Thematic analysis is the process of identifying patterns or themes within qualitative data. Braun & Clarke (2006) suggest that it is the first qualitative method that should be learned as ‘..it provides core skills that will be useful for conducting many other kinds of analysis‘
This study investigated the targeted parent experience of parental alienation and alienating behaviors. One hundred and twenty-six targeted parents provided narratives in response to an open-ended question at the end of an online survey. Braun and Clarke’s (2006) thematic analysis framework was used to identify themes in the data. Six themes were identified illustrating targeted parents’ experience of parental alienation and alienating behaviors. Targeted parents described physical and emotional distance separating them from their child, emotional and financial costs associated with their engagement with “systems” such as legal systems and child protection systems. They described poor mental health and concern for their child’s psychological well-being. Targeted parents considered alienating behaviors to be a form of family violence. Additionally, targeted parents used active coping behaviors. It was concluded that further research is needed to better understand parental alienation. Mental health and legal professionals must collaborate to optimize support for targeted parents.
This study explored the experience of adults who had experienced parental alienation during childhood. Ten alienated adult children participated in 60 to 90-minute semi-structured interviews about their experience of parental alienation. Using Braun and Clarke (2006) thematic analysis framework, seven themes were identified. Participants described experiencing abuse perpetrated by the alienating parent. They described experiencing anxiety, depression, low self-worth, guilt, attachment problems, difficulty in other relationships, and reduced or delayed educational and career attainment that they attributed to their experience of parental alienation. These results demonstrated that children’s exposure to parental alienation may have lifelong ramifications for their psychological well-being.
Writing from the perspective of the courts, Canadian Justice Martinson (2010) points out that children who are the victims of parental alienation have “difficulty forming and maintaining healthy relationships” in adulthood and are at risk for “depression, suicide, substance abuse, antisocial behavior, enmeshment, and …Continue reading “What are the consequences of parental alienation?”
Objective: Parental alienation phenomenon was given an increased attention during the recent years in both the clinical and the legal fields. This study aims to introduce the development of a new parental alienation questionnaire. (2) Method: Four studies were performed. In the first two studies in which five specialists participated, the questionnaire was defined, and the inter-rater reliability was verified. The next study, which included 267 participants, sought to establish the construct validity by applying Exploratory Factor Analysis and Confirmatory Factor Analysis. The last study that enrolled 200 participants considered predictive validity as well as test-retest reliability. (3) Results: Eight criteria of parental alienation have been identified: Campaign of denigration, frivolous, weak, or absurd rationale for the alienation, lack of ambivalence towards the alienating, lack of guilt or remorse about the alienation, borrowed scenarios, independent thinker phenomenon, taking the alienating parent’s side in the conflict, and spread of alienation to the extended family of the targeted parent. (4) Conclusion: The results highlighted the proper psychometric qualities of the questionnaire. The Parental Alienation Questionnaire (PAQ) seems to be a promising tool not only for clinical and judicial practice, but also for research. View Full-Text
It must be stated from the beginning that not all the symptoms about to be mentioned occur in all children who are involved in the parental alienation syndrome scenario. There will also be some difference between the very young child and the older child who have more experience of the PAS process. Not all the symptoms mentioned occur in all children. However some symptoms undoubtedly will occur and effect the child unless some form of treatment is carried out which eliminates the impact of the alienating process:
- Anger is a common reaction of many children to the process of alienation. The anger however will be expressed towards the target parent as one sides with one of the parents in the relationship against the other. The fact the children are forced into this kind of situation causes considerable distress and frustration and the response often is to show aggressive behaviour towards the targeted parent in order to accommodate the programmer.
- Loss or a lack of impulse control in conduct. Children who suffer from PAS are not merely suffering from aggression but also often turn to delinquent behaviour. There is considerable evidence that fathers and their presence and influence can do much to prevent and alleviate the possibility of delinquency most especially in boys.
- Loss of self confidence and self esteem. Losing one of the parents through the programming procedure can produce a lack of self confidence and self esteem. In the case of boys identification with a male figure has been curtailed, especially if the alienated parent is the father.
- Clinging and separation anxiety. Children especially very young children who have been programmed to hate or disdain one of the parents will tend to cling to that parent who has carried out the programming. There is considerable anxiety induced by the programming parent against the target parent including threats that such a parent would carry out a great number of different negative actions against the child as well as the programming parent.
