Parental Alienation and the High Conflict Myth

A conflict, by definition, must involve two or more sides (unless it is within you).
Therefore if parental alienation is about high conflict divorce it  must mean that both of you are fighting.                       

Or does it?


One of the biggest myths that I encounter in my work with families affected by parental alienation is that they are all about high conflict.  They are not.

Often times I despair when I read and hear people talking about parental alienation and high conflict as if they are interchangeable realities because it seems to me that most often what is really going on is not high conflict but in fact, the very opposite of that.

So why do people characterise parental alienation cases as being about high conflict, almost as a matter of routine.  In the UK, the interchangeable terms high conflict and parental alienation are seen over and over from CAFCASS, almost as if it is a given thing that anyone involved in a case where a child resists contact with a parent, is a high conflict personality.

This could not be further from the clinical truth and up close and personal with families affected by PA the reality shouts so loud it is almost deafening.

Parental alienation is not about high conflict, I will say it again, parental alienation is not about high conflict.  Parental alienation causes conflict, there is no doubt about that but it is not caused by high conflict in the main although I have worked in a tiny handful of cases where two people were highly conflicted and couldn’t stop fighting.

I despair at the characterisation of parental alienation being about two people fighting because it is just about the laziest definition of what is a serious mental health issue that could be arrived at.  Worse than lazy, it is also an easy way for practitioners to dismiss all cases of parental alienation as being caused by a combination of both parent’s behaviours.  And when practitioners get the easy way out of these cases, children lose out badly on their life chances and capacity for a healthy future.

So let’s take a look at the high conflict myth and strip it back a bit to see what lies beneath it.

High conflict divorce and separation is when two people are in constant conflict and unable to resolve any decisions about their children.  Within a high conflict divorce you may have a child who is vulnerable to alienation or you may have a child who is resilient and for whom the conflict sails right over their heads.

It is not the conflict which causes the alienation in child, it is the vulnerability or the resilience and many children get used to their parents being in high conflict and find their own ways around it.  Some children might drop out for a bit and come back in and others might simply ignore what is going on and see their parents anyway.

Alienation in a child is caused by three factors in my experience –

a) the actions of one parent

b) the responses of the other

c) the vulnerability of the child

Whilst some alienation may be triggered by an escalating level of conflict caused by one parent controlling arrangements and the other responding to that, it is not the case that alienation is caused by one parent being aggressive and the other responding aggressively.

I used the following scenario in a recent post, it is worth using again because it outlines very well the experience of the parent who responds to the alienating behaviours of the other.

Your child is being hung over a crocodile infested pit behind a curtain.  You can see the danger your child is in.  No-one else can see it and when you point it out, the parent who is hanging your child over the pit pulls the child to safety with a warning not to tell anyone.  As soon as no-one else is looking, the parent hangs the child over the pit again and waves to get your attention.  This is repeated until you are blue in the face from screaming about the danger your child is in and everyone has begun to believe you are insane.  By the time this game has finished, your child is joining with the abusive parent to tell everyone that they love the game of crocodile pits and feel no danger, the abusive parent is perfect. Others believe you are simply a high conflict trouble causer.

That is the usual version of parental alienation that I find myself working with.  By the time I get to the coal face the child is indoctrinated and the rejected parent is exhausted from trying to flag to the outside world the danger the child is in.  The alienating parent on the other hand is bright, breezy and ever so co-operative, they have nothing to worry about because the alienation is free and active in the child who will swear to everyone they meet that the rejected parent is the abuser and the alienator is just perfect.

There is nothing high conflict about that although when I watch some of the exchanges which go on at the desperate ends of these scenarios I can understand why naive practitioners think it is.

Characterising parental alienation has high conflict simply diminishes the horror and casts the rejected parent in the role of co-villain and subjects them to even more torture as they are asked to account for their inability to change.

Meanwhile the child, psychological split and absolutely steeped in the belief that they must uphold the wellbeing of the parent they are pathologically aligned to, divests themselves of all of their healthy chances and choices in life.  Reduced to a consort of the alienating parent, the child’s world retracts to become that of helpmeet to the hidden issues that the alienator cannot resolve.

The terror and terrorisation of rejected parents through the high conflict model is deeply harmful.  It is exactly the same as blaming abuse victims for their abuse and it must stop.

High conflict divorce and separation are NOT the same as parental alienation and those of us who know so should say so.

Whilst some high conflict divorce and separation will lead to alienation, not all parental alienation is caused by high conflict divorce and separation.

Practitioners should know the difference, families depend upon it.

UK Training and Development Group 2019

This group is now full and commences work on May 4/5th 2019 leading to a new cohort of practitioners who will be trained to EAPAP standards.  More news on this over the coming year.

USA Training Group 2019

We have two places left on our USA Training group which takes place in September 2019.   This is a two day training which costs $700 and introduces you to all of the key strategies used by the Family Separation Clinic in work with alienated children and families.  For more details please email

Parents Workshop Edinburgh (central) – Saturday 23rd March 2019

We still have some places left on on our Edinburgh workshop for parents. If you want to understand parental alienation, learn how to manage it effectively in court, deal with it more robustly and cope and heal, come and join us in central Edinburgh.  We promise a packed day of experiential learning, case study and practical strategies.  Book here 


51 thoughts on “Parental Alienation and the High Conflict Myth”

  1. I will disagree with you, in part, to say that most (not all) PA cases arise out of high-conflict parenting time dispute/custody cases. Anecdotally, this is clear in my own caseload of >500 over the past 17+ years. I’ve witnessed few PA cases where litigants can execute conciliation, mediation and alternative dispute resolution. Clearly, SAID (Sexual Allegations In Divorce) cases via Blush & Ross, 1987, Tong, 1992, 2002, Trocme & Bala, 2005 & Mackay, 2014) are born out of protracted and contentious divorces and child custody cases, and false allegations of sexual child abuse arising from the same are tantamount to Parental Alienation.


    1. oh I feel you are falling into the trap Dean – SAID does not mean high conflict – it means one person is using a tactic designed to cause conflict. The part you are missing is the way that high conflict is used to mean two parents in conflict – in reality, on closer examination, it is one person causing the conflict and the other reacting to it. One cannot mediate, co-parent or conciliate if one with a conflictual, personality disordered other. It only takes one person to create the illusion of high conflict, it is up to us, who do this work, to recognise that the high conflict we are looking at is not caused by two people. Re-read my meaning – parental alienation is not always caused by two parents in aggressive high conflict together. K

      Liked by 2 people

      1. With all due respect, Dr. Woodall, please re-read Sexual Allegations In Divorce, the journal article. Clearly, one of the factors documented in same is the presence of a high-conflict court case already in existence and the “timing” of an abuse allegation, and where the accusatory litigant yearns to gain equity-at-law in Court.


