Parental Alienation Is A Pattern of Severe Psychological and Emotional Child Abuse

Posted on August 12, 2012. Filed under: story | Tags: , , |



by Dr. Randy Rand


Work product prepared by Dr. Randy Rand – January 27, 2005
Parental Alienation is a severe form of psychological abuse: Psychological maltreatment is a pattern of adult behavior, which is psychologically destructive to the child, sabotaging the child’s normal development of self and social competence. The following are 6 types of psychological maltreatment involved in parental alienation:
Rejecting: The children’s legitimate need for a relationship with the hated parent and the family of the hated parent are rejected. Rejecting involves behaviors that communicate or constitute abandonment. Who the children are as developing young people is rejected.
Ignoring: The children feel neglected and abandoned by the alienating parent’s emotional unavailability. The children have to take care of the alienating parent. The alienating parent is so absorbed in hating the rejected parent and manipulating the children’s loyalties by selectively withholding love and attention and approval. Feeling insecure about the anger the alienating parent has toward hated parent, the children seek attention and approval by saying bad things about the hated parent.
Isolating: The alienating parent isolates children by restricting normal social relationships so children won’t foster autonomy and independence.
Terrorizing: The children are verbally assaulted by the alienating parent, who creates a climate of fear, bullies and frightens the children, making them believe the target parent is hostile and a threat. The alienating parent makes the children believe that the world is capricious and hostile.
Corrupting: The children are mis-socialized by the alienating parent, reinforced for manipulative, deviant or aggressive behavior that serves the PAS agenda, even to the point of being destructive to self and/or others. In false allegations of abuse, the children are barraged with deviant behavior, taught to lie about the other parent and actively participate in perpetuating the deception. Corruption to the extent of lobbying for the legal system to sever and reject the target parents relationship with the children.
Interference with Social Competence and Self-Esteem: The drive to master interpersonal competence and work through interpersonal conflict gets squelched. This deprives the child of learning healthy self-esteem, that of knowing oneself, being accountable for one’s actions, and acting responsibly toward others and self. Instead the child learns maladaptive patterns of manipulating and acting aggressive towards others. The child fails to learn empathy, a critical condition for successful adult functioning. Instead they learn to be paranoid and adopt the pathology of the alienating parent.
Damage to the alienated children
· Pathology – a life of maladaptive patterns of thinking, behaving and relating.
· Anti social stance, don’t need to respect authority or conform to social rules.
· Can’t defer immediate gratification for long term goals, do what feels good and do it now. They become conflict avoiding or adopt an aggressive bullying
strategy for winning over conflict.
· Absence of shame or guilt.
· Absence of empathy or sympathy
· Impairment of the ability to form stable human relationships.
· Deceitfulness: Lie with a straight face. Accepting antisocial life stance
· Manipulation and aggression versus negotiating and interpersonal skills.
· Irresponsibility, disloyalty and betrayal, are what the alienated children live with.
Children are eager to have a relationship with both parents in a divorce.
· Longitudinal studies reveal that children in alignments are less psychologically healthy compared to those children who are allowed to maintain their affection for both parents.
· Aligned children are angrier, less well adjusted, and less able to conceptualize complex situations.
· They express self-confidence because they are taking a stand but it is a false sense of confidence based on anger and rejection.
· The children who reject one parent and refuse visitation are the most noticeably disturbed children and their alliances are usually with the more psychologically dysfunctional parent.
· The alienated pre-adolescent and adolescent children do not reunite with the target parent, and the estimated small number that do seek out the target parent during young adulthood, do so with lots of excess baggage because they come to it with a false history.
· Sibling relationships are usually permanently damaged when the oldest child influences the youngest toward the alignment and rejecting one parent.

