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A Word of Caution About Parental Alienation

In Corrupt bastards, Domestic Violence, Dr Richard Warshak, DSM-V, Parental Alienation, Parental Alienation Disorder, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome on December 6, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Dr. Richard Warshak would not allow opposing comments in his first article on the Huffington Post, including information about all the professional organizations that have debunked the use of “parental alienation” in child custody cases.  This includes a warning from the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges:

2009: A Judicial Guide to Child Safety in Custody Cases

National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges Family Violence Department

Page 12:
C. [§3.3] A Word of Caution about Parental Alienation34

Under relevant evidentiary standards, the court should not accept testimony regarding parental alienation syndrome, or “PAS.” The theory positing the existence of PAS has been discredited by the scientific community.35 In Kumho Tire v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137 (1999), the Supreme Court ruled that even expert testimony based in the “soft sciences” must meet the standard set in the Daubert case.36 Daubert, in which the court re-examined the standard it had earlier articulated in the Frye37 case, requires application of a multi-factor test, including peer review, publication, testability, rate of error, and general acceptance. PAS does not pass this test. Any testimony that a party to a custody case suffers from the syndrome or “parental alienation” should therefore be ruled inadmissible and stricken from the evaluation report under both the standard established in Daubert and the earlier Frye standard.38

The discredited “diagnosis” of PAS (or an allegation of “parental alienation”), quite apart from its scientific invalidity, inappropriately asks the court to assume that the child’s behaviors and attitudes toward the parent who claims to be “alienated” have no grounding in reality. It also diverts attention away from the behaviors of the abusive parent, who may have directly influenced the child’s responses by acting in violent, disrespectful, intimidating, humiliating, or discrediting ways toward the child or the other parent. The task for the court is to distinguish between situations in which the child is critical of one parent because they have been inappropriately manipulated by the other (taking care not to rely solely on subtle indications) , and situations in which the child has his or her own legitimate grounds for criticism or fear of a parent, which will likely be the case when that parent has perpetrated domestic violence. Those grounds do not become less legitimate because the abused parent shares them, and seeks to advocate for the child by voicing his or her concerns.

Richard Warshak Responds To Critics – And The Countess Responds To Him

In Corrupt bastards, Domestic Violence, Dr Richard Warshak, Parental Alienation, Parental Alienation Disorder, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome on December 5, 2010 at 6:43 pm

So look at this. After all the attention Richard Warshak’s critics have received – including dominating Google searches – he finally addresses them – and completely misses the boat. His comments are indented and in italics. My responses are in between.

Parental Alienation: Impracticality & Impressions. Dr. Richard Warshak Answers Critics

Answering Critics by Dr. Richard Warshak

The many parents I have helped, women and men, express astonishment that some people demonize me, attempt to tarnish my reputation, and spread misleading and false information about my work and me. Although my supporters far outweigh my detractors, the people seeking to quiet my voice yell loudly and work hard to circulate their misinformation.

Your critics and critics of parental alienation have been out there for a very long time. What the most recent critics have been saying is nothing new. However, this is the first time they’ve found a real voice on the internet, and we can’t have that, can we?

Until now I have allowed the personal attacks and gross misrepresentations to go without answer.

Good. So you’re finally going to address the facts that parental alienation is not going to be in the DSM-V, that it has never been peer reviewed, that it is not accepted as a valid disorder in the general scientific, medical, psychological, and legal communities, that it has become a huge cottage industry that makes lots of money for the people who make a living using it in divorce and child custody cases, that the man who coined it (original term “parental alienation syndrome”) made statements supportive of incest and pedophilia (and he’s your mentor), that parental alienation does not meet Frye and Daubert standards for admissibility in court, and that it is the most common weapon used in court by abusive fathers to get custody of their children away from the mothers they’ve been threatening and abusing.

By the way, you did answer. You and the Huffington Post deleted most comments, most very well-thought out, reasonable, and backed up by research, that criticized you and parental alienation in your “Stop Divorce Poison” HuffPost article.

I understand the mentality of a true believer and realize that clarification of reality and objective evidence will hit the brick wall of a closed mind. For various reasons, these people want to hold on to their beliefs. They cling to misguided ideas rather than acknowledge the widespread mistreatment of children described in Divorce Poison and my other works. In some respects, they resemble people from earlier generations who refused to acknowledge the evidence of their senses that children were being physically and sexually abused with alarming frequency. Just as the professionals who first pointed an accusing finger at a society that tolerated such abuse were attacked, I suppose it is my fate to be the target of similar attacks.

Interesting statement there, since your mentor Dr. Richard Gardner, who created Parental Alienation Syndrome, was one of those people who refused to acknowledge that children were being physically and sexually abused with alarming frequency. He believed most allegations moms and children made of sexual abuse were false. He also claimed that 90% of his PAS caseload was mothers. People who fought for children’s welfare in the face of abuse were ridiculed as being “child savers” who were delusional. Fanatics. On a witch hunt. Demonizers. True believers. The same terms you are using to demean professionals and lay people who speak out against parental alienation and work to help abused mothers and children. Ironically, that’s the same language used by the false-acc witchhunt sex abuser defense crowd.

More below the fold.

And I continue with my response to Richard Warshak’s weak response to his critics. Warshak’s statements are indented and in italics. Mine are in between.

Defending myself against such attacks feels a bit undignified. It seems an unnecessary waste of time, and gives currency to a few fanatics who attempt to alienate my audience from me using the same tactics that some parents use to alienate their children from the other parent. Some of these extremists have lost custody of their children in a ruling that seeks to protect the children from severe doses of divorce poison. Rather than recognize the rationale for the court’s decision, these people believe that the judge either was biased or was foolishly taken in by the other parent’s allegations.

Smooth move, there. You just bashed and minimized abused women who criticized you. And you call yourself a friend of abused women!

Some of these people would have you believe that there is an epidemic of judges who take joy in placing children with parents who beat or sexually molest them. In fact, one website claims a conspiracy of Masonic judges who, in every family court across North America (I am not exaggerating), automatically give custody to pedophiliac fathers who in turn pimp their children to pedophiliac members of the Illuminati (the group profiled in Dan Brown’s novel Angels & Demons). I am not kidding. . . . Nor are they.

Now that’s a sleight-of-hand move! When I first read this paragraph I wondered what the hell was he talking about. I had to read it a couple of times to make sure I was reading it correctly. I’d never heard of any such thing. So I did a Google search. You found one – one – article by a woman and you try to paint all your critics as crazy fanatics. That article is not on a custody site. There is only one person I know of who believes all that, and she wasn’t one of the people commenting on your HuffPost article. I know of only one other person who believes something similar to what you say, minus all the Masonic and Illuminati stuff. The domestic violence community at large doesn’t believe any of that. But don’t let those facts get in your way of painting all domestic violence critics of you and parental alienation with a broad brush.

As I say in the Afterword to the revised edition of my book, when my wife reads these vicious and absurd accounts, she shakes her head in disbelief at the raw animosity that greets the work I do on behalf of suffering families. She asks, “Don’t they know that you’ve devoted your career to the welfare of children?” The many women I have helped through my writing, consultations, and courtroom testimony cannot understand what motivates the detractors, who claim to be advocates for women.

It’s nice your wife supports you. That’s what wives are supposed to do. It’s also nice your have women who support you. However, your wife’s support and the support of some women isn’t what matters here. What experts have written about you and parental alienation does matter. See below:

The National Association Of Juvenile And Family Court Judges
A Judicial Guide To Safety In Child Custody Cases – see page 12.

National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. (2006).
Navigating Custody & Visitation Evaluations in Cases with Domestic Violence: A Judge’s Guide (2nd edition)

[excerpt]

“The discredited “diagnosis” of “PAS” (or allegation of “parental alienation”), quite apart from its scientific invalidity, inappropriately asks the court to assume that the children’s behaviors and attitudes toward the parent who claims to be “alienated” have no grounding in reality. It also diverts attention away from the behaviors of the abusive parent, who may have directly influenced the children’s responses by acting in violent, disrespectful, intimidating, humiliating and/or discrediting ways toward the children themselves, or the children’s other parent. The task for the court is to distinguish between situations in which children are critical of one parent because they have been inappropriately manipulated by the other (taking care not to rely solely on subtle indications), and situations in which children have their own legitimate grounds for criticism or fear of a parent, which will likely be the case when that parent has perpetrated domestic violence. Those grounds do not become less legitimate because the abused parent shares them, and seeks to advocate for the children by voicing their concerns.” – page 24

American Psychological Association. (1996).
Report of the APA Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family
Washington, D.C

[excerpt]

Noting that custody and visitation disputes appear to occur more frequently when there is a history of domestic violence. Family courts often do not consider the history of violence between the parents in making custody and visitation decisions. In this context, the nonviolent parent may be at a disadvantage, and behavior that would seem reasonable as a protection from abuse may be misinterpreted as a sign of instability. Psychological evaluators not trained in domestic violence may contribute to this process by ignoring or minimizing the violence and by giving inappropriate pathological labels to women’s responses to chronic victimization. Terms such as `parental alienation’ may be used to blame the women for the children’s reasonable fear or anger toward their violent father.” (p. 100).

