Men's Affordable Resources Society of British Columbia                                          MARS BC

 

"It"It is a relatively unknown fact that the most reliable predictor of crime is neither poverty nor race, but growing up fatherless"s

  MARS BC - Helping community organizations and individuals to support dads and men

Current Research

Current research is just beginning to identify and catch up to the social changes around our family structure that have taken place in the last number of decades. The major victims in all of this are our children. They are being placed at risk and deprived of two parents, not only by alienating parents, but also by a legal system which fails to understand the implication of Parental Alienation and is ill equipped to deal with it.

 

DEFINITION OF PARENTAL ALIENATION

Prepared by Theo J. Boere, Co-President MARS BC

         Parental Alienation is a distinctive family response to divorce in which the child becomes aligned with one parent and preoccupied with unjustified and/or exaggerated denigration of the other, target parent. In severe cases, the child's once love-bonded relationship with the rejected/target parent is destroyed.

  Since first being identified by Dr. Richard Gardner as Parental Alienation Syndrome or PAS, much controversy has surrounded PAS, as to whether it is really an identifiable syndrome.. Debate continues to rage as to its legitimacy as a real syndrome, but it is not our intention to enter into that debate. Whether it is identified as Parental Alienation Syndrome, or simply as parental alienation, or a multitude of other related psychiatric disorders, it is simply our intention to address the problem. Whether or not one chooses to use Gardner's terminology, the problems posed by these cases to families, professionals and the courts are very real.   Reluctance to consider Parental Alienation by name, along with the diagnostic and interventions it entails, may however contribute to the perpetuation of the problem in a variety of ways. 

     Depending on the severity of the alienation, a child may exhibit all or only some of the following behaviors. It is the cluster of these symptoms that prompted Gardner to consider them as a syndrome.

bulletThe child is aligned with the alienating parent in a campaign of denigration against the target parent, with the child making active contributions;
bulletRationalizations for deprecating the target parent are often weak, frivolous or absurd;
bulletAnimosity toward the rejected parent lacks the ambivalence normal to human relationships;
bulletThe child asserts that the decision to reject the target parent is his or her own, also referred to as the "independent thinker" phenomenon;
bulletThe child reflexively supports the parent with whom he or she is aligned;
bulletThe child expresses guiltless disregard for the feelings of the target or hated parent;
bulletBorrowed scenarios are present, i.e., the child's statements reflect themes and terminology of the alienating parent;
bulletAnimosity is spread to the extended family and others associated with the hated parent.

 

Parental Alienation or a similar type of behavioral acting out by divorcing parents has become a pervasive aspect of divorce in our society. Clawar and Rivlin (Reading List #7) found that parental alienation was practiced to varying degrees by 80% of divorcing parents, with 20 percent engaging in such behaviors with their children at least once a day.  According to Johnston (Reading List #8,9,39), 43% of children they examined were in strong alignments with an alienating parent and 29% in mild alignments.  These figures approach Gardner's estimate that 90% of the children he has assessed in custody evaluations exhibit varying degrees of PAS. 

    According to Statistics Canada there were 69,088 divorces in Canada in 1998. In the 1996 census the average persons per family was 3.1 people. This would equate to 1.1 children per family. This would indicate that approximately 75,000 children were affected by divorce in 1998, not including children of common law marriages. If Parental Alienation was in effect in only 20% of these divorces, 15,000 children are affected annually. If we used even higher percentages, as some studies suggest that some degree of Parental Alienation is active in 80-90% of divorce cases, then we are speaking of over 60,000 children annually. That is 600,000 children each decade and thatís just in Canada. According to Statistics Canada, in 1998, approximately one third of divorce cases involved child custody orders. These orders concerned 37,851 children. Child custody orders are an indication of high conflict divorce. We believe that we can safely draw the conclusion that thousands of children in Canada are affected by Parental Alienation annually.

READING LIST

1. Gardner R: Recent trends in divorce and custody litigation. Academy Forum 1985; 29:2:3-7

2. Wallerstein JS, Kelly JB: Surviving the break-up: how children and parents cope with divorce. New York, Basic Books, 1980

3. Blush GJ, Ross KL: Sexual allegations in divorce: the SAID syndrome. Conciliation Courts Review 1987; 25:1:1-11

4. Jacobs JW: Euripides' Medea: a psychodynamic model of severe divorce pathology. American Journal of Psychotherapy 1988; XLII:2:308-319

5. Wallerstein JS, Blakeslee S: Second Chances. New York, Ticknor & Fields, 1989 ' 6. Turkat ID: Child visitation interference in divorce. Clinical Psychology Review 1994; 14:8:737-742

7. Clawar SS, Rivlin BV: Children Held Hostage: Dealing with Programmed and Brainwashed Children. Chicago, American Bar Association, 1991

