Is there a pathology called "parental alienation"? See. Most of you said, "yes" - you're all asleep still. zzzzzzz

I'm trying to wake you up, but it's hard. You're just... sleeping.

It's like trying to wake a 13-year-old for school. Sheesh, it takes a couple of passes. One time, with my son, I sat in a chair across from his bed and lofted tennis balls at him until he was adequately awake and motivated to get out of bed. Just gentle lofts of a tennis ball, just enough to be annoying to his trying to go back to sleep.

Parents are annoying, so are kids. Isn't that wonderful. It's called normal.

Do you have to prove "parental alienation" to a judge? See. The answer is no. Do you know that? No, because you're asleep. It's a dream. A trauma dream. Doesn't it feel crazy, like everything is upside-down? Yep, that's trauma, that's the dream from trauma.

I'm trying to wake you up. A lot of you are starting, and are at various stages. So here comes a tennis ball from Dr. C your way (more like a bowling ball). There is no such thing as "parental alienation" - it's not a real pathology. It was made up by some guy in the 1980s, but it's a really bad model for a pathology - really bad. So that's why nothing's fixed.

What everybody's calling "parental alienation" is actually a composite of two features in family systems therapy; a cross-generational coalition (the bad parenting of the allied parent), and an emotional cutoff (the child rejecting a parent).

Salvador Minuchin and all the other family systems therapists have all fully described this pathology; the cross-generational coalition and emotional cutoff. Twenty five years ago, Salvador Minuchin - regarded by many as THE preeminent family systems therapist - provided a structural family diagram for exactly this pathology.

See the triangle, and the coalition of the child with the father. The broken lines to the mother, the emotional cutoff to her. The three lines of an enmeshed (psychologically over-involved) relationship between the child and the father. Totally described.

This is family systems therapy. So, family therapy. This is it. Then why aren't we applying the knowledge of family systems therapy to... therapy with the family?

I don't know. Isn't that the wackiest thing ever? We're not doing family therapy with families having unresolved family conflict. Weird, right?

Why not? Good question.

If we do, we will immediately (like, today) be able to identify the pathology (a cross-generational coalition and emotional cutoff), and we will immediately (like, today) know exactly the treatment for it. Today. Right now. If we just apply the knowledge of family therapy to family therapy.

And any mental health professional can do that. Today. Right now. Just start applying the knowledge of family therapy to... family therapy. Wow, what a concept.

They can do it with trauma too, and the attachment system, and the knowledge about personality disorders. All of that. They can simply choose to start using it... today.

It makes my head explode.

We don't diagnose pathology by court trial. Who has you thinking you have to prove the weakest and most un-supported pathology possible, this "parental alienation" thing, in court, to a judge, based on legal standards of evidence?

Who's convinced you that's what you have to do? That is like the most impossible thing ever. Are you nuts? Why are you trying to do that. You don't need to prove pathology to a judge, you need an accurate diagnosis of family pathology from a psychologist.

You know that's delusional, right? Thinking that you have to prove "parental alienation" to a judge, that's delusional. A fixed and false belief that is maintained despite contrary evidence; a delusion. Your belief that you have to prove "parental alienation" to a judge in court, that's delusional. You know that, right?

I'll bet you didn't. People who are delusional never know they're delusional... because it's a delusion and that's what a delusion is, a fixed and false belief. The way you test it is to give the person the contradictory evidence and see what happens. If they go, "Oh" and start doing things differently, then it's not a delusion, it's just a mistaken opinion.

So here... here, let me give you the contrary evidence: Who diagnoses pathology, a psychologist or a judge?

See? A judge doesn't diagnose pathology, a psychologist does. So why are you asking a judge to diagnose the pathology in your family?

But then... why aren't the psychologists diagnosing the pathology in your families?

Now we're getting somewhere. That's a very good question.

I'm just sitting here lofting the tennis balls until you wake up. The solution is over in the mental health system. Why aren't they accurately diagnosing the pathology in your families?

Because they're ignorant and incompetent. Isn't that obvious to you? Oh, there you go. Good morning. You've been sleeping, and it's been a terrible-terrible dream. A trauma dream. I know. They're awful.

We're bringing it to a close, but that means everyone is going to have to wake up.

Many people, the ones who have been abusing and traumatizing the targeted parents, they're not going to want to wake up... because then they'll see. They don't want to see.

Oh well. Everybody is going to be waking up soon. Some more slowly than others, but everyone eventually.

And shame is coming to professional psychology. Professional shame for colluding with the emotional abuse of targeted parents and the psychological child abuse of their children, who were used as weapons in spousal IPV following divorce.

There are real standards of practice in the real world. The DSM-5 diagnostic considerations for this pathology are:

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV; domestic violence): The diagnostic considerations surrounding the spousal emotional abuse of the targeted spouse-and-parent by the allied spouse-and-parent, using the child as a weapon of spousal retaliation and revenge for the divorce, warrant full and documented assessment.

Child Diagnostic Consideration: DSM-5 V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse: In using the child as a weapon of retaliation and revenge against the other spouse-and-parent for the divorce, the pathogenic parenting of the allied parent creates significant psychopathology in the child (developmental psychopathology, personality disorder pathology, and delusional-psychiatric pathology), potentially rising to the level of a DSM-5 diagnosis of Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed (pathogenic parenting).

Allied Parent Diagnostic Consideration: DSM-5 300.19 Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another: In imposing the false trauma reenactment narrative onto the child (the ripple from the parent's own childhood attachment trauma), the allied narcissistic-borderline parent is creating a delusion of persecution in the child (a factitious disorder imposed on the child).

Targeted Parent Diagnostic Consideration: DSM-5 309.81 Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (complex trauma; traumatic grief): Depending on how long the targeted-rejected parent has been separated from the child, a diagnosis of traumatic grief may be warranted for this parent's emotional loss and trauma.

All of these differential diagnostic possibilities must be properly assessed, and the diagnostic symptoms and conclusions documented. This is standard of professional practice for assessment and diagnosis.

This is not subject to court trial. This is diagnosis by a mental health professional based on the application of the standard and established knowledge of professional psychology.

We want a DSM-5 diagnosis in all cases. We want a written treatment plan in all cases. This is standard of practice for diagnosis and treatment in professional psychology.

We expect professional knowledge will be competently applied in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of pathology; complex family conflict surrounding divorce, attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce. Real pathology, with real surrounding knowledge bases for application to assessment, diagnosis, and treatment.

The attachment system, family systems therapy, personality disorders, complex trauma. Knowledge.

We are waking up. There is real knowledge, and real pathology. There is diagnosis. There is treatment. There is solution.

Once we return to the real world of the standard and scientifically established knowledge of professional psychology; the attachment system, family systems therapy, personality disorders, and complex trauma - solutions become immediately available. Today. Right now. Everywhere.

Paradigm change is not incremental, it happens rapidly once it takes hold. The application of the standard and established knowledge of professional psychology is inevitable.

Good morning. Would you like a cup of coffee?

Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857