I have met and heard the tragic stories of many parents. PA is a function, by and large, of a custodial ex-partner, although some alienation can start while the couple is still together.

This blog is a story of experiences and observations of dysfunctional Family Law (FLAW), an arena pitting parent against parent, with children as the prize. Due to the gender bias in Family Law, that I have observed, this Blog has evolved from a focus solely on PA to one of the broader Family/Children's Rights area and the impact of Feminist mythology on Canadian Jurisprudence and the Divorce Industry.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome ~ The New York Times Article

This is an interesting article on the book Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome by Amy J. L. Baker. One of her conclusions is that there may be a 50-50 ratio of men and woman who do this. Most literature I have read shows it to be quite lopsided in accusing females over males. If further research shows this to be true it does not change the fact that whoever does it, in my view, is a weak, controlling, narcissistic, bullying coward - or someone who is mentally ill and incorporates all this and more into their technique and who has only their own interests at heart not those of their children. They cannot grasp the damage they are doing to their children and the fundamental current and future damage they are doing to their children's lives. I can speak with clear authority on the emotional pain it causes in both the target spouse and the children who had a former loving and close relationship with their father. I can see through the pain to a future that will restore some of that relationship but I can also see my children will never be the same. They won't let me hug them, my 13 year old will turn on a dime as soon as she suspects the mother is in "brainwashing" mode and I immediately get the dirty looks as though I am some kind of scumbag. The ex has learned life lessons through a tumultuous and incestuous upbringing. The norm for her is all fathers and perhaps some male siblings are going to want to molest their daughters/siblings and she is passing this on. Given her mother did not protect her and may have had, at the least, a passive role in her abuse and she remained largely estranged from this mother, did not attend her death bed nor her funeral in 2007, what kind of mother can she be under the circumstances. It is a twisted, abnormal and solipsistic view of the world and she needs help and ought not to be able to brain wash children in this manner. It is so tragic. Add to her twisted view of men and the world her mental health issues and you have a recipe for disaster. Don't get hung up on whether it is a syndrome or not. What is clear and unmistakable it is damaging psychological abuse of innocent children. There is a UN charter on the treatment of prisoners of war against torture including brainwashing called the Geneva Convention.

Article 13: Prisoners of war must at all times be humanely treated. Any unlawful act or omission by the Detaining Power causing death or seriously endangering the health of a prisoner of war in its custody is prohibited, and will be regarded as a serious breach of the present Convention. In particular, no prisoner of war may be subjected to physical mutilation or to medical or scientific experiments of any kind which are not justified by the medical, dental or hospital treatment of the prisoner concerned and carried out in his interest. Likewise, prisoners of war must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity. Measures of reprisal against prisoners of war are prohibited. Article 17 ...No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to any unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind.

There is no such law with specific respect to emotional child abuse that can be easily enforced by anyone whether it be police, a target parent or his/her extended family, child protection authorities, mental health agencies charged with evaluating children on the books in any civilized country when it comes to parental manipulation of children using the same techniques of brainwashing defined in Dr. Richard Warshak's book, "Divorce Poison": Isolation, (can include relocation, kidnapping), - the ex kidnapped my children and hid them for 7 months; stripping (breaking symbolic and emotional connections) - as simple as removing any pictures of the target parent to more complex scenarios) she not only made sure the children didn't see a picture of me but no one else in the extended family on my side either - not even their older sisters; fear - amongst other methods the goal is to create psychological dependency on the /brainwashing/bashing/badmouthing parent - when my children first saw me 8 months after they went missing they literally turned their heads away and downward at her bidding. I was devastated by this woman's unconscionable manipulation of my children and she clearly had them firmly in her grasp. To this day when they enter her public housing dwelling they open the front door only enough to fit through and quickly close it again. Why? The ex stole a lot of my stuff and she ordered the children to not let me see in the front door so "daddy can't know what we have in case he takes her to court." Even the child protection agencies within these countries are not equipped to handle it and can do nothing to detect it exists. They can try in other areas as our local one did with the Family Preservation Program and I cannot say enough good things about how much help this was to me and the children.
September 23, 2007

Parenting
When Ties to a Parent Are Cut by the Other
By MICHAEL WINERIP
The New York Times

