“The death of a child is indisputably one of the most incredibly horrible tragedies one can imagine. Whether by sudden accidental circumstance, or by a more lengthy cause as in illness, the loss of a child is undeniably painful to experience. Painful to the parents, parents to the family, and painful to anyone related to the child.
Never knowing the laughter of that child again or the tears, the joys and the accomplishments is a pain no parent should ever have to endure, and yet it happens. No one might be to blame. It can just happen”. (Tim Line)
Psychological abuse — including demeaning, bullying and humiliating — may be the most prevalent form of child maltreatment.
Yet it’s among the hardest to identify or to treat
By Laura BlueJuly 30, 2012 – TODD WARNOCK / GETTY IMAGES
It may be the most common kind of child abuse — and the most challenging to deal with. But psychological abuse, or emotional abuse, rarely gets the kind of attention that sexual or physical abuse receives.
That’s the message of a trio of pediatricians, who write this week in the journal Pediatrics with a clarion call to other family doctors and child specialists: stay alert to the signs of psychological maltreatment. Its effects can be every bit as devastating as those of other abuse.
Psychological maltreatment can include terrorizing, belittling or neglecting a child, the pediatrician authors say.
“We are talking about extremes and the likelihood of harm, or risk of harm, resulting from the kinds of behavior that make a child feel worthless, unloved or unwanted,” Harriet MacMillan, one of the three pediatrician authors, told reporters.
What makes this kind maltreatment so challenging for pediatricians and for social services staff, however, is that it’s not defined by any one specific event, but rather by the nature of the relationship between caregiver and child. That makes it unusually hard to identify.
Keeping a child in a constant state of fear is abuse, for example. But even the most loving parent will occasionally lose their cool and yell. Likewise, depriving a child of ordinary social interaction is also abuse, but there’s nothing wrong with sending a school-aged boy to stew alone in his room for an hour after he hits a younger sibling. All of this means that, for an outsider who observes even some dubious parenting practice, it can be hard to tell whether a relationship is actually abusive, or whether you’ve simply caught a family on a bad day.
Psychological abuse can also include what you might call “corrupting a child” — encouraging children to use illicit drugs, for example, or to engage in other illegal activities.
In their Pediatrics paper, MacMillan and co-authors say that 8% to 9% of women and 4% of men reported severe psychological abuse in childhood when the question was posed in general-population surveys of the U.S. and Britain. A number of U.S. surveys have also found that more adults claim they faced psychological maltreatment as kids than claim they experienced any other form of abuse. This suggests that psychological maltreatment may be the most common form of abuse inflicted on kids.
Manifests in a School or Educational Setting | Family Court Injustice
Those who perpetrate alienation not only manipulate the child but often manipulate other people, even professionals, in their war against the targeted parent. This commonly happens as “triangulation” – when one parent (usually the abuser or alienator) uses a third party, like a teacher or school principal, to play against the other parent.
“Changing a child last name (away from the father’s) is an act of venom”
THE TRUTH BY ZORAYA’S MOTHER
Parental alienation has various definitions but in a nutshell is when one parent works to damage a child’s relationship with the other parent (known as the “targeted parent”). As a result of alienation, child who previously had a close, loving, healthy (not abusive) relationship with the “targeted parent” then becomes estranged, hostile or rejects that parent. Many consider alienation a form of child abuse. The alienator may also elicit others—like educators—to similarly hate, reject or become hostile toward the other parent.
When alienation occurs in the school setting, the results are devastating: usually there is breakdown in communication between one parent and the educators (who have taken the side of the alienating parent, and may view the “targeted” parent in a negative light). The school may consciously or unconsciously reinforce the power and control tactics of the alienator, and sometimes the educators will even become personally involved in family court or custody litigation.
There are cases where an educator has become so aligned with one parent that they will give that parent a favorable impression to the court while becoming hostile towards the “targeted parent”; finding fault, blaming and criticizing that parent, even in areas that have nothing to do with the child’s education.
In this Video I answer Amy’s Question: Are alienated parents blamed for everything bad that happens in the child’s life?
NOTE: If you’re looking for tools to reach your child, change their thinking, create breakthroughs and take action to fight parental alienation…Check out my resources and SUBSCRIBE for more video insights, advice and support.
These pictures were drawn by my daughter, and show the devastating effects of abuse and trauma, family court injustice, and court orderedparental alienation, on a child’s life.My children have had to endure and witness things no child should ever have to bear.