The American Psychological Association
Statement On Parental Alienation Syndrome

“The American Psychological Association (APA) believes that all mental health practitioners as well as law enforcement officials and the courts must take any reports of domestic violence in divorce and child custody cases seriously. An APA 1996 Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family noted the lack of data to support so-called “parental alienation syndrome”, and raised concern about the term’s use. However, we have no official position on the purported syndrome.”

Bruch, Carol S. Parental (2001).
Parental Alienation Syndrome and Parental Alienation: Getting It Wrong in Child Custody Cases.
Family Law Quarterly, 35, 527

Meier, Joan S. (January 2009).
Parental Alienation Syndrome & Parental Alienation: Research Reviews.
VAWnet: The National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women.

Jennifer Hoult. (Spring 2006).
The Evidentiary Admissibility of Parental Alienation Syndrome: Science, Law, and Policy
Children’s Legal Rights Journal

Court-Appointed Parenting Evaluators And Guardians Ad Litem:
Practical Realities And An Argument For Abolition
Margaret K. Dore, Esq.
2006

Domestic Violence (DV) By Proxy: Why Terrorist Tactics Employed By Batterers Are Not “PAS”
Joyanna Silberg
The Leadership Council
2009

Divorce Poison
A Critique of Richard Warshak’s book “Divorce Poison”
Cheryl Melletus

National District Attorneys Association
Parental Alienation Syndrome: What Professionals Need To Know – Part 1 of 2
Parental Alienation Syndrome: What Professionals Need To Know – Part 2 of 2

Justice For Children
Parental Alienation “Syndrome”
“It is the position of Justice For Children that PAS is junk science.”

In 1998, Jon Conte [Professor of Law University of the Pacific McGeorge School] wrote that Gardner’s Sex Abuse Legitimacy Scale is “probably the most unscientific piece of garbage I’ve seen in the field in all my time. To base social policy on something as flimsy as this is exceedingly dangerous.” (Moss, 1988)

There are many more legitimate organizations that have come down over the years against Parental Alienation Syndrome and it’s watered-down cousin Parental Alienation (and Parental Alienation Disorder… how many times are you guys going to reinvent yourselves?). I’ve listed more than enough here to prove my point.

So why am I writing this article? It occurred to me that those who find value in my work might be confused by the drumbeat of misinformation. The downside of responding to critics is that it fuels their zeal and brings more attention to their smears. They live for the battle and are gratified when anyone takes them seriously. I would rather spend my time providing guidance on how to understand, prevent, and repair damaged parent-child relationships. But, for the sake of those who really want to know, here is some clarification.

So… when are you going to address parental alienation not being in the DSM-V, not being considered valid in the general scientific community, etc. … I’m waiting…

Are you really afraid your supporters will drop you like a hot potato because of the alleged “drumbeat of misinformation” and “smears”? Or are you really afraid that those who matter most – people in the legal, psychological, and medical communities – will read what has really been published lately about you and parental alienation, such as the statements above, and realize that parental alienation is junk science that is harmful for children and that it’s used as a weapon by abusive fathers? And therefore no longer recommend your Bridges program?

One smear that has been making the rounds involves a case where I helped a mother whose children were irrationally alienated. Some important details I cannot divulge because they are not a matter of public record and I wish to protect the family’s privacy. Were these details known, domestic violence activists who criticize my involvement in this case would surely regret their words. They would think twice about circulating the innuendos and arguments raised by the father’s lawyer in his attempt to defeat the mother.

Parental alienation isn’t going to be in the DSM-V. It doesn’t meet accepted standards for allowing expert testimony in court. It has no known error rate. Abusive fathers have successfully used parental alienation to wrest child custody away from the abused mothers trying to protect their children. … Still waiting for you to address all this. I have a feeling I’m going to wait a very long time…

And why focus so much attention on this case when your critics have focused so much more on what I list in my previous paragraph? Is it because this case came out in your favor? One case doesn’t prove your program works. It only proves you have one happy customer.

Several mental health professionals concluded that the children’s estrangement from their mother was unreasonable. Even the father’s own expert witness recommended that the one child under the age of 18 be removed from the father’s home (but, for reasons unclear, not placed with his mother).

That’s not what the critics have been talking about with that case. They mention the cost – $40,000. For four days. I’ve seen a report of another case where the program cost $20,000. For four days. Also, critics have pointed out that the program is unproven and untested. We have only your word that it works and you’re biased in your own favor, of course.

The case was heard before an arbitrator. The arbitrator found that “the mother was the intentional victim of irrational alienation by her sons, designed and orchestrated by the father.” The decision awarded sole custody to the mother and gave her the authority to make decisions on behalf of her son including, at her discretion, enrolling him in my educational workshop. The Arbitrator’s decision was appealed to the Family Court. The Court did not dispute the findings of irrational alienation. But the judge did rule that the Arbitrator should have ordered another evaluation. In the decision the judge pointed out that I gave no recommendations because, as I made clear to the Arbitrator, I had not conducted a custody evaluation. The judge set aside the Arbitrator’s award and allowed the case to go to a new trial.

You never interviewed the two boys in question before recommending your Bridges Family workshop – at $40,000 for four days. How can you recommend your program when you don’t even know if it’s appropriate for the family in question? You haven’t mentioned the cost here at all.

Here is where the smears begin. The purpose of my testimony was to educate the court about general issues and the state of knowledge regarding parent-child conflicts and children’s rejection of a parent, and to describe various interventions for families in which the court finds that the children’s rejection of a parent is unjustified, irrational, disproportionate to the child’s experience of the parent, and not in the children’s best interests. An expert witness who testifies in this capacity is obliged to explain the limitations of his work in the case. As is my duty, I clarified the purpose of my testimony and volunteered the information that I had not conducted an evaluation and was not there to make a specific recommendation for this family.

You still haven’t addressed my concerns from the top of this article. Parental alienation isn’t accepted by the scientific community at large. It’s vague and untested. It won’t be in the DSM-V. You have a product to sell and you go to court to do that. Now you’re on the Huffington Post Divorce section doing just that – with a dangerous and unproven disorder that has been used by abusive dads in court against the moms they abuse.

Rather than point out that I had testified in a professionally ethical and objective manner and properly apprised the court of the scope of my work in the case, including limitations, some bloggers imply that the Family Court Judge “discovered” the limitations and that I then had to “admit” that I had not seen the children. This is not what happened. I never testified before the Family Court Judge. The Judge simply noted what I had volunteered in my testimony in the Arbitration. My professional colleagues understand that what I did was precisely in accord with professional ethics.

Now it gets interesting, and this is the part critics conceal from their blogs. This was not the conclusion of the case. A new custody assessment was conducted. The assessment results strongly supported the mother’s position, recommended giving her the authority to enroll her son in Family Bridges, and concluded that the workshop was the best option for this family.

So you win after all. Another $40,000 goes into your pocket. All for an unproven program.

The case did go to trial. But, on the eve of the trial, the father’s lawyer, in what appeared to me to be a desperate last-ditch attempt to try his case in the media when it was clear that the evidence favored the mother, submitted an article to Canada’s Law Times that attacked my workshop as unscientific. Fortunately, the editor recognized distortions in the lawyer’s submission and asked me to submit commentary to set the record straight. My article was published. It effectively refutes the lawyer’s arguments. You do not learn about my article by reading the advocate’s blog posts. (See The Slanted Truth for the use of such tactics by alienating parents.) It is as if it did not exist. You can read my article by clicking here.

I read that article. We have only your word that your program (which is similar to the same used by the debunked and abusive Rachel Foundation) has been subjected to peer review and passes Daubert standards. Richard Gardner said the same about Parental Alienation Syndrome, too, when nothing could be further from the truth. Don’t forget that Gardner had his own deprogramming program he called “threat therapy”, which was very similar to the Rachel Foundation program and Bridges. One child who refused to go committed suicide. That case made the news and tarnished Gardner’s reputation even further. He also claimed PAS had been peer reviewed, enjoyed general acceptance in the scientific community, and passed acceptance standards. None of this was true.