      2. I think you are still falling into the trap myself Dean, I know the article well, I know the subject well. I know that it looks like high conflict from the outside but when you get closer it most definitely is not. What it is is the action of the alienating parent and the reaction of the targeted parent – lawyers call it high conflict because the rejected parent has to fight their case in order to help the child – which I also think is misconfigured but I understand it – however mental health practitioners should guard against it because falling into that trap simply makes one miss the underlying dynamics which are going on – high conflict divorce and separation can produce parental alienation but not all parental alienation is caused by high conflict and that is borne out by two decades or more of working with families after divorce and separation. K

        Liked by 3 people

    2. @deantong
      It’s difficult to imagine ANY cases of parental alienation where conciliation, mediation or other form of ADR might succeed. But that’s not because of conflict between parents. It’s either because one parent is resolutely determined to remove the other parent from the child’s life and/or because they have a personality disorder or highly problematic personality profile, or they have an unresolved trauma that plays itself out in the post separation landscape; often in the form of an encapsulated delusion.

      Some cases of temporary estrangement can be prompted by two parents being in conflict, but no cases of parental alienation that I have ever worked in could be classified as being about two parents in conflict.

      Liked by 3 people

    3. I’m not a professional & I apologize for speaking out but I felt I needed to. I totally agree … our divorce started out High Conflict because of power & control that my ex had. I didn’t take the alienation serious enough I think. It was so out of character I thought. I contacted Dr. Richard Gardner in 1994 after reading one of his books. He was nice enough to call me back in Mississippi. He confirmed & warned me. Little did I know what extend an alienator will go to. Almost every detail is word for word from the experts to the point that it’s scary! After years of back to back court battles, he finally took them by bribing the court appointed therapist who was under investigation for taking bribes & brainwashing children at the time.
      My life ended that day. I didn’t have the $$$ to fight anymore. As I anticipated I never saw or talked to them again. I wasn’t allowed as he stated. I had faith in a court system that’s obviously very broken. I wasn’t only violated by this family but by the the courts. I’ve been in therapy so long seems like forever & I have regular meetings with my pastor & I journal more then I should probably.
      I was 45 when this started in the prime of my life. I had a great career, a beautiful family that I adored. As hard as I’ve tried to just move on I can not. I wish I could. I’ve tried contacting my kids since they’re adults now. I received an email from my daughter which took me a year to talk to my pastor where he could understand me. The things that she had been brainwashed with are so elaborately detailed & science fiction like its shocking. I. By 2012 I was unable to work anymore because I couldn’t think straight & cried uncontrollable at times. The state permanently disabled me due to Chronic Depression & PTSD & being Suicide. It would have been less painless if they would have put a gun to my head.
      PAS took everything from me. Iim telling you this first to thank you for all your hard work in bringing awareness & to plead with your readers to please help people going through this. Don’t let what happen to me happen to someone else!
      Thank you! And again I do apologize… just delete my message if it’s inappropriate.


  2. You have taken my breath away Karen with this piece of writing. Your ‘story’ of the crocodile pit screamed out to me. It is exactly how it was with my husband (and adult daughter) before I left him. How I wish others could see this as clearly as you do.

    You are so right when you say “It is exactly the same as blaming abuse victims for their abuse and it must stop.”

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hi Karen
    You have highlighted a problem that is becoming more frequent now that the CIAF has reared its ugly head.

    In other branches of law there is absolutely no contention whatsoever that agreement, compromise and conciliation require two willing parties. In contract law and in equity it is recognised and not disputed that sometimes one party is more willing than another. Likewise, the concepts of undue influence, unfair influence, duress and coercion are facts of life and features of human relationships. All of these situations exist in reality.

    However, when we get to personal and intimate relationships all of these variations and different types of behaviour suddenly and mysteriously waft up the chimney. The ideologues and hard of thinking would have us believe that virtually all PA cases are high conflict cases involving two warring parents whereas in other situations where it is necessary for the court to resolve disputes there is an acceptance, based upon years of experience, that human relationships break down due to the behaviour of any one or various combinations of the parties.

    It would appear that a lack of critical thinking skills is not something that is confined to alienated children. Anyone who has not observed all these situations simply has not been paying sufficient attention or doing sufficient analysis. `

    It is also likely that practitioners who have been in denial, may have ignored or been dismissive of PA in the past and now wish to cover their tracks. I fear there are lots of kids out there whose lives have been ruined by fundamental attribution errors and dogma. We have met many of them since starting NAAP. They will be seeking retribution and compensation. The professionals responsible for this now need to wake up, smell the coffee, stop victim blaming, get some decent training and get their acts together. Many child and targeted parent victims are owed a long overdue apology from you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. As Dr. Craig Childress has written…

      “What I’m about to say is important, I want everyone to think about this because this is important to see and understand. The construct of “parental alienation” creates sides. It’s been called “controversial” – that’s the word they use, but it’s more than that. The term “parental alienation” takes us off the path of professional psychology.

      Real psychologists, we won’t leave that path, we won’t leave the path of established professional psychology. That creates a divide between you and us. You’ll hear this when they say that “parental alienation” isn’t in the DSM-5. That’s true, it’s not. It is not a recognized pathology in the DSM diagnostic system. It doesn’t exist.

      I am a clinical psychologist. There is no such thing as “parental alienation.” It’s a made up pathology.

      Oh, there’s a lot of stuff, and I can fully explain what this pathology is using all of the other knowledge. It’s just that this “parental alienation” thing – it’s way-way bad. It’s too simplistic and not really grounded in anything.

      I know it seems to describe stuff, but it’s an overly simplistic description. That’s why nothing’s getting solved using it.

      So now, because it doesn’t actually exist in professional psychology, when you use the term “parental alienation” you have to prove that it even exists. How do you do that? By someone’s opinion? The criteria are so vague. And we enter a huge world of professional problems.

      The term “parental alienation” creates division and argument.

      I’d go so far as to say the construct of “parental alienation” is a creation of the pathogen designed to disable the mental health system response to it. I’m serious, that is my professional opinion. I see the fingerprints of the pathogen all over the construct of “parental alienation.”

      I always put the term in quotes. I won’t even touch it, I consider it that toxic a construct.

      And we don’t need it. Move to family systems therapy, the pathology becomes defined in two parts, the bad parenting is called a cross-generational coalition, and the child’s rejection of the targeted parent part is called an emotional cutoff.

      Totally defined constructs in family systems therapy. There, everything’s solved, Minuchin’s even got a diagram for it, and we don’t even need to use “parental alienation” or prove anything. We just have to apply family systems therapy to diagnosing family pathology.

      Wow, and all we had to do this entire time is apply the constructs and principles of family systems therapy to solving family conflict. Why didn’t anyone do that?

      I don’t know. Actually, I do. It’s hard when someone you trust… well, it’s hard to see, sometimes. Let’s move on.

      But certainly, whatever happened before, we can do that now, apply family systems therapy to family conflict, let’s do that now.

      We can’t. Why not?

      Because everyone is too busy trying to use and prove “parental alienation.”

      But, if parental alienation solves nothing, and moving to family systems therapy solves everything, why are they doing that, why are they using “parental alienation”?

      I don’t know. It’s a simple term to understand, I guess.

      But it doesn’t solve anything, in fact, it prevents solution. I know.

      But there is a different, middle ground. It’s a world the pathogen can’t see because it’s the world outside of conflict, a world outside of narcissistic “experts” discovering “new pathology.”

