This announcement tells us that the Canadian Symposium for Parental Alienation Syndrome will hold its annual conference in New York City on October 2nd and 3rd of this year. It’ll take place in Stern Audiorium of Mount Sinai Medical School. They expect some 600 people to attend, so if you want to be one of them, you can use the link provided to sign up.
The conference is titled “Parental Alienation Syndrome:
Past Present and Future”. Many consider this conference to be a landmark event in the history of mental health, in part because the American Psychiatric Association is now giving consideration to Parental Alienation Disorder (P.A.D.) for inclusion in the next edition of the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, more often referred to as the DSM-5. There are some countries around the world that already recognize Parental Alienation as a diagnostic condition. As a recent example of this global shift, Spain’s Psychological Association did so in 2008. “P.A.D. is a widespread disorder that is little understood and warrants serious study and attention by the mental health and legal community.”, states Dr. Amy J. Baker, a highly respected researcher in the field of parental alienation and the author of peer reviewed articles and books on the subject.”Inclusion of P.A.D. in the A.P.A.’s diagnostic book will go a long way towards creating awareness and helping children and families affected by this disorder.”
This comes at an important time in the development of our understanding of Parental Alienation Syndrome, also know as Parental Alienation Disorder. Whether or not the American Psychiatric Association includes the disorder in the DSM-V, the science that inquires into the condition will continue to grow in scale, detail and subtlety. The value of its inclusion as a discreet diagnosis would allow its coverage by insurance plans, which could be beneficial but in no way affects its status as an accurate descriptive term for the set of behaviors that sometimes result from parental alienation of children. The distinction between parental alienation and Parental Alienation Disorder is critical. It’s one I emphasized here on Steve Ashley’s Divorced Fathers radio program on June 18th. (Click onthe link, scroll down to the June 18th show and click on the arrow.) The distinction is critical because the anti-father forces in family law and public policy want people to think that they’re the same thing. Here’s what they do: they start with the fact that PAD has not yet been recognized as a discreet medical or psychiatric condition by the APA. Part of the scientific debate about recognizing PAD or not includes some researchers’ statements to the effect that there’s not enough evidence that PAD meets the requirements of the DSM and so shouldn’t be included. That’s some researchers’ opinion and I’m in no position to refute or agree with them. But the anti-dad set seizes on PAD’s as-yet-lack of inclusion in the DSM to refer to it as “discredited.” Of course no such thing has occurred. The fact is that PAD, as a discreet condition is still under consideration; it has neither been accepted nor rejected as such. It has in no way been “discredited,” but the anti-dad crowd fears the fact that fathers have been able to convince judges that sometimes children’s rejection of fathers post-divorce originates not in dad’s behavior but in mom’s alienation of the children from dad. Faced with the alternative of (a) mothers taking responsibility for their alienation of children or (b) dishonestly attempting to convince people that there’s no such thing as PAD, the anti-dad crowd chooses the latter. Why are we not surprised? But the entire issue of whether PAD is a discreet, identifiable psychological condition or not, while important to the community of mental health professionals, should not be used as an excuse to obscure the obvious – that parental alienation occurs and is fairly common. The simple fact is that parental alienation is the behavior by a parent that attempts to turn a child against the other parent. PAS or PAD is a set of symptoms or behaviors that result to the child from the parent’s behavior. Whether there is a syndrome or disorder that meets certain medical definitions necessary for including it in the DSM is now an open question. Whether parents attempt to and sometimes succeed in alienating their children is not. Anyone with eyes to see knows that they do. And it is that thing that the anti-dad crowd refuses to admit and hopes no one will notice. Their idea is to call PAD or PAS “discredited” and hope no one will notice that (a) it’s not and (b) whether it is or not, parental alienation of children occurs frequently and is clearly appropriate for courts to consider in deciding issues of custody. Thanks to Paulette for the heads-up.