And here are statements by other custody evaluators who didn’t think very highly of your “The Warshak Parenting Questionnaire 2nd Edition” or “WPQ”:

“…We custody evaluators are appointed to do our own work, at least in interviewing and evaluating… I would think that part of my job would be to generate my OWN follow-up questions… don’t know how any computerized questionnaire can do that… also a little troubled by the intent that evaluators “cut and paste”… interpretive language of any kind… into their reports… what “follow up” questions will pop up based on the parent’s responses?… how would the evaluator-user justify, on the witness stand, why they chose to ask alienation questions… if neither parent has raised that as an allegation? …” (California Ph.D., September 10, 2006).

“…the section on “Differential Treatment of Parents” (about two-thirds through the sample report (at w w w. wpqonline.com), under “Symptoms of Possible Mental Health Problems”) seems to invite alienation claims if parent was not thinking of such claims, and seems to suggest strongly how to support such a claim if parent is thinking of it. It seems to me to be way too suggestive/leading. In effect: Now, parent, would you like to consider making a claim of PAS? If so, have you considered claiming that your child does X? How about claiming that your child does Y? And don’t forget Z, have you considered that as possibly supporting a PAS claim? (This is assuming that the questions posed to the parent closely parallel the topics covered in this section of the report, and I suppose I could be wrong in making that assumption.)” (Ohio Ph.D., February 22, 2007).

What you also never learn from reading the blogger’s accounts of this case is the ultimate outcome. Notwithstanding the father’s lawyer’s maneuvers, again, the mother prevailed on all counts. After hearing all the evidence, the judge concluded that “Mother should have sole legal and residential custody of [the child]. Mother shall have complete authority to make decisions regarding [the child's] welfare. She is not required to consult with anyone before doing so; Mother is specifically authorized to obtain any treatment and/or intervention for [the child] as she, in her sole discretion, deems necessary and appropriate for [the child's] best interests; Mother’s authority described above includes, but is not limited to `Family Bridges: A Workshop for Troubled and Alienated Parent-Child Relationships,’ to enable and assist [the child] in adjusting to living with her.”

The program remains unproven. You claim a high success rate. And it’s very expensive. Parents of lesser means who are having problems with alleged “alienation” are not able to afford you.

By selectively citing the earlier Family Court decision, and concealing the trial outcome, the bloggers leave the impression that the court was critical of Family Bridges and blocked the family from participating in the workshop. In the end, the truth is the exact opposite. (Selective attention is another tactic of alienating parents that critics adopt to try to alienate audiences from my work.)

Still waiting… parental alienation is not in the DSM… doesn’t meet scientific standards for admission into a courtroom … unknown error rate … untested … you aren’t going to address those criticisms, are you? You’re only going to claim your detractors are as alienated as your clients.

Here is what the judge wrote in her opinion: “This leaves the Workshop, coupled with a change in custody, as the only potential remedy with any chance of success in this difficult case. . . . The court is faced with compelling evidence that a change in custody, coupled with the Workshop is best for [the child]. . . . The Workshop is a last resort. Obviously it would have been better had these problems been identified and corrected early on. . . . Unfortunately, they were not. This leaves the Workshop as [the child's] best last hope.” [Emphasis added.]

That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement. Your program is the “last best hope”? The “only potential remedy”? Were other remedies even looked at?

I fully expect detractors to post other information attempting to cast doubt on the wisdom of the judge’s decision in this case (which was essentially identical to the arbitrator’s decision; that is, two different triers of fact, after hearing all the evidence, concluded that the mother should have custody and have the right to enroll her child in Family Bridges). I do not intend to respond to such posts.

The issue isn’t whether or not the mother should have custody. It’s that your program is a huge money-maker for you, it’s unproven, and it’s never been tested. All those questions of mine and others that you never answered have gone unanswered. Parental alienation is not regarded as a valid disorder in the general scientific community. It doesn’t meet Frye and Daubert standards. It has an unknown rate of error. It’s never been peer reviewed. It’s never been tested. It’s defined in layman’s terms you gleaned from the dictionary.

As rebuttal to any future innuendoes and misrepresentations, I can state the following. The mother has authorized me to state that she is very pleased with the ultimate outcome of her case. Her formerly alienated son, estranged for six years, participated in, and greatly benefitted from, the four day Family Bridges workshop. He rapidly restored his loving relationship with his mother and they now live happily together.

One case doesn’t make parental alienation valid, and we have only your word that your program works. It’s never been tested and its error rate is unknown. It’s very expensive. What about parents who can’t afford your services?

There are other cases involving reunification programs and parental alienation:

Son’s birthday pact with parents leads to ceasefire in bitter eight-year dispute

Quotes:

Yesterday, in a revealing conversation, P.F. criticized therapists and child welfare authorities in the case for clutching to pet theories about parental alienation syndrome. Under the controversial PAS diagnosis, children who are seen to have been systematically poisoned toward one parent by the other cannot evaluate their emotions accurately.

“I think they have done a lot more harm than good for our family,” P.F. said. “I think they were tilting the whole case in a direction that was more favourable to them, which was a more costly and stressful and damaging alternative for us. We don’t need all these people getting into our lives and directing the way things go.”

He also criticized the justice system for too easily sidelining children who are caught up in their parents’ warfare.

“Where people are making decisions, the kids should at least be heard and their opinions thoroughly considered; not interpreted or cast aside, as they were here,” he said. “When it is possible to simply walk up and say, ‘This kid is parentally alienated,’ that instantly takes away all their credibility. Our family made their minds up for themselves. In a way, we emancipated ourselves from these professionals that have been breathing down our necks the whole time.”

IN RE BIANCA H., On Appeal from the 254th Judicial District Court, Dallas County, Texas

Richard Warshak testified he is a clinical research psychologist. Alfano hired Warshak to evaluate Alfano’s case. Warshak has never met with Bianca, but has evaluated reports from other professionals and viewed a videotape of Bianca with Alfano. According to Warshak, Alfano is Bianca’s “psychological father,” and ceasing contact with him could be devastating to Bianca. Warshak admitted that the law does not recognize the concept of a “psychological parent.” He further acknowledged that another psychologist said Bianca’s attachment to Alfano was more like an attachment to an uncle or a grandfather.

Warshak testified that when conflict between “parents” causes a child distress, a court should order counseling and sanction the parent that instigated the conflict. Warshak believed any harm Bianca suffered because of the conflict would be less than the harm she would suffer if she lost Alfano. Indeed, Warshak testified the best way to remedy the conflict would be to increase Alfano’s access to the child.

After the testimony, the trial court stated that Alfano had been put in the position of an uncle since the child was twenty months old. The trial court noted that it had attempted to resolve the situation for four years with no progress. The trial court considered limited visitation, but determined that it would only put off the inevitable. Accordingly, the trial court terminated Alfano’s visitation rights.

In its findings of fact, the trial court found that (1) Alfano is not legally or biologically related to the child, (2) a great deal of conflict exists between Mother and Alfano, (3) the conflict was unlikely to abate in the future, (4) the conflict was injurious to the child’s best interest, (5) the circumstances of the child have materially and substantially changed since the date of the order sought to be modified, (6) the order has become unworkable and inappropriate under existing circumstances, and (7) modification would produce a positive improvement for and be in the best interest of the child. The trial court modified its prior order eliminating Alfano’s right to possession of and access to the child. This appeal followed.

Appellant raises six points of error. In the first five points of error, appellant asserts the trial court abused its discretion in modifying its prior order because the evidence is factually insufficient to support the trial court’s findings. In the sixth point of error, appellant asserts the trial court incorrectly applied the law in determining modification would be in the child’s best interest.

You never address the primary criticisms made by your critics. Parental alienation is an untested theory that has never been up for peer review. It’s not accepted by the legal, medical, scientific, and psychological community at large as valid. Parental alienation has been used by abusive fathers and their hired lawyers, evaluators, and psychs to wrest child custody away from mothers. Rather than point fingers at the Illuminati and one case supporting your Bridges program, and demonize your critics, you need to address your critic’s primary criticisms … which you haven’t done. And I’m not surprised.

