Speaking from first hand experience, once of the most difficult things for a targeted parent to understand is the behavior of the children, even after they become adults, to refuse to see the part the alienating parent played in their loss of a relationship with the targeted parent.
“Children are adamant about the decision to reject the other parent as their own. They adopt the ‘Independent Thinker’ phenomenon. This mentality is supported by the alienating parent and defended by the child’s rights to make his own decisions regarding visitation. This is the strongest weapon of the alienating parent. At this point the child has taken ownership of the alienation by adopting the beliefs themselves and no longer require the alienating parent to tell them what to believe.
Children show support of the alienating parent’s position in inter-parental conflict, with no impartiality or willingness to hear the alienated parent point of view.”
[Source: inourcornerllc.com ]
Consumption isn’t the only motivation that compels people to be psychologically coercive. Sometimes it’s spite. Dr. William Bernet, professor emeritus of psychiatry at Vanderbilt University, has seen firsthand the true range of parents’ destruction when divorce leaves children caught in the middle of an ugly war for the upper hand. Confused and scared about who to trust, and sometimes plagued with fears of physical abuse, kids reject one parent in favor of the alienating one, exhibiting what psychologists call parental alienation syndrome (PAS).
“I would say that PAS is caused by brainwashing or indoctrination of the child,” said Bernet.
Wracked with resentment, the alienating parent tells the child how awful the other parent is, openly insulting them, forbidding the parent from visiting, and sometimes lying about cases of abuse, just so they can get full custody of the child. In children, the resulting effect is a warped view of the…
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My book, “An Attachment-Based Model of Parental Alienation: Foundations” is on its way. I’m anticipating it will be available June 1 on Amazon.com. It will fundamentally alter the dialogue surrounding the construct of “parental alienation.”
It defines the construct of “parental alienation” from entirely within standard and established psychological principles and constructs.
It fully and completely describes the psychopathology.
It fully and completely describes the complex and manipulative communication processes by which the narcissistic/(borderline) alienating parent induces the child’s rejection of the other parent.
It fully and completely describes the core pathology of the narcissistic/(borderline) personality that is creating the pathology of “parental alienation.”
Everything is explained. Everything.
In the final three chapters, I turn to professional issues. In this discussion I provide a broad overview of diagnosis, treatment, and professional competence.
Attachment-based “parental alienation” is defined as psychological child abuse that REQUIRES the child’s protective separation from the pathogenic…
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Seeking Mental Health Care: Taking the First, Scary Step
Despite increasing acceptance and public awareness, there is still a stigma associated with seeking help from mental health professionals. While mental health screening and treatment can dramatically improve someone’s quality of life, there is often still a very strong resistance to the idea.
People may be afraid that they are “crazy” or that others will look down on them for it. They may have an irrational fear that they will be locked up. The truth of the matter is that seeking professional help is a suitable course of action in many situations.
If you are resisting seeking mental health help, there are a few things that can help you move forward.
Figure Out Why You Are Reluctant
Some people can point to very specific things that teach them that they should not engage in seeking mental health help, but other people have only a strong and unconsidered resistance to the idea. If your mind automatically shies away from thinking about the possibility, ask yourself why. Are you afraid of how you will be seen? Are you concerned about the idea of being put on drugs that will affect you adversely? Once you figure out why you are averse to the idea, you can move forward.
Use Anonymous Help Lines
There are a number of anonymous help lines where trained counselors can help distressed people or suggest ways to handle mental health concerns. Though suicide hotlines are the best known, there are others which will help you understand mental health services and put you in touch with the organizations that you need. There is no pressure in calling an anonymous hotline, and you’ll find that it can make you much more inclined to talk about getting the help that you need.
Stop Using Pejorative Language
Many people afraid of seeking help for mental illness speak derogatorily about those who do. They use words such as “crazy,” “psycho,” or “loony bin.” Not only does this shame people who might be listening, it also creates a distance between themselves and something that could potentially help them. When you catch yourself calling yourself or someone else crazy, stop yourself. At the very least, it might clue you in to how you are behaving.
