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 Parental Alienation

Subject: Report on Parental Alienation Conference in Toronto - March 27 - 29

Report on Parental Alienation Conference – Toronto, March 27-29, 2009

For those who were not able to attend the conference, here are the highlights.

It was an extremely good conference, with information for just about everybody.

In her presentation Dr. Amy Baker noted something that needs to be straightened out now and then, the confusion between PA and PAS.

Parental Alienation (PA) refers to acts with the purpose of alienating a child from one of the parents.   Parental alienation actions taken by the alienating parent do not necessarily lead to PAS.  The actions may damage the child, but not to the extent that they will result in odd, contrary to logic and sometimes inexplicable behaviour.  Of course any alienating action has nasty effects on the child, but only through the understanding of the syndrome can be interpreted.

Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) refers to the effects that result from PA (i.e. a 9 year old child who has not had any contact with a parent since he/she was 2 years old hating the missing parent).   Under normal circumstances it would be expected that the child would be excited to get the missing parent back into his/her life, that he/she hates the TP is the odd behaviour.

Alienating Parent can be custodial (CP) as well as non-custodial (NCP).    PAS can occur even in complete families.

Alienating Strategies:

        Badmouthing target parent (TP)

        Limiting access

        Interfering with communication

        Interfering with symbolic communication (i.e. not delivering birthday card, presents, etc.).

        Love withdrawal

        Forcing child to choose

        Creating impressions TP is dangerous

        Confiding in child

        Forcing child to reject TP

        Asking child to spy on TP

 

        Asking child to keep secrets from TP

        Referring to TP by first name

        Referring to step-parent by “mom or dad”

        Encouraging child to call step-parent “mom or dad”

        Withholding social, medical and academic information from TP

        Keeping TP of school, medical and athletic forms

        Changing name of child

        Cultivating dependency to AP

        Excluding TP extended family (input by this poster)

AP are = to cult leaders who function in black or white thinking only.

Long-term effects

        Low self-esteem

        Depression

        Trust Issues

        High rates of divorce

        Drug abuse

        Low achievement

        Inter-generational cycle of parental alienation

PA as a form of child abuse:

        Rejecting

        Ignoring

        Isolating

        Terrorizing

        Corrupting

 

        Spurning

        Physical abuse

ADVICE TO PARENTS WHO STILL HAVE CONTACT:

        Do not take bait

        Do not take it personally

        Hold self-esteem

        Separate message from messenger

        Avoid too passive or too reactive replies

ADVICE by this poster:

        Video-tape during visits showing happy moments and play them back in future visits

        Document

ADVICE TO PARENTS WITHOUT CONTACT:

        Never give up hope

        Never give up on your child

        Leave a trail for your child to find you someday

        Gets lots of support

        Be creative in keeping in touch

        DO NOT PROCRASTINATE GETTING TO KIDS, ACT  ASAP before child’s critical thinking is affected

Dr. Baker is author of some books among them: Beyond the high road: 17 responses to PA without losing morals

        Have empathy

        Be different from AP

        Always show up for pickups (AP may be just looking for that only missed occasion to demonize you in the eyes of the child)

        Get team of professionals

 

        Get lots of support

NOTE BY THIS POSTER:

THERE IS NO MAGIC BULLET TO DEAL WITH PA OR PAS.

DO NOT RAISE LIGHTLY PA SYNDROM ALLEGATIONS IN COURT.   FIGHTING PAS INVOLVES HIGH AND PRICY PROFESSIONALS THAT ARE ABLE TO RECOGNIZE IT AND TESTIFY ABOUT IT.   DELAYS TO HAVE THE PROFESSIONALS INVOLVED CAN TAKE LOTS OF TIME, TIME THAT WORKS IN FAVOUR OF THE ALIENATING PARENT.   HOWEVER, DR. BAKER INDICATED THAT WHEN PAS CASES GO TO COURT THEY TEND TO FAVOUR THE TPs.