Posted on December 3, 2010 at 12:12 PM | Permalink

Dr. Richard Warshak and the Illuminati: Teachable Moments in Exaggeration

In Corrupt bastards, Domestic Violence, Dr Richard Warshak, Parental Alienation, Parental Alienation Disorder, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome on December 3, 2010 at 4:25 pm

Dear Dr. Warshak has put out an “answer” to the critics.  LOL, what was wrong with just posting the factual comments that were left on the Huffington Post article that were left by domestic violence advocates, then answering them there. Instead, he went to one of his favorite cheerleaders, Monika Logan, PAD blogger to speak on this (Monika, who is also in Texas, also into “parental alienation”).  More about this later.

First, in Warshak’s rant, part of it included this:

“In fact, one website claims a conspiracy of Masonic judges who, in every family court across North America (I am not exaggerating), automatically give custody to pedophiliac fathers who in turn pimp their children to pedophiliac members of the Illuminati (the group profiled in Dan Brown’s novel Angels & Demons). I am not kidding. . . . Nor are they.”

Many of the domestic violence advocates involved were scratching our head, wondering WTF!  We all searched and finally found a comment on Rights for Mothers, specifically on a post that was about a Kansas mother who had her children taken…yes, the father was making claims of “PAS” and has managed to keep the children from their mother for almost a year now by the way.  The comment was left by another victim of Judge Patrick Walters, the Kansas mother’s judge.  Since the blogger from Rights for Mothers doesn’t CENSOR comments that have to do with a post, the commenter was allowed to have his say.  Something that Warshak won’t do.  Here are the two comments:


g says:

I will tell you what kind of father would do this and what kind of judge would allow it. FREEMASONS!!!! Open your eyes, a high ranking military officer and you read his post he seems like an intellectual person and a judge well lets just say it seems very suspicious to me. I am having problems with walters as well. My ex-wife’s husband is beating my son and walters won’t do a thing about. In fact he is only allowing me to see my son once a month and supervised. No need for me to have supervised visits. My son wants to live with me but i can’t afford a masonic attorney. In fact i ran out of money and can’t afford to pay my discount attorney any more. If you step into a masons court without representation, you are screwed. “DESTROY THE FREEMASONS!!!!!!!” They will enslave all of us who aren’t in high socioligic standing. What has America become? What it has been since the beginning. The Illuminati’s property. The bible said the anti-christ will acquire many followers. That part of Revolations started in 1776. The only 2 presidents that werent suspect of being freemasons or illuminati are Lincoln and Kennedy……hmmm…….what happened to those guys. Tupac Shakur and Michael Jackson were trying to expose them with their lyrics…….hmmmm……what happened to them. They are too strong to destroy, so pray, pray and pray again. Give your life to God. Live as he really wants you too. Accept only the Lord into your heart and greatness will come in your afterlife. Comply with the anti-christ and burn in hell. God bless all the americans that live a good life. All the Freemasons and illuminati will ALL BURN IN HELL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

g says:

Oh I forgot to add that my exwifes husband is in military. OPEN YOUR EYES!!!!
The anti-christ is here! DO NOT COMPLY WITH NEW WORLD ORDER. Let them kill you. Make GOD proud, he will reward you in the end. DONT COMPLY DONT COMPLY, STAND UP FOR YOUR GOD GIVIN HUMAN RIGHTS!!!!!!!!!!
PEACE!!!!!!!!!!!

Again, the commenter was allowed to have his say on a post that was relevant to the comments.  Richard Warshak wants people to believe this has come from the domestic violence advocates that are speaking out about his censorship on The Huffington Post.  Just another spin on trying to make himself look legitimate.

So, as another domestic violence advocate said of Warshak “…spitting venomous labels on those who stand on the side of science, even comparing them to child molestors. Goodgod, can you just imagine how he would behave were he himself a party in a divorce and child custody case? Of course, it can’t happen, since the man doesn’t have children himself. He’s a pontificating know-nothing applying experimental therapies on children. Haven’t we had enough of this crap from psychology over the decades?”

Ditto.

Dr. Richard Warshak Clueless, Thank Goodness the Professional Organizations Know What’s Going On

In Domestic Violence, Dr Richard Warshak, DSM-V, Parental Alienation, Parental Alienation Disorder, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome on December 2, 2010 at 11:34 pm

Poor Richard Warshak.  He asked for commenters to come to his Huffington Post article and comment.  A few of us did, and he refused to post the comments.  He censored out everything that didn’t show adoration for him.  That is what he wanted.  Afterall, he has a book and “expert testimony” services to sell.  Now he is whining about being criticized for the censorship.

Several comments were made about the American Bar Association, the American Judges Association, the National District Attorney’s Association and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges debunking the use of “parental alienation” in child custody cases because of it’s well known use by abusers to take custody of children.  Of course, anyone who makes the kind of money that Warshak makes ($20,000 per patient per four days in “treatment”) doesn’t care who claimed what for what purpose, they just know they will make money.  He doesn’t care that children may be in the custody of someone who beat the other parent, probably in front of the children, or may have even been sexually abusing the children.  No, he doesn’t care, but the professional organizations know what the deal is:

2009: A Judicial Guide to Child Safety in Custody Cases

National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges Family Violence Department

Page 12:
C. [§3.3] A Word of Caution about Parental Alienation34

Under relevant evidentiary standards, the court should not accept testimony regarding parental alienation syndrome, or “PAS.” The theory positing the existence of PAS has been discredited by the scientific community.35 In Kumho Tire v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137 (1999), the Supreme Court ruled that even expert testimony based in the “soft sciences” must meet the standard set in the Daubert case.36 Daubert, in which the court re-examined the standard it had earlier articulated in the Frye37 case, requires application of a multi-factor test, including peer review, publication, testability, rate of error, and general acceptance. PAS does not pass this test. Any testimony that a party to a custody case suffers from the syndrome or “parental alienation” should therefore be ruled inadmissible and stricken from the evaluation report under both the standard established in Daubert and the earlier Frye standard.38

The discredited “diagnosis” of PAS (or an allegation of “parental alienation”), quite apart from its scientific invalidity, inappropriately asks the court to assume that the child’s behaviors and attitudes toward the parent who claims to be “alienated” have no grounding in reality. It also diverts attention away from the behaviors of the abusive parent, who may have directly influenced the child’s responses by acting in violent, disrespectful, intimidating, humiliating, or discrediting ways toward the child or the other parent. The task for the court is to distinguish between situations in which the child is critical of one parent because they have been inappropriately manipulated by the other (taking care not to rely solely on subtle indications) , and situations in which the child has his or her own legitimate grounds for criticism or fear of a parent, which will likely be the case when that parent has perpetrated domestic violence. Those grounds do not become less legitimate because the abused parent shares them, and seeks to advocate for the child by voicing his or her concerns.

Another Dr. Richard Warshak Lie: He Says He Does Not Have a “Treatment Center” But What Do You Call His $20,000 “Program” in Texas…a Popsicle Stand?

In Corrupt bastards, Domestic Violence, Dr Richard Warshak, Parental Alienation, Parental Alienation Disorder, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome on November 29, 2010 at 10:16 am

In light of Dr. Richard Warshak continuing to censor most comments that oppose him or question him in any way, discussion must continue on the many other websites that have been covering this issue that the Huffington Post continues to ignore.  Here is an interesting article to read, especially since I have been reading Warshak is denying any involvement in a “treatment” center.

By Jan Weir | Law Times Publication Date: Monday, 19 April 2010

It can be put no better than the oft-reported quote of Dr. Sol Goldstein, who talked about the “scourge” of parental alienation in Canada.

Some commentators call it the “20/80” of the court, referring to the 20 per cent of the cases that take up 80 per cent of the time. There seems to be no effective solution.

Dr. Richard Gardner, a New York psychiatrist, proposed a theory in the early 1980s that some alienation was irrational in that the accepted parent had brainwashed the children to the extent that the cure was to deprogram them of their rejection of the other parent.

Enter Richard Warshak into the Ontario court system. He’s a psychologist from Texas who claims to have developed a four-day workshop at a cost of up to $20,000 to cure the irrational brainwashing type of alienation.

Only a handful of psychologists have training in the techniques. In some cases, the courts will order children into the custody of the rejected parent, who will then have them take the program. Sometimes, the court suspends contact with the accepted parent for a period of time.

One criticism of this theory is that it gives a tremendous amount of power to the health professional in that a misdiagnosis takes away the children’s right to object to certain parental behaviour and subjects them to an intimidating experience. The risk of that scenario increases when one parent is wealthy and the other is unable to retain an expert.

