Home > Professionals > Existence of Parental Alienation Is Now Beyond Debate by Dr. Richard A. Warshak

Existence of Parental Alienation Is Now Beyond Debate by Dr. Richard A. Warshak

Existence of Parental Alienation Is Now Beyond Debate. Posted with permission by Dr. Richard A. Warshak

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.

Categories: Professionals
  1. eric fox
    May 19, 2011 at 3:54 PM

    The narcissist personality disorder is a major factor how bad PAS and it does not matter which has the disorder father or mother. Their goal is to destroy the relatinship of the other parent with the child. Is would he difficult for any parent to prevent PAS in this case unless they can be the pefect parent never get mad or upset, always positive to the child, always there for the child because even one mistake will be brought up tothe child or children repeated for years.

  2. May 19, 2011 at 4:42 PM

    There are a lot of contributing factors. It does appear the favored parents goal is to destroy the relationship of the other parent with the child. One DV researcher painted a good picture of alienating parents,“a minority of parents who suffer from personality and mental disorders may ignore the court and spend their waking hours finding ways to exhaust the other parent emotionally and financially.” And, it should be added that in the process they destroy their child.

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