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.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Parental Alienation Syndrome and the APA ~ By Les Veskrna, MD

Tuesday September 30, 2008 www.glennsacks.com
PAS and the APA By Les Veskrna, MD
The Public Affairs Office of the American Psychological Association has put out the following press release to answer questions generated by PBS’s recent documentary Breaking the Silence: Children’s Stories regarding APA’s official position on Parental Alienation Syndrome:
“The American Psychological Association (APA) believes that all mental health practitioners as well as law enforcement officials and the courts must take any reports of domestic violence in divorce and child custody cases seriously. An APA 1996 Presidential Task Force on Domestic Violence and the Family noted the lack of data to support so-called “parental alienation syndrome”, and raised concern about the term’s use. However, we have no official position on the purported syndrome.”
Highlighting the word “lack” and using the words “so-called” and “purported” in this press release seems to suggest the APA presumes PAS to be fallacious while, at the same time, uncommitted regarding its validity.
This official statement comes a few days after the APA’s Executive Director of Public and Member Communications, criticized Breaking the Silence for misrepresenting the APA’s position on PAS.
In spite of these puzzling pronouncements, it is apparent that the APA has, in fact, heretofore made a significant endorsement of the validity of PAS, which may be confirmed by simply searching the content of their website at www.apa.org.
The APA has well-known guidelines for child-custody evaluations in divorce proceedings. These are the guidelines the APA proposes examiners use when conducting such evaluations. The guidelines refer to three books of Dr. Gardner’s as “pertinent literature.” One book is completely devoted to the PAS and two make significant reference to the disorder:
  • Gardner, R.A. (1989), Family Evaluation in Child Custody Mediation, Arbitration, and Litigation. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.
  • Gardner, R. A. (1992), The Parental Alienation Syndrome: A Guide for Mental Health and Legal Professionals. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.
  • Gardner, R. A. (1992), True and False Accusations of Child Sex Abuse. Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.
Furthermore, the APA has provided a workshop for its member psychologists in recent years that has included a definition and identification of Parental Alienation Syndrome. In addition, the APA publishes a book (Divorce Wars: Interventions with Families in Conflict by Elizabeth Ellis, PhD, May, 2000) with a chapter specifically devoted to Parental Alienation Syndrome (Chapter 8: A New Challenge for Family Courts).
As we try to understand the motives of the APA and others, who discount the validity of PAS, we must realize that they often do so for reasons other than compelling scientific or empiric evidence.
Many discount the existence of PAS simply because it is not listed in the most current edition of the America Psychiatry Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders. To understand why PAS is not in the most current edition of the DSM requires a little insight into the dynamics of how it is constructed. First of all, the DSM is an evolving document that reflects knowledge and perspectives at the time it is published. For example, at one time, the DSM listed homosexuality as a disorder. Homosexuality, as we all know, is no longer considered a “disorder,” and is no longer described as one in the current DSM. Conversely, Giles de la Tourette first produced a detailed account of several patients with Tourette’s Syndrome in 1885. But it was not included in the DSM until 1980. Inclusion of a disorder in the DSM is a very conservative process that requires a comprehensive review of the scientific literature regarding a particular diagnostic entity. The criteria and classification system of the DSM are based on a majority opinion of mental health specialists at the time it is published, and therefore does not reflect all valid opinion, and does not reflect all new knowledge and opinion. The last major update of the DSM was in 1994 (DSM-IV). The literature review for this edition actually ended in 1992. Since Dr. Gardner’s first description of Parental Alienation Syndrome was in 1985, there were too few peer-reviewed articles about PAS in the literature at that point in time to warrant submission of PAS to the DSM development workgroup for this (DSM-IV) edition. Time has now allowed for the proliferation of research and clinical experience with PAS. There now exists a substantial body of knowledge and understanding of this disorder, so that it’s very possible PAS will appear in DSM-V (which is not scheduled for publication until 2010, or later).
It is important to recognize that sometimes scientific concepts (like PAS) become “controversial” only when they are brought into the courtroom. This is because attorneys, due to the adversarial nature of our legal system, are required to take an opposite stand and create doubt and uncertainty where it may not otherwise exist as a strategy to win their case
Finally, dismissing the validity of PAS, by claiming there is a “lack of data” may reflect the influence of a very common informational fallacy: the notion that something must be true (or not true) because there is no evidence to the contrary. For how many years did we hear (and believe) the argument from tobacco companies that cigarette smoking was OK because there was no proof that smoking was harmful to health?And now, all cigarette packages carry health warnings. Absence of proof is not necessarily proof of absence.
The APA deserves significant criticism for only offering a 1996 APA report (Presidential Task Force Report on Domestic Violence and the Family), formed with an immature and incomplete knowledge base regarding PAS, as proof to justify their current position regarding Parental Alienation Syndrome.


