False Allegations: Never Acceptable

I am alerted to false claims of plagiarism in our new book by Dr Craig Childress.

This matter has today been referred to our publisher Charles C Thomas Illinois.

Plagiarism is a serious allegation and the claim being made is entirely without foundation as part of a manufactured argument in our view.  The concepts claimed by Dr Childress as being his, are in fact those which have been used in the UK for more than five decades by psychiatrists and psychologists.  They have also been widely written about by all of the experts in the field of parental alienation both before and after Gardner’s original curation of the eight signs of alienation.  All of the material in our new book is properly referenced to source and claims that they are not are misleading.

We will be taking this matter as far as it needs to go to put a stop to this because it is never acceptable, in any setting, to make such claims and it is, in our view, harmful to the work that is being done around the world to allow this to continue.

We do not intend to rehearse any of the arguments currently being generated by Dr Childress, or become involved in a protracted dispute which is entirely manufactured and completely unnecessary.

William Bernet M.D. Professor Emeritus, Vanderbilt University and Distinguished Life Fellow, American Psychiatric Association wrote the foreword to our new book.  Readers may wish to read his review of Foundations by Dr Childress which was published in the Parental Alienation Study Group Newsletter, which is reproduced, for information, here. It may help readers and those interested in collaborative and informed practice, to understand the underlying dynamics of the current situation.

Parental Alienation Study Group Newsletter: September 1, 2015

Old Wine in Old Skins: A Commentary on ‘Foundations: An Attachment-Based Model of Parental Alienation’ by C.A Childress Psy.D.

William Bernet & Kathleen Reay

The article below represents the views of the authors, William Bernet and Kathleen Reay only, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the PASG.

In the July 2015 issue of Parental Alienation International, PASG member Craig Childress described his new book, Foundations. Craig’s work brings to mind an interesting aspect of the history of parental alienation (PA), that is, the multitude of names that have been applied for the same clinical phenomenon. It also gives a new take on the parable having to do with wine and wineskins.

In the 1940s, David Levy never heard of PA, but he described it in his book on “maternal overprotection.” About the same time, Wilhelm Reich explained that some divorced parents defend against narcissistic injury by using PA to attack the other parent. In the 1950’s, Louise Despert alluded to PA in her book about children of divorce. In the 1960s, Murray Bowen identified PA – without using that term, of course – as a form of triangulation, a condition in some dysfunctional families. In 1970, PASG members Jack Westman and Douglas Kramer and others were the first authors to describe the PA phenomenon in a peer-reviewed journal. Also in the 1970s, E. James Anthony and Therese Benedek described PA in a discussion of folie à deux. In the 1980s, Judith Wallerstein and Saundra Blakeslee used “Medea-like rage” to describe the emotional state of alienating parents. Stanley Clawar and Brynne Rivlin used the terms “programming” and “brainwashing” to describe how PA is brought about. PASG member Barry Bricklin used the term, “Not-Based-On-Actual-Interactions” (NBOAI) to designate the opinions of children who had been manipulated into believing non-events. Of course, Richard Gardner introduced the term “parental alienation syndrome” in 1985. In 1990, Frank Williams introduced the term “parentectomy.”

Since the turn of the 21st century, PA has been described and studied through many perspectives, each with its own terminology. When Joan Kelly and Janet Johnston reformulated the concept in 2001, they preferred to use the term “alienated child” rather than PA. In Poland, PA is called “Zespół Gardnera” or “Gardner Syndrome.” PASG member Guglielmo Gulotta and his Italian colleagues studied PA through psycholinguistic analysis. PASG member Lena Hellblom Sjögren and other European writers have emphasized that inducing PA is a violation of the child’s human rights. Peter Jaffe and his colleagues have said that PA is one of the coercive strategies used by perpetrators of domestic violence to control their family members. PASG member Robert Gordon and his colleagues studied the features of PA with the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory–2. Of course, authors in many countries have identified PA as a form of child psychological abuse. Most members of PASG simply use the term “parental alienation.”