RAISING PAS IN EARLY APPLICATIONS, EVEN THROUGH A LAWYER, IMPLIES THAT YOU ARE ABLE TO RECOGNIZE THE COMPLEX EFFECTS, SOMETHING WHICH MAY LOOK TOO PRESUMPTOUS FOR NON-MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS.  IT NEEDS TO BE RAISED HUMBLY.

JUDGES DO NOT UNDERSTAND PAS, BUT ARE WILLING AND ABLE TO RECOGNIZE AND ACCEPT ALIENATING ACTION, THUS DOCUMENT OCCURRENCES AND PRESENT THEM TO THE COURT WITHOUT MENTIONING THE WORD SYNDROM.   THE OTHER SIDE IS LESS LIKELY TO CALL THE ENLISTMENT OF EXPERT WITNESSES WITH THIS SIMPLE APPROACH OF OCCURRENCES.   AND IF THE AP SUCCEEDS IN BRINGING IN THE HEALTH PROFESSIONALS, YOU WILL NOT LOOK AS OVER-STATING YOUR CONCERNS.    IT MAY EVEN HAPPEN THAT THE PROFESSIONAL MAY BE ABLE TO RECOGNIZE SOME SYMPTOMS AS PAS WITHOUT YOUR RAISING THE ISSUE.

Lawyer Gene Coleman, made a clear presentation of the status of PA, as described in the articles published in the National Post and others, including one today, April the 1st, in the National Post (articles appended).    He had some radio interviews related to the conference.

Gene is offering access to his data at his website: http://4famlaw.com/P.A.%20Research.htm

There was a presentation by another lawyer, Brian Ludmer, who clearly stated that he can represent the AP, the TP or the child.   His presentation was focused on the TP.    He was a former business lawyer but does family law as well.   He is based in Toronto.   Since each case is different, applying samples of what he said to somebody else’s case could work against that individual and this poster does not want that responsibility.

A video of the whole conference was made and WILL be available to those who want to purchase it.  September was a time mentioned.  Most likely it will be available for a good price.  Then you can make your own decision to what is best for you if you want to follow the legal route.  You can dig your own grave or come out of it.

The Rachel house provided a presentation of the work they do in Texas to deprogram alienated children.   They have chapters in other places. Consistent with what other mental health professionals presented, they operate in the principle that the child has to be separated from the AP for a good amount of time, 3 months to a year, for them to be successful.   They say that while they have not yet turned down an applicant for financial reasons, their services are costly, up to $7,000 for the first week and less then after.   Their rate of success is said to be in the 80+%

Also consistent with the professionals’ views, it is accepted that the child will reverse to trying to please the AP when they go back to their influence but from then on they will try to please both parents equally.

Another speaker, Michael Gough, made a presentation about using the Internet to keep in touch with children.   He indicated that in the United States they are trying to have laws that will allow judges to order that.    While emphasis was made that it is not a way to make it easier for judges to deny direct contact, it is questionable that the law will literally specify that that kind of contact is not to be in lieu of direct contact.   Unless spelled out that way, most likely the use of laws allowing that kind of contact would degenerate in irresponsible application since it appears as an easy way to solve problems.

Discussion was made of the benefits of different programs, such as between Microsoft Messenger, Yahoo! and Sky.   The presenter slightly favoured SKY over the other two.  He indicated that he has a little program that he sells for $10 to help arrange schedules.

He provided his website for those who like further info: www.internetvisitation.net

Indication was made that with present computers DSL or Cable connections are sufficiently fast to enable fluid transmission.   Using satellite service was NOT recommended.

It is said that the audio-visual contact could be recorded as a security reason for both the AP and the TP, however, this poster did not hear or knows how this recording can be done.

Other mental health professional, of PHD calibre, made fantastic and lively presentations that showed light on the nastiness of PA and PAS.

