Posts Tagged ‘Amy Baker’

Mildly Alienating Parents Can Sometimes Be Helped To Stop Abuse, Steps You Can Take To Help Your Kids

August 1st, 2012 2 comments

If you’ve read books or other publications on parental alienation, you may have the impression that divorced parents who are alienators are unlikely to stop this form of abuse for any reason. There are a couple of common misconceptions here. First of all, even though parental alienation is usually discussed in the context of divorce, the fact is that parental alienation often starts long before a divorce or separation as the psychological factors that drive the most severe alienators include life-long personality disorders that were present long before the children were born. Secondly, it turns out that not all alienating parents are incurable. This is particularly true of mildly alienating parents who are angry but are not personality disordered. Often these mild alienators are prone to nasty verbal remarks about the target parent but do not engage in false abuse allegations and extreme interference in contact with the kids. If this is the pattern you see in your situation, there is some reason for hope. With appropriate teaching and enforcement of rules and boundaries, you can help your kids resist alienation. In mild cases of alienation, you may even be able to help your ex stop his or her behaviors. Even if you cannot get the ex to stop, taking appropriate steps early with your kids can often inoculate them sufficiently to prevent their alienation from becoming severe even in the face of a very nasty ex who is constantly badmouthing you.

Douglas Darnall, Ph.D., is a psychologist who works with many children suffering from parental alienation and is the author of Divorce Casualties: Understanding Parental Alienation. His analysis is that there are three types of alienating parents:

  1. Naive alienators
  2. Active alienators
  3. Obsessed alienators

Darnall contends that all parents occasionally are naive alienators who carelessly drop a remark here or there that puts down the other parent. Some may inadvertently slip into using alienating language as they struggle to counteract the badmouthing the children are hearing about them and behaviors the children have engaged in to support the alienating parent. These alienators generally do not cause extensive damage to kids because their alienation behaviors are sporadic and the kids continue to have enough contact with both parents that they can see for themselves what each parent is really like. Some of them, particularly those who are target parents trying to cope with difficult problems who just don’t have the skills and practice needed to stay completely away from judgmental language, they don’t really qualify as alienators in my view. However, Darnall tends to categorize this group more by words than by intent or context.

Active alienators know what they are doing and may know what they are doing is wrong, but do it anyway because of how angry they are. Darnall claims some of them may even feel guilty about it later. The children suffering from an active alienator generally show signs of harm, but it may not be obvious what that harm is at a casual glance. Often these kids miss some of their time with the target parent because of interference by the alienating parent. This makes them more susceptible to the distorting influence of what is an active alienation campaign.

Obsessed alienators are another matter entirely. These parents are focused on destroying the other parent and giving the children no choice but to hate that parent. They don’t care if what they are doing is wrong, and frankly they generally mistakenly believe it is right. Often these obsessed alienators are suffering from a personality disorder that results in them showing behaviors across the board that indicate they believe they are above the rules and the law. The children of obsessed alienators often show marked harm with behavioral problems, insecurities, eating disorders, substance abuse problems, poor performance in school, and other obvious signs. Frequently they echo the alienating parent’s complaints about the target parent and may actually believe what they are saying, in part because they are often denied much of their time with the target parent and therefore are highly influenced by the streams of badmouthing and distortions coming from the alienator.

Mild Alienators May Be Helped By Appealing To Their Self-Interest

I would clump most of the naive and and some of the active alienators into the category of “mild alienators” who are sometimes upset enough to trash the other parent but in general are not engaging in extreme forms of alienation including false child sexual abuse allegations, extensive community-wide distortion campaigns, frequent malicious violations of court orders, and other severe behaviors that you see nearly all of the obsessed alientors use in their alienation campaigns.

Some of these mild alienators can be helped to realize that their behaviors are harmful not only to their children, but to themselves, as well. Children who are subjected to parental alienation often become adults who avoid or turn against the alienating parent. When a angry but mildly alienating parent is confronted with information like this and shown there are better alternatives, many of them are capable of change. The book The Co-Parenting Survival Guide: Letting Go of Conflict After a Difficult Divorce by psychologists Elizabeth Thayer and Jeffrey Zimmerman has practical advice on how to restructure the relationship between the parents to be business-like contact that is about simple logistics (schedules, school events, medical and therapy appointments, etc.) and what is best for the kids. If you read this book or another title like it and can get your mildly alienating ex to read it, too, there’s a chance that she or he will turn around and start to behave more reasonably.