      It’s the world of established knowledge in professional psychology. There is nothing controversial about it – lots and lots of research – everyone agrees on it, it’s already proven – it brings everyone together and it solves everything.

      So let’s do that. Let’s stop using the term “parental alienation” that only creates discord and division, and no solution whatsoever, and let’s start applying the standard and established knowledge of professional psychology.

      Oh no, Dr. Childress, don’t ask to do that. We love our term “parental alienation” don’t ask us to give it up in order to create a solution. We won’t do it. We’ll hold on and on, and we’ll say you’re creating discord and division because you won’t let us have our term, our new pathology, our precious.

      There are some mental health people who don’t want to apply the knowledge of professional psychology. It’s astounding. They simply say, “no.” Why not? That’s weird. Why would they NOT want to apply the standard knowledge of professional psychology to a pathology that will clearly solve the pathology?

      Don’t you see? The term “parental alienation” is a construct of the pathogen used to disable the mental health system’s response to the pathogen.

      Waking up is hard. And surprising when those you trusted, aren’t what they seem.”


      1. Thank you Dwayne for your comment.

        You are obviously a follower of Dr Childress, I see that. As such I know there is little point in asking you to consider other people’s work or perspective. However, in the spirit of trying to see if you can open YOUR mind – here’s a few questions for you.

        1. Linda Gottlieb trained with Salvador Minuchin, did you know that?

        2. Did you know that she uses Minuchin in her work and in her court reports?

        3. Did you know that FSC has used Bowlby, Minuchin and others for more than a decade in our court reporting?

        4. Did you know that our reports would not be admissible if we did not evidence our work with a full range of scientific literature? This is the case for all experts around the world.

        5. Did you know that Dr Lowenstein from the UK was writing about attachment disorder in PA in the 1990’s. You can see a link to his work here, you will agree, I am sure, it is prolific.

        6. Did you know that parental alienation is now in the ICD-11 as the index term for QE.52 Child and Parent Relationship problem – giving Europe a diagnostic indicator?

        7. Did you know that most practitioners in the UK who work with parental alienation are also working with attachment disorder.

        8. Did you know that I was writing about attachment and parental alienation in 2013?

        I don’t expect you to do anything other than repost Dr Childress’s writings and what you have posted already sounds churlish and childish to me. I wish you well and will end with the words of Dr Childress himself because waking up is indeed hard when those you trust are most definitely not what they seem.

        And no – I do not intend to post any further endless rounds of Dr Childress’s writings, his own corner of the internet is where those belong.


      2. Doctor: Even if, arguendo, you’re correct, and I don’t know that you are so, your argument falls short because clearly the DSM Committee cannot in the DSM-5-TR or DSM-6 call the pathological construct – Family Systems Disorder. Sorry, but Dr. Richard Gardner, as controversial as he was, in the early 80’s termed it Parental Alienation and that’s what it’s become to be known by – this form of psychological, mental, and/or emotional child abuse. And, for the most part, this phenomenon known as Parental Alienation (PA) goes hand-in-hand with the legal system and Court cases because for the most part whenever it’s broached offline or online it’s within the context of a forensic case. Which is exactly why Courts in high-conflict contested child abuse and/or custody cases appoint clinical/forensic psychologists to try and solve the enigma within court cases. And for controversial science to be admitted into evidence on to a Court Record the Judge must first vet the same by conducting what’s known as a Frye/Daubert/Mohan Hearing in order to make sure junk science is not coming into evidence. So, Doctor, unless you have a better solution on what to term this pathological construct besides Parental Alienation, and then conduct studies that attain statistical and clinical significance and lobby your new found science for publication and general acceptance by the entire scientific and psychological community, I believe American and English Courts will continue to recognize the concept or theory as Parental Alienation.


      3. Thank you Dean for your concise comment about Dr Childress which I completely agree with and endorse. I note that in a recent case the Judge also made this very point and said that opinion by assertion was not accepted by the court. Give me peer reviewed material and I can use it in court. Give me assertion and I cannot. I can however, write about attachment and pathological triangulation and alignment providing that I reference it back to established constructs and parental alienation is an established construct in UK case law.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Dean Tong: Parental Alienation (or whatever name you care to call it or not call it) seems pretty real to me having experienced it in all its glory. It’s much like coercive control, how the hell do you get people who have never personally experienced it to recognise it and realise how hard it is to walk away. I believe that my husband (within an intact marriage of 40 plus years), because of his own insecurities and dreadful childhood, became controlling (and verbally abusive) and turned into an alienator because he decided he preferred our daughter to me (she worshipped him without question) and, having lost his family through suicide saw her (not me) as his “blood” – blood he was not going to share with me (his words). I am grateful for Karen’s words on the subject because to me, her words describe exactly what I and many others are going through. Thank God someone understands and can explain it!


      5. Thank you for your points on parental alienation. To argue your point about parental alienation , physcology fails to explain or recognise parents who abuse their power and responsibilities as a parent and decide their own contact rules between child and alienated parent. Phsycology fails to explain why new partners happily participate.

        Academia fails to recognise the existence of parental alienation and limits itself to existing modules. Clinicians must consider and remain open to new concepts no matter their seniority.

        Parental alienation resonates to many. It explains and puts a name to a problem that many experience as it exists in a legal and social system that has switched off to help. Sadly as professionals squabble over the existence of parental alienation, many children are suffering, many parents suffer absences from their child exacerbating or creating mental health problems.


    2. Hi Dwayne Huston
      There is an important distinction that you fail to make here Dwayne. On the one hand Parental Alienation has been a judicial fact of life in the courts of England and Wales since 2003 and a case known as Re O when Wall J described PA as a ‘…well recognised phenomenon’. Since it has been described as ‘… mainstream’. Now, even CAFCASS refer to the phenomenon as Parental Alienation and it is approved of internationally in ICD 11. These are facts.

      On the other hand your quotations of Dr Childress are opinions. Quite simply, we may choose our opinions but we cannot choose our facts.

      Honestly, there are many more worthwhile, deserving and relevant issues to argue about.


      1. padrestevie

        You did not address my post, where Dr. Craig Childress, explains the very poor proposed constructs of “parental alienation” created splitting within mental health and are preventing solutions to this Attachment Trauma Pathology.

        So, England and Wales have solutions since 2003 and all is well. Great for you. How is everything working over there? Sounds like children and families are no longer suffering from this Attachment Trauma.

        Sounds like all mental health personnel are properly assessing, diagnosing, and treating this Attachment Trauma in England and Wales and your court system and children services are all supporting mental health to heal from this severe mental Attachment Trauma.

        Please share as to how England and Wales was able to bring forth this apparent solution where everyone is united and overcome the mental health staff splitting, which we have in the US over “parental alienation” diagnostic symptoms.


      2. We have a way to go to get everyone on track but yes indeed, we have turned the corner and PA is known about, assessed and treated and resolved. As I wrote in 2015 – AB-PA is a red herring for the UK, we don’t need to return to science we are already using it and PA is well established in both the scientific and legal literature. Which of course anyone who wants to know can know by reading my blog. Padre Stevie is a legal person, he will fill you in further I am sure.


