I was deeply saddened to hear yesterday of the death of Steve Miller M.D. who was a steadfast supporter of those of us who work with alienated children and their families, and who provided a clear explanation of the fundamental attribution error in working with alienation. You can see Steve speaking with clarity and precision about this in this video which is well watched and referenced by those who do this work.

Steve was a kind and funny man who was clear that alienation of children is child abuse. He possessed infinite wisdom on matters of health and health care and ways of thinking about alienation which pushed at the boudaries of existing knowledge. At the EAPAP conference in London in 2018, he introduced us to the idea that the eight signs of alienation, which are used in Parental Alienation Theory, are actually only two signs, contempt and lack of empathy, which furthered our interest at FSC in the work of psychoanalytic researchers and the concept of splitting as the central dynamic in families where children align with a parent and reject the other. In 2019, when we began to move away from Parental Alienation Theory in our work, Steve remained kind, courteous and supportive of what we were doing, his focus was on the wellbeing of children and he was truly interested in how to help more therapists, understand that working in this field is a specialism which requires strength and determination, as well as precise understanding and knowledge on correct treatment protocols.

When I think of Steve, I remember conversations on the phone which began with a topic and wound their way around many areas of mutual interest, to arrive back at the point of the call. We had tea in London in 2018 and he put me straight on the early days of the Beatles, making me laugh at the things said about me on the internet at that time, bringing life back into perspective with grace and ease. His ability to conceptualise and clarify complex issues was second to none, but in discussion he was easy to talk to and generous in his recognition of others he deemed capable of understanding the complexity of this work.

My lasting memory of Steve, is his clarion call for more specialists in the field at the conference in 2018, where he argued for the need for therapists who really ‘get’ the problem we are working with and know how to treat it. I haven’t forgotten his words, that those who specialise in this work, will face untold abuse but will keep doing it anyway, because we know that children are being deeply harmed by this dynamic. Those words underpin all my intention and keep me going regardless and whilst we have long since moved on from the use Parental Alienation Theory, what we learned from Steve set us on the path we are now on. His courage and clarity helped us to bring new understanding and treatment routes to life and the signficance of his work and that gift of understanding he gave us, will stay with us always.

We are profoundly grateful for the life of Steve Miller, whose work has changed the lives of alienated children around the globe.