More than 90% of people in Western cultures marry or form “permanent” relationships by age 50. And nearly 50% will divorce or split. Second marriages have an even greater chance of failure.
All divorces are painful and traumatic and children always suffer as a result of their parents’ split. But, while the parents may develop great antipathy toward each other most attempt to shield their children as much as possible from the emotional and psychological damage inherent in the family’s dissolution. In some cases, however, when one parent is afflicted with a personality disorder he or she can inflict severe damage on the children which can result in Parental Alienation.
Pathological Narcissistic Personality Disorder is probably the most significant malevolent condition prevalent in one parent’s attempt to alienate children from the other. But different disorders have associated characteristics commonly identified with Parental Alienation and Parental Alienation Disorder.
Personality Disorders are at the core of Parental Alienation in families devastated by toxic divorce. Many ex-spouses who are victims of this tragic strategy fail to recognize the process for several reasons:
- PAD is often dismissed by social workers and family court judges because they have not been trained to recognize it and fail to understand that it is emotional child abuse with long term potential ramifications as serious as physical or sexual abuse.
- They are confused. They are trying to understand how and why a previously loving child has suddenly turned malicious or even violent.
- The alienated child can offer no reasonable explanation for their inexplicable changes in behavior.
- They are personally and emotional devastated by their child’s outbursts of vitriolic hate.
- Family courts and other professional organizations and agencies created to protect children and families have completely failed these victims.
- The American Psychological Association has not recognized and legitimized PAS as a true medical condition. The situation can be very confusing since the associated personality disorders are recognized but the resulting alienation is seen more as a dysfunctional relationship than a medical condition. Since the condition does not qualify as a “syndrome” it may be better at this point in time to refer to the alienation process as a “dynamic.”
- Although they typically suffer from acute personality disorders the perpetrators of PA may otherwise function successfully and are often viewed as good, productive citizens who would never actively commit child abuse.
- The courts and professional social organizations have been slow to take PA seriously because of the amount of fraud that has been identified in PA cases.
- The possibility of fraud Is a real problem since there is ample evidence that one parent in a toxic divorce might level false charges in an attempt to win sole custody of one or more children.