THIS is a nice moment in Joe Rabiega's life. At 31, he has a good job as a research coordinator for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is happily married and feels blessed that his wife of five years, Tiffany, is pregnant with their first child. His hope is to give that child a happier upbringing than the one he had. Mr. Rabiega's parents divorced when he was 8, and though they were supposed to share custody, he said, his father, a truck driver with a drinking problem, did everything possible to turn him against his mother and eventually kept him from seeing her. "He bullied my mother into giving up custody," Mr. Rabiega said. When he was still allowed to visit his mother, he'd have to stay by the phone to take a call from his father at 4 every afternoon and 8 each evening. He said his father trained him to spy on his mother's socializing and spending habits. "His ability to manipulate her was so lopsided, it never got to the point where a court heard it," he said in a phone interview. "His threats of violence made it clear she'd never get me." For several years, he said, until his late teens, he didn't see his mother and believed everything his father said about her. "He took me to the police station and told them my mother abandoned me, even though it was completely not true," Mr. Rabiega said. "He had the entire neighborhood convinced that my mother no longer wanted me. "He had me convinced without him, I had nobody," Mr. Rabiega said. "When he'd been drinking, he'd get out his gun and threaten to kill himself if I left him." It wasn't until Mr. Rabiega was an adult that he began to see his mother in a different light, he said. "She was a seamstress in a garment factory who didn't graduate from high school. She was weak, no one to guide her, no money, no education, no resources to fight for me." At one point, he said, she attempted suicide. Mr. Rabiega is one of 40 research subjects in a new book by Amy J. L. Baker, about parents who turn a child against the other parent, "Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome." Dr. Baker, the research director of the Vincent J. Fontana Center for Child Protection at the New York Foundling, does not identify the subjects by their real names, but Mr. Rabiega (called Jonah in the book) agreed to let his name be used for this column. "If this can help people, it's worth it," he said. "I really compare what I went through to people who are kidnapped and brainwashed." Most people would agree that one parent has the power to turn a child against the other parent; however, classifying the behavior as a mental health syndrome, as Dr. Baker does, has met with considerable criticism in the past. "It's been a very controversial area," said Dr. Baker, 48, who lives in Teaneck, N.J., and has a doctorate in psychology from Teachers College at Columbia.
Dr. Baker's book is written in an academic style and sticks closely to the stories of the 40 adult subjects, ages 19 to 67, who describe being wrongfully manipulated by a parent. It is an attempt to take the sensationalism out of the subject. Accusations of such manipulation have been an issue during high-profile celebrity custody battles, like the ones involving Woody Allen and Mia Farrow and Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger. There is none of that in Dr. Baker's book, which includes a seven-page bibliography of scholarly research. Instead, she tells the stories of ordinary people like Mr. Rabiega, struggling into their adult years with the damage they describe from having been manipulated into hating a parent. While most research has focused on children, Dr. Baker looks at these children once they've become adults. A key question she set out to answer: Do any of these kids grow up and figure it out? "That I can answer yes," she said. "I can't say how prevalent it is, but I have found lots of people." Some of what she found undercut earlier research. When therapists first described the behavior in the 1980s, they talked about it as manipulation by mothers to punish fathers. This drew criticism from some women's groups, who dismissed the syndrome as something concocted by lawyers for abusive fathers trying to improve their custody chances. Dr. Baker said her research — both for the book and with several hundred subjects over the last five years — indicates a mother or father is equally likely to do the manipulating. It is "truly 50-50," she said. Other patterns emerged from her 40 subjects: 75 percent were the products of divorce, and 58 percent were divorced themselves; 70 percent suffered depression; 35 percent developed problems with drugs or alcohol. And perhaps the saddest: Half of the 28 who had children said they were estranged from their own children. Dr. Baker believes the behavior is prevalent enough to qualify as a syndrome in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the bible of the American Psychiatric Association. While that's not going to happen soon — the manual won't be revised again until 2012 — she hopes her research might cause social workers and therapists who investigate custody cases to be more aware. "If you believe it's possible for a child to be brainwashed by one parent, the job of a custody evaluator is a lot harder," she said. The challenges in such cases can be daunting. How do you know if the scorned parent is being unfairly victimized or if that parent is abusive and deserves to be scorned? "It's a lot of investigating, and there's no one definitive tool," Dr. Baker said. Some of that investigative muscle is missing from her own research. Dr. Baker did not interview parents for their version of events, nor did she cite independent sources like court records that could corroborate the stories. "I did what I could," she said. "This is just one study. It's a very new field and there's little research. The point is to give voice to these people who have not been heard." It is also hard to get people to talk publicly about family dysfunction. Mr. Rabiega was willing to speak partly because both his parents are dead. He said that when he was in his 20s, he again developed a relationship with his mother, but that his father's "brainwashing" had been so strong, he couldn't entirely overcome it. "It was hard for me to fully love my mom," he said. "If she needed me to do something or needed money, I didn't want to and I'd get angry. My father implanted a disgust and disdain in me for my mother that wouldn't go away and tainted our relationship." Ten years of therapy helped, he said, as did his wife and finding religion. "It helped when I reconnected with my mom, she held nothing against me," he said. "She reiterated it was my father's fault, and I had no choice." "Unfortunately," he said, "I realized a lot after my mother died." E-mail: parenting@nytimes.com Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

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