It can be hard to find a mental health professional who is suited to you. For example, if you are dealing with issues related to alternative lifestyles, sexuality or abuse, you want to make sure that you are dealing with a professional who is skilled in these matters. If your friends or family members regularly see a therapist, ask them for advice. If you feel as though you cannot talk to anyone who knows you, go online. Many people review their counselors on the Internet, and it can help you find someone who can help you.
Talk it out
Talk out your fears with a sympathetic friend. Find someone you know who is aware of issues like this, or at least someone you know will be understanding. Sometimes, it can be a good way for you to overcome your fears; others may be able to point out things that you miss. It also can be very freeing to talk to someone about something you may perceive as shameful or problematic. This is something that can give you the courage you need to move forward.
Ask for Company
If you are making your first steps toward seeking professional psychological help, you’ll find that it can be tough to even make it out the door. You might find yourself delaying the trip or repeatedly putting it off. Making that first step is hard, and sometimes, it is a good idea to make sure that you have a friend who can help you with it. Ask a friend to go with you on your first trip to a mental health center. They may simply drive you there, or they may wait there with you. This can be quite comforting if you are worried or if you have anxiety problems. Your friends want to be there for you, so remember to let them.
Keep a Journal
Sometimes, people have very short memories when it comes to their mental health. They may have a good idea, and in some ways, they simply forget that they ever have bad ones. It is a perilous see-saw. They do not get help when they are upset because they lack the willpower or motivation, but when they are feeling happy, they don’t get help because they’re convinced that they will always be happy. Keeping a journal that tracks your moods can help you establish patterns that will help you understand what is going on. Also, a journal is a great thing to give to a mental health professional, as it shows where you have been and what you have been going through.
Consider Support Groups
If you know the area with which you are struggling, it can benefit you to go to a support group. Support groups often are mediated by people with some kind of mental health training. In some cases, a support group is less intimidating because you can hang back before you participate, and the focus is not necessarily on you. If you live in a major city, support groups often are quite numerous, but if you live in a smaller city or a rural area, they may take some effort to attend. Remember that participation in a support group is purely voluntary, and that you can leave at any point during the meeting that you want to.
Consider What to Expect
People often are nervous about seeking psychological help because they are afraid of the unknown. They may think that someone will make a snap judgment about their case, and they may be afraid that they will not be able to negotiate their needs. When you go in for a mental health appointment, you will be asked to fill out a questionnaire about yourself and your reasons for seeking treatment. Then a therapist will talk to you, and if it is appropriate, outline their ideas for treatment. None of this is binding, and you are allowed to state your preferences.
Some people feel that they will be completely helpless when they are dealing with a counselor. The truth of the matter is that unless you are speaking of doing something illegal or you are going to harm yourself, a mental health professional cannot detain you in any way, nor can they force treatment on you. If you do not want to be on medication, you can set that as a limit, and if there are some things which disturb you or upset you, you can set limits there too. Mental health professionals should always encourage good boundaries.
Mental health can be a frightening issue to deal with, but learning more about it can make you much healthier and happier.
[Source: psychcentral.com ]
Divorcing a narcissist may be the toughest fight of your life. While your marriage to a narcissist may have seemed like hell, divorcing him/her can be painfully agonizing, making your marriage seem like a walk in the park.
Following my recent blog, the #1 Secret to Engaging a Narcissist, I received hundreds of emails from people looking for answers on how to divorce a narcissist. Many claimed that their narcissist manipulates the legal system and as their victim, they are destined to lose because they lack the manipulating tactics of which their narcissist so skillfully acquires.
This led me to want to investigate this further — do narcissists really manipulate the legal system? How can their spouse or ex-spouse engage in legal matters with their narcissist without losing their mind, and actually “win” their case?
After interviewing experts on this subject, one thing is clear: If you are divorcing a narcissist, you need to be prepared that your spouse will put on the greatest show of their lives — divorce is the ultimate opportunity to showcase their role as the victim/martyr. At last, they get to prove to the world why you are a horrible, unworthy person and/or parent. The worst thing you can do, states divorce attorney Robert Farzad*, is to react emotionally to any of it.
“All of your emotions and what you feel are irrelevant. The minute you react to that person, you are already losing the battle,” Farzad said. “Stop feeling and start thinking.”