Now, Craig Childress has introduced a new set of terms because he wants to avoid using “parental alienation” or other terms associated with Richard Gardner. Craig has introduced the term “attachment-trauma reenactment disorder” for the child, which he says is the same as shared psychotic disorder or shared delusional disorder. For the parent, he uses the term “pathogenic parenting.” Craig would agree, we think, that he is packaging old wine (the phenomenon that most people think of as PA) in old skins (attachment theory and personality disorders). We agree, of course, with Craig, that sometimes it is helpful to conceptualize the child’s condition as being a disorder of attachment. And sometimes it is helpful to emphasize the narcissistic or borderline personality disorder of the alienating parent.

What we do not understand is Craig’s insistence that his perspective is the only one that counts. We do not understand his insistence that his attachment-based theory is totally different from and has nothing to do with parental alienation syndrome, when there is much overlap between his writings and the publications of Gardner. It seems to us that David Levy, Barry Bricklin, Janet Johnston, Guglielmo Gulotta, Richard Gardner, and Craig Childress are all talking about the same group of children. They have developed theories and constructs that are complementary, interactive, and mutually supportive. There is no need to badmouth the beliefs of other writers in order to promote one’s own theory regarding PA.

William Bernet, M.D., President Nashville, Tennessee 















































      1. Ms Woodall- Children are suffering due to a lack of knowledge, expertise and and ability to deliver and effective message. Parents are desperately seeking a solution. It is concerning that you focus on other psychologist’s theory/opinion(s) rather than being part of a solution. Neil

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The ‘solution’ as you believe it to be has been used in the U.K. for five decades and children are still alienated so forgive me for not being part of the Childress clan I just don’t believe it is ‘the’ solution it is one amongst others for a particular type of alienation.


  1. I have held my tongue too long. What gibberish is this? As much I tried I could not understand the terms he used or the way he wrote, “attachment-trauma reenactment disorder” “pathogenic parenting.” It is not an approach an easy read for a parent to understand, it is like is some psychology jargon and not easy to read and apply to one’s situation. His tone is always condescending and whining. I don’t know whose side he is on, the child, the target parent, the court, the lawyers, the social workers, or who is he addressing. His videos he created for the child to watch, I question if that ever works. How can a child understand the manipulations of one parent or the disorders present? Poof watch a video and you are healed?! And often he uses terms that a child or a parent don’t understand.

    His attachment trauma reenactment is a mouth full and how do you in laymen’s terms explain it to a family member or friend? And his the pathogenic parenting sounds like some disease and not easy terms when addressed in such light. It is different words for the same old concepts written about from other will known researchers throughout ages. Sometimes I feel it is about the money that one will get achieve if one sets themselves above others with the same concept using different created words/terms. It is about the victimized child. It is about the abused target parent.

    Just my two cents…………

    Anonymous-mother of three

    Liked by 2 people

  2. If well-known PA authors are divided, then targeted parents haven’t got a chance. Without the thoughtful moderation of a jury, I’ve been stuck with the same closed-minded judge for nearly 8 years!


  3. I am so sorry you have to put up with this at all Karen. It is your valuable time spent on false allegations and Childress ‘ own narcissism. Whenever someone does a great body of work, he is there to attack. He promotes non professionals and denigrates professionals. I finally Unsubscribed to his blog. I feel much better now. I have received his writings from clients who think he has no “people skills”. Pretty sad for a psychologist!
    You and Nick have my full support Karen.
    Best, Lynn Steinberg PhD

    Liked by 2 people

    1. thank you Lynn, that means a lot to me. I am concerned for the parents who are being led to believe things which are untrue and I am also concerned for those who think there is an argument going on between Childress and I. There isn’t. I have nothing to argue with him about. This is his argument based on his own claims that he is the originator of things I was writing about years ago. He is not. I cannot help but feel that this is a mirror of the alienating behaviours seen in parents. I value collaboration and the work of so many who have gone before us in this field, all of whom I admire enormously for their courage. Thank you for your support Lynn, I am looking forward to meeting up in October. K

