Some experts say the extreme hatred some kids feel toward a parent in a divorce is a mental illness
By Lindsay Lyon
Posted October 29, 2009
From an early age, Anne was taught by her mother to fear her father. Behind his back, her mom warned that he was an unpredictable and dangerous; any time he'd invite her to do anything—a walk in the woods, a trip to the art store—she would craft an excuse not to go. "I was under the impression that he was crazy, that at any moment he could just pop and do something violent to hurt me," says Anne, who prefers that only her middle name be used to guard her family's privacy. Typical of a phenomenon some mental-health experts now label "parental alienation," her view of him became so negative, she says, that her mother persuaded her to lie during a custody hearing when the couple divorced. Then 14, she told the judge that her dad was physically abusive. Was he? "No," she says. "But I was convinced that he would [be]." After her mother won custody, Anne all but severed contact with her father for years.
The phenomenon has been described for many decades, but it became a cause célèbre in 1985, when Richard Gardner, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, coined the term “parental alienation syndrome.” The American Psychological Association has issued a statement that “there is no evidence within the psychological literature of a diagnosable parental alienation syndrome.” http://www.cchrint.org/ http://www.cchrint.org/2009/10/29/parent-alienation-bogus-disorder/