- Developing fears and phobias. Many children fear being abandoned or rejected now that they have been induced to feel that one of the partners in a relationship usually the father is less than desirable. Sometimes this results in school phobia that is fear of attending school mainly due to fear of leaving the parent who claims to be the sole beneficial partner in the formal relationship. Some children suffer from hyperchondriacal disorders and tend to develop psychological symptoms and physical illnesses. Such children also fear what will happen in the future and most especially there is a fear that the programming parent or only parent who is allegedly the “good parent” may die and leave the child bereft of any support.
- Depression and suicidal ideation. Some children who are so unhappy at the tragic break up of the relationship are further faced with animosity between the programming parent and the targeted parent. This leads to ambivalence and uncertainty and sometimes suicidal attempts occur due to the unhappiness which the child feels brought about by the two main adults in his or her life.
- Sleep disorders is another symptom which follows the parental alienation situation. Children frequently dream and often find it difficult to sleep due to their worries about the danger of the alienated parent and the guilt they may feel as a result of participating in the process of alienation.
- Eating disorders. A variety of eating disorders have been noted in children who are surrounded by parental alienation. This includes anorexia nervosa, obesity and bulimia.
- Educational problems. Children who are surrounded by the pressure of having to reject one parent having been less brain washed frequently suffer from school dysfunctions. They may become disruptive as well as aggressive within that system.
- Enuresis and Encopresis. A number of very young children due to the pressure and frustrations around them suffer from bed wetting and soiling. This is a response to the psychological disturbance of losing one parent and finding one parent inimical to the rejected parent.
- Drug abuse and self destructive behaviour frequently are present in children who have suffered from parental alienation. This tendency is due to a need to escape one’s feelings of the abuse they have suffered through the experience and the desire to escape from it. In the extreme such self destructive behaviour can lead to suicidal tendencies.
- Obsessive compulsive behaviour. This psychological reaction is frequently present in PAS children. Such children will seek to find security in their environment by adopting a variety of obsessive compulsive behaviour patterns.
- Anxiety and panic attacks are also frequently present in children who have been involved in PAS processes. This may be reflected through psycho-somatic disorders such as nightmares.
- Damaged sexual identity problems. As a result of the PAS syndrome children often develop identity problems especially as they may have failed to identify with one member of the originally secure relationship.
- Poor peer relationships may follow the PAS situation due to the fact that such children often are either very withdrawn in their behaviour or are aggressive.
- Excessive feelings of guilt. This may be due to the knowledge deep down that the ostracised parent who has been vilified has done nothing wrong to deserve the kind of treatment received by the child or children. When this view occurs the child especially when older begins to suffer from guilt feelings.
Children who are exposed to PAS suffer in a variety of general as well as specific ways from this experience. It will often have both temporary and lasting effects on their lives. This is obviously not the intention of the alienator but it is the result of such alienation procedures and programming which causes the child to show a negative attitude and behaviour towards one of the parents. To deal with this problem a variety of therapeutic techniques are required and these will be covered in another article.
No, I cannot recall ever seeing that occur. I’ve seen the opposite occur. That is, based on clinical experience, there appears to be a higher probability that an adult-child who perceives experiencing alienation in earlier years may eventually become an alienated parent.Continue reading “In your experience, if a child was alienated, is there a higher probably that he/she will become an alienator with their own children?”
Yes, after completing a comprehensive assessment of all members of an alienated family, it seems apparent that, for the most part, alienating parents have exhibited some type of psychological disorder or distress prior to the alienation. This may include, but is not limited to, prior engagement of child maltreatment, alcohol/substance abuse or dependence and/or a personality disorder.
In 2007, I conducted a quantitative research study to examine the long-term effects of PAS. The study’s findings demonstrated that adult children of divorce who perceived experiencing greater levels of PAS also perceived experiencing greater levels of psychological distress such as depression, anxiety, hostility, interpersonal sensitivity, obsessive compulsivity, paranoid ideation, phobic anxiety, hallucinations, delusions, and the presence of certain physical symptoms such as feelings of numbness, soreness, tingling, and heaviness in various parts of the body. To date, most researchers agree that alienated children, primarily in severe PAS cases, are less likely to re-establish a bond later in life with their rejected parents. Although not common, some children, youths and adult-children do change their minds. Some, for instance, eventually acknowledge that they have been programmed by an alienating parent and after intensive treatment interventions are able to reconcile their relationship with the rejected parent.