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PAS Fact Sheet from the Family Court of Australia

Most school-aged children, although pained by loyalty conflicts and at times angry and upset with their parents are eager for contact with both parents and want to maintain a relationship with both. By contrast, a small number of children express negative

This fact sheet is from the FCoA.

From the Family Court of Australia

Fact Sheets

Parental Alienation Syndrome

Most school-aged children, although pained by loyalty conflicts and at times angry and upset with their parents are eager for contact with both parents and want to maintain a relationship with both.  By contrast, a small number of children express negative attitudes towards one of their divorced parents and vehemently resist or refuse to visit or have anything to do with that parent.

The phenomena of a child's strident rejection of one parent, generally accompanied by a strong resistance or refusal to visit or to have anything to do with that parent, was first recognised by Wallerstein and Kelly (1976, 1980), North American researchers, in their seminal study of children of divorce.

Later, Dr Richard Gardner, a North American psychologist, coined the label Parental Alienation Syndrome ('PAS') to describe a diagnosable disorder in a child in the context of a custody dispute.  Controversially, as part of Gardner's view that an alienating parent is the principal if not sole cause of the problem, in severe cases of PAS he recommended change in custody.

In 1999, a taskforce of researchers in the US, including Dr Johnston, was established to study the problem of children who become estranged from one of their divorcing parents.  There was a series of six published papers and at least another five subsequently.  Importantly, their research indicated that children's rejection of a parent had multiple causes, with both the aligned parent and rejected parent implicated in the problem.

The research of Janet Johnston and others rejected Gardner's theory of PAS being a disorder and found no convincing evidence to support his one-dimensional theory that an alienating parent is primarily responsible for a child's alienation.  Similarly, they did not find evidence that abuse was primarily responsible for a child's rejection of a parent.  The research of Dr Johnston and others is widely accepted in Australia.

Many of the independent experts, psychologists, psychiatrists, and Family Consultants who give evidence to the Court in parenting cases have shown themselves to be aware of and reply upon the breadth of research, including the research of Dr Johnston and her colleagues.

The world-wide manual of psychiatric diseases, and the main diagnostic reference of mental health professionals, the 'Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - Fourth Edition (DSM-IV-TR) has not accepted PAS as a psychiatric disease.

The DSM IV-TR is published by the American Psychiatric Association and it is used in Australia by mental health professionals.

How the allegation arises in Family Court cases

Because the Family Court deals with the most difficult cases, Judges are confronted by cases in which children have become alienated or estranged from a parent as a matter of fact.

As Dr Johnston has said, the estrangement may be caused by previous experience that the child has had or influence by an adult in the child's life (either deliberately or unconsciously) or some other factor.

In each particular case the Judge is called upon to make an order that best promotes the child's interests.  This will include considering whether a child's interests are best served by a complete cessation of a child's relationship with a parent, or a change in the parent with whom the child will primarily live or some other order.  Each case is always decided on its own facts and with the assistance of independent experts, who are sociologists, psychologists and psychiatrists.

Recent Family Court cases dealing with alienation

An example of some recent cases where PAS has been rejected or not accepted as a concept includes:

C & C [2004] FamCA 708
In this case the judge described the term "Parental Alienation Syndrome" as "a descriptor unsuited to the discussion of complex dynamics involving at least three people and it is further unsuited because as a 'diagnosis' it could lend itself to automatic or prescriptive treatments."  She also observed "serving the interests of a child requires a solution to difficulties confronting that child to be tailored after considering a whole range of factors specific to that child, including but by no means limited to the child's age, stage of development and temperament.  One size does not necessarily fit all."

Lane & Arthurs [2006] FamCA 87
In this case the judge ultimately determined that whilst she declined to accept that the children were affected by PAS, she did consider the children had been alienated from the father as a result of a combination of factors including the mother's behaviour.  The judge noted "I do not find it helpful for opinion to be presented with this label attached to it under the rubric of work so notoriously controversial as 'PAS' and without any discussion of the body of reputable work virtually discrediting it."

Parker & Elliott [2003] FamCA 990
In this case the judge similarly dismissed the validly of PAS.  In his judgment he noted "I am not prepared to find that the syndrome applies in this case, if indeed there is such a syndrome.  Counsel conceded, quite properly, that the question of a syndrome as described is a matter of controversy.  None of the experts who gave evidence before me gave any evidence at all of whether there is indeed such a syndrome, and if there is whether on the material that each has been furnished, symptoms consistent with such a syndrome have manifested themselves.  As a result, I am not in a position to make any findings in that regard."

SS & AH [2005] FamCA 481
In this case the judge was of the view that the mother would proactively undermine the children having a relationship with the father.  The children were moved to the father's residential care and orders were made for them to have contact with the mother.  While there were numerous experts involved in this matter, 'Parental Alienation Syndrome' was neither alleged nor accepted by the Court.  The Court did consider expert evidence concerning the children being alienated from the father, and in this regard the term 'parental alienation' was used.