But how successful is the workshop? While it’s been around for 17 years, there hasn’t been an independent study to decide the criteria for evaluating success, monitor the cases, and compile the data.

The courts have developed rules of evidence on expert opinions because judges are intelligent amateurs who don’t want to pass judgment on the validity of scientific theories.  Thus, they are gatekeepers. For the first test of admissibility, they rely on the scientific community to determine whether the theory or technique is generally acceptable. There is no such evidence for the Warshak workshop.

Additionally, because there is a recognition that a novel theory or technique may not have been in existence long enough, the courts have developed four criteria to admit such evidence. The Warshak workshop doesn’t meet the criteria for novelty because it has been around for more than 17 years.

However, even if it were novel, the reliability of the evidence on its validity wouldn’t meet the four-part test. That’s because the first element is that it’s capable of being and in fact has been tested. Here, while the data is available for an independent test, none has taken place according to generally accepted scientific principles.

Warshak has recently published a study he did himself claiming the workshop is highly effective. But this work doesn’t meet generally accepted principles for a valid scientific study.

The guarantee of validity is independent confirmation or repeatability by other scientists. The history of science is replete with examples of very intelligent and respected scientists who have made claims that, after review by other experts, have proven unreliable.

There is enough data for short- and long-term evaluation of the Warshak workshop. One of the concerns is whether, even if the data confirms the claims, the workshop works for the right reasons.

The procedure may be so intimidating that it may frighten the children into submission. Some of them are now old enough to give feedback on such concerns.

I know of the results of just two orders from Ontario judges sending children to the Warshak workshop. One is J.K.L. v. N.C.S. The other is a case widely reported in the media in which an older brother sought to intervene to get custody of his brothers after an associate of Warshak sent them to a hospital psychiatric department alleging they had mental health issues.

The report in The Globe and Mail on the case noted that the psychiatrist at the hospital said there was nothing wrong with the boys.

Judges appear to be ignoring the Mohan general acceptance test out of desperation for a solution to this seemingly unsolvable problem. But will this prove justified?

Given that judges are making these orders and there is now local data, a study could keep track of these cases. It’s an important issue for which a research grant would likely be available.

Warshak may also reach into his altruism to make his techniques known to the health profession at large. Although it would entail a significant financial sacrifice, doing so would bring the benefit of these methods to people of more modest means and permit evaluation of them according to the usual cautionary measures of science.

The idea isn’t to deny that the workshop is effective. Warshak’s claims may in fact be correct. What’s missing is the proper scientific basis to support them and hence their admissibility in court.

There is no doubt in my mind that Warshak believes in his theory and techniques. However, as Ontario’s recent experience has shown, belief in a beneficial theory can be harmful. The only safe control on such good intentions is an independent review by the scientific community.


Jan Weir is a Toronto lawyer who was involved in S.G.B. v. S.J.L., a case in which a judge overturned an arbitrator’s award ordering participation in Warshak’s program. That matter is to go back to court for a new trial.

Dr. Richard Warshak Still Censoring Comments, So Read About Real Victims of Abusers Who Claim “Parental Alienation” Here

In Corrupt bastards, Domestic Violence, Dr Richard Warshak, Parental Alienation, Parental Alienation Disorder, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome on November 27, 2010 at 4:56 am

Attorney Dianne Post wrote a wonderful article for the Huffington Post on the IACHR case involving ten mothers and one child victim who is now an adult. Note on the original article, there are opposing (and frankly, mean-spirited comments from father’s rights folks…one even trashes me, even though I haven’t commented on the article) comments, lending credence to the supposition the Dr. Richard Warshak is deleting opposing comments, to censor the fact that “parental alienation” has been debunked by many organizations and is considered “junk science” by prominent psychologists.  He uses his debut on the Huffington Post to hawk his wares…his book and “expert testimony” service.  Parents tell sad stories on the post and he recommends his book to them.  Warshak is letting up a couple token comments now because of the criticism, but is still deleting a majority of them.

So here’s a good post about the reality in family courts, and families that have been destroyed by abusers using claims of “parental alienation” against their victims.  Ms. Post decided to submit the article after being disgusted with the censorship that was occurring on Warshak’s article.  Censorship not being practiced on her post.

Dianne Post

Dianne Post

Attorney

Posted: November 16, 2010 03:18 PM

Failures of U.S. Courts Forces Mothers to Turn to International Law

Ten mothers, one victimized child now an adult, and six organizations working in the field of child abuse and family law filed a petition on April 10, 2007, at the InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights in Washington, D.C., against the United States for the pattern and practice of courts awarding custody or unsupervised visitation to child abusers and molesters. The petitioners come from Kansas, Georgia, California, New York, Arizona, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island, Illinois and Nevada.

Ten years earlier, on Mother’s Day, May 11, 1997, a group of mothers who lost custody of their children gathered on the steps of the U. S. Capitol in Washington, D. C. Entitled “Give Us Back Our Children,” the event was held to represent the increasing numbers of women who are losing custody of their children to batterers and child abusers. This event, co-sponsored by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Family Violence Prevention Fund, the House of Ruth, My Sister’s Place, Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), Rep. Connie Morella (R-MD), and Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), brought attention to the plight of women and children unfairly victimized by the legal system, and to dispel the myth that women always win custody of their children. That was 13 years ago. The situation today is even worse. The stories of these petitioners are not unique. They are the tip of the proverbial iceberg indicating a grave and growing injury to human rights.

Wendy Titelman is one of the petitioners. Her attorney, Richard Ducote, who has represented battered women for years, said:

After twenty years in family law courtrooms throughout the country, I confidently say that no woman, despite very abundant evidence that her child has been sexually molested by her ex-husband or that she has been repeatedly pummeled by the violent father of her child, can safely walk into any family court in the country and not face a grave risk of losing custody to the abuser for the sole reason that she dared to present the evidence to the judge and ask that the child be protected.

Sol Gothard, Judge of the Court of Appeals in Louisiana said:

There are very few times in law when you can state anything categorically, but I can certainly say that beyond any doubt whatsoever, the problem expressed by Wendy Titelman in this book is epidemic and widespread, and it has been this way for the forty-four years that I have been involved with the legal system.

Karen Anderson has been fighting for her children for 17 years. Her son Jeff Hoverson, now of age, has joined in the petition. He recounts that the day he was taken from his mother at 10 years of age was traumatizing:

So now I had no brothers, no pets, I was 3-4 hours from my home, and again… no mom. This is when I was damaged so severely emotionally… No one told me anything about my mom or why I was at my dad’s or why we were in San Francisco on a sidewalk. I asked but received no answers. I felt that if I wasn’t told anything that I was worthless to everyone. I was made into a possession rather than a child.

The facts of the individual cases are a catalog of proven domestic violence and child sexual molestation ignored by the courts. The mothers are labeled as mentally ill or having Parental Alienation Syndrome, though PAS has absolutely no scientific validity and is used in a very discriminatory way to remove children from mothers who try to protect the children and themselves from violence and abuse. Yet in these petitioners’ cases it is used over and over to punish the protective parent.

This problem has been brought to the attention of family court systems, states and the national government all to no avail. In 1990, Congress passed a resolution recommending the prohibition of giving joint or sole custody to abusers. 20 years later, it continues unabated. Legislation has been passed. Judges have been educated. Still it continues. Thus petitioners are turning to international courts to protect their human rights and the rights and safety of their children.

While state courts are responsible for custody cases, the federal government is responsible to ensure that their judicial systems operate in accordance with the Organization of American States Declaration of the Rights and Responsibilities of Man. The specific articles the petitioners claim to have been violated are:

Article I. Every human being has the right to life, liberty and the security of his person.
The courts place the children directly in danger without regard to their right to life, liberty or security of person. In addition, often the arrangements made for visitation are unsafe to the mother as well.

Article II. All persons are equal before the law and have the rights and duties established in this Declaration, without distinction as to race, sex, language, creed or any other factor.
The gender discrimination both in the courts in general and in custody cases in particular has been known, studied and proven for years. The gender bias studies in the 1980′s showed bias that has never been corrected. The studies of custody have shown that it is a complete myth that women get custody over men or that men are disfavored in family court. It is such a pervasive myth that years of litigation and proof has not shaken it — to the harm of the victims of violence.

Article IV. Every person has the right to freedom of investigation, of opinion, and of the expression and dissemination of ideas, by any medium whatsoever.