8. Johnston JR, Campbell LE: Impasses of Divorce: The Dynamics and Resolution of Family Conflict. New York, The Free Press, 1988

9. Johnston JR: Children of divorce who refuse visitation, in Non-residential Parenting: New Vistas in Family Living. Edited by Depner CE, Bray JH, London, Sage Publications, 1993

10. National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect: executive summary: study of national incidence and prevalence of child abuse and neglect. Washington DC: Department of Health and Human Services 1988, Contract 105-85-1702

11. Stewart JW: The molestation charge. California Family Law Monthly 1991; 7:9:329-335

12. Thoennes N, Tjaden PG: The extent, nature, and validity of sexual abuse allegations in custody visitation disputes. Child Abuse & Neglect 1990; 12:151-63

13. National Council on Children's Rights: CAPTA revised to provide relief for false allegations. Speak Out for Children, Fall 1996/Winter 1997

14. State of California: The California Child Abuse & Neglect Reporting Law: Issues and Answers for Health Practitioners, 1991

15. Gardner RA: The Parental Alienation Syndrome and the Differentiation Between Fabricated and Genuine Child Sex Abuse. Cresskill, NJ, Creative Therapeutics, 1987

16. Gardner RA: The Parental Alienation Syndrome: A Guide for Mental Health and Legal Professionals. Cresskill, NJ, Creative Therapeutics, 1992

17. Gardner RA: Family Evaluation in Child Custody Mediation, Arbitration, and Litigation. Cresskill, NJ, Creative Therapeutics, 1989

18. Huntington DS: The forgotten figures in divorce, in Divorce and Fatherhood: The Struggle for Parental Identity. Edited by Jacobs JW, Washington DC, American Psychiatric Association Press, 1986

19. Lund M: A therapist's view of parental alienation syndrome. Family and Conciliation Courts Review 1995; 33:3:308-316

20. Maccoby EE, Mnookin RH: Dividing the Child: Social and Legal Dilemmas of Custody. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, I992

21. Garrity CB, Baris MA: Caught in the Middle: Protecting the Children of High-Conflict Divorce. New York, Lexington Books, 1994

22. Dunne J, Hedrick M: The parental alienation syndrome: an analysis of sixteen selected cases. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage 1994; 21:3/4:21-38

23. Rand DC: Munchausen syndrome by proxy: a complex type of emotional abuse responsible for some false allegations of child abuse in divorce. Issues in Child Abuse Accusations 1993; 5:3:135-155

24. Cartwright GF: Expanding the parameters of parental alienation syndrome.
American Journal of Family Therapy 1993; 21:3:205-215
25. Tucker LS, Cornwall TP: Mother-son folie a deux: a case of attempted patricide. American Journal of Psychiatry 1977; 134:10:1146-1 147

26. Ross KL, Blush GJ: Sexual abuse validity discriminators in the divorced or divorcing family. Issues in Child Abuse Accusations 1990; 2:1:1-6

27. Blush GJ, Ross KL: Investigation and case management issues and strategies. Issues in Child Abuse Accusations 1990; 2:3:152-160

28. Wakefield H, Underwager R: Personality characteristics of parents making false accusations of sexual abuse in custody disputes. Issues in Child Abuse Accusations 1990; 2:3:121-136

29. Reich W: Character Analysis. New York, WR Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Noonday Press, 1949

30. Turkat ID: Divorce related malicious mother syndrome. Journal of Family Violence 1995; 10:3:253-264

31. Spiegel LD: A Question of Innocence. Parsippany, NJ, Unicorn Publishing House, 1986

32. Rogers M: Delusional disorder and the evolution of mistaken sexual allegations in child custody cases. American Journal of Forensic Psychology 1992; 10:1:47-69

33. Sinanan K, Houghton H: Evolution of variants of the Munchausen syndrome. British Journal of Psychiatry 1986; 148:465-467

34. Meadow R: False allegations of abuse and Munchausen syndrome by proxy. Archives of Disease in Childhood 1993; 68:4:444-4.47
35. Jones M, Lund M, Sullivan M: Dealing with parental alienation in high conflict custody cases, presentation at conference of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, San Antonio, TX, 1996

36. Bools CN, Neale BA, Meadow SR: Co-morbidity associated with fabricated illness (Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy). Archives of Disease in Childhood 1992; 67:77-79

37. Lampel A: Children's alignment with parents in highly conflicted custody cases. Family and Conciliation Courts Review 1996; 34:2:229 239

38. Lampel A: Post-divorce therapy with high conflict families. The Independent Practitioner, Bulletin of the Division of Psychologists in Independent Practice, Division 42 of the American Psychological Association 1986; 6:3:22-26

