Gardner on Parental Alienation

by admin on December 6, 2007

Richard A. Gardner M.D. Clinical Professor of Child Psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeon, says that these are the 8 symptoms of P.A. presented in checklist form.  This is the classic definition of parental alienation syndrome.

In most cases, not all symptoms will be present, but usually at least 2 or 3 are present.

  • The campaign of denigration with oppositional behavior.
  • Weak, frivolous and absurd rationalisations for the denigration.
  • Lack of ambivalence – the child is sure of himself or herself and doesn’t demonstrate ambivalence, i.e. love and hate for the alienated parent, only hate.
  • The “independent thinker phenomenon” – stating that they came up with the idea on their own.
  • Reflexive support of the alienating parent in the parental conflict.
  • Child does not demonstrate guild over cruelty to and/or exploitation of the alienated parent.
  • The presence of borrowed scenarios or outlandish scenarios and fears.
  • The spread of animosity to the extended family and alienated parent
  • It is important to note that the child’s refusal to have contact with the rejected parent is without legitimate justification.  Legitimate justification means that the target parent has maltreated the child, which means, primarily, abuse.

    Gardener states:

    The parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child-custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent’s indoctrinations and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the target parent. When true parental abuse and/or neglect is present the child’s animosity may be justified, and so the parental alienation syndrome explanation for the child’s hostility is not applicable.

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