Stop Divorce Poison

The Huffington Post published my commentary today. Click the link at the end of this excerpt to see the full article at HuffPost. If you like it, and you have the time, it would be nice to leave a comment at the bottom of the article on HuffPost.

“Mother Theresa does not marry Saddam Hussein.” Judges and court-appointed psychologists recite this bromide when one parent complains about the other. It is meant to convey a sophisticated, balanced, it-takes-two-to-tango view of divorce-related conflict. The system labels these parents a “high-conflict couple,” and assumes that both contribute equally to their disputes. Talk show hosts blithely tell parents to stop fighting as if it is equally within each parent’s power to cease fire. Read the entire article.

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10 Responses to Stop Divorce Poison

  1. Annabelle Twilley Richardson says:

    Think your Huffington Past article is starting to go viral in the Parental Alienation community. Have seen it posted on Facebook a number of times, and also on a group site several times as well. For good reason. In a short space it describes the essence of what Parental Alienation is like, and also what is not Parental Alienation. Commenting on the Huffington Post site sounds a bit complicated, but hopefully, the postings on this blog can be added to what is messaged there.
    Thank you. Your passion is very evident in the way the article has been written.

    • Comments in Plutoverse remain here. If you want the comment to appear on The Huffington Post, you need to leave the comment there. I am not sure, but I think it is an easy process to leave a comment after my column on HuffPost. Regarding the article going viral, one thing I did not anticipate is how validating the article is for parents who are victims of divorce poison. People are letting me know that the article touched them, contributed to healing, and gave them a sense of being understood. Quite gratifying.

  2. [name withheld by blog admin] says:

    Dr Warshak, I know that your emphasis is on children young enough for the legal system to be involved, but I do hope you can occasionally discuss PAS issues as they pertain to adult children.

    My husband’s 22yo daughter has been alienated from him since shortly after his separation from her mother in 2002. His 28yo son swung back and forth between friendliness and hostility toward him several times over the same period. In the summer of 2008 their mother attempted to fraudulently collect extra child support from my husband, and in the ensuing email exchange the daughter suddenly broke her long silence to falsely accuse my husband of having touched her inappropriately in 2003. When he tried to defend himself, he received an email from his son, who apparently totally believed his sister, told my husband he should have admitted his “crime” and pled for forgiveness, and proceeded to cut him out of his life as well. We have not heard from either of them since.

    We know a fair amount about PAS by now, but we don’t know what to do next. My understanding is that we must wait for them to realise for themselves that their mother is dysfunctional (probably Paranoid Personality Disorder), but she is very skilled at playing the victim. How do you reach an adult child who is unable to see that he or she has been manipulated?

    • There is a section in Divorce Poison on reconciliation with adult alienated children. But I agree that this is not enough. I will keep your suggestion in mind when creating future posts in Plutoverse.

      Something that might help in your husband’s situation is for his son to learn that not all claims of abuse are true. In addition to the possibility that the allegation is true, investigators understand the need to explore alternative explanations for the allegations. If they occur in the context of a dispute over money, this factor needs to be considered along with other evidence. One way to get this message across to the adult son is for him to view television coverage of this issue. News magazine shows such as ABC 20/20, CBS 60 minutes, and Dateline NBC, occasionally show segments on false recovered memories of abuse, or on adult children who admit that they were coached to make false accusations when they were children. To anticipate objections to my comment, clearly one cannot simply dispute claims of abuse as bogus without careful investigation. And, the fact that an adult child recants earlier accusations does not automatically mean that the earlier accusations were false. In the case covered by 20/20, significant exonerating evidence that was withheld from the defense was uncovered twenty years after the father was sent to prison. The new evidence was so compelling, along with the adult children’s testimony, that the Governor commuted the man’s sentence, and the court eventually exonerated him of all charges.

      • Irene says:

        Thank you for the suggestion. My husband’s son does not respond to emails, but that does not mean he doesn’t read them. Maybe he would follow a link to a video if we can find an appropriate one to send him.

        • Some videos of TV segments in which I have discussed parental alienation can be found here. The CNN segment, from 2006, might be suitable. There was a CBS segment from 2006 that is good, but I do not think it is on my website yet. Also, the sample chapter from Welcome Back, Pluto, could help someone understand the problem from the rejected parent’s perspective. Click here to view the trailer and the sample chapter. Also, ABC 20/20 aired a show last week about children who retracted their accusations against their father.

      • cxf says:

        It reminds me of the emotional place many Germans in the Hitler Youth found themselves in. Hitler’s brainwashing programs had a cruel affect on these children. Even into their 80′s, these people, now adults, know and readily admit that Hitler was a vile, inhumane and oppressive dictator, yet they still carry a special affinity, even love toward him. This is the power of brainwashing and manipulating the affections of the child.

        There are very specific and distinct pathologies that lead people to emotionally corrupt a child to reject a loved one. I would go further and say that divorce is a secondary even a tertiary matter, as the factors that lead to child alienation probably existed during a couple’s marriage. As a pathology, the factors that lead to alienating behavior in a person exist, regardless of situational dynamics.

        I think that this issue is one of pathology and not one of circumstance. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say, “Oh, I have a cousin like that, or I have a brother in law that won’t let us see the kids.”

        The point being is that parental alienation is long lasting, and we don’t really know how it’s going to affect the child, but it WILL in some way affect the relationship between the child and BOTH parents.

        Hopefully, the child develops some necessary skills in independent and rational thinking. Otherwise, like a brainwashed Hitler Youth, the affinity to the emotionally abusive parent will always trump any attempt at reversing the affects of it.

    • [name withheld by admin] says:

      Hi- I was writing to thank you for referring me to [name withheld by admin]. We have met and have an on-going dialogue with the purpose of re-uniting me with my beloved and estranged daughter..and after reading this posting I had an “aha” moment that was satisfying only in that I felt understood, but not happy to see how horrible the consequences are for these families..my ex hired the most nasty, malicious, vicious atty in LA, to rip apart my personal, financial and legal world,and it has taken me 3 1/2 years to feel somewhat balanced and normal, but I thought it would kill me..he has told my daughter lies, slandered me at her school with parents, teachers and administrative persons and poisons her against me as we speak. He took her to [location withheld by admin[ on the pretext that I was an unfit mother although he traveled 99% of her life and was never a partner or co-parent. She refuses all contact with me and refuses to remember the closeness, joy and friendship we shared for 12 years...although everyone who knows me knows this...it kills me to see him use her and manipulate her for his ego..he is wealthy and charming (dr. jekyl and mr. hyde) and used that against me and to buy her affection-always wanting to be the "popular" dad--no curfew, unsupervised parties, under age drinking, pot,and sex in his house...my atty says I have no rights because she is 18...does some one have to die or get pregnant for me to have some legal or personal rights to my daughter? My goodness, he has alienated her and basically told her she had no mom that loved her and a bogus childhood..I am apalled that I cannot fight him for what I know is right and critical to her development..no one supports the mother with all this about-face to get dad's their rights...the pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction! How do I "wait for my daughter to realize" that her "sugar-daddy" used and manipulated her to get revenge against me? It's not magically just going to happen..I can't just sit by and watch this go on..her childhood was blessed and joyful, and I loved her before she was born, and he has systematically destroyed that memory and reality for her..I am disgusted by the legal system that favors men and lets rich men trash their wives and abandons these kids at 18..that is not an adult, by any stretch..what else can I do to reach her? We desperately need to do your course for re-connection, but no atty will help me now that she is 18. Any thoughts to help me? Many thanks, [name withheld by admin]

  3. Steve Buchanan says:

    I just read your article on huffington post. I wonder how many people it will reach? I remember the first time that an ‘authority’ told me that it takes 2 to make a marriage fail and that I must accept responsibility for what I did wrong in the marriage. I asked the expert if that’s what he counsels all of the battered spouses to do.

    • Some professionals do appear to operate with such a double standard. Research has identified factors associated with a parent’s physical abuse of children, including, for example, the passivity of the non-abusive parent, and characteristics of the children. Yet, we do not hold the non-abusive parent or the child as responsible for the abuse. This would amount to blaming the victim. Instead, society’s priority is to protect the children from further abuse regardless of the complex family dynamics that contribute to the problem.