Parental Alienation

By Robert Hack © 2016

Typically approximately 1,000,000 children are involved in divorced* families. Maccoby and Mnookin (1992) “estimate that those who are deemed ‘high conflict’ families comprise 25% of all divorcing families,” “Such families require an outsize proportion of courts’ efforts (Pruett, Nagle, & Bailey.2000; Depner, Cannta, & Ricci, (1994).” “In addition, the disputes between these parents often involve difficult interpersonal and emotional issues that are not readily solved by legal decisions.”

The manipulation of the child’s feelings may be obvious or very subtle. It may have existed in the family system over the lifetime of the child without anyone being aware of it. Unfortunately, Parental Alienation is damaging to the child, stated that it has long–term effect and can be “a form of child Abuse,”
as per Craig Childress PhD.

According to Wallerstein in one of her books state, “What are the possible consequences of divorce for children? A child’s emotional security also becomes more fragile during this difficult time in Divorce*. Depending on the age of the child,
Some of the ways a child might express this emotional insecurity may be:

– Large amount of anger, directed both toward others and themselves
– Frequent breaking of rules
– Sleep problems
– Defying parents or teachers
– Frequent guilt
– Drug and/or alcohol abuse
– Thoughts of suicide or violence.”

The above introduction may give the reader of this document some of the effects and/or reasons what high conflicts of their parents have on their children.

Parental Alienation (PA) sometimes referred to as Hostile Aggressive parenting (HAP) occurs when child unjustifiably rejects a loving parent. In contrast, when a child rejects a parent for reasons of emotional abuse,

It is difficult to determine whether a child’s rejection of a parent Is justified or not, but a child’s black and white thinking, irrationally believing one parent is all good and one parent is all bad is typical Parental Alienation.

Parental Alienation (PA) is most often in high conflict divorce* situations where one parent has manipulated the feelings of their child against the other parent. The Alienated Parent is typically distraught and mystified by their child’s rejection.

Many parents, who perpetuate this form of Child Abuse, Have some forms of pathological issues. Such as Borderline PD, Narcistic PD, Obsessive-Compulsive PD, Avoidant PD and substance abuse Issues just to name a few.

Many therapists have studied this issue, Richard Warshak, Ph.D. In his book “Divorce Poison,” author of “The custody Revolution.” Also The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts has studied this issue and convened a Conference in Colorado for their 47th annual Conference, titled, “Traversing The Trail of Alienation.“ where we had about 1,500 attendees from over 21 foreign countries attended this conference. Other clinicians who have written articles on this subject are; Dr.Amy Baker, Dr. Craig Childress, Dr. Joseph M. Carver, and Judith S. Wallerstein just to name a few.

To suggest a theory why children rejects a parent, in high conflict parenting issues I cite and refer to a study known as the “Stockholm Syndrome,” which states that bond between a captive and captor in which the captive begins a bond with, and may even sympathize with the captor. Refer to the article, ”Love and the Stockholm Syndrome: The Mystery of Loving and Abuser.” By Joseph M. Carver, Ph.D.
Some of its features are:
– Positive feelings by the victim toward the abuser/controller
– Negative feelings by the victim toward family, friends, or authorities
– Support of the abuser’s toward the victim
– Supportive behaviors by the victim, at times helping the abuser.

Also, refer to the Patty Hearst case were she was abducted by the Symbioses Liberation Army (SLA). She had a similar situation where she was brained washed by Coercive-Persuasion Propaganda to help explain this phenomenon. There is a theory Titled “The theory Behind Coercive Persuasion,” by Lauren Bowman, Dominique Forest and Melisa Osel, Citing were some POW’s were brained washed when captured. This tends to occur over a long period of time. I therefore use these two studies as why children might become victims of PA.

In conclusion, I therefore highly suggest that well trained therapists in the arena of PA be assigned to these types of cases such as a Trained Parenting Coordinator with very succinct terms in the Court Order with sanctions to the non-compliant party.

* When I state Divorce couples I also refer to separated or never married couples.
In my next article, I will discuss the proper protocol for Reunification Therapy using the Multi-Modal Family Intervention (MMFI) techniques. For further information contact Mr. Hack at (248) 335-6000 or via email: at