167 Red Flags or Examples of Parental Alienation
8 Major Manifestations of Parental Alienation Syndrome:
- A Campaign of Denigration
Alienated children are consumed with hatred towards the targeted parent. They deny any positive past experiences and reject all contact and communication with the alienated parent. Parents who were once loved and valued, seemingly overnight, become hated and feared.
- Weak, Frivolous, and Absurd Rationalizations
When alienated children are questioned about the reasons for their intense hostility toward the targeted parent, the explanations offered are not of the magnitude that typically would lead a child to reject a parent. These children may complain about the parent’s eating habits, food preparation, or appearance. They may also make wild accusations that could not possibly be true.
- Lack of Ambivalence About the Alienating Parent
Alienated children exhibit a lack of ambivalence about the alienating parent, demonstrating automatic, reflexive, and idealized support. That parent is perceived as perfect, while the other is perceived as wholly flawed. If an alienated child is asked to identify just one negative aspect of the alienating parent, he or she will probably draw a complete blank. This is a stark contrast to most children, who have mixed feelings about even the best of parents and can usually talk about each parent as having both good and bad qualities.
- The “Independent Thinker” Phenomenon
Even though alienated children appear to be unduly influenced by the alienating parent, they will adamantly insist that the decision to reject the targeted parent is theirs, and theirs alone. They deny that their feelings about the targeted parent are in any way influenced by the alienating parent and often invoke the concept of free will to describe their decision.
- Absence of Guilt About the Treatment of the Targeted Parent
Alienated children typically appear rude, ungrateful, spiteful, and cold toward the targeted parent, and they appear to be impervious to feelings of guilt about their harsh treatment. Gratitude for gifts, favors, or child support provided by the targeted parent is nonexistent. Children with parental alienation syndrome will try to get whatever they can from that parent, declaring that it is owed to them.
- Reflexive Support for the Alienating Parent in Parental Conflict
Intact families, as well as recently separated and long-divorced couples, will have occasions with disagreements and conflicts. In all cases, the alienated child will side with the alienating parent, regardless of how absurd or baseless that parent’s position may be. There is no willingness or attempt to be impartial when faced with inter-parental conflicts. Children with parental alienation syndrome have no interest in hearing the targeted parent’s point of view. Nothing the targeted parent could do or say makes any difference to these children.
- Presence of Borrowed Scenarios
Alienated children often make accusations toward the targeted parent that utilize phrases and ideas adopted from the alienating parent. Indications that a scenario is borrowed include the use of words or ideas that the child does not appear to understand, speaking in a scripted or robotic fashion, as well as making accusations that cannot be supported with detail.
- Rejection of Extended Family
Finally, the hatred of the targeted parent spreads to his or her extended family. Not only is the targeted parent denigrated, despised, and avoided but so are his or her extended family. Formerly beloved grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins are suddenly and completely avoided and rejected.
Accuracy of the 8 Manifestations of Alienated Children for the Identification of Parental Alienation
as presented by Steven G. Miller MD in Frankfort Kentucky on October 5, 2019
The common criticisms of parental alienation are devoid of scientific validity and are in fact ideology masquerading as science. These are some of those criticisms:
- It’s not a Syndrome.
- False. Even if one argues about which definition to use, the argument is still fallacious because it relies on the equivocation fallacy. Meaning, the word has multiple meanings and adapts the definition depending on what the situation is.
- To be a syndrome you must have a known cause; parental alienation has proven cause.
- It’s not in the DSM.
- False. Parental Alienation is now listed under diagnostic code V995.51 “Child psychological abuse” in the DSM-5 of the American Psychiatric Association (APA).
- The relationship section in the DSM discusses it and in other places in the DSM, the same authors write about parental alienation.
- Richard Gardner self-published his work.
- Gardner didn’t focus exclusively on one child, he didn’t focus primarily on the child; he didn’t infer that the cause of a child’s rejection of the disfavored parent must be alienating behavior by the favored parent based on the 8 manifestations.
- Gardner directly observed, systemically codified and meticulously documented – repeatedly and in great detail- the behaviors of alienating parents and how they cause the signs and symptoms in a child. In other words, Gardner made empiric observations.
- The 8 manifestations are “characteristic and cluster” but cannot be used to reason backwards to the cause of the child’s behavior.
- The 8 manifestations are sensitive and have a high detection rate. The false positive rate is very, very low.
- There isn’t enough research, and the studies are too small; the research is of questionable quality. The research is mostly qualitative, not quantitative, and therefore cannot establish causation; there’s a correlation but correlation doesn’t prove causation. Experts don’t even agree on a definition.
- Straw Man Fallacies are often used to attempt to rebut the evidence.
- Straw Man Fallacy: a how-to guide:
- Ignore the real argument
- Create a pretend argument
- Defeat the pretend argument
In a study focused on children whose history of physical abuse was moderate or severe, clinicians were asked to report whether the children displayed each of the eight manifestations at the following five levels: never, rarely, sometimes, very often, or always (very often and always combined). Children who only exhibited the manifestations “never or “sometimes” were determined to be likely not alienated, or very mildly alienated. The study emphatically confirmed that few children displayed more than a few of the manifestations as frequently as “very often or always.”
Of the more than 17,300 children studied, none of the children was reported by the clinicians to have displayed 7 or 8 manifestations at a frequency of “very often/always.” Simplifying assumptions of the study may be made that reporting from the clinicians provided reasonably accurate information about the children they had treated and that if non-abusive parenting can supposedly cause a child to reject a parent in the absence of an alienator, then abusive parenting should certainly be able to do that.
Study results were broken down by the number of manifestations displayed by the children in each group.
- 73 of clinicians rated 73 specific children who had been severely abused. 71 of them were rated as having 4 or fewer manifestations of PA, and all 73 of them were rated as having 5 or fewer manifestations.
- 93 clinicians rated 93 specific children who had been moderately abused. 89 of them were rated as having 4 or fewer manifestations. In this group a positive test is 5 or more manifestations.
When the two groups were combined, a positive test is 5 or more manifestations with a 99% specificity rate. The results for children in general were staggering:
- 92 clinicians rated 7,693 children in general who had been severely abused. 100% of those clinicians rated the children in general as displaying fewer than 5 (less than half) of the manifestations of PA.
- 80 Clinicians rated 9,874 children in general who had been moderately abused and combined them with the group above. Only 3 of the 172 clinicians rated the children as displaying 4 or more manifestations and only 1/172 rated 5 or more.
When all four groups were combined, only 2/338 clinicians rated the estimated 17,300+ physically abused children as having 5 or more of the 8 manifestations of PA, yielding a 99.4% specificity rate, meaning it was highly accurate.
Parental Alienation is a problem in pattern recognition by both therapists and the legal system.
- Dr. Steven G. Miller
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