Home > Uncategorized > NOW’s Opposition to PAS Inclusion in DSM-V Anti-Science, Anti-Dad, Anti-Mom, Anti-Child

NOW’s Opposition to PAS Inclusion in DSM-V Anti-Science, Anti-Dad, Anti-Mom, Anti-Child

NOW’s Opposition to PAS Inclusion in DSM-V Anti-Science, Anti-Dad, Anti-Mom, Anti-Child

July 2nd, 2012 by Robert Franklin, Esq.


The National Organization for Women’s reputation for honesty and integrity hit an all-time low with the NOW Foundation’s publication of this screed against recognition of Parental Alienation Syndrome. The piece recycles most of the long-discredited notions about PAS we see so often and it does so for the purpose of opposing fathers’ rights to their children. Far worse, in doing so, NOW’s public stance is frankly anti-child. Put succinctly, NOW’s position is anti-science, anti-father and anti-child. Ultimately, it’s anti-mother as well, ironic as that may be.

Over almost thirty years, the science on PAS has been building steadily. In the 1980s, six different researchers working independently began advancing the idea that children sometimes were saddled with a parent who was determined to exclude the other parent from the child’s life. Unsurprisingly, the parent’s campaign of alienation often occurred in the context of divorce and child custody cases. They described the parental behavior and its effects on the children with one researcher, Dr. Richard Gardner, calling those effects Parental Alienation Syndrome.

Over the years, countless researchers and clinicians have observed similar behaviors on the part of parents and some have studied the effects on children which turn out to last a lifetime in some cases. By now, there are several book-length treatises on the subject, the most comprehensive of which is Vanderbilt Psychology professor William Bernet’s compendium Parental Alienation, DSM-5, ICD-11. That book includes papers by some 70 mental health researchers around the world as well as 630 citations to scholarly articles on PAS. The undeniable fact of parental alienation is a regular feature of custody cases in courtrooms around the country and the world. Case history after case history has been recorded by researchers like Linda Gottlieb in her recent book The Parental Alienation Syndrome: A Family Therapy and Collaborative Systems Approach to Amelioration.

Given this weight of scholarly evidence, how does the NOW Foundation describe PAS?

PAS is a tactical ploy used by attorneys whose clients (primarily fathers) are seeking custody of their children.

And who are these countless researchers who, over 30 + years have pioneered the study of PAS?

Proponents of PAS[are] predominantly right-wing “fathers’ rights” groups…

How does the NOW Foundation describe the huge mass of empirical research accumulated by countless researchers in all parts of the globe?

…no valid, empirical evidence exists for such a mental disorder…

The intellectual dishonesty of NOW’s piece would be astonishing were it not so common. For a long time, it’s been impossible to pretend that their sometimes hilarious misstatements of fact can be attributed to excusable error. The simple fact is that the many falsehoods in its piece on PAS are intentional. NOW has proven itself time and again to be anti-father. Its opposition to shared parenting litigation alone proves the point, and its opposition to inclusion of PAS in the DSM-5 repeats the performance. And that, of course, is the point. NOW’s piece on PAS has nothing to do with the reality of PAS, its scientific basis, who it benefits, who it harms, etc. It has everything to do with NOW’s quixotic opposition to fathers’ obtaining equal rights to their children in family courts.

I say ‘quixotic’ because NOW has always championed women in the workplace. What’s obvious to most people is that the more fathers are allowed, by mothers and family courts, to care for their children, the more NOW’s dream of women’s empowerment in the workplace can become a reality. And the more fathers are marginalized in their children’s lives, the more women will find themselves marginalized at work. It can’t work any other way, but when it comes to NOW, it seems that misandry trumps even women’s power. Amazing, but true.

Feminists have always had a disturbing willingness to Just Make Stuff Up. When Gloria Steinem wanted to inveigh against anorexia and other eating disorders, she proclaimed in writing that 150,000 girls die of anorexia every year. The real figure was somewhere between 50 and 75, so Steinem was off by a factor of 2,000 to 3,000. It wasn’t a mistake, it was intentional falsification. When Susan Brownmiller wanted to defend false rape accusers, she invented the “fact” that only 2% of rape claims are fabricated. At the time there was literally nothing to support her claim, and subsequent research has shown it to be wildly inaccurate, but she made it anyway. Long after the Duke III lacrosse players had been ruled to be factually innocent of all wrongdoing following false claims of rape by Crystal Mangum, feminist Amanda Marcotte proclaimed that they had in fact “held her down” and raped her. In each case, as in countless others, there’s a desired end and, lacking actual information supporting said end, feminists Just Make Stuff Up. So NOW’s piece on PAS is part of a long tradition of feminist disinformation on a wide range of topics.

