What is Parent Alienation Syndrome;Signs,Treatment And Prevention

Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) was theorized by Richard Gardner in 1985. It is recognized as a disorder that is mainly legal dispute for the custody of minors .The main manifestation of parental alienation syndrome is the denigration of a child against one of the two parents. Children hardly consider bad people who love them and deal with them.

The most obvious symptom of this disorder, therefore, is the more or less marked rejection of one of the two parents after a conflict separation . In the legal sphere, PAS becomes a legal-family syndrome involving judges and lawyers.

In parental alienation syndrome, the “bad” parent is hated and offended verbally, while the “good” parent is loved and idealized. According to Gardner, this disorder is the result of the indoctrination of a parent (“alienating parent”) parent and the child’s own contribution in despising the other parent (“alienated parent”) .

No scientific organization, such as the World Health Organization or the American Psychological Association , recognizes parental alienation syndrome. In Spain, the General Council of Judicial Power does not accept it as a valid argument in a lawsuit, even though the judgments have the last word.

What does parental alienation syndrome depend on?

There are several reasons that push the alienating parent to divert the children from the other parent. The most common are: inability to accept the end of the relationship, attempt to continue the relationship through conflict, desire for revenge, fear of pain, self-protection, guilt, fear of losing their children or losing their parenting role, desire for exclusive control of children in terms of power and property.
Parental alienation syndrome may occur when one of the two parents does not accept the end of the couple’s relationship or wants to gain economic benefits after divorce.

The parent in question is jealous of the other or aims at gaining economic benefits. From the individual point of view, we also assume the presence of a previous situation of abandonment, alienation, physical or sexual abuse and loss of identity 

Symptoms of parental alienation syndrome in children

Gardner describes a series of “primary symptoms” commonly reported by children with this syndrome:
  • Absence of guilt towards cruelty and the exploitation of the alienated parent. Children show total indifference to the hated parent.
  • Attempting to prove that the alienated parent is hateful , the source of all their problems.
  • Weak , absurd justifications or frivolous contempt for the parent. The child resorts to irrational and often ridiculous arguments for not staying with the alienated parent.
  • Absence of ambiguity . All human relationships, including parents-children, present a certain degree of ambiguity. In this case, children do not show contradictory feelings : one parent is perfect, the other no.
  • The phenomenon of the “independent thinker” . Many children proudly claim to have taken the decision to refuse one of their parents. They deny any form of influence by the parent who accepts it.
  • Children usually accept unconditional accusations of the alienating parent to the alienated one , even when it is obvious that he is lying.
  • Issues borrowed . Children in their arguments often use words or phrases that are not part of their language

    Other symptoms of parental alienation

    In addition to the symptoms identified by Gardner, Waldron and Joanis suggest others:
    • Contradictions. Children are contradictory in their statements and stories of past episodes.
    • Children have inappropriate information about the breakup of parents and their legal process.
    • There is a dramatic feeling of need and fragility. Everything seems to be a matter of life or death.
    • Children show a sense of restraint over who can love them and who they can love.

    Fear in children with parental alienation syndrome

    A common symptom in children with this disorder is just fear. They may therefore manifest:

    • Fear of abandonment. The alienating parent feeds the guilty feelings, pains for separation from the child when he spends time with the alienated parent.
    • Fear of the beloved parent. Children who attend anger attacks and frustration by the alienating parent tend to give it a reason. They panic when they themselves are the object of these attacks, thus fueling their psychological dependence. They come to the conclusion that the best way to avoid being the cause of the alienating parent anger is to stay on its side.

    However, they are not just the children to be afraid. Even alienating parent families support him, which reinforces his conviction of being right.

    What strategies does the alienating parent take to divert the child from the other parent?

    Techniques to move a child from an alienated parent are different, from the most brazen to the most implicit. The “accepted” parent can simply deny the existence of the other or consider the child as fragile and in need of perennial  protection , reinforcing, therefore, the complicity and trust between them.

    It can also accentuate the normal differences with the other parent in terms of good / bad, right / wrong, generalize sporadic behaviors and negative appetites or put in the middle of the children.

    Another strategy is to compare the good or bad experiences they have experienced with their parents to question the character or lifestyle of the other, to tell the child the “truth” about past facts , to earn the his sympathy, taking the role of a victim, feeding fear, anxiety, guilt or intimidating or threatening the child. The alienating parent can also adopt an extremely indulgent or permissible position.

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