Farzad, president of Farzad Family Law in Orange County, California, believes that those divorcing a narcissist “lose” their case because they never had a strategy and end up surrendering. “That surrender usually happens when they say, ‘I can’t handle this anymore, I give up,'” he said. “When you take a person who has been emotionally mutilated for decades, does that sound like a person who will do well in a fight?”
To avoid surrender, Farzad recommends the following guidelines as you manage your case with your narcissist:
1) Take your time: “The biggest thing that happens is that there’s a huge rush to hire an attorney. There should be an interview process,” he said. “Even if you’ve been served papers, you don’t have to hire an attorney the same day unless it’s some kind of emergency hearing coming up. Make sure you file your response on time, but see if you can find the time to interview a few lawyers before making a final decision.”
2) Listen, ask questions: “Don’t walk in with pre-conceived notions of how things should be – go in as a blank canvas,” he said. A perception might be that you should have sole custody of kids and your spouse should never have them. “That’s not helpful,” he added. “Don’t try to control the process with your pre-conceived notions, instead, educate yourself with the process of how things actually are. Set forth reasonable expectations.”
3) Itemize the issues that are important to you: Bring a list to your attorney consultation – what are you concerned about? Make a list of your questions and concerns. For example, what’s going to happen to the house, etc? Ask your attorney, what judges in your county best handle custody and visitation? How does your state handle alimony? These are just a few examples.
4) Identify the end goal: Be very clear with your attorney as to exactly what you want. Don’t get caught up in the fight over the smallest issues. “A narcissist wants you to react to everything he or she does. In other words, think before you spend $9 on a $10 issue,” he said.
5) Ask the right questions: How do we level the playing field where he/she can outspend me? What laws exist? What mistakes has your lawyer seen that people in my position make? Ask your lawyer, “Am I being unreasonable or realistic about _____ (fill in the blank)?”
6) Play devil’s advocate with your case: What arguments are your narcissist spouse or other parent going to make? What facts will they come up with that will hurt your positions? It’s good to be objective.
7) Don’t hire the overaggressive, “pit bull” lawyer: “Some people want a lawyer who isn’t a problem solver or reasonable. They want someone who will make a lot of noise and promises to make their spouses’ life a living hell,” Farzad said. “Why would you ever hire that type of attorney to help you toward a reasonable conclusion? All you’re doing is feeding the monster that is the lawyer’s billable hours.” Farzad believes that a quality family law litigator and zealous advocate also knows when to objectively access the facts, law and each side’s positions.
8) Don’t focus on who they are, but what they’re doing: “If you give someone a label and stick them with it, you completely lose focus,” he said. Actions speak so much more clearly than labels.
9) Be reasonable at all times: “You don’t battle a narcissist by becoming a narcissist, where you are also unreasonable. You battle a narcissist by disengaging him, and thinking logically, factually, and economically. Use the facts and law as your way to conclusion, whether that is settlement or letting the Court make decisions.”
*Mr. Farzad’s comments are related only to California matters because he is licensed to practice law in California only. Nothing he has said is legal advice nor intended for any particular case. These are his general thoughts on the subject.
[Source: Lindsey Ellison, Huffington Post]
Parental Alienation Awareness Day was recognized on April 25. However, on any day it’s important for all divorced parents to reflect on their relationship with their former spouse and how it may be subtly or overtly affecting the emotional and psychological well-being of their children.
One behavior commonly overlooked as a very hurtful aspect of Parental Alienation involves one parent keeping the other from contact with the children — as punishment.
Threatening To Keep Your Ex From the Kids
Divorced parents can quickly learn ways to abuse their power over the other parent by using the children as a lever. Among the most harmful of these types of manipulations is making demands and threatening to eliminate or restrict contact with the kids if your ex doesn’t agree.
Using Your Child as a Pawn
Most all divorced parents have incidents and expectations that cause great frustration or anger toward their ex. But you’re stepping over the line when you make the kids a pawn in your negotiations. Demanding that your ex does something or stops another behavior and using contact with the children as punishment not only hurts your ex. It hurts, scars, confuses and frustrates your children, as well.
