The parental alienation syndrome describes one parent’s – in most cases the mother- brainwashing of the
children in order to put them on her side and severe the relationship of the children with the other parent. My girls have been and are still victim of it, and the judge ruling on the accusation of child abuse against me have acknowledged it. My girls are sadly not alone. Parental alienation syndrome is a global phenomenon. Non-custodial fathers in the US, England but also Australia and South Africa deplore the painful, sometimes dramatic ending of their relationship with their children, which the mother has turned against him. Torn between the loyalty to the mother and their feelings for the father, children come to adjust their beliefs about their father so that they match their mother’s. They come to believe that their father is the monster that the mother tells them he is. It’s called cognitive dissonance theory. There is nothing difficult to understand there. For the children living with the custodial parent, this is the way to keep functioning.
If, unlike physical domestic violence, it does not leave any visible mark, it is yet nothing less but domestic violence. It is playing with an impressionable mind and heart. I cannot help thinking of the nice amount of years in therapy that my girls are going to need to cope with the war that their mother pulled them in, a war that was not theirs. It is also depriving them of their right to have a much needed relation with their father.
Some feminist groups contest the very existence of parental alienation syndrome. Why? What is at stake is the survival of their own brand of domestic violence. For these generous knights of women and children, domestic violence is the fact of a brute – the man- physically abusing his wife and children. With testosterone lies the devil. For these folks, parental alienation syndrome is bull; it is part of a coordinated and scary effort by fathers and father right organizers. What is the goal of such an effort? It can only be the restoration of some sort of a patriarchal order. Who could the mastermind of this international conspiracy be? Pick one among the ugly usual suspects: Chavez; possibly Bin Laden.
For the contenders of the conspiracy theory, the punch line is that there is not enough data -yet- to support PAS, according to the American Psychological Association and a Task Force gathered around … President Bush. That’s it and that says it all. Like Bush with global warming, these folks will deny PAS until it will not be possible to do so.