  4. Good to have your recognition of what can often be one-sided driven conflict. I’ve lived it and it nearly drove me crazy. I remember attending (voluntarily) a one-day training session by the Mediation Service years ago and asking exactly this question “What do you do when the other parent isn’t interested in compromise nor in putting the needs of the children first?”. Silence as an answer was all I got, leaving me to wonder was I living in a parallel universe.
    When one side is hell bent on creating conflict week in week out, life becomes a nightmare from which escape seems impossible. Add in ‘naive’ practitioners taking simplistic analysis options and the nightmare gets worse.


  5. As a targeted/alienated parent I often reflect on how I reacted to bizarre and ludicrous behaviours on behalf of my ex-husband. Just this weekend he once again withheld my daughter from staying over the night as per court orders and when I asked why? his answers are always vague “I can’t get into out via text, my phone is nearly flat”. The flash of anger and powerlessness I feel makes me want to rage, I have learnt to do or say nothing as to not to escalate. However, I often wish there was a “targeter parent pocketbook” on how to react where you are not escalating but nor are you just passive and letting it just happen to you over and over. Going back to court is costly and stressful.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I feel for you…very similar things done to me and the flash of anger at the injustice is the hardest part as it isn’t you but a huge vat of emotions that surge from nowhere and overwhelm you…holding onto them can be so very hard! Sending you positive supportive energy.


    2. Is this the Trans-Generational Transmission of Attachment Trauma Pathogen working to remain hidden? I recognize you pathogen with your repeating patterns.

      Karen, our children desperately REQUIRE healing mental health from being Staff Split from very poor diagnostic symptoms, so please Karen, dig deep and see the much bigger picture.

      Jesus Christ died on the cross to teach us about the dangers of this pathology or pathogen over 2000 years ago. Wake up! This is NOT a new human behavior requiring Dr. Richard Gardener’s VERY poor diagnostic symptoms, which is preventing solutions.

      The Pharisees feared Jesus, which led them to teach the Jewish People to fear, hate, and persecute Jesus. God sent his only son here to teach us that very important message.

      STOP supporting and demanding the leadership of mental to accept very poor diagnostic symptoms, which they have repeatedly rejected, which is preventing solutions.

      Karen Woodall,

      I do not know why I can NOT reply to your response, so I will reply to mine.

      I am fully aware of your remarks, which does NOT at all address the ROOT CAUSE of the conflict surrounding “parental alienation” or my posted reply which quoted Dr. Craig Childress.

      Most recently in February 2019 William Bernet, Steven Miller, and Linda Gottlieb testified in Connecticut demanding our Family Courts accept their diagnostic symptoms, which still to this day are Dr. Richard Gardener’s 8 diagnostic symptoms, which is the ROOT CAUSE of the conflict surrounding “parental alienation syndrome” or “parental alienation” or “alienation”, which as Dr. Craig Childress explains is preventing solutions.

      Why do mental health personnel still demand acceptance and support Dr. Richard Gardener’s 8 diagnostic symptoms when both the leadership of the APA and most recently the DSM-5 Task Force rejected William Bernet’s diagnostic symptoms.

      And you accuse me of being close minded!

      Albert Einstein definition of insanity comes to mind…

      The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

      STOP supporting and demanding acceptance of these very poor 8 diagnostic symptoms, which the leadership of mental has rejected multiple times, which has and is continuing to split mental health, way before Dr. Craig Childress came along and proposed a compromise to heal the split mental health and William Bernet, Steven Miller, Linda Gottlieb, and yourself are refusing to compromise to heal mental health from being split on poor diagnostic symptoms, proposed by Dr. Richard Gardener 35 years ago.

      STOP the insanity!

      Children are being HARMED and families are being destroyed all to hold on the Dr. Richard Gardener’s very poor diagnostic symptoms.

      My seemingly rejected post the pathogen is hiding…

      Listen to William Bernet’s testimony to Connecticut from February 2019. This is the ROOT CAUSE of preventing solutions.


      1. Oh Dwayne, please save your breath and your efforts, it is both extremely wrong of you to perpetrate such nonsense. Dr Childress did not propose any such healing, all he has done is tell you and the rest of the world that he is the person who will save you. It is a nonsense and frankly I think you are wasting your time and energy reposting endless rounds of this kind of stuff.

        In the UK we are now regularly appointed by the high courts to examine cases for alienation and treat them. The work we have been doing has begun to pay off and we have all continued to use the eight signs as the doorway through which we understand that a child is alienated. Beyond that doorway we use a wide range of tools and we evidence all of that work with the scientific literature. Now this is your last post from Dr Childress. I have given you two opportunities to listen and I don’t intend to play ping pong with Dr Childress’s old postings.

        I have no idea what you are talking about when you talk about pathogens hiding, it sounds like insanity itself to me.

        Go in peace Dwayne, there is nothing for us to talk about. You believe that I am the devil and I believe that you are being seriously misled. And so there ends the point at which our paths cross.

        Very best



      2. Karen,

        You continue to ignore the root cause of why mental health is split surrounding “parental alienation”, which prevents a mental health solution.

        Why are you content with preventing a mental health solution, which requires diagnosis and, by law in the US, information and techniques sufficient to substantiate a mental health professional’s findings?

        In February 2019, William Bernet, Steven Miller, and Linda Gottlieb testified in Connecticut demanding our Family Courts accept their proposed diagnosis of “parental alienation”, which the DSM-5 Task Force rejected and wrote the following…

        “When the DSM-5 was in development, there was a proposal to include parental alienation disorder as a new
        diagnosis.34 In response, members of the DSM-5 Task Force
        never said that they doubted the reality or the importance of
        parental alienation. However, they concluded that parental
        alienation did not meet the standard definition of a mental
        disorder, that is, “the requirement that a disorder exists as an
        internal condition residing within an individual” (Letter
        from D.A. Regier, January 24, 2012). Task Force members
        said that parental alienation should be considered an
        example of a relational problem because it involves a
        disturbance in the child’s relationship with one or both

        William Bernet and the other “parental alienation” supporters submitted there DIAGNOSIS and was rejected by the DSM-5 Task Force, which instead created V61.29 Child Affected by Parental Relationships Distress and V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse. The ICD-11 followed the lead of the DSM-5.

        The DSM-5 Task Force rejected the PASG proposed diagnosis of “parental alienation” and provided the constructive criticism to instead use existing accepted peer-reviewed constructs of psychology of information and techniques sufficient to substantiate a mental health personnel’s findings to diagnose V61.29 Child Affected by Parental Relationships Distress and V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse.

        The DSM-5 Task Force, which the ICD-11 followed, rejected William Bernet’s or the PASG’s diagnosis of “parental alienation” so the diagnosis which William Bernet, Steven Miller, and Linda Gottlieb testified in Connecticut this February, has again been rejected by the leadership of mental as information and techniques sufficient to substantiate a mental health personnel’s findings, which is required by US law by a mental health professional.

        So, the US remains with no mental health solution supporting the PASG’s proposed diagnosis or definition of “parental alienation”.

