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Parental Alienation Syndrome

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Parental Alienation Syndrome is a putative disorder proposed by Richard A. Gardner as "a disturbance in which children are obsessively preoccupied with depreciation and/or criticism of a parent. In other words, denigration that is unjustified and or exaggerated." Although Parental Alienation Syndrome has not gained official recognition as a psychological disorder, case law has recognized it in child custody disputes.


Parental Alienation Syndrome, can result from Parental alienation, that occurs when a parent criticizes the other parent or stepparent directly to a child or in front of the children. It will most likely occur during divorce, custody hearings, upon remarriage of a parent, or most commonly during primary contact with the children. The effect is to produce a disturbance in the child's relationship with the other parent.[2][3]
Gardner proposed that children have been taught by an alienating parent to hate the targeted parent, to the point of wanting to eliminate the targeted parent from their lives. He considered this psychological abuse and a form of psychological abuse that has clear-cut unmistakable signs and symptoms.

Alan Kemp (Kemp. p. 36) further described the categories that make up PAS: Rejecting (spurning), terrorizing, corrupting, denying essential stimulation, emotional responsiveness or availability, unreliable and inconsistent parenting, mental health, medical or educational neglect, degrating/devaluating the other parent, isolating, and exploiting the child. By deliberately alienating the victims from other family members and social supports, isolation occurs. The alienator then uses threats or denigrating tactics to force victims to comply with their requests (terrorizing). Essentially, in PAS, the children are used to destroy the targeted parent as a means of revenge.

The alienating parent refuses to comply with court orders, tells the children they do not have to abide by them either, thus prompting them to ignore the authority of the targeted parent. The idea is the alienating parent has a goal of destroying the targeted parent by using the children as weapons or pawns. The alienating parent uses the children to verbally terrorize their other parent, to isolate the other parent, to accuse the other parent and to take away the financial or earning capabilities of the other parent by continual harassments such as false accusations of abuse, further ignoring of court orders to bring about more custody changes and eventual destruction of the targeted parent through emotional/financial collapse.

PAS occurs as a result of cross-generational coalitions, enmeshed relationships, triangles, borderless boundary families and is child psychological maltreatment as recognized by the DSM under Cluster B Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder. The alienating parent without regard to the needs of the children continually violates the rights, needs and court orders from the other parent.


  1. ^ Kenneth H. Waldron, Ph.D. and David E. Joanis, J.D., "Understanding and Collaboratively Treating Parental Alienation Syndrome" American Journal of Family Law. Vol. 10. 121-133 (1996).
  2. ^ Rand, Deirdre Conway. "The Spectrum Of Parental Alienation Syndrome (Part I)". American Journal of Forensic Psychology 15. Retrieved on 2007-03-11. 
  3. ^ Rand, Deirdre Conway (1997). "The Spectrum Of Parental Alienation Syndrome (Part II)". American Journal of Forensic Psychology 15 (4). Retrieved on 2007-03-11.



Also as described on


This is the definition of PAS as described by R.A. Gardner who discovered the syndrome and has become an expert in dealing with the issue.

Gardner's definition of PAS is:

"The parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child-custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child's campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent's indoctrinations and the child's own contributions to the vilification of the target parent."

(Excerpted from: Gardner, R.A. (1998). The Parental Alienation Syndrome, Second Edition, Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.)

Basically, this means that through verbal and non verbal thoughts, actions and mannerisms, a child is emotionally abused (brainwashed) into thinking the other parent is the enemy. This ranges from bad mouthing the other parent infront of the children, to withholding visits, to pre-arranging the activities for the children while visiting with the other parent.

Stages of Parental Alienations Syndrome:

Children who are victims of PAS often go through different Stages as they experience the depth of the alienation.

Stage 1 - Mild | Stage 2 - Moderate | Stage 3 - Severe |


With PAS there are three types of alienators:

The Alienators sometimes do not realise that they are causing damage, but sometimes the alienator is acting in all out war.

› The Naive Alienator mean well and recognize the importance of the children having a healthy relationship with the other parent.

› The Active Alienator is usually found returning to court over problems with visitation. These parents also mean well but they have a problem controlling their frustration, bitterness or hurt.

› The Obsessed Alienator is a parent, or sometimes a grandparent, with a cause: to destroy their relationship with the targeted parent.






Keywords: alienation parental syndrome

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