39. Johnston JR, Roseby V: In the Name of the Child: A Developmental Approach to Understanding and Helping Children of Conflicted and Violent Divorce. New York, Free Press, 1997

40. Barnet W: False statements and the differential diagnosis of abuse allegations. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 1993; 32:903-910

41. Ditrich CW: Pseudologia fantastica, dissociation, and potential space in child treatment. International Journal of Psychoanalysis 1991; 72:657-667

42. Garbarino J, Guttmann E, Seeley JW: The Psychologically Battered Child: Strategies for Identification, Assessment, and Intervention. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass Publishers,1986
43. Garbarino J, Stott FM: What Children Can Tell Us: Eliciting Interpreting, and Evaluating Critical Information from Children. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1992

44. Turkat ID: Child visitation interference in divorce. Clinical Psychology Review 1994; 14:8:737-742

45. Jacobs JW: Involuntary child absence syndrome: an affliction of divorcing fathers, in Divorce and Fatherhood: The Struggle for Parental Identity. Edited by Jacobs JW, Washington DC, American Psychiatric Association Press, 1986

46. Tolbert J: AR v. SE. New York Law Journal, December 1 l, 1990; 27 28

47. Nicholas L: Parental alienation: assessing and treating coercion of children during divorce and custody disputes. Unpublished paper. Copyright 1995

48. Patterson D: The other victim: the falsely accused parent in a sexual abuse and custody case. Journal of Family Law 1991-1992; 30:919 941

49. Sanders CH: When you suspect the worst: bad-faith relocation, fabricated child sexual abuse and parental alienation. Family Advocate 1993; Winter: 54-56

50. Campbell TW: Psychotherapy with children of divorce: the pitfalls of triangulated relationships. Psychotherapy 1992; 29:4:646-652

51. Campbell TW: Therapeutic relationships and iatrogenic outcomes: the blame-and-change manoeuvre in psychotherapy. Psychotherapy 1992; 29:3:474-479

52. Underwager R, Wakefield H: The Real World of Child Interrogations. Springfield, IL, Charles C. Thomas Publishers, 1989

53. Gardner RA: Sex Abuse Hysteria: Salem Witch Trials Revisited. Cresskill, NJ, Creative Therapeutics, 1991

54. Ceci SJ, Bruck M: Suggestibility of the child witness: a historical review and synthesis. Psychological Bulletin 1993; 113:3:403-439

55. Loftus E, Ketcham K: Witness for the Defence: The Accused, the Eyewitness, and the Expert who puts Memory on Trial. New York, St. Martin's Press, 1991

56. Doris J (ed.): The Suggestibility of Children's Recollections: Implications for Eyewitness Testimony. American Psychological Association, Washington DC, 1991

57. Everson MD: Understanding bizarre, improbable, and fantastic elements in children's accounts of abuse. Child Maltreatment 1997: , 2:2:134-149 - 42. Greene F: Litigating child custody with religious cults. Cultic Studies Journal 1989; 6:1:69-74

58. Singer MT, Lalich J: Cults in Our Midst, San Francisco, California,
Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1995
59. Bower R: Parental Alienation Syndrome: a new type of cult? Presented at the 13th Annual Symposium in Forensic Psychology of the American College of Forensic Psychology, Vancouver, British Columbia, 1997

60. Palmer NR: Legal recognition of the parental alienation syndrome. American Journal of Family Therapy 1988; 16:4:361-363

61. Goldwater A: Le syndrome d'alienation parentale [in English]. Developpements recents on droit familial 1991; 121-145

62. Ward P, Harvey JC: Family wars: the alienation of children. New Hampshire Bar Journal, March, 1993; 30-40

63. Hindz R, Shurzer A, Johnston J: Solomon's tug: the many faces of parental alienation. Presented at the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Southwest Regional Conference, Tucson, AZ, 1994

64. Sullivan M, Jones M: Parental alienation. Presented at the conference of the California Chapter of Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, San Diego, CA, 1996

65. Barovsky R, Stahl P, Ward P: Parental alienation. Presented at the Second World Congress on Family Law and the Rights of Children and Youth held in association with the Annual Conference of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, San Francisco, CA, 1997

66. Waldron KH, Joanis DE: Understanding and collaboratively treating parental alienation syndrome. American Journal of Family Law 1996; 10:3:121-133

67. Walsh MR, Bone JM: Parental alienation syndrome: an age-old custody problem. The Florida Bar Journal June 1997; LXXI:6:93-96

68. Wood C: The parental alienation syndrome: a dangerous aura of reliability. Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review 1994; 1367-1415