But it turns out that there are consequences to following the Just Make Stuff Up credo, and NOW’s piece on PAS is a good example. In the first place, opposition to inclusion of PAS in the DSM-5 hurts mothers as much as it hurts fathers. For years PAS opponents have claimed, as NOW does, that PAS is just a trial tactic used by fathers against mothers. But that’s not true. As even a casual glance at the literature on PAS would have told them, both mothers and fathers sometimes use alienating tactics against the other parent. So when NOW argues against recognition of PAS by the APA, it’s arguing, among other things, against a mother’s ability to prove alienating behavior on the part of her ex-husband and gain for her more power in the ongoing custody battle.

Again, the irony of NOW’s opposition to mothers’ power in family courts is obvious to all – all except NOW, that is.

But if stark dishonesty were the only problem with NOW’s piece, it would merely take its place in the voluminous annals of feminist intellectual legerdemain. Sadly, bad as the piece is factually, that’s actually its best feature. That’s because every attack on PAS recognition is an attack on children. The sad truth is that some parents do alienate their children in the wake of divorce. About that, there can be no doubt; too many children, now grown up, have told their stories of how one parent or the other tried – and sometimes succeeded – at turning them against the other parent. That alienation is child abuse and, through the diligent research of countless mental health professionals, its effects on children are coming to be known. They can last a lifetime.

For example, Dr. Gabrielle Shapiro, M.D. has described her psychiatric training, her (at first) grudging acceptance of the phenomenon of PAS and “its devastating and long-lasting impact on the development and attachments of children who are victims of high-conflict divorce.”

She goes on to add that parental alienation of children “can lead to severe lifelong pathologic consequences for the child who has lost the reciprocal nurturing relationship with one of his primary attachment figures. Often these dysfunctional relationship patterns persist throughout a lifetime, despite the best of therapeutic interventions.”

So that’s what NOW is plumping for in its piece against PAS inclusion: “devastating and long-lasting impact[s]” on children and “severe, lifelong pathologic consequences” that often can’t be addressed by therapy.

Few children will thank them.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Max
    July 3, 2012 at 3:40 AM

    I invite anyone from NOW Foundation, or for that matter, anyone who doesn’t believe in PAS to interview me and then see if they call it “a ploy” or that “no valid empirical evidence exists”. I am an ordinary father whose life is in limbo because of PAS. I am not linked to any so called “right wing” fathers rights’ groups.

  2. July 3, 2012 at 3:58 AM

    Max: there are many parents living in limbo: wondering, worrying, and waiting. And as alienated parents know, the wait is a tough road. Some wait a few years and some wait for ten others wait for twenty. NOW’s denial of PAS hurts men, women, and certainly children. I am uncertain how they claim “no valid empirical evidence exists.” I maintain a list of resources, started in 2010 https://parentalalienationsupport.com/2010/03/19/parental-alienation-an-extensive-list/ from 2010 to current, additional studies are either in progress or completed.

  3. July 3, 2012 at 5:23 AM

    Thank you for posting the link to NOW Foundation’s position on this issue. I just sent the following comment to NOW on this issue:

    While I understand that accusations of Parental Alienation are often false and used (abused) as a ploy in court, and I also understand that there may not be adequate evidence to classify it as a separate disorder (though I would like to look into this more) my professional experience is that Parental Alienation certainly does take place in cases where the target parent is not abusive and many children react to the loyalty bind the alienating parent puts them in, in similar ways, which often differ from children’s responses to parents (and the extended families of those parents) who actually are abusive.
    I think NOW’s all or none position on this issue does a huge disservice to those parents and children who are legitimate victims of Parental Alienation. (NOW is trying to make a complex issue black and white, which ironically is part of the problem in parental alienation.) Rather than vigorously fighting something that does not fit into all or none categories, why not put NOW’s efforts into protecting children from being abused either emotionally or physically? Parental Alienation is emotionally abusive to children and NOW’s position is like throwing the baby out with the bath water, and further harms efforts of parents (who are frequently falsely accused of abusing their children) to protect those children.
    I would love to see the research the NOW foundation cites in it’s June 11, 2012 statement against inclusion of PAS or PAD in the DSM-V. Please send me or email me (drbettina@cox.net) the sources of that information and please reconsider the position of NOW on this issue.
    Thank you for your consideration of this comment.
    Bettina Lehnert, PhD.