If your divorce has resulted in nasty words and a mild lack of cooperation that is affecting the kids but has not involved false criminal and abuse allegations, extensive perjury, and systematic harassment against you and your family, this strategy of using a good book to help bridge the communications gap and reduce the conflict may be useful to you.
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Alienated Moms Have It Bad Due to NOW’s Support of Child Abuse

July 17th, 2012 1 comment

Parental alienation is a form of emotional child abuse that occurs when one parent teaches the children to fear, disrespect, and/or avoid the other parent. It’s a common problem in divorces, but unknown to many alienation often gets started in marriages well before a divorce.

Studies of parental alienation show that alienators are almost exclusively parents with sole custody of the children. Statistics on child custody arrangements show that around 80% to 85% of children of divorce in the US end up in the sole custody of their mothers and that this has been the case for multiple decades despite changes in family law and society. These two observations combined mean that parental alienators are predominantly mothers and the parents they are teaching the children to hate are primarily fathers.

Alienators are emotional child abusers, often in more ways than just by teaching the kids to hate the other parent. Many alienators suffer personality disorders and also engage in emotional parentification (also known as emotional incest) by inappropriately using their children as emotional crutches for themselves.

To deny the culpability of these mothers who are child abusers, feminists belonging to groups such as the National Organization of Women (NOW) deny the very existence of parental alienation. They usually offer statements that there is “no scientific evidence that parental alienation is real” and “parental alienation is an excuse for why children do not like child abusing fathers.” Richard Gardner, a psychiatrist who was among those early in describing and defining Parental Alienation Syndrome (commonly abbreviated as PAS, it is a severe form of parental alienation in which the child aligns completely with the alienating parent), made it clear that alienation was not at work if the child disliked a parent who was truly being abusive to the child. But the feminists, in their zeal to treat all women as victims and trash all men as abusers, completely overlook that fact.

There are a growing number of alienated moms in which the child abuser in the family is the father. Typically this occurs in families in which the father has a narcissistic personality and has some advantages such as:

  • He is more wealthy.
  • He has more education.
  • He has professional certification such as a doctor, lawyer, judge, or law enforcement officer.
  • He is more politically connected.
  • He is a native operating in his own culture and the mother is an immigrant.

These advantages for a narcissistic man often aid him in reversing the usual anti-father bias in family courts, generally producing an anti-mother bias in these cases. Although anti-father bias is clearly wrong, it is disgustingly ironic that often when the bias becomes anti-mother it is happening in cases in which the fathers actually are behaving abusively.
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How and Why Psycho Parents Manipulate Kids to Resist Custody Exchanges

March 11th, 2012 13 comments

You’ve probably heard the term “Psycho Ex Wife” if you’ve talked with a man who has suffered from the atrocities of the family law courts manipulated by a truly malevolent ex. It was popularized in part by the illegally banned website The Psycho Ex Wife. Malicious moms are deservingly labeled as psychos quite often, hence the widespread recognition of the phrase. The reality is that both men and women can behave horribly and abusively using the children as pawns in a struggle with the other parent. Often this abusiveness starts even before the filing for a divorce.

It’s hard to find a widely accepted term for referring to the kind of maliciously manipulative parents that interfere with their children’s time with the other parent. Some call them “high conflict personalities” (HCPs), others “parental alienators”, still others “sociopaths” or “psychopaths.” Many refer to Borderlines, Narcissists, Histrionics, Antisocials, Paranoids, or other personality disorder diagnoses to explain the behaviors and label the abusers. The problem is huge and really encompasses multiple groups of people with severely messed up behaviors as parents. For this article, I’ll simply be referring to them as “psycho parents” and not try to more precisely label them.

In this article, I’ll be describing some of the tactics that psycho parents use to manipulate kids to participate in resisting child custody exchanges. This is part of the overall problem of parental alienation. The psycho parent is often successful at causing children to resist custody exchanges even in cases in which the children do not actually hate the parent being attacked and still enjoy spending time with that parent.