Robert Gartner said...

ASk me if PAS does not exist. Ask me if there are powerful forces that have no business in the courtroom, groups like Justice For Children, one which rejects the credibility of PAS. It uses too some of the largest law firms in America, firms like Fulbright and Jaworski, Llp and Haynes and Boone, Llp.

My daughters mother was out committing three felonies while she was getting thier free help. I was falsely accused of child seuxal abuse and my precious daughter was returned to the dungeon of her mothers household. Seventeen years later my daughter still cannot pick up the phone.

Michael J. Murphy said...


Your story is tragic. I can imagine your pain, your sadness, your nights of not sleeping and crying over your child. It is the heaviest burden a parent will endure. It is a form of grieving every day that does not go away. Unlike a death one gradually can recover from the despair at losing a loved one. In our case we know our children are out there alive but lost to us. They have been emotionally and often physically kidnapped.

No one can understand what you are going through until they have walked in your shoes. I am one of them and I am persisting in trying to overcome my situation which is getting better but the laws have to change and equally importantly false allegations require thorough investigation with serious penalties for the perp.

We move forward slowly, but most assuredly we hold the moral high ground and we will one day achieve for our children what they deserve most. Both parents in their lives.

Tom M said...

My own kids were alienated as well. PAS is very real alright. Even their mother got hit hard with the effects which backfire on all moms or dads who commit this child abuse.

My daughter who was closest to me became the biggest target for obvious reasons. The alienation was highly supported by the judge, as usual, and by all his surrounding ring of criminals, con artists and ignorant dupes.

Besides the bad effects form her mom and grandparents, my daughter would get into major trouble at school after each visit to the court appointed counselor. The billings matched with her expulsions from school. She would explode at me and at her teachers and schoolmates more severely after visits to the court's chosen counselor. Most educators just don't get what surrounds them daily - and it's sure not bad dads.

The counseling centered on "helping" my duaghter deal with her horrible father... She paid dearly for that too. These are worse than gang rapists of children.
As a result of this type of abuse, three of my kids became so out of control from this and other abuse that their mom and grandparents could not stand them or deal with them any longer due to the horrible effects of all the abuse, especially the alienation.

My kids came to live with me as teens. The affects from the alienation did not fade so fast, and still linger and rage on at times. They can also have delusional-like effects from this severe brainwashing - PAS which "doesn't exist."

The PAS still devastates my grown kids and may always. The effects have become lessened over time, but not enough. No counselor would touch treating this or even stopping it, but so many have been very anxious to help abuse my children and so many other children further.

As many psychologists have said, PAS is real and it can have worse and longer lasting effects than molestation. Psychologists are an odd bunch, so often at odds with each other. Some are really great while others aren't worth your attention. Still, others are the most deranged mass child abusers and sociopaths imaginable. These are the ones who can't earn a living on their own, just make things worse and must incorporate with the courts and all the other deranged hangers on in order to make a living.

Just imagine this same thing with PAS happening with molestation. Not just denial and refusal to help and stop it, but those entrusted to help actually joining in and participating in gang raping millions of children in this way.

I'm not sure who is brainwashed worse, the child victims of PAS or all those who are "educated" using VAWA funds. There are also so many who are brainwashed into rabidly supporting this most heinous form of child abuse and thinking they are doing good.

Well, it's kind of like... welcome to the Nazi States of America.