Putting your kids in the midst of parental conflict is toxic and has proven to be one of the greatest causes of post-divorce family problems. Children are torn about taking sides. It’s a no-win situation because they feel guilty regardless of how they choose.
Even if your ex is in some ways a negative influence on your children, there may be other aspects of the relationship in which the contact is positive, beneficial and nurturing. Let your children make the decision about whether to minimize contact with their other parent, based on their own experiences. Never let your personal bitterness influence whether your children have a relationship and an emotional connection with their Dad or Mom — unless there is actual abuse that threatens their well-being.
Children Need Both Parents
Remember that your divorce is between Mom and Dad, and not your relationship with your children. All children need positive role models of responsible parenting. They benefit from seeing two mature adults interacting effectively as parents for the sake of their kids. Children thrive under the attention of both parents. Don’t deny them the psychological value of knowing both Mom and Dad are there for them, continue to love them and will be nurturing them through the years ahead — despite the divorce.
That affirmation of support will get your kids through challenges ahead that all children face as they progress through school, tackle their own interpersonal relationships and learn how to be positive, productive citizens in this world. Be a hero in your children’s lives. Bite your tongue, vent to your friends and make responsible decisions you can be proud of as a parent — for the sake of your kids!
Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is author of the internationally acclaimed ebook How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children — with Love! To grab her free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting along with her ezine, coaching services and other valuable resources for parents go to:www.childcentereddivorce.com.
[Source: Huffington Divorce]
My book “An Attachment-Based Model of Parental Alienation: Foundations” is due for publication in the next few weeks. This book is the culmination of my work over the past seven years to redefine the construct of “parental alienation” from entirely within standard and established mental health constructs and principles.
This book will fundamentally alter the current discussion surrounding the construct of “parental alienation” and will provide a solution for targeted parents to their nightmare.
“Foundations”provides a complete and elaborated description for the construct of “parental alienation” from entirely within standard and established psychological principles and constructs to which mental health professionals can be held accountable.
After reading“Foundations,” mental health and legal professionals will no longer be able to say, “I don’t believe in parental alienation” or “parental alienation doesn’t exist.” It exists. It is not a matter of belief. And “Foundations”describes what it is.
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Even after all the years of problems — which, incidentally, started way before I came along — our alienating parent still wants to blame me for the fact that her children have no relationship with their father.
This is another perfect example of our alienating parent and her pathological lying: anyone who knows the situation, or has spoken to my husband about his lack of a relationship with his children, knows the truth. But the fact that someone can talk to my husband and get his side of the story, doesn’t stop our alienating parent from giving her version. The fact that her lie can easily be disproven — from the source itself — doesn’t affect her, or her chronic lies.
Is there any reason these adult children cannot call their father? No. We still have the same phone number we always had. Their father is retired, while I go to work every day. If they wanted to talk to him, all they had to do was pick up the phone and give him a call. He also has the same cell phone number he had the last time they spoke to him. I don’t answer that phone. So, again, they have another way to reach him.
But they don’t …..
And no one blames them. They are the innocent victims in all of this. Their behavior is based upon what they believe are facts. And, unfortunately, those facts were conveniently provided by the alienating parent. The targeted parent knows the facts are not true, and I’m sure, at some level, so do the children.
But they can’t act upon that knowledge of the truth. Because that would start all the turmoil again — and no one needs, or deserves, that. We all just live our lives, not speaking or communicating with each other, because then we all have some peace.
And it became abundantly clear several years ago that the only way any of us were going to have peace, was to end the father / children relationship.
Isn’t it sad that one person can wreck so much havoc in the lives of so many people?
Here we have an alienating parent who, by all accounts, is escalating her online tirade against the targeted parent and step-parent to her children — years after there was even any contact between children and targeted parent. Can you imagine what would happen if the children, or the targeted parent, attempted to re-establish their relationship?
It’s so much easier for the “children” to pretend that I’m the cause of all of the problems, than to face the reality that they are victims of parental alienation. If they reached out to their father …. I honestly don’t know what would happen. But I do know that they could no longer go along with the alienating parent’s version of the “facts.”
If they heard, from their father’s own mouth: “I don’t have a relationship with you because ……” — and it had nothing to do with me — reality would have to set in. And, unfortunately, reality is what they have been avoiding.