        Therefore, targeted parents who support the PASG are left with only a solution, which they must prove in a divisive, lengthy, and expensive Family Court of law.

        Why are you still supporting the rejected PASG’s rejected diagnosis and content with a solution, which requires fighting and proving “parental alienation” in a court of law, rather than a mental health solution that provides information and techniques sufficient to substantiate a mental health professionals findings of V61.29 Child Affected by Parental Relationships Distress and V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse Confirmed, which then immediately CAFCASS would have a complete mental health solution to protect the child. In a V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse Suspected diagnosis would give CAFCASS the ability to order appropriate treatment.

        Reuniting mental health surrounding this Attachment Trauma Pathology with a diagnosis everyone can accept and prevent false positives, will provide a complete mental health solution, that is timely and cost effective.

        As Dr. Craig Childress has explained, continuing to support a diagnosis, which the leadership of mental health has REPEATEDLY rejected, maintains a mental health system which is disfunctional, which then leaves targeted parents no other option but to rely on fighting in our Family Courts and paying a “parental alienation expert” money to help them prove “parental alienation” in a court of law rather than just diagnosing mental health pathology, which is done for all other mental health pathology.

        Karen, you seem to have found a system that is working for you. Why do you not see the bigger picture of working to make it work for targeted parents and our children and families, using a mental health solution rather than a legal solution?

        I suspect you will again not address my and Dr. Craig Childress’ legitimate concerns, but I pray that you do.


      3. Because no matter where you are in the world, you will need the legal and mental health interlock to create the dynamic change required in these cases. There isn’t a mental health system in the world where an alienating parent will willingly walk into a mental health office and that is simply a fact. As for reuniting mental health because there is a split, a) I don’t know who other than Dr Childress is split and b) mental health already uses much of what Dr Childress writes about anyway – which is why Bill Bernet wrote ‘old wine in old skins.’ There simply isn’t anything else to say. I wish you well. K


      4. Karen,

        Healing mental health from STAFF SPLITTING, which has left targeted parents and our children and families isolated from a typical mental health solution in solving mental health problems. Our suffering children and families require stopping the disfunctional mental health system surrounding this pathology Attachment Trauma Pathology and to get us out of the divisive Family Courts.

        Dr. Craig Childress and Mental Health Professional Michael Jones explain here…

        “Uniting in a Scientific Foundation
        I received a Comment from Michelle Jones, LCSW to my blog post Bringing the Era of Gardnerian PAS to a Close.

        I found her Comment so articulate and spot-on accurate that I decided to repost it here as a blog. In my view, her description of the situation is exactly correct.

        As preface let me say that the only thing I care about is bringing an end to the family tragedy of “parental alienation.” And we can accomplish that. We can bring this family nightmare to an end. Today. This instant. The pathology of “parental alienation” is not some type of new and unique pathology. It is a manifestation of established, well-defined, and well-understood forms of psychopathology that ALL mental health professionals should ALREADY be knowledgeable in, especially if they are working with this type of pathology.

        An attachment-based model of “parental alienation” is NOT me… it’s Kernberg, it’s Millon, it’s Beck, it’s Bowlby, it’s Ainsworth, it’s Haley, it’s Minuchin,… it is the work of the preeminent figures in all of psychology.

        All I did was bring this work together and apply it to the pathology commonly referred to as “parental alienation.” It’s not “my theory.” It is the fundamental principles within established forms of psychopathology. Read Kernberg, read Millon, read Beck, read, Bowlby, read… it’s all there.

        There is NOTHING new in Foundations. It is all established and well-defined forms of pathology.

        Here is the comment of Michelle Jones, LCSW. I am in 100% agreement with her. Solving the pathology of “parental alienation” is the central issue, and it is the ONLY issue.

        From Michelle Jones, LCSW:

        As a mental health therapist, I am making this reply directed to mental health therapists. It is difficult for most people to rise above their current situation and see the bigger view of themselves within the context of their own era of history. Looking back, it’s much easier to see. As they say, “Hindsight is 20/20.”

        When Joseph Lister proved that using antiseptics in surgery could reduce the number of post op infections, you would think the people at that time of history would have shouted for joy that such progress could be made. Instead it challenged their paradigms and actually caused insult to many of the professionals at the time. Looking back, we see the ignorance and the extreme shortsightedness of the accepted thinking of that day. And of course today we all believe in the reality of microbiology and the need for sterile technique, but historically, the idea took some getting used to. It actually took about a decade for people to start taking Lister seriously. Further, without Lister’s clear and accurate assessment that “germs” caused infections (and not bad air), there was no way to justify or standardize the use of antiseptics.

        We are now in a critical time of change in the history of parental alienation treatment. I believe it is mandatory to accurately define the pathology of parental alienation in an indisputable, scientifically-based manner, as you have done Dr. Childress–so that we can justify and prescribe the necessary treatments. We, as mental health therapists should know that our interventions are only as good as our assessments. If we do not accurately identify the pathology, then we cannot justify the necessary and appropriate interventions.

        This should not be a debate about whose opinion or construct is better than whose, this should be an objective, scientific and moral endeavor to raise the professional standard of practice across the field of mental health. If we as professionals truly believe in “doing no harm,” and our focus is truly on helping children and families, who are the foundation of our society, then we need to lay down our egos, and our outdated paradigms, and with integrity and humility, seek truth, even if it challenges us personally.

        I am not criticizing Gardner, nor those who have supported the PAS model. You have all done so much good in the world, and I sincerely appreciate your efforts. I own and have read most of your books. What I am asking is, “Is the PAS paradigm really working to the extent that it justifies and allows the needed solutions?” Gardner did a lot of good to raise awareness, and at great personal expense. His behavioral observations were accurate, but his theoretical constructs were not complete. That’s okay. If he were alive today, I believe he would shout, “That’s okay, just do something that works and stops the abuse!” After reading many of his articles and books, I truly believe his motives were pure. But his character and his contributions are not under question and we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be distracted by whether or not we should be loyal to Richard Gardner. Adopting the constructs of an attachment-based model of parental alienation has nothing to do with being loyal or disloyal to Gardner or the groundwork he laid, it’s about the next step in history and addressing the urgency of bringing about solutions to the devastating problem of parental alienation.

        As you have stated, Dr. Childress, staff splitting is a symptom of what happens to the treatment team when working with patients with personality disorders. Divide and conquer is their MO. I have spent years working with patients in residential treatment centers (many with personality disorders) and the clinicians would meet once or twice a week in treatment team to collaborate so that we could unite and do effective therapy. The patients could not be helped without unified treatment interventions.

        If we are going to effectively treat parental alienation or pathogenic parenting, it will require the same thing, uniting as a treatment team and implementing appropriate interventions with strict boundaries so that change can actually happen. How do we determine the needed boundaries and interventions? Only by first properly and accurately identifying the pathology. Dr. Childress has painstakingly done this for us in Foundations. I urge all mental health professionals to read Foundations and see if it fits with the established and accepted therapeutic theories we were trained in. Let’s unite in the spirit of peace and cooperation and reach consensus on the best treatment standards for parental alienation. And then, let’s unitedly take action.