Anybody faced with a psycho parent is likely to benefit from reading about Borderlines and Narcissists and their interactions with children. However, don’t let this mislead you into trying to diagnose one of these people and use such as a diagnosis in court. Even if you are absolutely correct in your assessment, judges almost uniformly lack the understanding of what it means and will attack you for putting a reasonable label on the bizarre and destructive behaviors because you’re not a licensed psychologist. Unfortunately, many if not most licensed psychologists are not capable of diagnosing these kinds of disorders accurately because they lack the time with the person and also, in some cases, have their own agendas and biases that make them easy targets for a psycho parent to manipulate.

Motivations of the Psycho Parent

If there’s anything truly common to all psycho parents, it’s hard to find. Although many of them were abused by one or both parents as kids, not all were. And not all abused kids grow up to be psycho parents. Many psycho parents are Borderlines or Narcissists, but not all are. Even if they do meet the criteria for BPD, NPD, or some other personality disorder, few are formally diagnosed and fewer still ever voluntarily seek treatment or honestly work on fixing their problems. So the formal name for whatever ails them is somewhat besides the point, although it is sometimes handy as an abbreviation for describing their overall behavior patterns.

What I find to be reasonably frequent features of psycho parents are the following:

  • A history of insecurity during childhood. This often stems from child abuse or neglect in the home, but can also arise from other situations such as severe poverty or living in a unsafe environment such as a neighborhood with frequent violence from crime or war.
  • Pervading sense of insecurity about one’s self as an adult. This flows from the childhood insecurities that were never resolved. Some might say that Narcissists don’t act like this, often touting their own superiority. But when you think about it, they really do have intense insecurities and their Narcissitic behaviors are the means to make themselves feel better or to hide their self-doubts.
  • Extreme focus on self. Inside their adult bodies they are still hurt little insecure children. Consequently, they are usually unable to focus on anybody but themselves because they are so badly damaged they never learned how to do so. This shows up via narcissistic traits such as selfishness, even if the person does not meet the criteria for NPD.
  • Little or no empathy for others. These people are usually unable to put themselves in another’s shoes, or to consider how their words and actions harm others. They probably don’t care. Sometimes you may see them pretend to care, but usually this is a means to manipulate others. Other times, it is simply they are following behavior patterns they have seen other more healthy people follow often without actually having any genuine empathy themselves.
  • Frequent manipulations of others as a means to meet their emotional needs. Often such manipulations involve lying and distorting about the actions of others, particular the ex or the kids, in an attempt to win allies or sympathy or battles in court. But these people also play at being victims in many other venues. In a workplace, for instance, you may see them pretend to be loaded up with unfair amounts of work, that other people are taking credit for their work, or that they are being sexually harassed.

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Southern California Parental Alienation Conference on November 13, 2010

October 5th, 2010 No comments

Karen Lebow of the Southern California Parents of Alienated Children’s Network has announced that an all-day conference on parental alienation is planned for Saturday, November 13, 2010, from 8am to 5pm, at California State University as Northridge near Los Angeles. Admissions prices range from $60 to $75.

The keynote speaker is Amy Baker, Ph.D., author of the acclaimed book Dr. Amy Baker entitled Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome: Breaking the Ties That Bind.
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Dr. Amy Baker On Parental Alienation, PAS, and Helping Your Kids Resist Both

September 29th, 2010 2 comments

Dr. Amy Baker is a researcher studying and reporting on parental alienation and parental alienation syndrome. As she explains, parental alienation refers to the behaviors and tactics used to cause children’s relationship with a parent to suffer. Parental alienation syndrome (PAS) refers to the effects on the child, especially when they become so severe that the child doesn’t want to spend time with a parent and expresses disgust and dislike for that parent without a valid reason.

In her book Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome, she discusses many case studies of parental alienation and presents summaries that show common alienation tactics and the long term damage to the children and the target parent.

The video below features Baker talking with WABC TV host Ken Rosato in 2009. She discusses what motivated her to study parental alienation and some of her findings on common alienating tactics and effects on children.
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Canadian Symposium for Parental Alienation Syndrome to be held in New York in October 2010

July 31st, 2010 2 comments

The Canadian Symposium for Parental Alienation Syndrome will be held at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City on October 2 to 3, 2010. The speakers include a wide variety of experts from across the United States and Canada.
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Stopping Parental Alienation Requires Family Court Reforms

July 31st, 2010 3 comments

Parental alienation is a very serious form of widespread child abuse aided and abetted by the corrupt and abusive courts in the United States and Canada. Parental alienation is driven by the psychological problems of parents abused as kids as well as by the government and divorce industry. Courts are commonly encouraging conflict in divorcing families that leads to parental alienation and other long-running conflicts damaging children. From this, they derive income and job security.