Their father is in his 60s and we’re hoping he’ll be around for another 30 years or so. But when the time does come that he’s gone, if they can take some solace by placing the blame on me, then so be it. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Instead of mourning a parent they lost, without any communication for many years, and then telling people: the wicked stepmother wouldn’t let us see him. (Does anyone even stop to think how that sounds?!?) Instead, they could enjoy this wonderful man, who is an incredible father, loving grandfather and an awesome friend to so many.
The choice is theirs … not mine. But then, that might mean upsetting the alienating parent and going back to all the drama, turbulence and lies that came along with having a relationship with their father.
So, in conclusion, who can blame them for the decision they made?
Our particular instance of parental alienation may be the result of several different situations. It might have to do with our alienating parent’s childhood. It might have to do with her narcissistic personality traits. Or it might stem from her pathological lying.
As we mentioned in an earlier post, her versions of what has, or has not, transpired over the years border on the absurd. During the years she was custodial parent of my stepchildren, it was difficult to ascertain the truth behind their medical care, educational needs, etc., because the alienating parent told us so many lies.
And she was not only telling lies to the father of her children, about the children — she was likewise telling lies to the children, about their father.
We found this paragraph about characteristics of pathological liars, which was like a description written about our alienating parent: “The sad part about this story is not so much that the former Judge lost his job in the end, but that he was very unaware of the fact that his steps could be traced and that many people would ultimately find him out. That level of consciousness was missing from Patrick and is missing in so many other people who are compulsive liars. The very fact that a lie could be found out does not affect the liar. The very fact that the liars work-life, home-life, or reputation could be in jeopardy as a result of the lies, does not phase the liar. Guilt, shame, or regret does not affect the liar. Consequences also do not seem to affect the liar. So then why does the liar engage in such behaviors? ”
Our alienating parent spent years writing letter, after letter, after letter; spent years submitting documentation in Court hearings; continues to make comments on internet postings, never thinking: “my steps can be traced and I’ll be found out.” Guilt, shame or regret do not exist in our alienating parent’s vocabulary. And, to this day, she is totally lacking in any level of consciousness.
We’ve always known that our alienating parent lied to the children. But it is puzzling to see the lies continue. I, personally, know what I may or may not have said. And to see quotes attributed to me, when I know full well that I never said such things, is baffling. Why does our alienating parent feel the need to continue the lies? Years after she successfully alienating her children from their father. Is she lying, just for the sake of lying?
For others dealing with a pathological liar, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Know that a pathological liar will study you: The goal of the liar may be hidden, but you can count on the fact that the liar doesn’t want you to know the truth. In order to evade someone, you certainly need to study the person and examine what that person might or might not believe. Liars, often sociopaths, are known to “study” the person they hope to take advantage of.
- Don’t forget that the liar lacks empathy: As hard as it is to believe, it is true. The liar doesn’t have any consciousness of how the lying behavior may make you feel. The liar doesn’t think before he lies: “oh, I better not say that or I could hurt that person or mislead them.” The liar doesn’t care anything about your feelings and never will. A question many parents have asked their child who lies is: “Why don’t you just tell me the truth. Why is that so hard!?” As easy as it is for you to think this way, it’s not that easy for the liar. The liar lacks the ability to consider what you might feel in response to their lie (which is empathy).
- Most “normal” liars feel guilty and are relieved when you change the topic or stop asking questions: This was an interesting clue that I learned about as I studied forensic psychology as a graduate student some years ago. I found that the pathological liar often shows no emotion when lying, which makes them believable. The person who is lying and has a sense of empathy or consciousness, will often show relief when the topic is changed. For example, if someone told you that they grew up in a concentration camp and experienced a lot of trauma as a result, you would ask questions about it to further understand. If you changed the topic at the point when you observed stress or anxiety in response to your questions, you would see the person may be lying and is well aware of the consequences of that lying. Most of us will relax when others cease from asking so many questions. A pathological liar is not phased.