        I agree 100% with everything Ms. Jones said.

        This is only about a scientifically-based description of the pathology so we can move forward in its diagnosis and treatment. The pathology is NOT a new and unique syndrome, it is a manifestation of entirely understandable and defined forms of psychopathology.

        It is time to end the unnecessary and paralyzing debate in professional psychology and come together in the service of children and families caught in this particular form of pathology.

        The focal goal of our efforts needs to be a change in the APA Position Statement on Parental Alienation so that it,

        1.) Acknowledges that the pathology exists, using whatever name establishment mental health wishes to use (“parental alienation,” “pathogenic parenting,” “attachment-trauma reenactment pathology” – or some other label for the pathology).

        The pathology of “parental alienation” exists.

        2.) Formally recognize the children and families evidencing this type of pathology as representing a “special population” who require specialized professional knowledge and expertise (in attachment theory, personality disorder pathology, and family systems theory) in order to competently assess, diagnose and treat.

        The complex nature of the pathology defines these children and families as a special population who require specialized professional knowledge and expertise to competently assess, diagnose, and treat.

        I believe this to be a reasonable and temperate demand on our part. All we are asking for is professional competence in established domains of professional psychology.

        In order to achieve professional competence in established domains of professional psychology, we must first be able to define the pathology within established and existing forms of psychopathology.

        That’s what Foundations does. It establishes the foundations for professional competence.

        It is time to end the divisive and damaging debate within professional psychology and come together, all of us, to meet the very real needs of the children and families experiencing this type of tragic psychopathology.

        Thank you for your support Michelle. Your banner is on the battlefield in support of the children and families who need us.

        Craig Childress, Psy.D.
        Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857

        Foundations is not “my theory.” Here is the source material:

        Central References: Books
        Bowlby, J. (1969). Attachment and Loss: Vol. 1. Attachment. NY: Basic Books.

        Bowlby, J. (1973). Attachment and Loss: Vol. 2. Separation: Anxiety and Anger. NY: Basic Books.

        Bowlby, J. (1980). Attachment and Loss: Vol. 3. Loss: Sadness and Depression. NY: Basic Books.

        Millon. T. (2011). Disorders of Personality: Introducing a DSM/ICD Spectrum from Normal to Abnormal. Hoboken: Wiley.

        Beck, A.T., Freeman, A., Davis, D.D., and Associates (2004). Cognitive Therapy of Personality Disorders. (2nd edition). New York: Guilford.

        Kernberg, O.F. (1975). Borderline Conditions and Pathological Narcissism. New York: Aronson.

        Minuchin, S. (1974). Families and Family Therapy. Harvard University Press.

        If a mental heath professional is assessing, diagnosing, or treating this population of children and families and has not read these texts by the most preeminent figures in attachment theory, personality disorder pathology, and family systems theory, then the mental health professional is very likely to be practicing beyond the boundaries of his or her professional competence in violation of Standard 2.01 of the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct of the American Psychological Association.
        Additional Central References: Research
        Fonagy, P., Luyten, P., and Strathearn, L. (2011). Borderline personality disorder, mentalization, and the neurobiology of attachment. Infant Mental Health Journal, 32, 47-69.

        Moor, A. and Silvern, L. (2006). Identifying pathways linking child abuse to psychological outcome: The mediating role of perceived parental failure of empathy. Journal of Emotional Abuse, 6, 91-112.

        Fonagy, P., Target, M., Gergely, G., Allen, J.G., and Bateman, A. W. (2003). The developmental roots of Borderline Personality Disorder in early attachment relationships: A theory and some evidence. Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 23, 412-459.

        van Ijzendoorn, M.H. (1992) Intergenerational transmission of parenting: A review of studies in nonclinical populations. Developmental Review, 12, 76-99

        Kerig, P.K. (2005). Revisiting the construct of boundary dissolution: A multidimensional perspective. Journal of Emotional Abuse, 5, 5-42.

        Trippany, R.L., Helm, H.M. and Simpson, L. (2006). Trauma reenactment: Rethinking borderline personality disorder when diagnosing sexual abuse survivors. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 28, 95-110.

        Macfie, J., McElwain, N.L., Houts, R.M., and Cox, M.J. (2005) Intergenerational transmission of role reversal between parent and child: Dyadic and family systems internal working models. Attachment & Human Development, 7, 51-65.

        Lyons-Ruth, K., Bronfman, E. and Parsons, E. (1999). Maternal frightened, frightening, or atypical behavior and disorganized infant attachment patterns. In J. Vondra & D. Barnett (Eds.) Atypical patterns of infant attachment: Theory, research, and current directions. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 64, (3, Serial No. 258).

        Main, M. and Hesse, E. (1990). Parents’ unresolved traumatic experiences are related to infant disorganized attachment status: Is frightened and/or frightening parental behavior the linking mechanism? In M.T. Greenberg, D. Cicchetti, & E.M. Cummings (Eds.), Attachment in the preschool years: Theory, research, and intervention (pp. 161–182). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

        van der Kolk, B.A. (1989). The compulsion to repeat the trauma: Re-enactment, revictimization, and masochism. Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 12, 389-411

        Pearlman, C.A. and Courtois, C.A. (2005). Clinical applications of the attachment framework: Relational treatment of complex trauma. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 18, 449-459.

        Prager, J. (2003). Lost childhood, lost generations: the intergenerational transmission of trauma. Journal of Human Rights, 2, 173-181.

        Shaffer, A., and Sroufe, L. A. (2005). The developmental and adaptational implications of generational boundary dissolution: Findings from a prospective, longitudinal study. Journal of Emotional Abuse. 5(2/3), 67-84.

        van Ijzendoorn, M.H. (1992) Intergenerational transmission of parenting: A review of studies in nonclinical populations. Developmental Review, 12, 76-99

        Brennan, K.A. and Shaver, P.R. (1998). Attachment styles and personality disorders: Their connections to each other and to parental divorce, parental death, and perceptions of parental caregiving. Journal of Personality 66, 835-878.

        Dutton, D. G., Denny-Keys, M. K., and Sells, J. R. (2011). Parental personality disorder and its effects on children: A review of current literature. Journal of Child Custody, 8, 268-283.

        Sable, P. (1997). Attachment, detachment and borderline personality disorder. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 34(2), 171-181.

        Holmes, J. (2004). Disorganized attachment and borderline personality disorder: a clinical perspective. Attachment & Human Development, 6(2), 181-190.

        Lopez, F. G., Fuendeling, J., Thomas, K., and Sagula, D. (1997). An attachment-theoretical perspective on the use of splitting defenses. Counseling Psychology Quarterly, 10, 461-472.

        Juni, S. (1995). Triangulation as splitting in the service of ambivalence. Current Psychology: Research and Reviews, 14, 91-111.

        Mikulincer, M., Gillath, O., and Shaver, P.R. (2002). Activation of the attachment system in adulthood: Threat-related primes increase the accessibility of mental representations of attachment figures. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83, 881-895.