In a very real sense, parental alienation is government-backed child abuse. When you see a judge in a black robe, if you are reminded of the grim reaper or angel of death coming to kill your family because that’s its job, you’re not far off the mark. Parental alienation will not stop unless court reforms are implemented that support shared parenting, move away from the adversarial “winner takes all” decisions common today, and put into place support systems that help parents work together for the benefit of their children without repeated conflict-inducing trips back to court.

Parental alienation is a form of emotional abuse against both children and the alienated parent, sometimes called the target parent, and often his or her entire extended family. As parental alienation expert Dr. Amy Baker has found in her research, it causes greatly elevated rates of long-term depression and substance abuse in the children who are victims. The harm does not stop when they become adults, either. A large portion of alienated children will in turn enter into emotionally abusive relationships which result in them being alienated from their own children.

(from Parental Alienation Book For Middle School Kids: “I Don’t Want to Choose!”)

Alienated children frequently are psychologically damaged in long-term ways. They often develop depression, substance abuse problems, eating disorders, and even manipulative behavior patterns similar to their alienating parents. Some compare growing up with an alienating parent as being kidnapped and brainwashed. Of her 40 research subjects covered in Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome: Breaking the Ties That Bind, some notable statistics are:

  • 70% suffered from depression
  • 58% were divorced
  • Half of the 28 who had children are estranged from their own children
  • 35% developed problems with drugs and alcohol

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Proposal for DSM-5 to Include Parental Alienation Disorder

March 31st, 2010 No comments

The American Psychiatric Association has published early draft of its proposed changes for DSM-5 (also known as DSM-V), an upcoming version of its mental health manual scheduled for 2013, at its website APA DSM-5 Development. While the draft version does not yet contain a definition of parental alienation syndrome or disorder, the APA has indicated that a group of mental health professionals including William Bernet, Wilfrid von Boch-Galhau, Amy J. L. Baker, and Stephen L. Morrison has submitted a document discussing how to include parental alienation in DSM-5 and ICD-11 (International Classification of Diseases, 11th Edition).
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Parental Alienation Can Happen to Adults and In Marriages

January 16th, 2010 30 comments

Parental alienation is a form of emotional abuse in which a normal positive parent/child relationship is damaged or destroyed by another party using emotional manipulation, threats, false accusations, and other means. It involves at least two basic elements. The first is an alienator engaging in access blocking to keep a child from seeing a parent. The second is a pattern of denigration and destruction of reputation to make the child dislike the parent. When parental alienation becomes severe and/or extended in duration, the child may start to avoid seeing the target parent, repeat the statements of the alienator as if they were the child’s own, and even make up new “reasons” to dislike having contact with the target parent. Often these “reasons” are complete nonsense and have little to no accuracy.

If you’re suffering as a target parent and are aware of parental alienation, probably none of this is news to you. However, what may be news to you is that parental alienation isn’t limited to the most commonly discussed situation of parents involved in divorce or child custody battles. For starters, you may be alienated from your children by your spouse while married.
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Alienating Mother Ordered to Pay $286,641.75 in Fines and Fees

June 18th, 2009 2 comments

Toronto residents K.D. and A.L. spent more than a decade battling over custody of their three children. Mother K.D. committed parental alienation child abuse against all three daughters starting at birth and continuing until present. Father A.L. was given sole custody of their children on January 2009. Subsequent court decisions have held K.D. liable for $286,641.75 in fines and legal fees due to her contempt of court and bad faith litigation.

The decision announced by Ontario Justice Faye McWatt in January 2009 was that an alienating parent can and will be stripped of child custody for repeated refusal to cooperate with court orders and relentlessly brainwashing the children to hate the other parent. Custody of their three daughters was transferred to their father who had spent more than a decade battling the alienating mother in court to attempt to remain a part of their daughters’ lives. Their mother is only permitted to spend time with them during psychotherapy. It appears it is the hope of the courts and their father that someday their mother will learn to behave reasonably and can become a part of her children’s lives again without continuing her destructive and abusive behaviors against the children.
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