One presenter provided all the data to prove that PAS can be proven scientifically and see no reason, other than politics for PAS not being listed in the DSM.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is published by the American Psychiatric Association and provides diagnostic criteria for mental disorders. It is used in the United States and in varying degrees around the world, by clinicians, researchers, psychiatric drug regulation agencies, health insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and policy makers.

The DSM has attracted controversy and criticism as well as praise. There have been five revisions since it was first published in 1952, gradually including more disorders, though some have been removed and are no longer considered to be mental disorders. It initially evolved out of systems for collecting census and psychiatric hospital statistics, and from a manual developed by the US Army. The last major revision was the DSM-IV published in 1994, although a "text revision" was produced in 2000. The DSM-V is currently in consultation, planning and preparation, due for publication in May 2012.[1] An early draft will be released for comment in 2009. [2] The mental disorders section of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) is another commonly-used guide, used more often in some parts of the world. The two classifications have developed alongside each other and use the same diagnostic codes.

Presenters indicated that it is slow process and that the DSM has only been revised in 1968, 1980, 1987 and 1994.

In 1968 it listed 182 disorders

In 1980 it listed 265

In 1987 it listed 292

In 1994 it listed 297

As stated by Dr. Amy Baker, she does not expect change to come via the mental health profession first but by the courts.  No other Dr. contradicted this statement.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

http://www.nationalpost.com/opinion/

columnists/story.html?id=49f09920-0cb6-45f4-8fe8-ef4df2e3206b&p=2

National Post

Published: Wednesday, April 01, 2009

"Using kids as weapons"

Barbara Kay, National Post

Last weekend, I attended the Canadian Symposium for Parental

Alienation Syndrome (PAS), Canada's first international conference on

a form of child abuse that can be as bad as, or even worse than,

sexual and physical abuse.

For the "show, don't tell" version of what the presentations added up

to, read A Kidnapped Mind (Dundurn Press, 2006), by former model and

journalist Pamela Richardson, who spoke at the symposium. Richardson

wrote the book after her 16-year-old son, Dash Hart, neither drunk nor

drugged, threw himself off Vancouver's Granville Street Bridge on New

Year's Day, 2001.

Although Richardson was unaware there was such a syndrome until well

into a 12-year custody ordeal as a "target parent," her detailed

chronicle of a remorseless campaign to "disappear" her from Dash's

life by his narcissistic father is the human face behind the evils

described in the PAS literature.

The late psychologist and researcher Richard Gardner said of PAS, the

term he coined in 1985, "I have introduced this term to refer to a

disturbance in which children are obsessed with deprecation and

criticism of a parent --denigration that is unjustified and/or

exaggerated."

PAS goes far beyond the moderate alienation that frequently

accompanies high-conflict divorce. The denigration of the target

parent in PAS is not sporadic, impulsive and reality-based ("Your

mother is such a flake"), but a vicious, consciously sustained and

materially baseless campaign.

For example, in his presentation, Montreal psychologist Dr. Abe

Worenklein, a specialist in PAS (he has testified at 600 trials),

cited the case of a brainwashed boy who, witnessing in court, could no

longer recall a single activity he'd ever done with his mother, but

"knew" she'd given every man on their street a blow job. To the

alienator, the child is a weapon. Hatred of the ex always trumps the

child's rights and mental well-being.

PAS-level alienators -- whether male or female, the pattern of

behaviour is identical -- are typically so pathologically consumed

with anger triggered by rejection, that they are beyond the reach of

reason or moral suasion. More than just punishing, they wish literally

to wipe out the target parent's existence.

To this end, alienators will cut the target parent's face out of

family photos, banish all mention of his name or refuse to speak of

him as "dad" (soon the child "de-parents" this way, too). Alienators

exhibit an overwhelming sense of entitlement with no fear of courts.

In Richardson's case, her ex blithely ignored all access orders.

During one year when she was supposed to have "joint custody," she saw

Dash for exactly 24 hours.

