Parental Alienation Syndrome: An Abducted State of Mind

Unmistakably, the starting place of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is with the child’s puppet master, the alienating parent. This is the parent who bestows power unto the children in the framework of a crusade of disparagement against another parent. This alienating parent writes the scripts, and the children acts on them to the detriment of the other parent, primarily in the context of custody litigation.

In fact, these protagonists repeat this denigration in order to maintain alienation. Yet, there are other dynamics that contribute to PAS that aren’t as obvious. One of which being the very child affected by PAS themselves through a loss of ambivalence. They are empowered by the precise programming of the alienating parent. Passivity on the part of the alienated parent has also been a factor attributing to PAS, as well as the judicators within the adversarial system.

The Alienating Parent’s Affects on Empowering the PAS Child

It is within the adversarial process that a child develops the distinctive symptoms of parental alienation syndrome. It is at this delicate stage when an alienating parent becomes prone to influence their children into behaving negatively toward the opposing parent. This is carried out through a campaign of wicked idioms towards the targeted parent, in a manner where traditional rules of good conduct and respect are ignored.

Alienating parents are routinely accused of influencing their empowered children. PAS children hear their parents vindicating these claims repeatedly. To align with the alienating parent, children promote their independent thinking vehemently while undertaking the viewpoint of the alienating parent. In a paper written by Dr. Richard A. Gardner, the clinical professor of child psychiatry at Columbia University, who coined the term Parental Alienation Syndrome, describes the children in these situations as doing so because “they fear that if they do not do so, they may lose the affection of the alienating parent.” This promotes the child’s license of empowerment.

“Hence, they profess that they are not passive weaklings parroting reflexively the campaign of denigration. Nor are they puppets or marionettes, automatically professing hatred for the victimized parent. Rather, they are intelligent, independent thinkers who have a mind of their own and have come to these conclusions free of any influence from the programming parent. This delusion, too, contributes to their sense of empowerment.”

The child of PAS, at the hand of the alienating parent, becomes obsessed with the hatred of the targeted parent and refutes any loving connection they shared with them. To accomplish such radical denunciation, the child begins to create illogical circumstances to align his acrimony. Anger against the alienated parent will be out of proportion to the child’s presenting issues. Condemnation towards the alienated parent may indeed be expressed immensely: refusing to visit with the parent or look at the parent, cursing, hanging up the telephone. The hatred of the parent often extends to include that parent’s complete extended family. Cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents, with whom the child previously may have had loving relationships, are now viewed as similarly detestable.

On the contrary, the alienating parent becomes hailed as wonderfully devoted. In some cases of PAS, the alienating parent’s had an early involvement with the child that was stronger, therefore making the emotional connection additionally fervent. The parent with this strong psychological bond tends to be the mother. It could be concluded that the child will carry out the symptoms of PAS in order to maintain their deep-seated bond to the alienator. “The strong bond that forms in early life between the child and the primary caretaker produces immensely strong cravings for one another when there is threatened disruption of the relationship.” Conceivably the child may well be attempting desperately to preserve this bond as much as the alienating parent, under threats of disruption of the bond.

Moreover, the primary caregiver may be reacting in the face of loss. Dr. Gardner explains such an occurrence in his paper by saying, “Just as the child suffers psychologically from removal from the adult, so is the adult traumatized by removal from the child. The psychological trauma to the adult caused by such disruption can be immense, so much so that parenting capacity may be compromised.” The response to the threat of removal of their children through the employment of manipulative tactics that cause PAS, speaks to their lack in healthy parent capabilities.

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