Symptoms of Parental Alienation Syndrome
There are 8 accepted symptoms of Parental Alienation Syndrome. The term Parental Alienation Syndrome is disputed and not accepted by the American Psychological Association at this time, however, when the following symptoms appear, it is evident that there is parental alienation (without the “syndrome”) going on, and the family dynamic in the context of a child custody case is in dysfunction.
1. The child aligns with the alienating parent ina campaign of denigration and hatred against the alienated parent or estranged parent (the “targeted parent”) with the child makaing active contributions. The child may allege events that didn’t happen or may embellish real events to gain favor with the alienating parent.
2. Rationalizations and reasons given for the hatred of the targeted parent are often weak, frivolous and/or absurd. I had one client whose child refused to speak to them because the parent enforced curfew on the 12 year old.
3. There is no ambivalence in the child’s feelings toward the target parent; there is a totality of feeling, “I HATE HIM – HE’S DEAD TO ME” When a child has no good feelings toward a parent, absent a verifiable real reason such as abuse, it is an indicator of alienation.
4. The child claims that their thoughts are their own, and it was their decision to alienate or estrange the parent. This is referred to as the “Independent Thinker” phenomenon. It is highly unlikely a pre-pubescent child would think to sever all relations with a parent they previously loved.
5. Parentifying – there is an automatic, reflexive support for the alienating parent by the child. There is evidence that the child cares too much about the alienating parent and doesn’t even realize that they have switched roles.
6. The child expresses no remorse or regard for the feelings of the alienated parent. “I don’t care if I never see them again and I don’t care how they feel.”
7. The child uses language and topics that are beyond their maturity and age level as reasons to alienate the targeted parent. The child’s denigration of the target parent has a distinct rehearsed quality about it. “I hate her because she stole my college fund” when said by a 5 year old is a red light statement. Most 5 year olds have no idea what a college fund is.
8. The alienation and the estrangement goes well beyond the target parent to extended family and friends. When a grandchild is alienating the grandparents as well becuase they are “bad people” it is a sign that a well coordinated alienation campaign is under way.
False allegations of abuse, whether physical, emotional or sexual and also frequently seen in Parental Aliention cases.