The steps in the alienation process:
“Brainwashing” was defined as the interactional process by which the child was persuaded to accept and elaborate on the program. Brainwashing occurs over time and involves repetition of the program, or code words referring to the program, until the subject responds with attitudinal and behavioral compliance.
According to Clawar and Rivlin, the influence of a programming parent can be conscious and willful or unconscious and unintentional. It can be obvious or subtle, with rewards for compliance that were material, social or psychological. Noncompliance may be met with subtle psychological punishment such as withdrawal of love, or direct corporal punishment. The Clawar and Rivlin study found that children might be active or passive participants in the alienation process. The nature and degree of the child’s involvement in the PAS may change over time.
This study identifies the influential role of other people in the child’s life, such as relatives and professionals aligned with the alienating parent, whose endorsement of the program advances the brainwashing process. In a general way, these findings appear to replicate Johnston’s research on high conflict divorce which identified the importance of third party participants in parental conflicts. Rand noted the influence of so-called “professional participants in Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy type abuse which in divorce can overlap with PAS.
Clawar and Rivlin identify eight stages of the programming- brainwashing process, which culminates in severe Parental Alienation Syndrome (7). Recognizing the power imbalance between parent and child, they view the process as driven by the alienating parent who induces the child’s compliance on a step by step basis:
1) A thematic focus to be shared by the programming parent and child emerges or is chosen. This may be tied to a more or less formal ideology relating to the family, religion, or ethnicity;
2) A sense of support and connection to the programming parent is created;
3) Feeling of sympathy for the programming parent is induced;
4) The child begins to show signs of compliance, such as expressing fear of visiting the target parent or refusing to talk to that parent on the phone;
5) The programming parent tests the child’s compliance, for example, asking the child questions after a visit and rewarding the child for “correct” answers;
6) The programming parent tests the child’s loyalty by having the child express views and attitudes, which suggest a preference for one parent over the other;
7) Escalation/intensification/generalization occurs, for example, broadening the program with embellished or new allegations; the child rejects the target parent in a global, unambivalent fashion;
8) The program is maintained along with the child’s compliance, which may range from minor reminders and suggestions to intense pressure, depending on court activity and the child’s frame of mind.

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Parental Alienation Is Emotional Abuse of Children

Posted on August 10, 2012. Filed under: story | Tags: , , |

Published on June 28, 2011 by Amy J.L. Baker, Ph.D. in Caught Between Parents

Parental alienation is a set of strategies that parents use to undermine and interfere with a child’s relationship with his or her other parent. This often but not always happens when parents are engaged in a contested custody battle. There is no one definitive set of behaviors that constitute parental alienation but research with both parents and children has revealed a core set of alienation strategies, including bad-mouthing the other parent, limiting contact with that parent, erasing the other parent from the life and mind of the child (forbidding discussion and pictures of the other parent), forcing the child to reject the other parent, creating the impression that the other parent is dangerous, forcing the child to choose, and belittling and limiting contact with the extended family of the targeted parent.

Parents who try to alienate their child from his or her other parent convey a three-part message to the child: (1) I am the only parent who loves you and you need me to feel good about yourself, (2) the other parent is dangerous and unavailable, and (3) pursuing a relationship with that parent jeopardizes your relationship with me. In essence the child receives the message that s/he is worthless and unloved and only of value for meeting the needs of others. This is the core experience of psychological maltreatment (emotional abuse) as defined by the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC).

Research with “adult children” of parental alienation syndrome (that is, adults who believe that when they were children one parent turned them against the other parent) confirms that being exposed to parental alienation represents a form of emotional abuse. Furthermore, these adults reported that when they succumbed to the pressure and rejected one parent to please the other, the experience was associated with several negative long-term effects including depression, drug abuse,divorce, low self-esteem, problems with trusting, and alienation from their own children when they became parents themselves. In this way the cycle of parental alienation was carried forward through the generations. Thus, parental alienation is a form of emotional abuse that damages the child’s self esteem in the short run and is associated with life-long damage.

As is often true with other forms of abuse, the child victims of parental alienation are not aware that they are being mistreated and often cling vehemently to the favored parent, even when that parent’s behavior is harmful to them. This is why, mental health and legal professionals involved in cases of parental alienation need to look closely at the family dynamics and determine what the cause of the child’s preferences for one parent and rejection of the other parent are. If the favored parent is found to be instigating the alignment and the rejected parent is found to be a potential positive and non abusive influence, then the child’s preferences should not be strictly heeded. The truth is, despite strongly held positions of alignment, inside many alienated children want nothing more than to be given permission and freedom to love and be loved by both parents.

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