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Karen, I have read a little, and YouTubed a little of Dr Childress and have to say that in my humble opinion he may be a tad jealous of how you have become the voice of reason in this very difficult arena, and have gathered quite a following of parents like myself who suffer such pain over the loss of our children through PA.
    I’m sure you have no qualms with Dr Childress who does seem to want to fight, and for myself I think his efforts would be put to better use if he spent less time trying to undermine your work and continued on with his own work using his own particular methods! (I have read his critic on you before).
    It can only be to the detriment of the entire cause for professionals to be seen to be at cross purposes with the frequency that Dr Childress is with you and your work!!
    I have no doubt you will chastise me for my next comment but it seems to me he’s more concerned with his high profile being diminished than being able to be seen to say “Well done Karen, great job”.

    You know what Karen, well done, great job!!

    Frankie x


  5. Where’s my royalties? Dr CC, appears to be off his nut.

    I really think he is psychotic, it’s not acute either like when someone rams a hotrod where the sun doesn’t shine, nope, unfortunately it’s chronic, not reactive as most often with acute psychosis but just his general ambience…. proper nutjob.

    Can spot em a mile, or few thousand miles away.

    Hello Dr. Fool.

    I’m Carl, your superior. Behave.

    Or else.


  6. I also believe his approach stems from seeking revenge and anger, not from a healing perspective. I am always wary of folk who love to superglue labels on people.

    Some have tried to pin labels on me, they would have been better having a tattoo on their forehead.. The alternative four letter word for feminist perhaps.

    A hundred labels could be placed on me, still best dad in the world, for my lad. A thousand labels could be placed on my lads damaged and alienating mother, she’s still the best mother for my lad. The goon she married would needs a steam roller pinning on his head, im building a meccano one.

    Flump throws Dr CC out of the arena with his crappy revenge book… Dr CC doesn’t even know that flumps exist. Very narrow minded. One track even.


  7. Thanks for publishing the statement from William Bernet & Kathleen Reay
    ‘The article below represents the views of the authors, William Bernet and Kathleen Reay only, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the PASG.’
    It not only clarifies. It also gives good information about the long going history since the 1940s.
    Whats somehow missed is the reference to Hostile Aggressive Parenting and their checklist:
    as this checklist tries to nail down the behavior of the alienating parent to facts. Facts which should make it much more difficult for judges and their parental rootcutting industry to ignore PAS with nice blabla words.
    As parents – and especially fathers – have nearly no chance to keep contact with their children it should be documented in public. Archive.org seems to be best as video, texts and pictures can be stored. Also, whats stored there can be easily downloaded and distributed. With google and youtube we see more and more that they censor the content even through removal of documents. All under the umbrella of so called ‘hate speech’ which is very often an attack against free speech.


  8. Any scientific theory that’s being introduced into a Court of law into evidence onto a Court record may first be challenged via a Motion in Limine and subjected to rigorous legal argument and scrutiny before a Judge at a Daubert/Frye Hearing. Here, the Court becomes the gatekeeper of the “science.” Most states in America today adhere to Rule 702 and Daubert in requiring scientific theories and expert testimony be first scientifically tested, be subjected to peer review and publication, have a known error rate, be scientifically reliable, and with Frye be accepted by the overall scientific community. The main problem with parental alienation, or alienated child syndrome, or now attachment based parental alienation/pathogenic parenting (Dr. Childress) is that there’s been no consistent scientifically-based/evidence-based empirical literature on the subject matter over the past 35 years or so.


    1. thanks for this though it is nonsense, I direct you to Amy Baker, the research database of PASG and Demosthene Lorandas’s work on Daubert and Frye.


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