Alienators show the children court documents (a divorce no-no) and

enmesh them in the legal process ("Should we ask for sole custody?").

They intercept messages and gifts from the other parent, then deny

they were sent. They shun the target parent at school and sports

events. They isolate the child from extended family and friends of the

target parent, imputing fictional sins to all and sundry associated

with her.

Critics of PAS fret that the syndrome is being exploited by abusive

parents as a ploy to enforce visitation or custody of justifiably

resistant children.

However, abused children present a notably different affect from the

alienated. An abused child is reluctant to discuss what has been done

to him and must be coaxed to reveal his secret. Even then, he doesn't

express hatred of the abusing parent, as he longs for a healed

relationship.

 

By contrast, a PAS child exhibits classic symptoms of brainwashing,

acting in robotic alignment with the alienator. (At 12, Dash wore his

father's clothes to court.) He is eager to badmouth the target parent.

But he uses locutions and accusations obviously uploaded into him by

an adult. Dr. Worenklein recalled four alienated siblings who parroted

the exact same words in their baseless denunciations of their target

parent.

Removal of the child from the alienator for a period of time--even

three months, ideally a year -- can effectively begin reversal of the

brainwashing effect and restore a relationship with the target parent.

Nevertheless, time does not heal the wounds left by the theft of the

lost years. From the victimized parent's point of view, a child's

death is -- in some sense -- kinder than permanent alienation, for

death is beyond parents' control and brings closure to hope.

PAS is a crime of calculation and opportunity, but alienators need

enablers in the legal and social service systems. And they get them,

as Dash's father managed to do, time after time. Yet legal

consequences for access order violation could be the single most

effective deterrent to marginalization of the target parent. Since

alienators will never compromise, custody should revert to the parent

most willing to co-operate with the other parent on time spent with

the child.

Happily, Canadian case law is trending toward acknowledgement of the

syndrome. PAS has been part of the decisions in 74 court cases since

1987, 53 in the last eight years.

One PAS-responsive judge wisely noted: "Hatred is not an emotion that

comes naturally to a child. It has to be taught."

If teaching hatred of the other parent had been written into B. C.

family law as grounds for a reversal of custodianship in 1987, Dash

Hart would be alive today. His martyrdom should count for something.

The sobering message I drew is that vigorous advocacy for alienators

by legal and social service professionals in the divorce industry is

complicity with child abuse. If the "best interests of the child" is

not to remain an empty mantra in the family law system, it must stop.

bkay@videotron.ca - For more information on PAS, visit: www.crckids.org

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Toronto Star Article

Parental alienation syndrome leaves bruises deep inside

Mar 31, 2009 04:30 AM

Susan Pigg

Living reporter

http://www.thestar.com/living/article/610751

In the end, it was one tiny voice that silenced anyone who still had doubts that parental alienation is real and one of the most insidious forms of child abuse.

The voice wasn't real – Dashiell Hart opened his arms wide and threw himself off a Vancouver bridge eight years ago at the age of 16.

But his voice was brought to life at a Toronto conference by his devastated mother, Pamela Richardson, who endured a 12-year court battle with her ex-husband to try to win back the heart and mind of her son.

Dash was just one tiny soldier in the growing army of children who are becoming collateral damage in bitter battles between ex-spouses that are overwhelming Canada's divorce courts, the first Canadian Symposium for Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) heard recently in Toronto.

 

"Over 12 years I had four different sets of lawyers trying to convince the courts my son, who lived less than 10 minutes' drive from me, needed to see the mother who loved and raised him," Richardson told the conference.

"Maybe it's still believed that no parent would wound their child for their own selfish gain. Maybe people still believe that the loss of a parent is not that big a deal – parents get sick, have car accidents, get cancer, they die. But alienated parents aren't dead – and the children know it."