Litigants, especially mothers, who report child abuse are punished with jail or the loss of custody of their children. The protective parents are in a Catch-22 situation. If they do not protect their children, they are charged with failure to protect and the child protection agencies take their children. If they do act to protect, the courts put the children directly into the arms of the abuser.

Article V. Every person has the right to the protection of the law against abusive attacks upon his honor, his reputation, and his private and family life.

Often the protective parents who report abuse are labeled mentally ill or diagnosed with such imaginative syndromes as parental alienation or munchhausen’s by proxy. Often they are ordered into counseling or in the case of one petitioner, taken to the mental hospital.

Article VI. Every person has the right to establish a family, the basic element of society, and to receive protection therefor.

By separating the protective parents from their children for no valid reason, the parent is denied the right to establish a family. Some of these petitioners have not seen their children for years. Every single petitioner was denied contact with their child for some period of time though none was ever proven to have harmed them.

Article VII. All women, during pregnancy and the nursing period, and all children have the right to special protection, care and aid.

Often battering begins during pregnancy, yet special protection is not afforded the mothers, even when they have an order of protection. Much research has proven that children of abusers are likely to be abused themselves and have a higher rate of sexual molest. Yet courts continue to refuse to protect the children. The U.S. Supreme Court decided in the DeSheney case that the state does not owe any right of protection to children even when they know of the abuse and have in fact placed that child in that home with the father. This is in plain violation of the Declaration.

Article XVIII. Every person may resort to the courts to ensure respect for his legal rights. There should likewise be available to him a simple, brief procedure whereby the courts will protect him from acts of authority that, to his prejudice, violate any fundamental constitutional rights.

The lack of due process in family court is legion. Ex parte hearings and communications, decisions without hearings, refusal to admit the mother, refusal to admit evidence of violence is rampant in the cases and violates the most basic principles of due process. Little attention or time is given to these decisions that shape a child’s life forever.

Article XXIV. Every person has the right to submit respectful petitions to any competent authority, for reasons of either general or private interest, and the right to obtain a prompt decision thereon.

The gender bias studies of the 1980′s showed that courts are not competent when dealing with women. Unfortunately, things have not improved. In spite of training, legislation and lobbying, judges continue to ignore statutes that mandate no custody to abusers. The petitioners have tried to hold the judges accountable by appeal or disciplinary procedures, all to no avail.

Article XXV. No person may be deprived of his liberty except in the cases and according to the procedures established by pre-existing law.

The many children who are put directly into harms way by being placed with an abuser or molester are deprived of their liberty. When courts ignore evidence of violence, they are not following pre-existing law. It is commonplace for judges to completely ignore state statutes that mandate that custody will not go to a perpetrator thereby violating state law as well as putting children in danger.

Article XXX. It is the duty of every person to aid, support, educate and protect his minor children, and it is the duty of children to honor their parents always and to aid, support and protect them when they need it.

These petitioners have tried to protect their children. It is the courts that have prohibited them. The cost to both child and parent is overwhelming and devastating.

The Gonzales case, also filed at the InterAmerican Commission, illustrated in their hearing the failure of the American justice system to protect battered women and children. That case dealt with the failure of the police department. This case deals with legal abuse — the failure of the legal system, the courts, the guardians ad litem, the attorneys for the children, the state protective agencies to both follow the law and to protect the helpless children who face the horror of violence daily.

Unfortunately, the IACHR has not moved on the case. After more than three years, they have not even examined it or forwarded it to the U.S. government. How many children have to suffer before justice is done?

Is Opposition to or Support of Dr. Richard Warshak’s Censorship of Comments on his “Parental Alienation” Huffington Post Article Part of a Gender War?

In Corrupt bastards, Domestic Violence, Dr Richard Warshak, Dr. Peter Jaffe, Dr. William Bernet, DSM-V, Parental Alienation, Parental Alienation Disorder, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome on November 25, 2010 at 2:14 am

 

Claudine Dombrowski, after being beaten and raped by ex-husband Hal Richardson, one of many attacks by him, was accused of "parental alienation."

 

Prominent psychologists and psychiatrists have debunked the use of “parental alienation” in child custody cases.  So have many professional organizations, such as the American Bar Association, the American Judges Association, the National District Attorney’s Association, and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, with the latter warning family court judges against accepting claims of “parental alienation” or “parental alienation syndrome” in child custody cases because of it’s well know use by abusers to gain child custody from their victims.  Notice in their warning (on pages 12 – 13 in their guide) there is no mention of abusive, evil fathers or battered, victimized mothers.   No, when the charge of gender wars or bias comes up, it is generally from the men’s rights or father’s rights activists, who often promote this junk science.

Recently there was a child custody case in Canada I like to refer to often.  This is a case in which Dr. Richard Warshak was involved in, where one of the parents made a claim of “parental alienation” against the other parent who had physical custody of their two teenaged boys.  Dr. Warshak had only spoke to the parent claiming “parental alienation” and not to the other parent.  He hadn’t even talked to the two boys when he made the recommendation to the court that the boys should come to his Texas “treatment” facility for reprogramming, at the cost of $40,000 for the four day program.  It was so ordered by the court, but was overturned by appeal because of the fact that Dr. Warshak hadn’t even talked to the boys beforehand.  It was a nice chance for him to pick up a quick $40,000 for what had been called “quack treatment” by one of Canada’s leading child psychologists, Dr. Peter Jaffe.  Oh…did I mention that the parent claiming “parental alienation” was the mother?

What about California father Jayraj Nair, who was accused of “parental alienation” by Dr. Janelle Burrill, who recently had her board certification revoked and is under investigation by the State of California?  Mr. Nair hasn’t seen his son in about a year and a half…which is often what happens in these “parental alienation” cases.  The child is the one who suffers the most in these situations, and the corrupt psychologists make lots of money.

In the view of domestic violence advocates and the professional organizations listed above, claims of “parental alienation” in child custody cases are not about gender, but about abusive claims that are typically leveled at the other parent which seek to strip that parent of custody, often being successful at cutting off contact totally between the accused parent and their children.  Most of the time, the heart of the matter leads to the court disregarding domestic violence and/or not listening to or believing the children in the case.  As a matter of fact, in Dr. William Bernet’s proposal to the committee in charge of updating the DSM-V, Dr. Bernet states that one of the criteria that may indicate “parental alienation disorder” is that a child is an “independent thinker.”  Really.  If a child has decided he is afraid of being with a parent, and has independently decided this on his own, he may have “parental alienation disorder.”  Bruises, ripped hymens, broken bones optional I guess.

But back to the gender war issue.  Robert Franklin, of Fathers & Families, published the article below about that Canadian case last year and I felt like hell had just frozen over.  Why was a men’s rights advocate suddenly questioning the use of “parental alienation” in this case which Dr. Richard Warshak was in?  Was it because it was a father that was on the receiving end?  They certainly did a 180 degree turnabout in their views of “parental alienation” in child custody cases.  Yet, I have not heard of any turnabouts from DV advocates or the professional organizations on their views of “parental alienation.”  Just where are the “gender war” claims coming from then?  Just look through the comments that Dr. Warshak has allowed to be posted under his Huffington Post article and you’ll get the idea.

Now for Robert Franklin’s article:

From Men’s Daily News:

Eight Year Custody Battle Ends With Handshakes and Some Good Questions

By Robert Franklin, Esq. | May 5, 2009

This is an interesting case out of Canada and it puts a wrinkle into the PAS debate that I think needs attention (The Globe and Mail, 4/27/09).

It’s a case I’ve written about before and that has been pretty high-profile in the Canadian press.  Basically, it involves a divorced couple with three sons, the oldest of whom is 18.  The parents fought so bitterly over the children with allegations of parental alienation on each side, that eventually the 18-year-old filed a motion to intervene in the case which requested that custody of his two younger brothers be awarded to him.

To my surprise, the court granted his motion, and lo and behold once it did, the parents started making nice with the boys and with each other.  I don’t know if the young man realizes it or not, but from here it looks like his successful intervention scared his parents into some semblance of reasonable behavior.  My guess is that they realized that their eight-year legal donnybrook could have ended with both of them losers.  P.F., the 18-year-old, said, “My dad came up and shook my mom’s hand.  That was something I hadn’t seen in a very long time.  It was generally a very happy situation.”

In all this, P.F. looks like the only responsible adult.  And in that capacity, I think we ought to listen to what he has to say about his experiences in family court.

First, he’s not a bit happy with the experts in the case.  He feels strongly that they had theories to peddle and they were going to do so regardless of the realities of the case.  They became advocates for PAS rather than impartial assessors of parental and adolescent behavior.

