Parental Alienation Syndrome is the deliberate attempt by one parent to distance his/her children from the other parent.
The main reason is that cases of parental alienation are counter intuitive. That is, the brain is hardwired to misinterpret and misunderstand the family dynamics in these situations. That leads to a number of common cognitive errors (thinking errors) that, in turn, lead to serious errors in professional reasoning and decision-making. In other words, The brain is tricked by alienation cases just as it is tricked by an optical illusion.
Consequently, many professionals, including mental health professionals and attorneys, get these cases backwards. Often, the targeted parent is unfairly criticized for having allegedly contributed to his or her rejection, and the alienating parent is either absolved or believed to have made only a minor contribution. Thus, unless the professional has an in-depth understanding of alienation and estrangement, cases of severe alienation are frequently mistaken for estrangement. More…
Gardner’s statistics showed that the majority of PAS occurrences were initiated by mothers. Mothers have traditionally had primary custody of children (although before the 20th century it normally belonged to the father), and the mothers usually spend more time with the children.
In order for a campaign of alienation to occur, one parent needs to have considerable time with the child. However, in recent years increasing numbers of fathers have started instigating PAS, since there are few legal sanctions for doing so.
I’ve seen several dramatic cases where the father was the alienator.
In one case, the father had no control over his obsession to trash the mother.
Numerous professionals told him, including the mother, that he could have shared custody if he would be willing to follow the rules. He didn’t have the self-control to do this.
When he lost custody because of his aberrant behavior, he became a celebrity in the father’s rights movement and took his campaign into national circles. No one would know from hearing him speak about his situation that there was serious pathology going on (PAS) or how hard the professionals worked to stabilize it.
Moreover, in cultures where women traditionally have no tangible rights, alienation by the father can be severe.
I’ve met divorcing women who had been prevented from learning how to make a living to support themselves. At the time of separation all access to financial resources were stopped and the children removed from her care. These women reported severe alienation of affection.
It makes one grateful to have laws that protect human rights and enforce a better way of resolving conflict than a winner-take all approach.