- All liars don’t do the common things you think liars do: Believe it or not, liars don’t always touch their nose, shift in their seats or from one foot to the next, or even look sneaky. Some really experienced liars are good at giving you direct eye contact, seeming relaxed or “laid back,” and may appear very sociable. The thing to look for is eye contact that feels piercing. Some sociopaths have learned how to evade people with direct eye contact, sociable smiles, and humor. Trust your instincts and discernment here.
- The most sneaky liars are manipulative: I once heard someone say “we all manipulate.” While this might be true (although I disagree), the liar tends to manipulate more than anyone else and has learned how to become a “pro” at doing it. There is nothing impressive about the dangerous or evil manipulator. They know everything to say and do, they know what you want and don’t want, and again, they study you. In fact, many pathological liars (and sociopaths who lie) use sexual or emotional arousal to distract you from the truth. Watch someone who seems to be directing their attention to you in such a way as to stimulate your arousal in some way. That arousal could be psychological (peaking your interest), emotional (causing you to feel connected to them), or sexual.
- Pathological liars exhibit strange behaviors: Can you remember how you felt, perhaps as a child or teen, after you were caught lying to a teacher, a parent, or friend? Did you feel guilty, sad, or afraid that the other person would no longer accept you? Some research suggests that some pathological liars show no discomfort when caught lying, while other studies suggest that liars may become aggressive and angry when caught. No pathological liar is the same. [Source: blogs.psychcentral.com ]
We have not had any contact with my step-children (who are adults, with children of their own) for several years, and have — unfortunately — given up any hope of reconciling with them. We read with great interest Karen Woodall’s blog: rebuilding your relationship with your alienated child. (https://karenwoodall.wordpress.com/2015/05/03/rebuilding-your-relationship-with-your-alienated-child/)
Our biggest roadblock to any possible reconciliation? “Reframing of their understanding of the past, in which they begin to see that their behaviours were not based on fact but on what they had been lead to believe were facts.”
Even though we haven’t seen or spoken to the children in years, the alienating parent continues her campaign of alienation to this day, with numerous postings on the internet about us, our situation with the children, etc. We’ve heard from several sources that her posts have recently escalated, becoming more frequent and more disturbing. She goes so far as to post so-called quotes from me. If she’s going to the extreme measure of posting made-up “quotes” on the internet, you can only imagine her behavior in the privacy of her own home.
This is our story of parental alienation: we have a parent who has successfully alienated her children from their father; yet, she is still compelled to continue the alienation — complete with fabricated stories and imaginary quotes. Why does she feel the need to keep the alienation ongoing? Perhaps she’s worried that, should she let down her guard, the children may attempt to contact their father?
According to her online posts, the children have no relationship with their father because I’ve kept him from them. I’ve also kept his entire family from them. I’m not quite sure how I could have even accomplished that, but that is how our alienating parent paints the picture of her children’s estrangement from their father.
How does one successfully reach these children with the truth? We started a page on this blog about our Journey Through Parental Alienation (which can be found through the link on the left hand side of this page). This is a small sampling of what we’ve gone through over the past thirty years. We didn’t want this to become a “he said — she said” situation, so we purposely shared many of the actual documents dealing with our relationship with our alienating parent. Does anyone, after reading the rants and raves of our alienating parent, honestly believe her children have no relationship with their father because of me? Do the adult children honestly believe that?
We always held out hope that, with time, the adult children would accept the reality of the situation. And the reality is: they were successfully alienated from one parent, by the other. And you’ll notice how we use the past tense: we always held out hope. Unfortunately, we are no longer holding out hope, because we really see no reason to ….
This sounds so much like what we’ve gone through …..
Dear Annie:I am so sad watching the devastating effect that parental alienation is having on my grandchildren, and I feel powerless to help them.
My daughter is the target of an ex-husband who is determined to turn their children against their mother. My 13-year-old granddaughter attempted suicide last week and went to a facility for several days. She is now getting therapy, but I don’t know whether the truth will come out about what is going on in this very messed-up family relationship.
I feel like asking my ex-son-in-law whether he loves his children more than he hates his ex-wife so he will realize who is being hurt most by his actions. My daughter went to counseling for a year before leaving her husband, and the counselor said her husband is very insidious with a narcissistic personality. She left him because he was controlling and emotionally abusive. She was…
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