69. Turkat A: Management of visitation interference. The Judges' Journal, American Bar Association February 1997; 17-47

70. Montgomery S, Effron E, Guyer M, Levy R: Custody disputes between the psychological parent and psychologically healthier parent. Presented at the Second World Congress on Family Law and the Rights of Children and Youth held in association with the Annual Conference of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, San Francisco, CA, 1997

71. Lampel AK: When children reject parents. The Family LAP, April 1996; 1:1:1

72. Ackerman MJ, Kane AW: How to Examine Psychological Experts in Divorce and Other Civil Actions: 1991 Supplement. Eau Claire, WI, Professional Education Systems, Inc., 1991

73. Ackerman MJ, Kane AW: Psychological Experts in Divorce, Personal Injury and Other Civil Actions. New York, Wiley Law, 1993

74. Zolla MS, Meyer LH: The perpetuation of disturbing conflict between dependency court and family law jurisdiction. Los Angeles Lawyer July/August 1993; 30-35
75. Kopetski, L: Parental alienation syndrome: recent research. Presented at the 15th Annual Child Custody Conference, Keystone, CO, 1991

76. Nicholas L: Does parental alienation exist ? Preliminary empirical study of the phenomenon in custody and visitation disputes. Presented at the 13th Annual Symposium in Forensic Psychology of the American College of Forensic Psychology, Vancouver, British Columbia, 1997

77. Stahl PM: Conducting Child Custody Evaluations. Thousand Oaks, CA, Sage Publications, Inc., 1994

78. Hysjulien C, Wood B, Benjamin GA: Child custody evaluations: a review of methods used in litigation and alternate dispute resolution. Family and Conciliation Courts Review 1994; 32:4:466-489

79. Rand DC: Comprehensive psychosocial assessment in factitious disorder by proxy, in Spectrum of Factitious Disorders. Edited by Feldman MD, Eisendrath SJ. Washington DC, American Psychiatric Press, Inc., 1996

80. Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluations in Divorce Proceedings: Pertinent Literature. American Psychologist 1994; 49:7:677-680

81. Rogers ML: Coping with alleged false sexual molestation: examination and statement analysis procedures. Issues in Child Abuse Accusations 1990; 2:2:57-68

82. Faller KC: Possible explanations for child sexual abuse allegations in divorce. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 1991:61:1:86-91

83. Guyer MJ: Psychiatry, law, and child sexual abuse. American Psychiatric Press Review of Psychiatry, Volume 10. Edited by Tasman A, Goldfinger SM. Washington DC, American Psychiatric Press, Inc., 1991

84. Wakefield H, Underwager R: Sexual abuse allegations in divorce and custody disputes. Behavioral Sciences and the 1991; 9:451-468 73.

85. Campbell TW: False allegations of sexual abuse and their apparent credibility. American Journal of Forensic Psychology 1992; 10:4:21 35

86. Ehrenberg MF, Elterman MF: Evaluating allegations of sexual abuse in the context of divorce, child custody and access disputes, in True and False Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse: Assessment and Case Management. Edited by Ney T. New York, Brunner/Mazel Publishers, 1995
87. Mapes, BE: Child Eyewitness Testimony in Sexual Abuse Investigations. Brandon, VT, Clinical Psychology Publishing Co., Inc., 1995

88. Thisdelle, Guy: Fathers, Children, Family, and Community. Ottawa, Commonersí Publishing, 2000

89. Sullivan, Matthew J. and Kelly, Joan B.: Legal And Psychological Management Of Cases With An Alienated Child. California, Family Courts Review, July 2001.

90. Kelly, Joan B., Ph.D. and Johnston, Janet R.: The Alienated Child:

A Reformulation Of Parental Alienation Syndrome. California, Family Courts Review, July 2001.
 

 

 


Get a copy of our Parental Alienation Brochure here

Parental Alienation Brochure

View the City of Nanaimo's Proclamation of Parental Alienation Day

Here

View the City of Vancouver's Proclamation of Parental Alienation Day

Here

PRESS RELEASE

Member of Parliament Maurice Vellacott (Saskatoon-Wanuskewin)  releases results of new  equal shared parenting poll

Here

Child Abuse

Parental Alienation is destructive irrespective of the gender of the alienating parent and is considered to be a form of child abuse. Children are growing up without one parent and are being psychologically damaged in the process. These children are acting out their confusion, anger, and frustrations in many ways. For example, boys, in the teenage years, are often prone to violent, self destructive behaviors related to drugs, car thefts, robbery, gang behavior, and suicide. Girls, in the teenage years, are prone to similar kinds of self destructive behaviors, including drugs, gang behavior, and sexual promiscuity.

 

 

     
"If we can keep children connected with their fathers we can address, in one dramatic move, many of the social challenges in our society." Theo J. Boere
Men's Affordable Resources Society of British Columbia