– Petitioning NOW   1 comment

Petitioning the National Organization for Women to Reconsider Its Position on the

Parental Alienation Syndrome

Regarding the National Organization for Women, a man signing a petition to reconsider NOW’s opposition to the theory of PAS is likely to carry less weight than will the signature of a woman. But men need to have a voice in PAS. To some degree, men have been marginalized by some women’s groups in the struggle to have PAS recognized. This is not to negate that some men have alienated their children from loving mothers. Nor am I negating NOW’s website claim that some fathers may use PAS as “a cleverly marketed legal strategy” to mask abusive behavior which may have justifiably alienated their children from them.

However, it is simply preposterous to claim that brainwashing and manipulation of children does not occur. This column is not about whether Parental Alienation Syndrome is a valid mental diagnosis. That question is being considered by the American Psychiatric Association’s task force on the DSM-V, the forthcoming diagnostic manual for mental disorders. It appears likely that Parental Alienation Syndrome will be listed for the first time, not yet as a diagnosis, but in a category of concerns by other organizations – even though NOW had written to the American Psychiatric Association asking that it not be included.

My focus on NOW is its attempts to negate the existence of PAS. As an alternative to denying the existence of PAS, some women’s groups claim that only fathers do it against mothers.  Again, this is stretching credibility. Dr. Amy Baker said so in Psychology Today (March 2012):

“There is not a shred of evidence that alienation only occurs by fathers and plenty of evidence to the contrary. Frankly, I am shocked and dismayed at the gender bias and utter insensitivity to the many fathers who have lost custody of their children due to parental alienation. Not only that but this position—that it only happens to mothers—denies the pain of women by dismissing the experience of step-mothers, grand-mothers, aunts, and daughters, all of whom suffer when a mother turns a child against the father. This is an ideologically based decision that has no place in a scientific discussion.”

As a psychiatrist, I speak for the fathers, mothers and children, people of both genders whom I have seen and who have been robbed of a loving relationship when one of the child’s parents manipulates the child into rejecting the other parent.

Anne

  • Anne, aged 30, had been estranged from her father for several years. She told me she had “heard” various unsavory tales about her father although she had not been born yet or had been too young to remember many of the incidents when they had allegedly occurred. For example, her mother had told her that her father had wanted her aborted during the mother’s pregnancy. When I broached the topic of PAS, Anne, a mental health worker, immediately responded that she had heard that PAS does not exist. Essentially, Anne’s world-view regarding her father was based, not so much on direct experience, but on what she had heard. Nevertheless, Anne was ambivalent about her father. Although she kept him at arm’s length, she never completely severed the relationship with him.

Adam

  • Adam showed me a very loving letter from his father, written 20 years earlier. Although he had not seen his father since the time of the letter, he volunteered that he was tired of being robbed of a father.  However, he said he did not believe that his father still loved him. Though his father was making repeated efforts to contact him, Adam would not respond. He said he trusted his mother and believed that his father would ruin his life. When asked to explain, Adam remained vague.

Ruth

  • Ruth was happily married for ten years to a man who adored her. Sid was kind, loving and generous. Ruth found very painful that Sid’s three children from a previous marriage continued to reject Sid. When she tried to talk with her stepchildren about their father’s feeling of rejection, they told her not to put them on a “guilt trip.”

Amy

  •               Divorced from an abusive husband, Amy remarried, this time to man who promised to love her. Amy and George had two children together. George stayed home, taking care of the children. He described himself to me as a stay-at-home dad, a “Mr. Mom”.  George convinced Amy to purchase the remaining shares of her family’s multi-million dollar furniture business. When her mother signed the papers, her mother signed a folded sheet without realizing that it stated that George would be co-owner along with Amy.

George had laid out a well-thought plan. Over their three-year marriage, George accumulated a long list of doctors, teachers, and neighbors who attested to his being a devoted and caring father. He also hired Carlos, a convicted felon, whom he knew from their mutual childhood neighborhood.  Carlos testified that Amy had hired Carlos to kill George. Carlos had also seduced Amy into a sexual relationship, about which Carlos also testified. Carlos also testified that Amy was an alcoholic who neglected the children. The children now began speaking of their mother as worthless and lazy. When the alleged murder plot was reported, the children were taken from the home and put into foster care.

Carlos had also induced Amy into paying him a significant sum from the business account. In court, George and Carlos testified that Amy had, in paying Carlos from the business, misappropriated business funds. The judge ordered the business be placed into receivership with neither Amy nor George having authority over it.

Over the ensuing years, under receivership of a third party, the value of the business declined significantly. Worn down over years of expensive and enervating divorce litigation, the loss of the children to foster care, and the devaluation of the business, Amy surrendered to George’s demands. In the settlement, George got custody of the children and full ownership of the business.

Anyone who denies that a child could be manipulated by one parent to reject the other parent  (the essence of PAS) is virtually proposing that cults and kidnappers cannot brainwash or program people, including children. Such denial defies the fact that cults and kidnappers have exerted mind control both on adults and on children.

The debate on the validity of PAS is progressing toward acceptance. Dr. Amy Baker in July 2011 submitted in Massachusetts to Daubert, a standard for the admissibility of expert scientific testimony. The Daubert standard is aimed at keeping “junk science” out of courtrooms. In her hearing, the science underlying PAS theory was thoroughly challenged. The court ultimately decided to accept the theory of PAS as scientifically sound using the Daubert standard.  Where is NOW?

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  1. Pingback: PAS Bibliography | Public Lies

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