Summers & Nathan [2005] FamCA 1406
In this case the judicial officer initially noted that evidence of 'Parental Alienation Syndrome' had previously been recognised as "a substantially established area of knowledge", he ultimately concluded that "In the light of [the referenced] articles and a large body of recent literature, I am not persuaded immediately that "P.A.S." has been established irrevocably as being within a substantially established area of knowledge allowing for the receipt of expert evidence.  … [T]he scientific basis for Parental Alienation Syndrome as a diagnostic entity has been challenged by both mental health and legal professionals and the syndrome has not been accepted as a psychiatric diagnosis in DSM III or IV."

Please note that pseudonyms have been utilised in the above cases to protect the identity of the parties in each case.

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (look for the Avatars) Be mindful what you post in public areas. 

Extreme Alignment

Looks like there was a special on Parental Alienation today.   :P

At the
ERROR: A link was posted here (url) but it appears to be a broken link.
Lone Fathers Association of Australia National Conference, held on 8-9 August 2007, Parliament House, Canberra, Paul Lodge, Manager - Child Dispute Services (a Family Court mediator/counsellor), spoke about parental alienation and introduced a term for parental alienation that the Courts are more comfortable with: Extreme Alignment.
LFAA National Conference description of Paul Lodge said
Mr Paul Lodge, Family Court of Australia, pointed out that changes to the law do not necessarily immediately affect family life. He noted that family reports are a powerful influence on decisions, and only a handful of such reports are ignored by judges. The previous concept of "standard time" needs to be broken down, taking cognisance of the terms now used in the Act. Relocation is going to be the biggest issue in the future.
A video of his presentation can be viewed online at 'Family Law Web Guide - LFAA - Conference 2007': Paul Lodge.

Also, at the Third National Family Court Conference, 21 October 1998, Paul Lodge presented a paper entitled 'Alienation Revisited':

Attachment


Paul Lodge is also mentioned in this Sydney Morning Herald 9 February 2005'War and Peace' article.

Not everyone is impressed with Paul Lodge: Tricks of Justice Steele & the Family Court of Australia.
NPD or Narcissitic Personality Disorder is in the DSM IV, and I believe there is a strong link between sufferers of this carrying out the behaviour of PAS when the sufferer is a custodial parent (male or female). The overblown sense of entitlement and in fact "ownership" of the child is what makes them not want the other parent in the child's life.

Not that I would ever bring this up as an argument in a court. I think it's better to highlight the negative behaviours and let the court put it's own label on things.

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
One thing about Parent Alienation is the core reasons for the person who inflicts it can include, use or take on the form of many disorders.

One thing never changes and that is the inflicter always excuses their behaviour as being in the childs best interest by their reckoning or that from advice.

I would suggest for quite a few they have an ability to miss shape the truth to start a new reality that excuses their behaviour.

It will be certainly worth any person who has or has not suffered the effects of Alienation to visit anywhere that has information about Parent Alienation and Parent Alienation Syndrome. Understanding a little may help you to deal with your children to avoid or curve their suffering.

Although my experience has been limited to Parent Alienation with concerns for my daughter. I suffered complete PAS from my step children and even though I still love them there has been no communication since separation. Their mother even admitted to berating the youngest until the early hours of the morning explaining to him why I was a bad role model as a father he had no choice but to give in.

Learn how to deal in court as well as how you may be able to combat it being used as a tool against your children.
Isn't part of the crux, in court, to omit the word syndrome?
I have to admit that sounds as simple as it may be.

As I also believe consideration must be taken to elevate some of the problems that have created the effect.

This may have to be done as a separate issue.

Yes the children have been alienated but will the judge actively prevent further alienation or will the alienated have to effectively show where attention is needed.

This is where I feel both dealing in court and combating the issues go hand in hand otherwise the problems will continue.

I could well be wrong. Worse case scenario's don't often stop because orders have been made they just adapt to the new situation.   
D4E said
I could well be wrong. Worse case scenario's don't often stop because orders have been made they just adapt to the new situation
Some do, one situation I know of, was with a couple, the male's children were far worse than what Jadzia described, the mother. Well, she made allegation after allegation of every abuse under the sun. She put the couple through hell. She'd know when they were out in the car, phone the police and report the car stolen, The final straw that broke here back, was after sexual allegations, the ensuing entourage yet again came down upon them. However as usual they were completely satisfied that nothing was amiss with them. The police left first, however before the doctor and the head of the foster carers association left, the police returned. Not the same ones, the mother had reported them yet again, this time for throwing rocks at her whilst the previous policemen were in attendance. This and many other events led to the mother losing custody and initially visitation and the judge apparently reporting that this was the worst case of parental alienation he/she had come across.