  4. A
    July 3, 2012 at 12:08 PM

    I’m confident that I am not the only mother who is the target parent in PAS. My kids are adults and their father has been using these ‘tactics’ on them (and against me) since before the divorce. My boys have not contacted me or reciprocated my efforts in over 4 years.

  5. Renee
    July 3, 2012 at 12:36 PM

    I who heartily agree with Max. I am not a father, but stepmother to a young adult who was turned against her father & myself by a mother who’s sole purpose in life was to destroy these relationships. My husband never wanted full custody, just the opportunity to have a life that included his daughter. The last 2 years have been hell. The courts have been negligent in enforcing ANY of their own orders. 5 counselors have been no help. It’s too bad that the people we needed the help from have all but turned a blind eye to the obvious, PAS. Instead of denouncing it, maybe NOW should spend some effort to help the children of this wicked, wicked disease.

  6. PA survivor
    July 3, 2012 at 12:38 PM

    PAS is real, happens to both mothers and fathers. I was an alienated mom for 7 years, I have reestablished a relationship with my daughter but my son is still very alienated. My daughter and I would somehow like to speak publicly about this, to NOW and anyone else who denounces PAS. Not sure how to begin

  7. TB
    July 3, 2012 at 12:44 PM

    I am not a father, but a mother who has been alienated, go figure that one and certainly not a member of any right wing fathers rights groups. I am the victim of a “female” judge who never had any children of her own who knew squat about what was going on. Her statement about my daughter was “I can’t make her go with you” just reinforces the syndrome. Her father should have been put in jail and provided with supervised visitation. Put that in your pipe and smoke it NOW.

  8. A
    July 3, 2012 at 4:00 PM

    What a coincidence. I found this article just a few moments ago:

    Sunday, July 1, 2012
    Minnesota Judge Has 200 Blunt Words for Divorcing Parents
    Although some may feel it is rare, some judges actually know what they are talking about. Received a copy of a news article from 2001. Thought I would take the time to type the words of this judge out.

    Please note in our discussion group over the years with one common goal in mind “Defending Ourselves against False Allegations.” Although this article eludes to Parent Alienation, here is one thought we all may want to consider: “We do not OWN Our Children. We as adults are merely here to Guide them through Sharing, Caring, and Guidance, with the hopes, that they too will become Responsible Adults. Noting, of course, Responsibility is not necessarily a Democratic Process?”

    So here is the article by the judge:
    Minnesota Judge Has 200 Blunt Words
    for Divorcing Parents
    By Judge Michael Haas
    “Your children have come into this world because of the two of you. Perhaps you two made lousy choices as to whom you decided to be the other parent. If so, that is your problem and your fault.

    No matter what you think of the other party—or what your family thinks of the other party—these children are one-half of each of your. Remember that, because every time you tell your child what an “idiot” his father is, or what a “fool” his mother is, or how bad the absent parent is, or what terrible things that person has done, you are telling the child half of him is bad.

    That is an unforgivable thing to do to a child. That is not love. That is possession. If you do that to your children, you will destroy them as surely as if you had cut them into pieces, because that is what you are doing to their emotions.

    I sincerely hope that you do not do that to your children. Think more about your children and less about yourselves, and make yours a selfless kind of love, not foolish or selfish, or your children will suffer.”

    Original Article
    The following advice from retired Minnesota Judge has been circulating for years among judges, attorneys and child advocates as powerful words of advice for all parents going through a divorce. We hope you’ll take the time to read them!

    Judge Michael Haas retired in December 2002 after 26 years of service as a Judge in Cass County, Minnesota. In a letter written to advice columnist Abigail Van Buren as early as October 1994 by attorney Paul J. Kiltinen of Baxter, Minnesota, Mr. Kiltinen shared the following remarks by Judge Hass in a particularly difficult divorce case, describing the Judge’s remarks as “some of the most profound words of wisdom I’ve ever heard from the bench in all my years as an attorney. His philosophy could provide insight to all parents, especially those who are involved in difficult dissolutions.”