According to Richardson, it was her ex-husband, Peter Hart, a criminal lawyer, who began a concerted campaign to win sole custody of their then 6-year-old son and cut off all contact with his mother, physically and psychologically, shortly after the couple separated in 1989.

"With PAS children there are generally no outward or tangible signs of maltreatment," said Richardson, who later wrote a book called A Kidnapped Mind: A Mother's Heartbreaking Story of Parental Alienation Syndrome. "Instead of bruises, the wounds of PAS children are buried deep in their heart."

Hart was granted interim custody of Dash – Richardson blames that on his strong connections in the court system – while the couple sorted out their divorce.

Richardson had visitation rights, but increasingly Hart would claim that Dash was too busy with soccer, sleepovers or homework to see her. She was even asked to stop helping out at Dash's school.

To show her love, she would leave freshly baked cookies on Dash's front doorstep.

The year that Dash was 11, Richardson saw her son for just 24 hours. Every time she asked a judge to enforce her access time, Hart would accuse her of being obsessive and "trying to break up their happy home."

"There are transfers of time followed by transfers of power and children know enough to keep themselves safe," said Richardson.

"A shift takes place in the child's mind. This is the heartbreak of PAS: children are forced to choose between their parents because, in their mind, they've already lost one parent (to the divorce), and they're terrified of losing the other."

Dash went from being a happy, healthy 7-year-old to threatening to jump out the second-storey window of his school at the age of 9. At almost 12, he showed up at court in his father's clothes.

Judges are now starting to tackle PAS head-on, with an increasing willingness to switch custody to the alienated parent and order the children into treatment.

But back in the 1990s, most wouldn't even acknowledge it as a real issue, said Richardson.

 

After years of being told she was "idiotic," "uncaring" and even "dangerous," Dash grew into a teenager who lashed out constantly at his mother, who by now had remarried and had two young sons.

PAS "has everything to do with who has custody," she said. "It's a crime of calculation and opportunity. Arguing about whether or not PAS is a syndrome or a mental health disorder or abuse just ties everyone up in knots while real children and real families suffer this harm. A child's fundamental right to be loved by both his or her parents is destroyed by PAS."

And the effects are long-lasting, as parental alienation expert and researcher Amy Baker told the conference.

Her study of 40 adults who were alienated as children revealed lifelong battles with low self-esteem, alcoholism and drug abuse, as well as high divorce and suicide rates.

Parental alienation used to be known as "malicious mother syndrome." But it's become a more equal-opportunity form of emotional abuse of children over the last two decades, according to a new study of some 74 Canadian cases, which was released at the conference.

In 24 of the 74 high-conflict divorce cases examined by veteran Toronto family lawyer Gene Colman, men turned their kids against their mothers, while 50 of the cases involved women alienating the kids from their fathers.

Canada's family courts have tended to deal with contentious divorces by awarding sole custody to one parent, believing that joint custody is simply unworkable among ex-partners who are at war.

Many divorce experts, mental health professionals and child advocacy workers, some of whom spoke at the conference, have long argued that this approach encourages parental alienation by treating the children as prizes to be won or lost in bitter battle.

Colman said the study's results confirmed for him that Canada's divorce laws need to be amended to make "equal, shared parenting" the norm in all divorce cases, except when there are extenuating circumstances such as domestic violence, mental health or other issues that make one parent clearly unfit.

Gender bias evident in parental alienation cases

Mothers are more likely to be the parent behind children's estrangement, yet fathers more often ordered into counselling, study finds

The Globe and Mail, Canada's largest national newspaper, by KIRK MAKIN, Justice Reporter, Saturday, March 28, 2009

JUSTICE REPORTER — A study of alienated children has found that mothers were significantly more likely to be the parent who emotionally poisoned their children than were fathers.

 

Toronto family lawyer Gene Colman told a Toronto symposium yesterday that of 74 court rulings that found parental alienation since 1987, the mother was the alienator in 50 cases. The father was the alienating parent in 24.