The picture on the left depicts our family – at the top “I Love You” is written with a smiling face next to it and a shiny heart sticker is added. Below the writing is a smiling picture of mom with her 3 children.
The picture to the right is also drawn by my daughter and shows a little girl with wide staring eyes and black scribbles drawn over her mouth, silencing her. At her side is a menacing looking man staring at her.
This is the standard mental health response to all forms of child abuse. This is the standard mental health response to physical child abuse. This is the standard mental health response to sexual child abuse. This is the standard mental health response to psychological child abuse. Diagnosis guides treatment.
Pathogenic parenting that is creating significant developmental pathology in the child (diagnostic indicator 1), personality disorder pathology in the child (diagnostic indicator 2), and delusional-psychiatric pathology in the child (diagnostic indicator 3) in order to meet the emotional and psychological needs of the parent represents a DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed.
PARENTAL ALIENATION carries pretty much the same symptoms as kidnapping does… except maybe worse- this kidnapper hates the other parent. They are often jealous of the parents’ latter successes. For whatever their reasons they are using children to destroy, and the first and primary destruction is Daddy (in some cases Mommy).
Organization and civil liberties protection spirited creative to help motivate activism, solution ism and efforts to “squash the alienation!”
Why do mental health professionals and attorneys who evaluate or work with alienated children frequently mistake alienation for estrangement?
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.
This phenomenon has been described in some detail by Steven Miller, M.D., a physician who studies clinical reasoning and clinical decision-making. For an excellent summary, readers might wish to refer to a chapter that Dr. Miller wrote entitled, “ClinicalReasoning and Decision-Making in Cases of ChildAlignment: Diagnostic and Therapeutic Issues,” in the book, Working with Alienated Children and Families, edited by Amy J. L. Baker, Ph.D. and Richard Sauber, Ph.D. Dr. Miller examines the complexity of alienation cases, explains why such cases are so counter intuitive, even to professionals, and describes how even the most experienced mental health practitioner can succumb to a variety of cognitive and clinical errors.
I will subsequently specify some of the more common counter intuitive mistakes and biases that occur in alienation cases. But I wish first to discuss how an experienced mental health professional can be fooled in these cases and may be no better at diagnosing alienation than a layperson.
Why is that so? For one thing, professionals who are assigned to conduct custody evaluations provide reunification therapy, or represent a child in court are usually not experts in alienation and estrangement. Parental alienation is a highly specialized area, a sub-specialty within the field of family dynamics and family systems therapy. It requires special knowledge and special skills. But most mental health professionals have received little or no specialized training in these areas.
For instance, most custody evaluations are performed by clinical psychologists. And yet, the usual doctoral degree in clinical psychology does not include even a single course in family dynamics. Although I collaborate with many knowledgeable PAS-aware psychologists — many of whom are excellent, superb clinicians — they have usually gained their expertise in parental alienation through extensive practice experience, not as part of their formal training.
A similar situation exists within the discipline of child psychiatry, which generally provides little or no specialized training in family dynamics. Although some degree programs in clinical social work offer the option of specializing in family dynamics and family therapy, that is only an option, and many clinical social workers have little or no background in this area. Among mental health professionals, one of the few degrees that actually require formal training in family dynamics is a degree in marriage and family systems therapy, and even those who hold that degree are not necessarily experts in alienation and estrangement.
The bottom line is that not all mental health practitioners have the required expertise to handle cases of parental alienation, and not all therapists are bona fide specialists, let alone sub-specialists, in alienation and estrangement.
Thus, parental alienation is a complex sub-specialty that requires special expertise. To make this point, I sometimes use the following analogy: both a tax attorney and a divorce lawyer have gone to law school, and are presumably familiar with basic legal principles. Nevertheless, each would probably be over his or her head — like a fish out of water — if he or she attempted to practice the other specialty.
The situation is even more problematic for attorneys who deal with parental alienation. As previously noted, such cases are highly-counter intuitive, and attorneys who do not have special expertise in this area can make a multitude of cognitive, legal and strategic errors — including serious errors when trying these cases in court. Although Dr. Miller has described more than 30 such errors, some are particularly important and are highlighted here.
Denial of reasonable access to your own kids is child abuse
Most professionals believe that if a child has rejected a parent, the parent must have done something to warrant it. Few people would even think of another explanation: namely that the child had been programmed or brainwashed, just like what occurs in a cult or in the well-known Stockholm syndrome. But if one were to compare alienated children to foster children — specifically, children who had been removed from their parents due to actual abuse and neglect — the difference would be obvious.