    Judge Haas’ concise advice in less than 200 words is so well known and so widely respected that it has been referenced in multiple appellate court decisions, including Burke v. Burke, Tennessee Court of Appeals, No. M2000-01111-COA-R3-CV, Aug. 7, 2001 and Krupp v. Cunningham-Grogan, Tennessee Court of Appeals, No. M2005-01098-COA-R3-CV, August 29, 2006.

    It’s also been cited in Lawyers Weekly USA No. 9921543 and in Don R. Ash’s law review article, Bridge Over Troubled Water: Changing the Custody Law in Tennessee, 27 U. Mem. L. Rev. 769, 771-72 (1997).

    This message was “resurrected” in 2000 when it was republished as a letter published by advice columnist Ann Landers (the twin sister of “Dear Abby”).

    More than 15 years after the fact, Judge Haas’ moving words are sprinkled all over the Internet, found on court websites, blogs, attorney webpages, in court decisions and in law journals.

    We don’t know if Judge Haas was speaking extemporaneously on the record or if these 197 words above were purely “off the cuff”. Regardless, this message will always remain profound and powerful advice when parents are ready to engage in custody battles for their children.

    • TB
      July 4, 2012 at 12:38 PM

      He is the rare exception, my current husband had a judge for his custody case that was like this. Of course he got custody since his ex – wife beat their oldest daughter so that the teacher noticed bruising on her chest and in those years it was rare to get custody for a man. PAS is worse than being beat physically in my opinion, it’s just that no one in authority to make a decision sees it. Thank God for organizations and awareness now regarding PAS, maybe more children can stop being abused.

  9. July 14, 2013 at 2:33 AM

    Thank God someone has the common sense to see beyond the false victimhood of NOW and the over exaggeration of their Nazi-like cause. There are female Psychologists that have come to understand the plight of the good men. Among them are Dr. Tara Palameteri at shirink4men.com and Therapist Shari Schreiber at http://www.sharischreiber.com. Read, Read, read!!!

  10. September 1, 2013 at 12:55 AM

    Coming to Grips with the Realities of Parental Alienation: A Mother’s Story

    “You can have a relationship with them in 15 years. Keep a journal. Explain it then.”

    That was the statement of one of the lawyers I interviewed this week. He looked over my files, and complimented me on my organizational skills. I almost asked him for a job….he was pretty disheveled himself. He said that my case was highly complex, and could end up costing well over $30k. I broke down and had to compose myself. This was becoming a repeated scene. I’d already tried Legal Aid…they weren’t able to help my case because they only handle simple divorce. The ongoing theme is “What did you do to make him hate you so much?” But this is what happens when a parent’s hate for the other parent outweighs their love for the children. It becomes a competition, a relentless battle to bring the other parent to her knees in humiliation and submission. It’s Parental Alienation. It is a pervasive method that uses the one tool able to ultimately break the mother: her children.
    Nine years of litigation after divorcing an abusive and unfaithful spouse, and my memories of motherhood are dirtied with police reports, DCF investigations, court hearings, 400 pages of slandering emails from my ex just in one year, and children that are hesitant to spend time with their broke, and broken, stressed-out mother. I don’t blame them, though. What kid wants to hang out with a mom that is out of resources, and is waiting for the investigators to arrive at every turn? Four years of that was while I was in the military. I’d get so-called “welfare checks” to my home in Jacksonville, and the children would receive cards, texts and emails of the exciting ski-trips, presents and shopping sprees they could have upon their return “home” to entice them to want to get out of Mom’s as soon as possible. Upon my return home from the military, with very little income, a new start-up because I couldn’t find employment, and awaiting my VA disability rating, I find myself facing potential jail time for inability to pay over $1,000 in monthly child support plus 100% of all insurance and 50% of all out of pocket expenses, and for allegedly removing my daughter from her high school based on a forged document that will cost thousands simply to prove “it wasn’t me.” My daughter, in exchange for her compliance with the accusation received a 2013 Infiniti and now doesn’t want to see me because “…she resents me so much” after I was clear about the consequences of forgery, a third degree felony for which I was facing litigation. She’s already told me she forged my name….but they told her not to say anything in writing, so there it stands. They’ve pitted me against my daughter: take the wrap – or she will never forgive you.

