parental alienation syndrome

Parental Alienation Syndrome What is it?

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What is ?

Parental alienation syndrome, which can be abbreviated as PAS, was originally named by Richard A Gardner back in the early 1980’s.  The term parental alienation syndrome refers to a disorder in children in which one parent manipulates a child to belittle and insult the other parent without justification.  This manipulation can result loss of trust and closeness between the child and the alienated parent.  Parental alienation syndrome is not formally recognized by the medical or legal community and has been heavily criticized by these communities. However parental alienation which is the estrangement of the child to the parent and is a separate but related issue to parental alienation syndrome is recognized as a viable issue in some divorce cases.  For this very reason it is of the utmost importance that public awareness of parental alienation syndrome be expanded.

parental alienation syndrome


Symptoms of Parental Alienation Syndrome:

  • A constant belittlement and dislike toward the alienated parent.
  • Weak or ridiculous rationalizations for the belittlement or dislike of the targeted parent
  • The belief that the decision to reject the target parent is the child’s decision alone.
  • Unjustified support of the alienating parent in the conflict
  • Absence of guilt for the treatment of the alienated parent
  •  Programmed or coached scenarios or phrases from the alienating parent.
  •  Belittling of not just the alienated parent but also of that parents extended family.

Severity levels and recommended actions

Parental alienation syndrome can be divided into mild, moderate, or severe cases.  The number and severity of these symptoms increase throughout the different levels.  The level of severity of  of the child’s syndrome will dictate the recommendations in the management of treatment.  In mild cases there is some parental programming toward the alienated parent and little to no change in visitation.  Generally no changes to the agreement are advised in mild cases.  In moderate cases there is a greater deal of parental programming and a greater resistance to visitation with the alienated parent. Changes in the custody agreement may not be advised in moderate cases, so long as programming was expected to discontinue.  However if the programming is not expected to stop immediate changes to the custody agreement are recommended and the child should be placed in counseling to assist in reversing the programming.  In sever cases the child displays most if not all of the symptoms of parental alienation syndrome and will adamantly refuse to visit the alienated parent, including running away and threatening suicide if the visitation is enforced.  In these cases immediate removal of the child from the alienating parent is recommended and extensive counseling for the child to repair the damage done by the alienating parent.  Gardner proposed intervention in both moderate and severe cases of parental alienation syndrome, including changing custody of alienated parent, fines, house arrest, and incarceration.  While these recommendations have been made since the early 1980’s they have not yet been put into place across the board.  For more infomation on parental alienation and parental alienation syndrome Click Here.

The effects of parental alienation syndrome: