There is a current strategy to convince alienated mothers that they are really suffering from coercive control and that they are being conned into believing that they are alienated. The problem with this argument, is that it only focuses upon the experience of the mothers themselves, it ignores completely, what is happening to the child.
The argument that mothers who are alienated are suffering from coercive control but fathers who are alienated are coercive controllers, falls down when we shift our focus to the alienated child. In the former scenario, which comes from an ideological perspective (women’s rights come first and must be protected before all else because they are victims of patriarchy), mothers who are alienated from their children and mothers who are ‘protecting’ their children from abusive fathers are all classed as victims of coercive control.
The problem with this view, is that when we shift our focus to what is happening to the children in these circumstances, we find that the children who are alienated from their mothers and the children who are alienated from their fathers, are all showing the same behavioural signs of psychological splitting. Children in the care of their fathers who are psychologically split, idealise their father and reject their mother, children in the care of their mothers who are psychologically split, idealise their mothers and demonise their fathers.
When children show idealisation of one parent and demonisation of the other, in the absence of any findings that a parent has caused harm, they are showing signs of alienation – from their own selves first and then one of their parents. Alienation is harmful to children because it causes a false persona to arise, which is followed by projections onto the parent of a belief that one is wholly good and the other is wholly bad. A child showing these signs, will experience interruption of normal healthy development and it is vital to examine the dynamics which lead to this presentation. Only by doing so can we discover why the child has utilised defensive psychological splitting as a coping mechanism.
If then, all children who are alienated show signs of psychological splitting and that happens if children are in the care of mothers or fathers, how can it also be true that only mothers experience abuse in the form of either alienation or allegations of alienation? The answer is, it can’t be true and it isn’t true and no amount of effort to reconfigure alienation of children as only being about coercive control of mothers, in order to obfuscate the reality that mothers and fathers become alienated from their children will hide that.
The shaming and blaming of alienated mothers has been going on for a very long time. It continues today, with what I can only describe as the deeply disturbing and brutal treatment of alienated mothers, by women who want to convince them that their children are not alienated, because what is really happening is that they are suffering coercive control.
Telling an alienated parent that their child is not alienated, is like telling a bereaved parent that their understanding of how their child died is wrong. It is like careering into someone’s personal suffering and imposing your own experience upon them. Alienated parents know what alienation does to their children, they have lived it, breathed it, cried a thousand tears over it. Whether it is caused by coercive control, bad mouthing, mental health problems, cold malicious determination, enmeshment, parentification or anything else, the harm that it does to the child is clear and present, it is obvious, it is like a light being switched off in the child’s mind as the child struggles with the onset of a false persona, which is designed to help the child survive the unsurvivable.
Alienated mothers, like alienated fathers, do not need to be lectured to about what they are experiencing, they do not need to be re-traumatised, what they need is care and compassion, understanding and most of all, to be heard and to have their suffering recognised.
The ‘alienation is really coercive control‘ agenda, which is promoted by ideological groups, is a red herring, it is designed to make this a war between mothers and fathers and it completely ignores the needs of alienated children and their parents, who are forced to stand by and watch their children being abused.
Alienation of children is part of a strategy of post separation abuse which is carried out by fathers and by mothers, using strategies which are often gender specific (fathers use readily recongised coervice control strategies, mothers use less easily recognised covert strategies of enmeshment and parentification) but which are also rooted in a range of mental health problems. The child carries the symptoms in the form of induced psychological splitting, which causes the most appalling changes in behaviour which are created by the defence which the child is driven to use.
For sure there are false claims of alienation, I have worked in cases where I have clearly said that this is not a case of alienation (and have been harassed by parents for saying so). But false claims of alienation, like false claims of domestic abuse, do not mean that all cases of either are falsified.
.My enduring interest in doing this work is protecting children from having to use induced psychological splitting as a defence and treatment of families where that occurs. I care about alienated children and the parent they are rejecting because I know that it is within that relationship that the child can properly recover an integrated sense of self. Watching what is done to alienated mothers (and fathers) but right now, particularly mothers, appalls me. For a group so shamed and so blamed, the hectoring and lecturing seems to me to be without compassion.
Which from an ideology which purports to put women’s needs first, is something of a contradiction.
For ignoring their sisters exortations to change their understanding of what is happening to their children, alienated mothers continue to be blamed, shamed and isolated from the help that they need.
On International Women’s Day, my thoughts are with them.