P.F. adds that children should be listened to in family courts.  In most states in the United States, they are, at least once they’ve reached a certain age.  In Texas, by the time a child reaches the age of 14, he/she can pretty much pick which parent to live with.  Absent unusual circumstances, the court will honor the child’s wishes regarding custody.  Maybe that’s not true in Canada.  Here’s an article that sketches the basics of what happens when a child expresses a preference for one parent over the other (The State, 4/28/09).

But the interesting wrinkle P.F. puts on the issue of PAS allegations is that once an expert gives evidence of PAS, the court tends to ignore what the child has to say, apparently believing alienation to be an established fact.  That places the judge in the difficult position of figuring out whether the child’s testimony is PAS-tainted or the real thing.

And how to solve that problem, I’m not sure.  My guess is that what is and is not true about PAS can be seen, particularly in young children, with a little education from psychologists and social workers.  But determining what is the legitimate wish of a child and what is the wish of an alienated child will be, in many cases, tough to do.

The Huffington Post, Dr. Richard Warshak and Yada Yada Yada Domestic Violence

In Corrupt bastards, Domestic Violence, Dr Richard Warshak, Parental Alienation, Parental Alienation Disorder, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome on November 24, 2010 at 12:53 am

This is from Media Misses, yet another domestic violence advocate that was censored by Dr. Richard Warshak, so-called “parental alienation” in child custody cases promoter.

Warshak’s ruse: Act like he supports domestic violence survivors

 

Warshak posted this comment on his Huffpo article:

My earlier replies to comments, and my professional articles, make it clear that I agree with you that abusers can be the alienating parent. Here are quotes from my earlier replies to comments: “Some alienated mothers have left coercive, controlling husbands and these women should expect support from those who advocate on behalf of DV victims.” “A child who was intimidated by a coercive father into rejecting the mother may reach out to the mother once the child has established some independence from the father.”

“Should expect support”? What a bunch of hog wash. Any woman, man, or child can expect support from a domestic violence agency, he needn’t patronize the DV community or act like we’re not supporting abused individuals.

What he calls “alienating” behavior or the obnoxious “divorce poison” can be domestic violence if it involves coercion, threats, or intimidation. We’ve been trying to say this – he refuses to post our comments. He’d much rather censor us and make his mulah off of folks with his DVDs, books, and bogus treatment centers. He’d see an end to the cash cow if he simply called abusive behavior domestic violence.

And, speaking of which, what the hell are his credentials for discussing domestic violence? How many classes did he take? Has he volunteered at an agency? Does he donate?

He’s also referencing help to mothers a lot – bull crap. PA/PAS/PAD is overwhelmingly used by men.
He has yet to acknowledge the fact that PAS has been used by abusers in family court to counter allegations of abuse. When he has, he distorted the information and made it look like we said “all men” use PA as an abuse excuse. I wrote a comment suggesting he either had a reading comprehension problem or was an idealogue that was blinded to other views.
The guy’s position is completely divergent from the domestic violence community - make no mistake – yet he’s posturing as if he understands abuse and HE supports individuals (rather than the DV community) — He supports anybody who’s a potential customer, that’s who he supports.

Alienation? Yes, he’s alienated the domestic violence community.

Here’s a few resources on PAS
‘When children reject their abusive fathers, it is common for the batterer and others to blame the mother for alienating the children. They often do not understand the legitimate fears of the child. Although there are no data to support the phenomenon called parental alienation syndrome, in which mothers are blamed for interfering with their children’s attachment to their fathers, the term is still used by some evaluators and courts to discount children’s fears in hostile and psychologically abusive situations.” (page 40) “THE TRUTH ABOUT PARENTAL ALIENATION SYNDROME AND THE AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION”. Statement by Professor Joan S. Meier, Esq. (November 9, 2005).
“When mental health experts or attorneys claim that P.A.S. is a ‘syndrome’– knowing full well that it lacks scientific validity, is the concoction of a disgraced psychologist, and has been soundly rejected by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges — that is disingenuous at best and unethical at worst.  Moreover, when it is used as a vehicle to keep children in the custody of men who abuse them, it is also immoral. ” , Randy Burton, Founder, Chairman and President – Justice for Children. http://www.jfcadvocacy.org/pas.asp

“The vast majority of these mothers (97%) reported that court personnel ignored or minimized reports of abuse. They reported feeling that they were punished for trying to protect their children and 65% said they were threatened with sanctions if the “talked publicly” about the case. In all, 45% of the mothers say they were labeled as having Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS). The protective parents reported that the average cost of the court proceedings was over $80,000. Over a quarter of the protective parents say they were forced to file bankruptcy as a result of filing for custody of their children. Eighty-five percent of the protective parents surveyed believe that their children are still being abused; however, 63% say they stopped reporting the abuse for fear that contact with their children will be terminated. Eleven percent of the children were reported to have attempted suicide.” “Myths That Place Children At Risk During Custody Litigation”. Dallam. S. J., & Silberg, J. L. (Jan/Feb 2006). Leadership Council. Sexual Assault Report, 9(3), 33-47. http://www.leadershipcouncil.org/1/res/cust_myths.html

For more quotes, go to: Parenting abused children

We Won’t Shut Up, We Won’t Go Away: More Outrage Over Richard Warshak and The Huffington Post Censoring Comments

In Corrupt bastards, Dr Richard Warshak, DSM-V, Parental Alienation, Parental Alienation Disorder, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome on November 18, 2010 at 5:35 am

Another one of the commenters with me on the Huffington Post whose comments were also refused has written about this on RH Reality Check.  Please go to the website here and comment…the comments are starting to include Mens Rights Advocates who discount claims of domestic violence as false and “domestic violence is 50/50″ drivel so common from them.  We know men suffer from domestic violence, but the actual numbers are about 85/15 women victims versus men victims.  Nobody…absolutely nobody… should suffer from domestic violence.  But to hide and deny it, as well as giving labels to protect abusers, is ABSOLUTELY wrong.  The Huffington Post and Richard Warshak need to know that, although I highly suspect they do.  The money is just too good in the “parental alienation” scam to ignore.

HuffPo’s Divorce Section: No Room for Reason on Domestic Violence?

By Joan Dawson

November 17, 2010 – 8:21am

Joan Dawson's picture

The Huffington Post, in an effort to beef up its divorce section, is featuring controversial psychologist and author, Richard Warshak. In his first column “Stop Divorce Poison,” Warshak speaks of the equally controversial topic of parental alienation (PA); he or HuffPo have censored comments made by domestic violence advocates and survivors, and many of the remaining comments espouse misinformation, stereotypes, and sexist remarks.

Why should this concern women and those in the reproductive rights community?

“Parent Alienation,” the idea that one parent (typically the mother) poisons the mind of the child against the other parent, is dangerous because it casts doubt on mothers’ claims of child abuse; the more she tries to protect her child and gather evidence, the more she exhibits “parental alienation.” If she fails–and she’ll face an uphill battle fighting bias, paying exhorborant fees, and fearing for her child(ren)’s safety trying to succeed–she can be fined, jailed and/or she could lose custody. PAS can and has turned the table on women trying to protect themselves or their child(ren) from abuse. (Several cases that have received media attention can be found here, here, and here.

We fight for rights during pregnancy; we can’t leave women in the dust after they deliver. Villifying a protective mother, jailing her or taking her offspring is the worse you can do to a woman – abusers understand this, it’s time we do, too.

Warshak and the idea of PA

Warshak starts off with, “Mother Theresa does not marry Saddam Hussein.” But then we would have to ask, what was Hussein’s wife like?, because Warshak is making a comparison between spouses. Perhaps she was no Mother Theresa, but surely she wasn’t as evil as Saddam.  Already we have an imbalance. All human beings can exhibit evil or wrong-doing, but not all humans are equal in this respect, as Warshak wants us to believe. Some are worse than others.  And while women are far from perfect, many women in abusive relationships fall in love with a guy only to find out months or years later that he is abusive. Abusers, unfortunately, don’t come with a sign on their forehead.

Warshak then explains that parents who alienate their child(ren) cannot “harness the emotions unleashed by divorce and they exhibit “rage,” “enlist children as allies,” and use “bad-mouthing, lies, exaggerations…,” which Warshak likens to political mud-slinging campaigns. Some parents may deliberately or inadvertently denigrate the other parent. This may be evident in their parenting skills, but the main problem with PA is that it’s indistinguishable from the fear that comes from an abusive situation and can harm protective parents while rewarding abusive ones.

