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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.

Beware! If Your Child is an “Independent Thinker” They May Have “Parental Alienation Disorder”

In Dr Richard Warshak, Dr. Peter Jaffe, Dr. William Bernet, DSM-V, Parental Alienation, Parental Alienation Disorder, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome on June 30, 2010 at 11:30 am

There is a reason the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, the National District Attorney’s Association and the American Judge’s Association have all debunked the use of “parental alienation”: it is a recognized tool of legal abuse used by batterers and child sexual abusers to get child custody.  The former has and continues to warn family court judges from accepting it’s claims in family court.

Beware! If Your Child is an “Independent Thinker” They May Have “Parental Alienation Disorder”

I finally found the text of what Dr. William Bernet submitted for consideration for inclusion in the DSM-V, the diagnostic bible used by ethical psychologists/psychiatrists and Court Whores alike.   Dr. Bernet and some of the magical “50 professionals” (who all make a significant portion of their income promoting this) were recently at the Denver AFCC (Association of Family and Conciliation Courts – the father’s rights-leaning association for judges and court whores) conference and engaged in debate with Dr. Peter Jaffe and others about the so-called “parental alienation disorder.”  The text below came from that conference.

As one with multiple scientific degrees, I was very interested in seeing the proposal.  I found it to be more of a sales pitch instead of one scientifically driven.  What I found most laughable was on the diagnostic criteria it included “independent thinker phenomenon.”  Yes, it ACTUALLY says this towards the end.   How far out can these court whores reach to bizarro world?  What is scary is that if the DSM-V committee buys this drivel, the court whores and lawyers will be unleashed to destroy children and their families.

This proposal barely mentions that children may be come afraid of a parent because of the actions of that parent.  This includes seeing a parent abuse and beat the other parent, or maybe the child themselves.  The child may be sexually abused by a parent, therefore may not want to be alone with that parent.  Research has shown that the number one reason children refuse to visit a parent is because of the behavior of that parent.

The DSM-V has not been adopted at this point, nor is there any agreement that the following diagnosis should be added.

Proposed Text for Parental Alienation Disorder in DSM-V


The essential feature of parental alienation disorder is that a child – usually one whose parents are engaged in a high-conflict divorce – allies himself or herself strongly with one parent (the preferred parent) and rejects a relationship with the other parent (the alienated parent) without legitimate justification. The primary behavioral symptom is the child’s resistance or refusal to have contact with the alienated parent (Criterion A).

The behaviors in the child that characterize parental alienation disorder include a persistent campaign of denigration against the alienated parent and weak, frivolous, and absurd rationalizations for the child’s criticism of the alienated parent (Criterion B).

The following clinical features frequently occur in parental alienation disorder, especially when the child’s symptoms reach a level that is moderate or severe (Criterion C). Lack of ambivalence refers to the child’s belief that the alienated parent is all bad and the preferred parent is all good. The independent-thinker phenomenon means that the child proudly states the decision to reject the alienated parent is his own, not influenced by the preferred parent. Reflexive support of the preferred parent against the alienated parent refers to the pattern of the child’s immediately and automatically taking the preferred parent’s side in a disagreement. The child may exhibit a disregard for the feelings of the alienated parent and an absence of guilt over exploitation of the alienated parent. The child may manifest borrowed scenarios, that is, rehearsed statements that are identical to those made by the preferred parent. Also, the child’s animosity toward the alienated parent may spread to that parent’s extended family.

The diagnosis of parental alienation disorder should not be used if the child’s refusal to have contact with the rejected parent is justifiable, for example, if the child was neglected or abused by that parent (Criterion D).


Parental alienation disorder may be mild, moderate, or severe. When the parental alienation disorder is mild, the child may briefly resist contact with the alienated parent, but does have contact and enjoys a good relationship with the alienated parent once they are together.

When the parental alienation disorder is mild, the child may have a strong, healthy relationship with both parents, even though the child recites criticisms of the alienated parent.

When the parental alienation disorder is moderate, the child may persistently resist

contact with the alienated parent and will continue to complain and criticize the alienated parent during the contact. The child is likely to have a mildly to moderately pathological relationship with the preferred parent.

When the parental alienation disorder is severe, the child strongly and persistently resists contact and may hide or run away to avoid seeing the alienated parent. The child’s behavior is driven by a firmly held, false belief that the alienated parent is evil, dangerous, or worthless.  The child is likely to have a strong, severely pathological relationship with the preferred parent, perhaps sharing a paranoid worldview.

While the diagnosis of parental alienation disorder refers to the child, the preferred parent and other persons the child is dependent on may manifest the following attitudes and behaviors, which frequently are the major cause of the disorder: persistent criticisms of the rejected parent’s personal qualities and parenting activities; statements that influence the child to fear, dislike, and criticize the alienated parent; and various maneuvers to exclude the rejected parent from the child’s life. The behavior of the preferred parent may include complaints to the police and child protection agencies with allegations about the rejected parent.

