What is PA?
P arental A lienation
Parental Alienation is a form of emotional abuse in which an absent parent is progressively and systematically removed from a child’s life by a controlling and angry resident parent. By using the child as a vehicle for the abuse of the non-resident parent, the perpetrator is also abusing the child by denying his/her right to a healthy and loving relationship with the non-resident parent – and by creating painful conflicts of loyalties which the child should not have to endure.
Parental alienation can be a protracted, cruel and deliberate process that will seriously jeopardise a child’s ability to form healthy relationships in the future. It is often perpetrated by someone who believes they are ‘saving’ a child from the ‘evil’ of the absent parent, the logic being: ‘I believe your mother/father is wicked. I am just protecting you from them’.
For some people, the ‘syndrome’ part of the term ‘Parental Alienation Syndrome’ is contentious. Parental alienation is certainly characterised by a set of recognisable (and predictable) behaviours – all of which culminate in the alienated child/ren not being allowed – and usually not wanting – to see the absent, alienated, parent.
In my case, alienation is now complete, Thomas is not permitted to see me or have any contact whatsoever.
‘A conflicted family dynamic that draws a child into siding with one parent, changing a previously good relationship with a now rejected parent in order to do battle. The child may become preoccupied with criticisms of the rejected parent, which are normally inconsequential, exaggerated, or unfounded in reality. A parent may understand the theoretical importance of the other parent in the life of the child, but believes his or her case is the exception’.
Dr Douglas Darnall (Divorce Casualties)
‘There is a difference between parental alienation and parental syndrome, though the symptoms or what is observed in the children can be similar. The distinction between the two is that parental alienation focuses on how the alienating parent behave toward the children and the targeted parent. Parental alienation syndrome symptoms describe the child’s behaviours and attitudes toward the targeted parents after the child has been effectively programmed and severely alienated from the targeted parent.’