News from the Parental Alienation Syndrome Symposium – One Step Closer

The following was written by Terry Kee.  He is a childless father as a result of PAS and an Advisory Member of Fathers & Families of Ohio.

Over the weekend of October 2 and 3rd 2010, the Canadian Symposium for Parental Alienation Syndrome was held at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. This was a great forum to bring together targeted parents, mental health professionals, guardians ad litem, attorneys, and other interested parties to gain an understanding of Parental Alienation Syndrome.

On the first day of the symposium, I met five mothers who were targeted parents – rejected by their children as a result of the vindictive and malicious efforts of their ex husbands.  Six, if you include key note speaker, Pamela Richardson, whose son Dash took his own life as a result of the emotional abuse that is Parental Alienation Syndrome.

Opposing PAS on the grounds that it is a tactic used by men against women is about as archaic as believing that the world is flat.  In the meantime, more and more narcissistic and emotionally shallow parents are empowered to carry out a campaign of denigration as a result of the non- recognition of PAS and, of course, the general lack of consequences for their actions.  It is sad to say that these abusers and brainwashers often act with complete impunity and will continue to do so until they are held accountable.

Now for some good news.

I am happy to report that Dr. Amy J.L. Baker, a noted researcher on the subject of PAS, announced the results of her latest study, which seems to indicate a clear distinction between PAS children and children who have been estranged.  The implications of this study are significant.  As many of you know, the fear of mis-diagnosis by therapists is one of the primary impediments for the formal recognition of PAS in the DSM.  This new evidence that PAS children exhibit a unique cluster of symptoms which are pure (not associated with other causes),  brings a greater likelihood of formal recognition.  Further, if PAS could be easily proven, or disproven, then there would be little fear that a claim of PAS could be used for tactical advantage.

Dr. Baker”s study was based on a survey of both PAS children and estranged children.  The distinction is that PAS children have been unjustly programmed and brainwashed to hate or fear the targeted parent, whereas estrangement results from a parent”s own contributions. Estranged children have a valid reason to hate or fear a parent who has been abusive (either physically or verbally) when the abuse could have been directed toward the child, a sibling, or the other spouse.

Dr. Baker”s study was intended to determine if the unique symptoms that PAS children exhibit make them easily identifiable from estranged children.  PAS proponents have long noted important distinctions between PAS children and estranged children.  Primary among these distinctions is the child”s own feelings toward the subject parent.  For example, programmed children exhibit virtually no empathy toward the targeted parent while abused children often exhibit empathy toward the abuser and will oftentimes blames themselves.  The severely enmeshed PAS child has been robbed of critical thinking abilities and sees only black and white – the targeted parent is all bad the other parent is all good, while estranged children still have the ability to see the world in shades of gray.

What Dr. Baker found was that based on the child”s responses to survey questions, and without any knowledge of the children or their cases, she could then classify the children as being either PAS or estranged with a success rate of 96%.

If  Dr. Baker”s results can be duplicated, then PAS is, in fact, worthy of classification in the DSM so that mental health professionals can identify and then help those children who have been emotionally scarred and who otherwise may never have the opportunity reestablish a relationship with the targeted parent.

Dr. Baker”s study is important because a clear delineation between PAS children and estranged children means that the “tactic’ argument is moot.   Such a survey would provide much needed assistance to evaluators in the decision-making process.  This allows the evaluator, who may have his or her own bias or show particular empathy towards either the mother or the father, to objectively assess the children”s view – prior to the “she said,’ “he said’ testimony of the two parents.

Additionally, because PAS children say not what they mean, but what they have been programmed to say – and then come to believe (internalization) – many evaluators have mistakenly believed the child”s programmed message and then failed to provide the necessary help that these children so desperately need.   This is, indeed, one step closer towards the formal recognition of PAS and the eventual end to the emotional abuse of children that we as a society implicitly allow when we choose to place the agendas of special interest groups over and above the interests of children.

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