Parental alienation disorder may be the basis for false allegations of sexual abuse against the alienated parent. The preferred parent may be litigious to the point of abusing the legal system. The preferred parent may violate court orders that are not to his or her liking. Specific psychological problems – narcissistic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, traumatic childhood experiences, and paranoid traits – may be identified in these individuals.  Also, the rejected parent may manifest the following attitudes and behaviors, which may be a minor or contributory cause of the disorder: lack of warm, involved parenting; deficient parenting skills; and lack of time dedicated to parenting activities. However, the intensity and duration of the child’s refusal to have contact with the rejected parent is far out of proportion to the relatively minor weaknesses in the rejected parent’s parenting skills.

Although parental alienation disorder most often arises in the context of a child custody dispute between two parents, it can arise in other types of conflicts over child custody, such as a dispute between a parent and stepparent or between a parent and a grandparent. Sometimes, other family members – such as stepparents or grandparents – contribute to the creation of parental alienation disorder. On occasion, other individuals – such as therapists and child protection workers – contribute to the creation of parental alienation disorder by encouraging or supporting the child’s refusal to have contact with the alienated parent. Also, parental alienation disorder does not necessarily appear in the context of divorce litigation, but may occur in intact families or years following the divorce.


It is common for children to resist or avoid contact with the noncustodial parent after the parents separate or divorce. There are several possible explanations for a child’s active rejection of contact. Parental alienation disorder is an important, but not the only, reason that children refuse contact.

In the course of normal development children will become polarized with one parent and then the other depending on the child’s developmental stage and events in the child’s life. When parents disagree, it is normal for children to experience loyalty conflicts. These transitory variationsin a child’s relationship with his or her parents do not meet criteria for parental alienation disorder because they do not constitute “a persistent rejection or denigration of a parent that reaches the level of a campaign.”

If the child actually was abused, neglected, or disliked by the noncustodial parent or the current boyfriend or girlfriend of that parent, the child’s animosity may be justified and it is understandable that the child would not want to visit the rejected parent’s household. If abuse were the reason for the child’s refusal, the diagnosis would be physical abuse of child or sexual abuse of child, not parental alienation disorder. This is important to keep in mind because an abusive, rejected parent may misuse the concept of parental alienation disorder in order to falsely blame the child’s refusal of contact on the parent that the child prefers. In shared psychotic disorder, a delusional parent may influence a child to believe that the other parent is an evil person who must be feared and avoided. In parental alienation disorder, the alienating parent may have very strong opinions about the alienated parent, but is not usually considered out of touch with reality.

When parents separate or divorce, a child with separation anxiety disorder may become even more worried and anxious about being away from the primary caretaker. In separation anxiety disorder, the child is preoccupied with unrealistic fears that something will happen to the primary caretaker, while the child with parental alienation disorder is preoccupied with unrealistic beliefs that the alienated parent is dangerous.

It is conceivable that a child with specific phobia, situational type, might have an unreasonable fear of a parent or some aspect of the parent’s household. A child with a specific phobia is unlikely to engage in a persistent campaign of denigration against the feared object, while the campaign of denigration is a central feature of parental alienation disorder.

When parents separate or divorce, a child with oppositional defiant disorder may become even more symptomatic – angry, resentful, stubborn – and not want to participate in the process of transitioning from one parent to the other. In oppositional defiant disorder, the child is likely to be oppositional with both parents in a variety of contexts, while the child with parental alienation disorder is likely to focus his or her negativism on the proposed contact with the alienated parent and also to engage in the campaign of denigration of that parent.

When parents separate or divorce, a child may develop an adjustment disorder as a reaction to the various stressors related to the divorce including discord between the parents, the loss of a relationship with a parent, and the disruption of moving to a new neighborhood and school. A child with an adjustment disorder may have a variety of nonspecific symptoms including depression, anxious mood, and disruptive behaviors, while the child with parental alienation disorder manifests a specific cluster of symptoms including the campaign of denigration and weak, frivolous rationalizations for the child’s persistent criticism of the alienated parent.

Parent-child relational problem (a V-code) is the appropriate diagnosis if the focus of clinical attention is on the relationship between a child and his or her divorced parents, but the symptoms do not meet the criteria for a mental disorder. For example, a rebellious adolescent may not have a specific mental disorder, but may temporarily refuse to have contact with one parent even though both parents have encouraged him to do so and a court has ordered it. On the other hand, parental alienation disorder should be the diagnosis if the child’s symptoms are persistent enough and severe enough to meet the criteria for that disorder.


