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DSM & Inclusion:

November 21, 2009

There appears to be some recognition that alienation is not the depiction of good mental health. As one article notes, “ It is not a good thing if a child has bonded to an alienating parent, but disrupting that child and pulling them away from whatever sense of security they have may end up being more harmful than good in the long run.” Professionals and alienated parents should be alarmed at the word “but.” The reality is the sense of security is false. If the child shares a similar disposition and shared activities that is one thing; it is quite another if the child prefers one parent over another due to vindictive strategies.

Security is not legitimate if the parent child relationship is one-sided and is predicated on lies. It is one thing for a child to report that he or she loves mom or dad. It is another when the child reports that he or she feels sorry for them and they cannot see the other parent because “mom or dad will get lonely.” It is not the child’s job to be responsible for adult well-being. According to Baker (2007) PAS is similar to cults in that fear activates dependency needs. Cult members undeniably have a sense of security; however, the sense of security is false. Most professionals realize that leaving a cult is life alternating, difficult, and may have consequences. Yet, most rational individuals realize that the dependency on the cult leader does not promote good mental health.

As noted by Summers & Summers (2006) “one of the priorities and general view of the courts is that a child should have a meaningful and regular contact with both parents. If a child does not have contact with the target parent, this may be very harmful to the children and later in adult life.” Some debates revolve around what role the “alienated” parent plays in PAS. Clearly, PAS is not caused by the alienating parent. Some ex-spouses are malicious and remain bitter towards his or her ex spouse years after the divorce. For some, the only way “to get back” at their ex spouse is to turn their children against them. As a result of the wear and tear, some alienated parents become passive. That is, they feel defeated after years of rejection. One must keep in mind that the target parent may have had to endure years of hearing put-downs, reading odious letters, and being out right rejected. Years of rebuff towards the target parent greatly differs than a few episodes of teenage antics. Hence, it is imperative not only for target parents, but for children that PAS be recognized for the infirmity that it is. Temporary disruption is far better than years of deception.

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