Existence of Parental Alienation Is Now Beyond Debate

Survey results just released show near unanimous agreement among professionals that children can be manipulated by one parent to turn against the other parent.

The survey was taken at the annual International Conference of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts. Approximately 1000 legal and mental health professionals attended a debate about whether parental alienation should be included in the future edition of the manual of official psychiatric diagnoses, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association – Fifth Edition, commonly known as the DSM-5.

About 300 people responded to the survey. Nearly every respondent, 98%, responded Yes to the question: “Do you think that some children are manipulated by one parent to irrationally and unjustifiably reject the other parent?”

Despite their contrasting opinions on the issue of whether the DSM-5 should include parental alienation, the debate panel agreed: “The survey results were overwhelming in support of the basic tenet of parental alienation: children can be manipulated by one parent to reject the other parent who does not deserve to be rejected.”

Respondents to the survey were divided about whether the rejected parent shares blame when the favored parent engages in alienating behaviors, what I call divorce poison. Although the panel have not yet explained this finding, it is the result I would expect because the question is ambiguous.

The roots of alienation differ among children. Like nearly every psychological disturbance in childhood, multiple threads make up the tapestry of the child’s personality. (See The Complex Tapestry of Parental Alienation.) When looking at the rejected parent’s contributions to the problem, we see a continuum from those whose behavior is primarily responsible for the problem, to those who contribute significantly and without whose contributions the children might not be alienated, to those whose contributions may not have helped the situation, but did not play any significant role in generating the children’s rejection. (See my Huffpost: Stop Divorce Poison.)

The division among survey responses may reflect nothing more than the respondents thinking about different types of cases. Had they been asked, “Do you believe there are some cases in which a rejected parent’s behavior has not contributed significantly to a child’s rejection?” it is likely that the responses would have approached the consensus found with respect to the issue of the existence of irrational parental alienation.

Also, the notions of cause of a problem and blame for it are complex. Legal dictionaries list many different types of causes. I discuss this in my training seminars and expect to blog about it in the future.

The panel expects to publish a more extensive analysis of the survey results. When they do, you can read about it here.

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7 Responses to Existence of Parental Alienation Is Now Beyond Debate

  1. Beatty says:

    It amazes me that this was even a topic of debate. Whether a syndrome or not – I understand THAT debate. But how was it even a question that there are parents out there who engage in this type of disturbing behavior? We live in a society where narcissism runs rampant. Where lying is not only allowed, but encouraged. It is an environment that breeds this kind of conduct.
    It’s a problem that the courts, however unintentionally seem to foster. Our court system is supposed to be based on evidence, not allegations. That, however, does not seem to a reality. People are rewarded for lying and manipulating.. When there is clear evidence that an individual is lying, nothing is done about it. In my opinion, if there is IRREFUTABLE evidence that somebody is deliberately lying, that needs to be taken more seriously. There’s always going to be deviations in anybody’s version of an event – ppl misremember, personal perspective comes into play… but there’s a significant difference between telling a major lie and having deviations in details/memory lapses. but when MAJOR claims are proven false by ACTUAL EVIDENCE, I feel that needs to be taken more seriously. Especially if such evidence is available and you did not seek it to support your allegations. If I were a judge, and you told me that you were “assaulted” in a monitored environment, my first thought it going to be “if this really happened, where’s the surveillance video?” I know that if *I* had been assaulted in a place that was under surveillance, I would most certainly be getting a subpeona or a public records request for that video. If it happened once, OK… maybe the thought didn’t occur to you. But 3 times? 4 times? 5 times and you make no effort to prove your claims? If you didn’t make the effort to gather the available evidence to prove/disprove you repeated claims, just how credible are you really? I’d be a bit suspicious.

    • I couldn’t Agree with you more in all that you said here. This is absolutely True! In my case, he who has the most gold wins. He stole all of our community funds and used is against me as he payed his attorney handsomely and the judges NEVER ordered to even the playing field. He then PERJURED himself with every declaration he wrote. I defended myself with declarations that not only spoke the Truth, but had back up to prove he was Lying. His hearsay won every time as I was slammed up against the wall with his barrage of lies and my arms laden heavy with ALL of my Proof were completely ignored; silenced, never even read.
      And each time we were to speak of having children returned to me; which was to be On Calendar, suddenly, he would have some Emergency to speak of that not only was calculatingly deflecting, but just more hearsay lies that I had to defend.

  2. Pingback: Existence of Parental Alienation Is Now Beyond Debate by Dr. Richard A. Warshak « Parental Alienation Disorder

  3. EC says:

    There are quite a few replies and posts already on this blogsite discussing what evidence matters and what does not in family court.

    Judges most of the time quickly recognize false allegations and don’t need to see further evidence one way or the other, but are very sensitive to intra-parental conflict and tend strongly toward ordering a very asymmetric parenting arrangement when they see it. Which parent becomes the dominate powerholder is determined largely by the status quo in the place of residence for the child, and who’s been the primary caregiver, which often results in the false accuser significantly enhancing their position, as calculated.

    To fix this requires provoking a re-examination of the prevailing doctrine that conflict between the parents precludes joint custody, much more than more rigorous handling of evidence.

    Legal discussions of `causation’ usually apply to tort law, and thus might matter to a parent seeking money damages as compensation for a campaign of alienation conducted against them, harming both them and their child, but has no precedential or other direct legal bearing on family court and custody orders.

  4. [name withheld by admin] says:

    Parental alienation. a concept that is so evident, prevalent..and not used as a factor in difficult divorces…has now truly been a source of strength and validation. I believe P.A. begins…many years before a divorce is even filed. I recall, vividly, with witnesses, that my daughter, then aged 7-13 years of age, was exposed to weekly comments denigrating her Mom’s family. Yet this was the consistently loving and supportive family she saw regularly. Because they did not have stock options and memberships in Country Clubs, they were beneath the girls’ status.

  5. Lee says:

    It is very frustrating to think that “professionals” would even consider putting blame on the targeted parent when the alienating parent is usually the one with primary custody. These parents have so much more time to do brainwashing and reprogramming that I believe it is abusive to say to the alienated parent, “It’s somehow your fault”. The targeted parent is the one having their relationships destroyed, their pocketbook drained, their lives turned upside-down and to have professionals add more to that is ridiculous. In my ex-daughter-in-law’s case she has been in contempt of court over 150 times in the last 10 years and NO ONE DOES ANYTHING to stop her! My son does not have the money to keep taking her to court so she just continues to emotionally and psychologically abuse the kids and ignore the court ordered parenting plan. If judges, G.A.L.’s, psychological “professionals” and attorney’s would stop supporting the alienating behavior when it first starts and have some balls to say what needs to be said to the court, the children affected by this abuse would be protected like they deserve to be. It is all about the money though isn’t it? I think the professionals involved should be held accountable for their part in abusing these children. It is like watching someone being murdered and standing there saying, “I’m not sure who is doing the killing.” I believe these people are as sick as those doing the alienation.

    I am also tired of hearing, “It is so hard for the courts to decide if alienation is really occurring”. Really and why is that? Because most parents who alienate are great liars and the court tends to believe them before believing the targeted parent? Or those involved have preconceived beliefs that the custodial parent is the “best” parent and many who alienate probably have moderate to severe mental disorders? Who is it that is supposed to be protecting the children caught in the crossfire? Heaven forbid that we err on the side of caution and have the audacity to hold alienaters responsible for their actions.

  6. Pingback: La EXISTENCIA de ALIENACIÓN PARENTAL es ahora INDISCUTIBLE « Custodia Compartida en Galicia Xa!