A. The child – usually one whose parents are engaged in a high-conflict divorce – allies himself or herself strongly with one parent and rejects a relationship with the other, alienated parent without legitimate justification. The child resists or refuses contact or parenting time with the alienated parent.

B. The child manifests the following behaviors:

  • a persistent rejection or denigration of a parent that reaches the level of a
  • campaign
  • weak, frivolous, and absurd rationalizations for the child’s persistent criticism of the rejected parent

C. The child manifests two or more of the following six attitudes and behaviors:

(1) lack of ambivalence

(2) independent-thinker phenomenon

(3) reflexive support of one parent against the other

(4) absence of guilt over exploitation of the rejected parent

(5) presence of borrowed scenarios

(6) spread of the animosity to the extended family of the rejected parent.

D. The duration of the disturbance is at least 2 months.

E. The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social academic (occupational), or other important areas of functioning.

F. The child’s refusal to have contact with the rejected parent is without legitimate justification. That is, parental alienation disorder is not diagnosed if the rejected parent maltreated the child.

So-called “PAS” Treatment Found to be Quack Therapy

In Dr Richard Warshak, Dr. Peter Jaffe, Dr. Richard Gardner, DSM-V, Parental Alienation, Parental Alienation Disorder, Parental Alienation Disorders, Parental Alienation Syndrome on May 31, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Bravo to Dr. Peter Jaffe for speaking out against this Nazi-like “deprogramming” that is inflicting psychological terror upon little children who are ripped for their loving parents.  Dr. Jaffe is one of Canada’s premier psychologists, and has published extensively on these issues.  From The Globe and Mail (Canada):

Judges sending children to U.S. for quack therapy, expert charges

Centres aim to treat parental alienation


February 2, 2009


Parental alienation centres in the United States are using unproven “quackery” to deprogram children ordered into their care by well-meaning Canadian judges, a leading Ontario child psychologist has charged.

Peter Jaffe says the programs may even damage children by destroying overnight their primary support bulwark: the alienating parent whose care they have been under.

“It is not a good thing if a child has bonded to an alienating parent, but disrupting that child and pulling them away from whatever sense of security they have may end up being more harmful than good in the long run,” said Dr. Jaffe, a professor at the University of Western Ontario in London.

“When you’re going to provide a treatment, you have to know what the unattended consequences or side effects are,” he said. “You may be solving one problem but creating a whole host of new problems.”

The deprogramming issue erupted last week after a Toronto judge forcibly removed three girls from their mother and sent them for treatment to a U.S. centre in an undisclosed location. It was at least the third time that an Ontario judge has taken the extreme measure in the past year.

The parental alienation centres, which operate in relative secrecy, in part to avoid surprise visits by angry parents searching for children who have been seized, is to be debated at an Ontario Bar Association conference today.

Dr. Jaffe said the spate of judicial orders runs counter to a laudable trend of granting children more rights. “It really doesn’t matter whether you are sending them to a locked ward of a hospital somewhere in Pennsylvania or you are sending them to Disneyland, I think it’s a significant infringement on their rights to take a Canadian child and force them to enter a treatment program in the U.S.”

Sol Goldstein, a Toronto child psychiatrist familiar with the U.S. programs, said they typically devote four or five days to intensive discussion, visual presentations and “logic and kindness,” to prod alienated children into critical thinking. He said children also have opportunities to spend relaxed, recreational time with the parent from whom they are estranged.

“Nothing can change like that within a week,” Dr. Goldstein added. “It’s like doing major surgery. The follow-up is crucial.”

Donna Wowk, a Toronto family lawyer, agreed that while securing time away from the parent who caused the alienation “is critical” to successfully treating a child, relapses are a major risk. “You can have great counselling sessions, but as soon as they are back with the alienating parent, it’s all undone,” she said.

Toronto family lawyer Harold Niman, who represented a non-custodial parent whose children were recently sent to a U.S. parental alienation centre, conceded that much remains unknown about the treatment.

“There is no doubt this is uncharted territory,” he said. “To a certain extent, we don’t know where this is all going to lead, but I think it’s like chicken soup. It can’t hurt. It is something designed to be therapeutic for the children, and I can’t see how it could hurt.

“Part of what is going on is an effort to find a solution to a very difficult problem. We are talking about a very, very narrow group of parents and they are almost invariably dysfunctional. These are parents who are toxic people.”

Dr. Jaffe said that if the Ontario family court system were less dysfunctional, children at risk of being alienated from a parent would be identified and treated early.  “I’m not criticizing the judges,” he said. “I understand their degree of frustration. But these cases really are a monument to the failure of the system to intervene early.  “There are bits and pieces in place in Ontario, but nobody is really in charge of the system,” Dr. Jaffe said.