"I'm not trying to dump on moms," Mr. Colman told about 150 psychologists, family lawyers, mediators and activist parents. "I'm just saying, that is what the data reveal."

In parental alienation syndrome, an estranged parent systematically brainwashes a child into hating the other parent. The profile of the syndrome escalated over the past year, after three Ontario judges ordered that children be removed from an alienating parent and taken to U.S. clinics for deprogramming therapy.

Mr. Colman said that alienating fathers were twice as likely to be ordered to undergo counselling as were mothers in alienation cases - a finding that raises serious questions about whether judges are exhibiting gender biases.

Twelve of the 50 alienating mothers in his study were ordered into counselling, as compared with 13 of 24 fathers. "As social scientists will tell you, that is a high level of statistical significance in terms of differential treatment by gender," Mr. Colman said.

"As lawyers and judges, we have to be vigilant to make sure that we ... are not influenced by whether the mom is the alienator or the dad is the alienator. There should be no differential in how either gender is dealt with."

The other findings in Mr. Colman's study included:

The number of parental alienation cases has shot up from 21 between 1987 and 2000 to 53 between 2000 and 2008.

Fathers who had their alienated children switched from their homes were granted some form of access by the courts in a "much lower" percentage of cases than were mothers.

Fathers who alienate their children are somewhat more likely to have their children removed from their residence and relocated with the mother.

Mr. Colman said that of cases where the father was the alienator, children were ordered to switch to the mother's residence in 78 per cent of cases. In contrast, 62 per cent of the mothers who alienated their children had them switched to the father's home.

"It would seem that if you are the dad, you have a greater probability of having the residence changed on you," said Mr. Colman, founding editor of the Canadian Journal of Family Law and founding member of the Canadian Equal Parenting Council.

  

1998-2009   Canadian Children's Rights Council - Conseil canadien des droits des enfants

Courtesy of http://canadiancrc.com/Newspaper_Articles

/Globe_and_Mail_Gender_bias_

evident_in_parental_alienation_cases_

28MAR09.aspx

Lawyer Cary Linde from BC

(co-presenter w/ Gene Coleman) discussed this case yesterday at the PAS Symposium.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/

canadianpress/

article/ALeqM5hw6_SR6e

WiSzsuyDIbKTrzuZ4loA

Canadian Press

Mar 9, 2009

B.C. court bars mother from seeing daughter for more than a year

VANCOUVER, B.C. — In a case of extreme parental alienation, a mother has been banned by a B.C. Supreme Court judge from seeing her teenage daughter for more than a year.

Because of the urgency of the matter, Justice Donna Martinson issued the terse, two-page ruling outlining 15 conditions the parents must follow, including that the mother, known only as Ms. A, not see her daughter until at least March 31, 2010.

The decision came after the mother alleged extreme emotional abuse by the father, which she claimed was putting the teen's safety at risk.

"I am satisfied that Ms. A's allegations are unfounded," Martinson wrote. "I am further satisfied that she has continued to undermine the relationship between M and her father and has acted in ways that are detrimental to M's psychological healing."

Names have been stripped from the court ruling to protect the girl's identity.

The judge has ordered that both the mother and maternal grandmother have no contact with the girl, which would be enforced by police if necessary.

The court has also ordered the mother to pay $320 per month for the girl's counselling, on top of the child support she is already paying.

Jessica Ko, the lawyer for the girl's father, said it's been a gruelling road for the dad who has been in court 17 different times to gain access to his daughter or defend himself against the mother's allegations.

 

"It went to the point where our client was essentially bankrupt from defending himself and pursuing this legal matter," said Ko.

She said the father is in a highly respected profession and should be able to recover financially.

Ko said the ruling banning the mother from any contact with the child was extremely unusual, because often the court attempts to find a balance in access between the parents.

"This is a case where there was found to be an extreme example of parental alienation by the mother towards the father."

Copyright 2009 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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