Parental Alienation Syndrome

Parental alienation syndrome (often abbreviated PAS) is one of the most painful aspects of divorce. Is it real? This page presents both sides so you can decide for yourself.

Parental alienation syndrome is a term that first appeared in the 1970’s in the work of Dr. Richard A. Gardner. Briefly, Parental Alienation Syndrome is a response to conflict between parents, most often in divorce, in which one or more children become aligned with one parent and become preoccupied with exaggerated and inappropriate criticism of the other parent. In severe cases, the child’s relationship with the alienated parent will be destroyed.

I believe Parental Alienation Syndrome is real. Unfortunately, its acceptance by courts and by the mental health has been delayed, and continues to be inhibited, by the shrill and uncritical embrace of it by Father’s Rights organizations.

Think of Parental Alienation Syndrome as a severe example of what happens in easily half the divorces — that is, one of the parents, typically the custodial parent — read that typically the Mom, criticizes the noncustodial parent to the children and delights in the acceptance by the children of her condemnation. In most divorces, of course, children and parents alike shrug this off and move on, arriving at a stable or not-so-stable truce in which the children spend time with both parents and parents move on with their lives.

In a few cases, perhaps five percent or so, the custodial parent hammers away at the noncustodial parent and the children embrace the condemnation wholly. That’s Parental Alienation Syndrome.

Here are some links that might be helpful to you, first those that argue that PAS is not only real but pervasive:

For the other point of view, check this out:

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