotes the emotions and ideas that the mind keeps in the unconscious, via
dynamic repression, that concentrates upon a child’s desire to sexually possess the parent of
the opposite sex (e.g. males attracted to their mothers, whereas females are attracted to their

I suggest you follow the Wikipedia link at the footnotes and read up on the subject.
The Normal Moral household
Before discussing the Westermarch effect I need to discuss the normal household. Several actions
between a parent and child of the opposite sex is innocent – e.g. (cultural differences should be
taken into consideration)
• daughter waking up early and jump in bed with Mommy and Daddy on Daddy’s
• Mommy entering the bathroom while the son is bathing, to make sure he washes
under his arms.
• Daddy hugging daughter and in the process his one hand might be near her
• Sister walks into Brother’s room without knocking and see him not fully dressed.
• Father see daughter walking out of the bathroom wrapped only in a towel and
the towel is today a little too high.

In most cultures the above examples is not seen as criminal. The natural morals in most
1 households will also ensure that it does not
develop into a sexual issue.

This also teaches the child and the parent the sexual taboos of life.

Alienated Parents or Siblings
In the case of alienated parents or siblings, the natural normal moral experience is lost. Brother
and sister is not siblings any more but male and female. Mother and son or father and daughter is
not parent and child – they are persons of the opposite sex.
This is the main cause of sexual dysfunction in alienated siblings or parents.
Westermarck effect The Westermarck effect2, or reverse sexual imprinting, is a hypothetical psychological effect through which people who live in close domestic proximity during the first few years of their lives become desensitized to later sexual attraction.

Genetic sexual attraction is a seldom-talked about phenomenon that frequently occurs
between separated siblings through foster care or adoption or child and estranged parent.

It describes feelings of intense intimacy between two relatives who have been separated during
the critical years of development and bonding,and then meet for the first time as adults.

Due to the extended separation the brain struggles to associate the other part as family and
they become captivated with one another,sharing similar physical features, likes and
dislikes, which is coupled with complex feelings of intimacy. This can lead both parties to express
their emotions sexually.

Alienated parents and grown up children should know about this