    I’ve met with eight attorneys this week. All of which are way out of my price range. A part of me had this naive hope that someone would look at the anguish of a mother losing her children and take on my case as a matter of right and wrong, as a matter of helping a family facing a major breakdown as we are entering the final, latent stages of Parental Alienation. But I’m learning the principle of right and wrong doesn’t matter. Money matters. My daughter has finally requested to not visit me during my timesharing. This is an absolute first and was devastating. My son has expressed his concern about me attending his school functions because his dad and the girlfriend (who works at his school) “…don’t want people to know about you” and during his last visit he became physically aggressive toward his sister and me.

    I’ve arrived at schools to find that a warning is in the system about me, presented to school administrators that there is a court order preventing me from contacting my child at school – which is untrue. I’m supposed to have 50/50 rights and access to the children. I’ve arrived at doctors’ offices to find that the girlfriend had signed off as the mother and requested psychological evaluations of my daughter, and had to show my Final Order and an ID to prove that I was allowed to be there. I was told that was a HIPAA issue, and that the State Attorney didn’t have time to prosecute. My short lived second marriage was riddled with DCF investigations accusing my second husband of sexual molestation of my son, and I finally realized that I couldn’t bring another human being into the mix; especially not a highly-regarded detective from a large organization. So I divorced him, took the blame, and let him move on. Every relationship attempt I’ve made has been complicated and ultimately destroyed by this pattern of pathological alienation, careful planning and abuse by proxy. Though FALSE, the sexual abuse case, and every other allegation made to DCF, was simply closed as “Unfounded” leaving me no recourse. I have been accused through DCF of sexually, emotionally, and psychologically abusing the children, and had to take drug tests due to allegations of illicit drug use. I have been left out of participation of every major decision in health care, education, extra-curricular events over the past four years regardless of my requests for inclusion, and those amazing “firsts” that parents have the great pleasure of experiencing with their children haven’t existed for me. My family has been lamb-basted and their access was removed for almost four years, with full support of the Courts. I am called the “biological mother” and nothing more in email after email by the ex.

    Whenever I’ve attempted to address this with the courts, it is waived away under the guise of “childish behavior” or an “annoyance” or “jealousy.” If I cry in court, I’m “hysterical” and “unstable.” I’ve had four lawyers over the past nine years, all of which were expensive yet ineffective against the opposition that is well-funded (now especially thanks to the ex’s wealthy girlfriend who wants to be the sole woman in my children’s lives) and highly skilled. I’ve even referred people I know that are divorcing to the opposing counsel. If nothing else, he’s a good lawyer. He’s able to convince a court that destroying a mother’s relationship with her children is a-okay and walk away with a clear conscience. Here I am: broke, and still fighting.

    This past week was especially difficult, and I’m coming to terms with a very possible outcome: that I will continue to be vilified and pushed out of their lives, demeaned and harassed by email after email and court motion after court motion until I “play by” his “rules.” Perhaps even incarcerated, though I’m hoping that the Courts will see the lawsuits as unfounded as all of the DCF allegations. All I can do is try and try, and try and try. And journal and hope and pray and tell my story…..and keep fighting. Parental alienation is very real. It’s tangible and debilitating. The statistics show that the alienated parent in over 60% of the cases are Mothers – NOT fathers as the lobbyists and legislators would like us to believe. And my children and I are paying the ultimate price: our relationship.

  11. joanne
    June 17, 2016 at 7:10 PM

    I’m a mother of three kids two of them I have not seen for 4 year my middle child come to live with me last year an she understands whats happened I have been to court over 8 times to see my children but my ex keeps putting a stop to it an the courts let him get away with it .it all started when he abused me in 2010 an its never stopped I filed for divorce an he sad he would destroy me if I did . I feel like I’m greaving for my children that are alive an the pain I go though everyday is unberable an if this is how I feel how do my kids feel are they to sceared to say to there dad that they wont to see my why is my ex controlling my children do they not have a right to be apart of both perants lives .I’m going back to court I wont give up on my kids I just feel like he has been aloud to get away with it but the courts don’t undersatand pas here in the united kingdom there should be law that stops this from happening

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