Parental Alienation Latest News Updates: Why Parental Alienation Is Considered A ‘Divorce Poison’

In cases of heated, acrimonious and winner-take-all custody battles in divorce or separation, the stakes are often massive. One of the most heartbreaking realities of heated custody battles is the so-called parental alienation, where one parent could instill negative thoughts into a child's mind against the other parent who spends a limited time with a child.

In the 1980s, forensic psychiatrist Dr. Richard Gardner identified a phenomenon that often occurs during high conflicting divorce battles where a parent brainwashed a child to denigrate the other parent. This phenomenon was called the parental alienation syndrome. But today, Mail & Guardian revealed that psychiatrists no longer believed that the said syndrome still exists but parental alienation does.

In a study on the prevalence of parental alienation in the United States published in the journal Children and Youth Services Review, High Point University psychology assistant professor Sadie Leder Elder and Colorado State University researchers found that 13 percent of parents have reported being alienated. Additionally, more than 22 million adults are also potentially alienated from their children, according to High Point University.

With that said, Elder stressed that the degree of parental alienation in the U.S. is quite alarming. Elder also suggested that more funding and policy changes are needed in order to further determine and understand the effects and impacts of parental alienation in the country.

Due to the prevalence of parental alienation in the United States, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center psychiatry clinical professor Dr. Richard Warshak called the phenomenon as a "divorce poison" since it can maliciously turn a child against a parent with no good reason at all. Warshak also pointed out how parental alienation can portray a parent as "unloving and unworthy of love," ABC News noted.

The prevalent recognition of parental alienation claims in family courts, however, has ignited a heated controversy and debate. Several family law experts urged the federal government to appoint more judges with family law expertise, especially in parental alienation claims where it can be treated very differently depending on where your location is and which family court judge hears the case.

With the complexities that parental alienation bring, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine's psychiatry professor Dr. William Bernet and trial lawyer James Bocott stressed that parental alienation should not be tolerated. The reason? Children who have been subjected to parental alienating behaviors are more at risk to develop and manifest mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and substance abuse, according to Omaha World-


Severe parental alienation has even been considered a form of psychological abuse. However, Columbia University professor and former American Psychiatric Association president Dr. Paul Appelbaum said no scientific evidence has been found to consider parental alienation a real mental disorder.

Parental alienation, however, does not only exists in the United States. In fact, the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) in the U.K. has recently launched a program intended to help and provide support to parental alienation victims.

Since parental alienation has become a common scenario among families going through divorce or separation, Cafcass decided to launch a government-funded program called "Parents in Dispute." The project aims to encourage and to educate parents how to handle family breakdowns better, First Wives World reported.

Meanwhile, family law experts believed that promoting shared parenting could eradicate the horrors of parental alienation. As said by National Parents Organization founder and board chair Dr. Ned Holstein in a previous Parent Herald article, it would be difficult for anyone to turn a child against a parent if he or she experiences frequent loving care, which is what shared parenting is all about.

Do you think shared parenting is a panacea to the tragic cases of parental alienation? Share your thoughts below and follow Parent Herald for more news and updates.

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