        Garety, P. A. and Freeman D. (1999) Cognitive approaches to delusions: A critical review of theories and evidence. The British Journal of Clinical Psychology; 38, 113-154.

        Rappoport, A. (2005). Co-narcissism: How we accommodate to narcissistic parents. The Therapist.

        Hodges, S. (2003). Borderline personality disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder: Time for integration? Journal of Counseling and Development, 81, 409-417.

        Levy, K.N. (2005). The implications of attachment theory and research for understanding borderline personality disorder. Development and Psychopathology, 17, p. 959-986.

        Additional Supporting Research
        Fonagy P. and Target M. (2005). Bridging the transmission gap: An end to an important mystery in attachment research? Attachment and Human Development, 7, 333-343.

        van IJzendoorn, M.H., Schuengel, C., and Bakermans-Kranenburg, M.J. (1999). Disorganized attachment in early childhood: Meta-analysis of precursors, concomitants, and sequelae. Development and Psychopathology, 11, 225–249.

        Macfie, J. Fitzpatrick, K.L., Rivas, E.M. and Cox, M.J. (2008). Independent influences upon mother-toddler role-reversal: Infant-mother attachment disorganization and role reversal in mother’s childhood. Attachment and Human Development, 10, 29-39

        Sroufe, L. A. (2005). Attachment and development: A prospective, longitudinal study from birth to adulthood, Attachment and Human Development, 7, 349-367.

        Bacciagaluppi, M. (1985). Inversion of parent-child relationships: A contribution to attachment theory. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 58, 369-373.

        Benoit, D. and Parker, K.C.H. (1994). Stability and transmission of attachment across three generations. Child Development, 65, 1444-1456

        Bretherton, I. (1990). Communication patterns, internal working models, and the intergenerational transmission of attachment relationships. Infant Mental Health Journal, 11, 237-252.

        Cassidy, J., and Berlin, L. J. (1994). The insecure/ambivalent pattern of attachment: Theory and research. Child Development, 65, 971−991.

        Tronick, E.Z. (2003). Of course all relationships are unique: How co-creative processes generate unique mother-infant and patient-therapist relationships and change other relationships. Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 23, 473-491.

        van der Kolk, B.A. (1987). The separation cry and the trauma response: Developmental issues in the psychobiology of attachment and separation. In B.A. van der Kolk (Ed.) Psychological Trauma (31-62). Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Press, Inc.

        Raineki, C., Moriceau, S., and Sullivan, R.M. (2010). Developing a neurobehavioral animal model of infant attachment to an abusive caregiver. Biological Psychiatry, 67, 1137-1145.

        Kaplan, J. T., and Iacoboni, M. (2006). Getting a grip on other minds: Mirror neurons, intention understanding, and cognitive empathy. Social Neuroscience, 1(3/4), 175-183.

        Iacoboni, M., Molnar-Szakacs, I., Gallese, V., Buccino, G., Mazziotta, J., and Rizzolatti, G. (2005). Grasping the intentions of others with one’s own mirror neuron system. Plos Biology, 3(3), e79.

        Fraiberg, S., Adelson, E., and Shapiro, V. (1975). Ghosts in the nursery. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 14, 387–421.

        Barnow, S. Aldinger, M., Arens, E.A., Ulrich, I., Spitzer, C., Grabe, H., Stopsack, M. (2013). Maternal transmission of borderline personality disorder symptoms in the community-based Griefswald Family Study. Journal of Personality Disorders, 27, 806-819,

        Carlson, E.A., Edgeland, B., and Sroufe, L.A. (2009). A prospective investigation of the development of borderline personality symptoms. Development and Psychopathology, 21, 1311-1334.

        Fruzzetti, A.E., Shenk, C. and Hoffman, P. (2005). Family interaction and the development of borderline personality disorder: A transactional model. Development and Psychopathology, 17, 1007-1030.

        Stepp, S. D., Whalen, D. J., Pilkonis, P. A., Hipwell, A. E., and Levine, M. D. (2011). Children of mothers with Borderline Personality Disorder: Identifying parenting behaviors as potential targets for intervention. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment. 1-16.

        Svrakic, D.M. (1990). Functional dynamics of the narcissistic personality. American Journal of Psychiatry. 44, 189-203.

        Widiger, T.A. and Trull, T.J. (2007). Plate tectonics in the classification of personality disorder: Shifting to a dimensional model. American Psychologist, 62, 71-83.

        Additional Supporting Books
        Cozolino, L. (2006): The neuroscience of human relationships: Attachment and the developing social brain. WW Norton & Company, New York.

        Siegel, D. (1999). The developing mind: Toward a neurobiology of interpersonal experience (New York: Guilford Press, 1999)”


      5. Ok, that really is your last piece of airtime for reposting Dr Childress Dwayne. Go well in the world.


  6. Karen,

    Thank you for what you have written. It resonated with what I have experienced perfectly. I notice within the comments many have disagreed in parts to what you have written but I have noticed that those that have had not experienced such incidence within their own lives.

    The way you have planned it does exist indeed. I now have a 15year daughter that does not wish to talk or see me. This stems from her being absent from school with an attendance rate being 75 per cent and the school in willing to act robustly. I have been apart since my daughter was ten months old and spent 49k tied into a legal system to just have the basic rights to see her. Since that fight, I continued to struggle as the other parent would pick and choose when to activate the court order to let me see my daughter. With the motivation to pull it back into a costly court process. You can easily guess the other party was on free legal aid. During throughout my daughter suffered.

    Since then my daughter has decided to not have me in her life, as I have desperately tried to improve my daughter’s attendance at school. Disguised compliance is evident with the other parent, with promises to improve failing to get anywhere. Whenever I attempt to help, the other parent ceases contact. This impacts on my daughter future were the other parties do not see. As you have indicated above, taking all good opportunities from the child is something the other parties are happy to consider and not truly thinking about the needs of the child.

    Such a cruel and dispicable way of thinking from the other party.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. This was so perfectly time for us. Camhs in Family Therapy have just reported after 6 months’ investigatory work & blamed both parents for the high conflict situation causing distress for our child. Definitely taking the easy way out! When they could have instead identified & called out the controlling attempts by her mother, most likely driven by mother having some personality disorder, and taken better action as a result. A wasted opportunity.
    We have quoted your blog in our response this weekend. Although I very much doubt they will take a blind bit of notice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The courts and social services for not wish to big themselves down in who’s to blame cases. It is easier to give the mum the advantage of knowing what’s best for her child over the father’s. They will disagree to this opinion but will do it in disguise.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Hi Ally
      I know that Camhs in some areas have stated that they do not have the expertise needed to deal with cases of PA.


