Karen Woodall

World Health Organisation Recognises Parental Alienation

Despite the efforts of political ideological groups to prevent it, on May 25th 2019, the World Health Organisation accepted the current version of ICD-11 which contains within it the index term parental alienation for the code QE.52 Caregiver-Child Relationship Problem.

The press release from the WHO begins…

Member states agreed today to adopt the eleventh revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11), to come into effect on 1 January 2022.

ICD is the foundation for the identification of health trends and statistics globally, and the international standard for reporting diseases and health conditions. It is the diagnostic classification standard for all clinical and research purposes. ICD defines the universe of diseases, disorders, injuries and other related health conditions. 

The ICD also captures factors influencing health, or external causes of mortality and morbidity, providing an holistic look at every aspect of life that can affect health.

Despite the late wave of organised women’s rights memos and signatures to prevent the inclusion of PA in ICD-11, some of which came from the very people CAFCASS in the UK rely upon in their professed understanding of parental alienation, the WHO has not bowed to the pressure of misinformation and false news about parental alienation.  No longer misrepresented as a tool for abusive ex partners to use in divorce and separation, finally parental alienation is recognised for the mental health problem it really is.

In this evolving field of work and understanding of a child’s unjustified rejection of a parent after divorce and separation, we now find ourselves at the turning point of before and after ICD-11.

A child’s unjustified rejection of parent after divorce and separation is now defined as a caregiver-child relationship problem recognised by the World Health Organisation.  That care-giver-child relationship problem is already well defined in the scientific literature which is now being developed at a rapid pace.  Away from the politicised reduction of the problem to that of a weapon in a war about ‘contact’ with a parent after separation, the nuances of the problem, which are interwoven deeply in the fabric of society, family, interpersonal relationships, attitudes towards children and the psychology of divorce and separation are being understood, evidenced and addressed.

The inclusion of parental alienation as the index term in iCD-11 comes after a long campaign led by Professor William Bernet, head of the Parental Alienation Study Group who has worked tirelessly to reach this day. Finally the psychological manipulation of children of divorce and separation has the recognition generations of children have desperately needed us to achieve for them.

His work will not be wasted by those of us who understand the suffering caused by the  harm done to children and families affected by parental alienation.