I hate to say I haven't heard from the couple for some time. My guess is that they are living their lives, they spent vast amounts of time just defending themselves against this monster.
Its apparently not a crime to lie, cheat, steal, cause mischief or try to cause damage to others in domestic matters or family matters - unless a male hits a woman then the police come with guns loaded.

 Maybe I am not explaining myself well enough
Jon, shouldn't that be "unless a male is said to have hit a woman then the police come with guns loaded."
The mind still thinks and even after losing custody I'd give odds when visitation started so would the attempts at alienation like a snake whispering an ear.

Unless help is sought to acknowledge and deal with the problem how can it be fixed ??? it just changes faces.
The only way to stop the worst alienators is to remove the child from their custody, suspend visitation and make sure that visitation is fairly minimal.

No matter how stern a warning a judge gives them, they will distort reality that they are doing the best thing for their child by preventing them from having (or indeed enjoying) time with the other parent.

Unfortunately the default premise that children are better of with Mum, until Dad mounts a massive case, plays right into the hands of the female alienator.

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
Once the damage is done to the child(ren), I find it's impossible to repair, as the child wants no further contact/dealings with the deprived parent.

Even after going through courts to get agreed family orders re-established and getting my son into counselling, I still don't have any contact with him after two years, despite my weekly emails / phone calls to him.
The length of time this sort of thing has been active from amazes me. Children who are now parents never knowing their father because of the damage that was done by their mother. Even death is no barrier. The mother dies and yet the children still can not contact their father through the effects, the worse is they try to pass it on to the next generation, their own children.

Before knowing what P.A.S. or P.A. were I knew many who suffered the effects, even in families that are intact the games get played preparing just in case.

I hope one day he is able to contact you bugsiboy I can not imagine the pain of such an event.

I do hope one day that recognition is given to P.A.S. and the instigators of it are forced into some sort of evaluation and re education about parenting.

   

Stockholm Syndrome - As a Response and Defence Mechanism to Parental Alienation

Consider the alienated (extremely aligned) child as a victim of a form of Stockholm Syndrome.
Wikipedia said
Stockholm Syndrome

Stockholm syndrome is a psychological response sometimes seen in an abducted hostage, in which the hostage shows signs of loyalty to the hostage-taker, regardless of the danger (or at least risk) in which the hostage has been placed. Stockholm syndrome is also sometimes discussed in reference to other situations with similar tensions, such as battered person syndrome, rape cases, child abuse cases and bride kidnapping.

The syndrome is named after the Norrmalmstorg robbery of Kreditbanken at Norrmalmstorg, Stockholm, Sweden, in which the bank robbers held bank employees hostage from August 23 to August 28 in 1973. In this case, the victims became emotionally attached to their victimizers, and even defended their captors after they were freed from their six-day ordeal. The term Stockholm Syndrome was coined by the criminologist and psychiatrist Nils Bejerot, who assisted the police during the robbery, and referred to the syndrome in a news broadcast.

Also see Medical Terms.
Ask Yahoo! said
What causes Stockholm Syndrome?

Captives begin to identify with their captors initially as a defensive mechanism, out of fear of violence [or fear of denial/withdrawal of love and/or rejection, by the alienator]. Small acts of kindness by the captor are magnified, since finding perspective in a hostage situation is by definition impossible. Rescue attempts are also seen as a threat, since it's likely the captive would be injured during such attempts.

It's important to note that these symptoms occur under tremendous emotional and often physical duress. The behaviour is considered a common survival strategy for victims of interpersonal abuse, and has been observed in battered spouses, abused children, prisoners of war, and concentration camp survivors.
Sniggle said
Stockholm Syndrome

The Stockholm Syndrome  comes into play when a captive cannot escape and is isolated and threatened with death, but is shown token acts of kindness by the captor. It typically takes about three or four days for the psychological shift to take hold.

A strategy of trying to keep your captor happy in order to stay alive becomes an obsessive identification with the likes and dislikes of the captor which has the result of warping your own psyche in such a way that you come to sympathize with your tormentor!

The syndrome explains what happens in hostage-taking situations, but can also be used to understand the behaviour of [alienated children]…
Counselling Resource said
Love and Stockholm Syndrome: The Mystery of Loving an Abuser (Selected excerpts.)

In the final analysis, emotionally bonding with an abuser is actually a strategy for survival for victims of abuse and intimidation. The "Stockholm Syndrome" reaction in hostage and/or abuse situations is so well recognized at this time that police hostage negotiators no longer view it as unusual. In fact, it is often encouraged in crime situations as it improves the chances for survival of the hostages. On the down side, it also assures that the hostages experiencing "Stockholm Syndrome" will not be very cooperative during rescue or criminal prosecution.

