Outstanding article and please be reminded, that while these situations are most commonly witnessed with the father being the maligned parent, it happens to women as well. In addition step parents take on the role of abusing the actual parent. Bottom line . . . it is NEVER appropriate for ANYONE to do anything other than support and encourage a child to have a healthy relationship with both their parents whenever possible.
COURT REVIEW, VOLUME 28, NUMBER 1, SPRING 1991, p 14-21
American Judges Association
LEGAL AND PSYCHOTHERAPEUTIC APPROACHES TO THE THREE TYPES OF PARENTAL ALIENATION SYNDROME FAMILIES
When Psychiatry and the Law Join Forces
Richard A. Gardner, M.D.
In the mid to late 1970s, in association with the replacement of the tender-years presumption with the best-interests-of-the-child presumption (and the gender egalitarianism incorporated therein), we witnessed a burgeoning of child custody litigation. Fathers who previously had little if any chance of gaining custody now found court support for their quest. Since the late 1970s, in association with the increasing popularity of the joint custodial concept, there was an even further burgeoning of custody litigation. Whereas previously the courts tended to award one parent sole custody and assigned the other parent visitation status, now litigating parents could each hope for a large share of time with the children. In association with what can justifiably be called a custody litigation explosion (which is still going on), I began to see a disorder, which I rarely saw before, that developed almost exclusively in children who were exposed to and embroiled in custody disputes. The primary characteristic of this disorder is obsessive alienation from a parent.
Originally, I thought I was observing manifestations of simple “brainwashing.” However, I soon came to appreciate that things were nor so simple and that many other factors were operative. Accordingly, I introduced the term parental alienation syndrome.
I use the term to refer to a disturbance in which a child is obsessed with deprecation and criticism of a parent (more often the father) denigration that is unjustified or exaggerated. At the same time, the other parent can do no wrong and the nonpreferred parent can do no right. The notion that such children have merely been brainwashed by the preferred parent is narrow. The term brainwashing implies that one parent is systematically and consciously programming the child to denigrate the other parent. The concept of the parental alienation syndrome includes much more than brainwashing. It includes not only conscious but subconscious and unconscious factors within the preferred parent that contribute to the parent’s influencing the child’s alienation. Furthermore (and this is extremely important), it includes factors that arise within the child-independent of the parental contributions – that foster the development of the syndrome. (more here … )