Children who have truly been abused crave a relationship with their parents. Paradoxically — and this is what makes it so counter intuitive — with few exceptions, abused children protect their abusive parents. They do not disparage attack or reject them. I myself saw this consistently during my 24 years of working in New York State’s Child Welfare System.
Most professionals believe that it is unlikely that a child would align with an abusive, alienating parent. What is missed here is that the child is vulnerable to the manipulations of the alienating parent, such as bribery, abuse of authority and power, and permissiveness. We know how it is generally the targeted/alienated parent who enforces the appropriate discipline to fill the parental vacuum vacated by the alienating parent. By doing so, targeted/alienated parents are incredibly misunderstood and doubly victimized by the inexperienced professional, who then labels them as too harsh and not respectful of their children’s feelings and wishes.
Most professionals confuse pathological enmeshment with healthy bonding. To the naive observer, the closeness and clinging seen with enmeshed parent-child relationships seems normal, even healthy. But it is not. As a result of this dysfunctional relationship, alienated children lose their individuality; must suppress their natural feelings of love and need for a parent; and are manipulated to do the bidding of the alienating parent. That is extremely dangerous and damaging to the child.
Having fallen prey to these and other cognitive errors, mental health professionals who lack expertise in alienation then succumb to other biases that lead them to conclude that the alienating parent is competent and the targeted parent is not — in other words, those professionals get it backwards.
For example, the targeted parent frequently presents with symptoms of anxiety, depression and fear. What PAS-unaware professionals fail to understand is that these symptoms are situational and maintained by the alienation and are not dispositional. As noted by Dr. Miller, this is called the fundamental attribution error. It is one of the most common and pernicious cognitive errors. Likewise, it is common for PAS-unaware professionals to conclude that a targeted parent’s anger is the result of a character flaw instead of the result of trauma caused by the alienation.
I thought I knew children and young people quite well. After all, I had three of my own and I had worked with them for 10 years; I understood child and adolescent behaviour didn’t I? So challenged was I by the behaviours I had observed, that I sought to gain an informed understanding. This was when I came across ‘parental alienation’ (PA). The more I read, the more I understood, the greater my shame, guilt and sadness. Shame that I had usually taken what I saw before me at face value and not sought to look deeper; guilt that my ignorance had probably contributed to the alienation; sadness at the growing realisation that there was very little I could do to rectify the situation for this young girl and her dad. Witnessing the devastating repercussions on the lives of people I loved and cared about, motivated me to ‘do’ something…
Judges merely redirect the dysfunction of one parent as a means to achieve an equitable settlement without regard for children. Prospective lawyers to become judges practice under a code of ethics where they are only allowed to have regard their clients and not the children. A prospect practices under these rules of engagement for 20-30m years before a simple letter of appointment to the bench. They can in no way be expected to have regard for children after this indoctrination. The code of ethics for those lawyers practicing family law needs to change before anything gets better for children. Just know the enemy of your children are the lawyers and judges themselves. https://youtu.be/gYwrJHxfWgQ?list=PLED6CE6FEA630E99E
That’s difficult — but the Feb. 15 edition of The Florida Bar News attempts to do just that in their article…
Access Commission learns how the system is broken”
Look no further than the story of Miami’s Maria Garcia, said Commission member and Third DCA Clerk of CourtMary Cay Blanks during a recent January Commission meeting. Garcia was fired from her job of 15 years, denied benefits and didn’t know where to turn. When she visited Blanks’ office to file an appeal, the attendant simply handed her forms and wasn’t permitted — by law — to give her any legal advice. Unable to afford a lawyer, Ms. Garcia left feeling frustrated and unsure of what step to take next, as if the system had failed her. That has to change, said Blanks.
“The challenge we face in my office is being able to assist them in a meaningful way without crossing that line of giving out too much information and worrying about the unauthorized practice of law,” Blanks told the Commission. “So we err on the side of giving less information because we don’t want to cross that line. The perception is that we’re unhelpful; it causes a lot of people leaving the office disgruntled, and feeling like they are not getting their day in court, or we’re not going to help them get their day in court.”
Award-Winning and Prize-Winning Author of Access Denied, The Wretched, The Roots of Evil, The Ghost of Clothes, Omonolidee, First Words and Unzipped: The Mind of a Madman, The Deeper Roots of Evil, along with numerous short stories, poems and articles.