Jay Silverman’s study at Harvard, as reported in Newsweek, found 54 percent of custody cases were in favor of the batterer and nearly every case used parental alienation to counter the claims of abuse.

Warshak’s belief that “abused children cling tightly to their abuser” must explain why he seeks to reunite children with potential abusers then. Warshak runs a “treatment facility” in Texas that, for the whopping price tag of $40,000, reunites child(ren), at times forcibly, with the denigrated parent. I’ve included a link to a case in Canada, where an alienated mother, who had the financial resources, sought to reunify with her sons at his center. Note Warshak never actually met the sons but called it alienation nonetheless.

Domestic violence advocates and censorship

The domestic violence community, along with many major medical and psychological associations, and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, rejects PA as a legitimate diagnosis. At least eight of us, representing domestic violence advocates and survivors, tried to post comments on Warshak’s article explaining our position. While a few posts remained, most, in our supposition, were deleted because they disagreed with the author. One advocate was banned. Apparently, this is not the first time people have complained about the comment section of the Huffington Post.

Nearly all the comments were citations to research, quotes and other factual information, including how PAS does not meet the standard of scientific reliability, about Warshak’s reunification center and its $40,000 price tag, and quotes from experts in the field, among other comments calling into question his analysis.

I included this quote from Dr. Paul Fink, President of the Leadership Council on Child Abuse and Interpersonal Violence and a former President of the Amercian Psychiatric Association:

“PAS is junk science at its worst…Science tells us that the most likely reason that a child becomes estranged from a parent is that parent’s own behavior. Labels, such as PAS, serve to deflect attention away from those behaviors.”

Mothers have informed us that when they make a good faith allegation, it is they who are doubted (see, for instance, cases such as those of Katie Tagle, where the judge called her a liar, gave the ex custody, and her baby was murdered by its father; or Amy Castillo, another woman who was denied a protective order and lost three children when her ex-husband drowned them in a hotel bathtub) and labeled abusive or ordered to undergo a polygraph test or psychiatric evaluation. The stereotype that women lie to gain the upperhand in custody cases, which occurs in only a fraction of cases, has more branding power than do mere facts. According to research, men in cases where both abuse and custody are in question actually make more false claims, according to research. The American Bar Association provides further information on custody myths.

Poisonous comments

Many of us understand the origins of PA are rooted in the misogynist and pro-pedophilia attitudes of Dr. Richard Gardner, who thought the mass sexual-abuse hysteria was caused by vindictive women falsely accusing fathers of abuse. (8) In reality, many protective parents feel as if this were a witchhunt against them — mothers are not trusted, they’ve cast a spell on the kids to hate Dad –they must be punished! Jail them! Fine them! Take away their children! Like the “witches” of long past who would either sink or swim, mothers are in a similar bind – if they report abuse, they’re punished for being an alienator; if they don’t report it, they can be punished for failure to report.

Meanwhile, many of the alienating behaviors readers commented on can be attributed to personalities, parenting skills, or, in cases of abuse, domestic violence by proxy, whereby one parent continues to exert control and/or abuse over another. One advocate keeps a blog of parents that kill their child(ren) in cases pertaining to divorce and custody. She’s up to 136. Despite the fact that these marriages ended, the domestic violence continues and these deaths would be classified as domestic violence fatalities.Overwhelmingly, these killings are committed by men – with no tango partner, Mr. Warshak. In other words, party of one.

You can tell from the comment section how much these guys like women. If they got together, I can just imagine them in a big smokey room with leather chairs giving each other the wink and nod about the comment pertaining to Mother Theresa and Saddam Hussein. The idea of ‘equality with a vengeance’ comes to mind.

One poster, Target NoMore, refers to those opposing PA as a ‘special interest group’ that doesn’t want to stop the problem. People who want to protect children are not “special interest groups.”

If HuffPo is going to feature controversial authors whose work is not only rejected by the scientific community but also puts children at risk, why not at least allow evidence to be introduced in the comments section? What are they afraid of?

Ms. Magazine Jumps on Board With the Outrage: Warshak Deleting Mothers Advocate’s Comments on Huffington Post

In Corrupt bastards, Domestic Violence, Dr Richard Warshak, DSM-V, Parental Alienation, Parental Alienation Disorder, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome on November 13, 2010 at 12:24 am

Thanks to fellow commenter Elizabeth Black and Ms. Magazine, this is NOT going away!  Please stop by the article here and leave a comment.  Contrary to what fathers’ rights advocates say, this isn’t a well known issue amongst feminists, although I am sure the concept of censorship is.  Let’s get our message out there!

Huffington Post Censors Mothers’ Rights Activists

November 11, 2010 by Elizabeth Black · 3 Comments

This week, Arianna Huffington announced the Huffington Post’s latest section: HuffPost Divorce. Her plug: “Breaking up is hard to do… but reading about it isn’t.” Upon Monday’s launch, however, there appeared a column that women’s rights advocates took very hard: a piece by Dr. Richard Warshak promoting the discredited “Parental Alienation Syndrome,” or PAS.

Parental alienation is a dangerous custody-battle concept that has been used primarily against mothers–and in particular, mothers trying to protect themselves and their children from hostile or abusive ex-partners and fathers. As R. Dianne Bartlow explained in her Summer 2010 Ms. article, “There’s Nothing Friendly About Abuse”:

PAS theorizes that most accusations of child abuse (especially sexual abuse) made during a custody battle are actually fraudulent. Not only are the charges false, says the theory, but they are deliberately undertaken by one parent (in most cases, the mother) to “alienate” the child from the other parent (generally, the father).

Frighteningly, PAS has allowed abusive or otherwise hostile fathers to gain custody of their children and then forbid the children contact with their mothers.

Yet parental alienation is not accepted as a valid theory by the American Psychological Association, and was rejected from the DSM-V. Without a real psychological definition, it has devolved over the years into a label for any negative testimony about the father by the mother (even if it’s true). It’s also now promoted as gender-neutral, but the parent most often labeled the “alienator” remains the mother. It’s also one hell of a cash cow for psychologists who make a living from it.

In keeping with all this, Warshak’s post, “Stop Divorce Poison”, gives an overly simplified description of “alienation” that could describe nearly any hostile or cantankerous relationship: “persistent bad-mouthing, lies, exaggerations, overlooking positives, and drum-beating negatives.”

A half dozen domestic violence and motherhood activists, including myself, descended upon Warshak’s column to leave comments describing how discredited PAS really is. But, as I witnessed and others report, by the evening of November 9, most of the comments (nearly a dozen) posted by critics had been deleted in the space of five minutes. According to those I’ve spoken with, deleted comments contained valid source material from professional organizations citing:

  • how discredited parental alienation really is
  • how parental alienation did not make it into the DSM-V
  • how it is used primarily as a weapon by abusive fathers against protective mothers

Here is an example of a comment that was removed:

Another activist and I wrote to David Flumenbaum and Arianna Huffington to inform them about the censorship of opposing, critical views. Both of us received an email in return from Social News Editor Adam Clark Estes, who wrote:

I’ve double-checked the comments and all of those missing were removed in accordance with HuffPost’s commenting guidelines. You can read more about those here:

www.huffingtonpost.com/p/frequently-asked-question.html#moderation

That said, we’re in touch with Dr. Warshak about his comments and will do our best to keep the conversation flowing in the future.

When considering the above screenshots (pure facts devoid of non-objective commentary) it’s unclear which part of these guidelines apply:

(I) The Huffington Post welcomes all users to join our community and to comment and treats all members of the community equally.

(II) We want the Huffington Post to be home to open, transparent conversations in which people connect, discuss, share ideas, and debate the issues.

(III) We are also committed to maintaining a non-toxic atmosphere.

(IV) In order to preserve a functional and civil conversation, we do not allow trolls, trollish behavior, or stalking.

(V) Members of the HuffPost community deserve to be free from spam, and we do not allow posting the same comment multiple times within one thread or on multiple threads.

It’s frustrating that the supposedly progressive HuffPost has given a platform to Dr. Richard Warshak, one of parental alienation’s most fervent supporters, but won’t give the same platform to its commenters.

On November 10, activists returned to the article to comment; it remains to be seen if their comments will be deleted–or whether they’ll fall victim to HuffPost-moderation’s thin skin. If a blog can delete comments opposing their viewpoint, then what’s the point of comments? You might as well change the name to “compliments.”

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