If you're in a controlling and abusive relationship, you may recognize several of the characteristics described in this article by Joseph M. Carver, PhD, a Clinical Psychologist in practice in Ohio (reproduced here with permission).

Part 1 describes the formation of bonds between victim and abuser, while Part 2 continues with observations about cognitive dissonance and offers suggestions for friends and family of victims.

While the psychological condition in hostage situations became known as "Stockholm Syndrome" due to the publicity - the emotional "bonding" with captors was a familiar story in psychology. It had been recognized many years before and was found in studies of other hostage, prisoner, or abusive situations such as: Abused Children …

Stockholm Syndrome (SS) can also be found in family, romantic, and interpersonal relationships. The abuser may be a husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend, father or mother, or any other role in which the abuser is in a position of control or authority.

Every syndrome has symptoms or behaviours and Stockholm Syndrome is no exception. While a clear-cut list has not been established due to varying opinions by researchers and experts, several of these features will be present:

- Positive feelings by the victim toward the abuser/controller
- Negative feelings by the victim toward family, friends, or authorities trying to rescue/support them or win their release
- Support of the abuser's reasons and behaviours
- Positive feelings by the abuser toward the victim
- Supportive behaviours by the victim, at times helping the abuser
- Inability to engage in behaviours that may assist in their release or detachment

It has been found that four situations or conditions are present that serve as a foundation for the development of Stockholm Syndrome. These four situations can be found in hostage, severe abuse, and abusive relationships:

- The presence of a perceived threat to one's physical or psychological survival and the belief that the abuser would carry out the threat.
- The presence of a perceived small kindness from the abuser to the victim
- Isolation from perspectives other than those of the abuser
- The perceived inability to escape the situation

In unhealthy relationships and definitely in Stockholm Syndrome there is a daily preoccupation with "trouble". Trouble is any individual, group, situation, comment, casual glance, or cold meal that may produce a temper tantrum or verbal abuse from the controller or abuser. To survive, "trouble" is to be avoided at all costs. The victim must control situations that produce trouble. That may include avoiding family, friends, co-workers, and anyone who may create "trouble" in the abusive relationship. The victim does not hate family and friends; they are only avoiding "trouble"!

Also see Love and Stockholm Syndrome: The Mystery of Loving an Abuser, By Joseph M. Carver, PhD.
When Dad is made the "trouble" the child is put in the position of avoiding him so as not to upset Mum (the controlling abuser)!
D4E said
I do hope one day that recognition is given to P.A.S. and the instigators of it are forced into some sort of evaluation and re education about parenting.
Recognition is given to PA - it is accepted by the majority of professionals - just forget the 'S'. Waste of time and effort - too many dissenting medical opinions on the 'S'.

Read up on 'Frye' to give an idea why Courts do not like different expert opinions.

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (look for the Avatars) Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
Often PA is generational. Our ex's family is totally centric to the Dad/Grandfather.

It's a form of Stockholm Syndrome. He's a massive narcissist and makes himself feel big having everyone emotionally (and financially) dependant on him.

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
Hi Agog.

That's basically why I would like to see P.A.S. recognised. Parent Alienation covers a broad spectrum and does not allow for the instigators and the victims to be helped. P.A. is recognised and judgments are made relying on compliance.

If eventually it does become recognised then perhaps people can be taught better ways of parenting and accepting children are not possessions that are being stolen from owners.

Perhaps just a dream that's once accepted help will come for the kids.
I would like to see PA recognised and formally tested for, by the family report writer.

Where resident parent's talk of how they value and respect the other person as a parent… blah… blah… when that doesn't match up with the reality of their actions: insisting on supervised visits, not being comfortable with overnights, offering reduced time (instead of increasing it)… all this should play into a requirement for testing of PA.

I have seen checklists that they use in the States. I can't understand why a trained psychologist who is a report writer, couldn't use that here.

It would make life so much easier. Currently if you are seen to point it out, you are seen as complaining.

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
Artemis said
I would like to see PA recognised and formally tested for, by the family report writer.

… I have seen checklists that they use in the States. I can't understand why a trained psychologist who is a report writer, couldn't use that here.

It would make life so much easier. Currently if you are seen to point it out, you are seen as complaining.
Do you have any source where we could obtain these checklists?

The whole area of family report writing is one we have some concerns with and would like to see some reforms.

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
 Was my post helpful? If so, please let others know about the FamilyLawWebGuide whenever you see the opportunity
 

PAS evaluation

Hello Secretary. I will see if I can dig it out for you.

I lost interest (and heart) that PAS mentioned in court would make one look silly. It seems the courts may finally be catching up with reality (where the crazy 5% is concerned).

I've also seen a PhD work comparing physical abuse to PAS and the characteristics of the perpetrator. Will try to dig this up too.

http://www.dadsindistress.asn.au/downloads/hap2.pdf

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
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