  8. This is so familiar to what happened to me in the early stages of the divorce before I was brushed aside by the system! Every time you write Karen you find another part of the story that I have not been able to articulate to anyone.
    I was ignored by marriage guidance when I told them he abused me for the hours’ journey to get to them and that I was upset at the abuse being meted out to me whilst I was driving – he sat back and was all sweetness and light, butter wouldn’t melt. I was ignored by the solicitor when I told her that I was being separated from my child – her words to me were that at 14 she was old enough to speak and the Judge wouldn’t investigate my claims further. I was ignored by the school and GP with the comment that ‘we can only deal with the situation if she comes and speaks to us’….how many times do you have to be ignored when you are clearly and plainly asking for help?
    I have now been alienated from my daughter for 14 years and she now alienates me from my grandchildren.
    This colours my life and no matter what positive facade I put, on I hurt for the damage done to my child and now being perpetuated to the next generation!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Karen Woodall absolutely nails this one. So often the ‘high conflict’ excuse justifies either inaction or gender bias among the many questionable professionals attached to and within the family court system. LJ Wall (former President) years ago said that in the most intractable cases there was an element of madness from one party. Unless and until people stop going over their own cases at every opportunity and focus on the systemic failings within the system, then the systemic failings will continue because of poor opposition due to those affected too often recycling their problem and thus enabling the system to say, ‘look, we are right.’

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Truth spoken. As an alienated parent the toughest thing is not having a voice and feeling helpless watching your children be emotionally abused in this manner.

    I can’t help but wonder what the suicide rate is for alienated parents. I bet it’s high. I know mentally I’ve already thrown in the towel.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, it is high, Tim. But that is no excuse. Hang in there until you find a new direction for your life. Seek help and KEEP seeking help because a little grudging nudge from the NHS is not enough.

      I’m speaking from experience. Years of it. Don’t look back, even if that is where your mind wants to keep concentrating. Control your mind and force it to look forward, to something new. I don’t know what might be ahead for you and I realise you probably don’t either but give it time while you heal with help.

      Hang in there, Tim. Life will be worth it again.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Tim, there are so many of us who would support you through this minefield of emotion.
      I am fully trained as a Mental Health First Aider, have done suicide prevention training and am about to embark on Grief Recovery training. This has been a very valuable and positive way for me to deal with the situation that I have lived through over this last 14 years. There are many very supportive groups on Facebook and externally who will support you if you feel able to reach out.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Hello! Im from Sweden. I have and still going true with this. My children are 16 and 18 living with their father and they wont have any contact with me. The children stopped to comming 2012 and 2015 and i dont now why. Im a loving parent and a calm parent and have make everything good as a parent should be like other parents who havent divorsed. But one thing i now fore shure is the parent the children live with day in day out dont like the other parent becurse of their own selfish reasons ex want to punish the other person becurse it had leaved the marrige. The living parent can say and plant in the children what ever it wont in many years and if the children also stopp seing the other parent it will give even worser. The target parent is now in a dead end how much contact the target parent wont with the children and tries everuthing is blocked cut off for no reason just belive in the parent they live with. If wrong parent get to live with the children its not good it should be the parent who wants the other parent in the childrens life and have good contact with the children no matter wath.

    Sad mom


    1. Hello from the UK, Marie
      I’m sorry you too are going through this. I was married to my husband for more than forty years and even though I lived with him he still managed to turn my daughter against me. I think there must be something in the children that makes them susceptible to such influences. In my case my daughter was 15 when her dad (my husband) discovered her and turned on me. Instead of taking a mistress he took my daughter. He had a hobby that involved racing all over Europe and the social life was amazing for a 15 year old (it took us to Sweden in 1992 for the World Championships and it was an amazing experience even though he didn’t win any medals). What 15 year old wouldn’t be swayed by that! In comparison I was seen as boring.

      I stayed in that marriage with both my husband and daughter treating me like something on the bottom of their shoe BECAUSE I couldn’t bear to lose her. I knew that if I left him I would never see her again. (he’d told me that when she was just three years old)

      But I have come to know that with people like my husband, nothing I could have done would have ever changed anything. All I/we can do is live our own life as best we can. My daughter is now 37 and I haven’t seen or heard from her in almost five years – it’s five years since she told me to get out of her life and I left them both and moved away ……. because I couldn’t bear to see him flaunt his relationship with her and mock me.

      To any outsider, and to my daughter, our relationship was high conflict (as described by Karen in this article) and it was high conflict because he had to win and I couldn’t force myself to be passive in light of his onslaughts. His prize was my daughter.


    2. Hej Marie!
      Som många redan har erfarit både i Sverige och internationellt, så är det i stort sett omöjligt att få hjälp av samhället i den här situationen–om barnet i en sådan ålder som dina är i nu inte själv vill det. Det är ett tragisk faktum eftersom barnen behöver hjälp men verkar inte vara medvetna om att de behöver det.
      Jag har själv två söner (16 och 18) i samma situation.
      Fortsätt kämpa och ge inte upp.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I liken it to 2 countries, A and B. A decides it wants to takeover B, a peaceful country.
    B does everything it can to avoid war. They go to mediation, but A will only accept B’s unconditional surrender so mediation fails.
    A starts invading B. B’s only choice is surrender or to resist in order to retain it’s rights as a sovereign country.
    To the rest of the world, that doesn’t have the time or inclination to look into the detail, they are both seen as high conflict countries.

    Back to the real world, parent B has only 2 choices –
    (1) Give parent A everything they want, – walk away from the children and assets, or
    (2) Fight them in Court to try to assert their children’s rights to have both parents.

    The Court calls parent B doing (1) an uninvolved parent.
    The Court calls situation (2) “high conflict parents”, and does everything it can to shutdown the conflict, believing the conflict is the source of the problem rather than a symptom.
    In order to shutdown conflict, a Court may do things like-
    (a) Preventing the child seeing a psychologist (who understands PA, who could assess the situation accurately), since parent B wants it and parent A opposes it, it is a source of conflict and they don’t want the child to be damaged by the parent’s conflict.
    (b) The Court may even go so far as to hand the children to parent A in order to shutdown the conflict.

    In my country I have heard from lawyers “you must find a way to get along with the mother or the Judge will give the child to the mother”. When parent B hears this, and they already understand how parent A’s Personality Disorder operates, they are left in an emotional state that cannot adequately be described with words.

    Ironically, this way the Courts incentivize Parent A to create conflict, and then reward Parent A with parenting rights and hence more property. This is the polar opposite of the “best interests of the children”.

    It is such a tragedy, that this happens and even more so that it keeps repeating itself.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thank you for this, and in particular your crocodile pit scenario. I had thought nobody would ever understand my behaviour in trying to protect my children. I have sometimes even questioned myself why I was so frustratingly angry, knowing in hindsight that ultimately it did not help. It is hard to be a rejected parent but at least understanding something of the process I and my children have been through gives a little perspective.


  14. To my understanding the high conflict myth is caused by the confusion of correlation with causality. The most predominant factors are-

    (a) A personality disordered parent creates PA, and creates a high conflict separation (Causality)

    (b) So PA happens when high conflict is present. (Correlation)

    The Courts see (b) and confuse correlation with causality and so think it’s in the best interests of the child to stop conflict, so they try to shutdown litigation by giving the kid (totally or mostly) to the parent they are with – the personality disordered parent.
    This is the worst outcome for the kid.

    Now, what seems to cause the confusion here – some of the high conflict can exacerbate PA, but is not the root cause.

    Treating high-conflict as the root cause of PA, like the Courts do, causes them to take make a decision that is in the worst interests of the child.


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