This week I have, like others been deeply shocked by the stories coming out of some parts of the world where men and women are being killed without mercy by people who believe that they are omnipotent.  Watching some of the news coverage, in which the stories of these killers are illuminated, I was struck by the way in which a sense of overriding power and righteousness underlies this willingness to end other people’s lives without a backward glance.  And I began to think about the comparisons in this kind of behaviour with those parents who alienate their children from their other parent without guilt, without mercy and without any sense that what they are doing is wrong.  Whilst some might say that killing people is not the same as alienating them, rejected parents on the receiving end of this living bereavement might beg to differ.  What is clear to me, in analysing what makes people kill either the body or the hope of ever having a relationship with a child again, is that there exists within these people a powerful alienation reaction which causes separation from the self, the soul and from all other people.  To kill someone or remove a child from the life of a loved parent one has to be without compassion.  This week then, we are looking at killers without compassion.

We are not meant to be on this earth to hurt or harm each other, that is not the natural instinct that we possess.  We are tribal people, we are herd followers, we are instinctively driven to love, care for and support our fellow people. Whatever one believes in spiritually, or whether one holds no such beliefs, it is one of the driving forces of humanity to be good to each other and to help.  Whilst there are existentialist arguments about meaningless and pointlessness which tell us that our life on this planet is random, we as human beings create our own purpose, our own meaning and our own reason for staying alive. And much of that is built on loving each other or the hope of loving.  From the love we give to our children which is selfless (in the main), to the love we share for our tribe which drives us to care for the sick and the elderly, our societies are knitted together with love and respect and a sense of fairness and justice.  Yes there are exceptions and yes there is injustice but always there are people fighting against it for a fairer world for our children to live in.

Consider then the alienating parent who deliberately drives the child away from the other parent and effectively poisons and breaks the child’s mind.  This is not love although it is often mistaken as such by the alienating parent, which gives us something to think about when we compare the actions of the alienating parent to people who kill and harm others supposedly in the name of love or righteousness.

Those who kill people are alienated from their own selves, from their souls and from the other people, they have to be because killing people requires one to be without compassion.  Only when one is possessed of such a powerful sense of self righteousness without any ability to walk in the shoes of the ‘enemy’ can one act in such cold, cruel and barbaric ways.  It is not for us to act as decision makers over the lives of others and to believe that it is requires that one is removed from normal levels of compassion, of love and of connectedness to other people.  Looking at the severe alienating parents who are often loners or controllers or distorted in their beliefs about other people, it is easy to see the traits that they share with those who kill because they truly believe they are better than or more righteous than all others.

Self righteousness is a key feature in many severely alienating parents who display a sense of omnipotence and a belief that they and only they can be right in what they are doing. For practitioners working with these people, danger is never far away because these are the people whose vision is so distorted that anyone who does not agree with their view is automatically the enemy.  And anyone who is the enemy is in the line of fire.  These are the people who make allegations without a second thought and who will drag their children, the other parent, practitioners, wider family and anyone else who gets in the way, through the mud in order to be right.  These people are often suffering from personality disorder, sometimes severely and these are the people who will, if we let them, kill the souls of the children they are using as weapons in their own war of righteousness.

There is a coldness about such people which is discernible within moments of being with them.  These are the people who make the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. Usually high functioning, these alienating parents are also often controlling and cold before separation though it is often the separation itself which flips the switch to murderous intent.  Though these people can be utterly charming and on the surface co-operative, investigation into their background will often show a trail of destruction in the places where they are present; children’s schools, GP surgeries, the life of the rejected parent.  Investigation, which confirms the initial sense of creeping coldness, allows action to be taken to help the child and the action is almost always in these cases removal.  A parent who is willing to kill the child’s mind, hope and belief that the other parent loves them and is a good person, is not a parent who is loving the child but harming them badly.  Investigation into the alienating parent’s history will often show a similar trail of destruction caused by their own parents.  Sadly, this kind of killing is often generational and normalised, alienation from self and soul and other people being a way of life for some families.

And so as the week wears on and the stories continue of cold blooded killings around the world I will be thinking more about those cases in the severe or pure catagory and how to help families affected in this way, the alienating parent as well as the rejected parent and most of all the child.  Because to be condemned to live life alienated from self and from soul and other people seems to me to be the most appalling fate and to not feel compassion for those people is to mirror their condition and become like them.

For if our lives are about love then we cannot close out the killers from the love we can give, indeed it is the only weapon that we have against something that most of us do not understand.