I am currently indirectly consulting with four cases in a single state, in a single geographic region of that state, involving the pathology of attachment-based “parental alienation.”
This got me thinking, is there some sort of joint legal action these four families could take because of the systemic failure of the mental health system to respond appropriately to the pathology (i.e., attachment trauma reenactment pathology mediated by the narcissistic/borderline personality traits of the parent) by failing to provide an accurate DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed regarding the evident pathology within the family?
I immediately thought of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) law.
I am not an attorney, I am a psychologist. But from where I sit as a psychologist, the mental health professionals surrounding the legal system appear to be completely failing in their duty to protect the child in that they are refusing to make an accurate DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed, which would then lead to taking the appropriate child protection response of separating the child from the psychologically abusive parent in order to resolve the child’s pathology.
As a result of their failure to enact their duty to protect, these mental health professionals thereby extend the duration of the pathology into years of ineffective treatment and continuing legal conflict over custody and visitation, all to the financial advantage of the mental health and legal professionals involved. It is a financially lucrative collusion of non-action.
If the mental health professionals made an accurate diagnosis of the pathology (i.e., of the trans-generational transmission of attachment trauma pathology mediated by the narcissistic and/or borderline personality traits of the pathogenic parent) then the pathology could likely be resolved within six to nine months with appropriate treatment (involving the child’s protective separation from the pathology of the narcissistic/borderline parent).
Instead, and quite surprisingly, the mental health professionals ignore clear indicators regarding the nature of the pathology, thereby extending indefinitely their involvement with treating the continually worsening psychopathology.
As a professional clinical psychologist, this inaction and failure to diagnose the pathology is extremely puzzling from a professional standpoint. If an accurate diagnosis is made, we protectively separate the child from the pathology and pathogenic parenting of the narcissistic/borderline parent and resolve the child’s symptoms within six to nine months. By failing to make an accurate diagnosis and by failing to take the appropriate and warranted child protection response, the child is allowed to remain under the pathogenic influence of the parental psychopathology, so that the pathology within the family continues for years and becomes increasingly more severe.
Extending the Collusion
But let’s extend this seeming collusion in maintaining the pathology to include the legal professionals surrounding the family law system.
The court appointed minor’s counsels make considerable money from the non-resolution of the family pathology. They are essentially in collusion with the mental health professionals by extending the duration of the pathology and the duration of the litigation that results from the mental health professionals’ failure to make an accurate diagnosis of the pathology (i.e., attachment trauma reenactment pathology within the family mediated by the narcissistic/borderline personality traits of the parent) and by not taking the appropriate child protection response of protectively separating the child from the pathology of the narcissistic/borderline parent.
Extending the Collusion Even Further
But let’s extend this apparent collusion even further, to the child custody evaluators who are then appointed to assess the severe and unresolved family conflict which is being maintained by the failure of treating mental health professionals to provide an accurate diagnosis of the pathology and the collusion of minor’s counsels in not seeking the child’s protective separation from the psychologically abusive pathogenic parenting of the narcissistic/borderline pathology.
Child custody evaluations are a pointless and entirely unnecessary addition to resolving the pathology. They are pointless because there is absolutely NO scientific evidence to support the validity of the conclusions and recommendations reached by child custody evaluations. They are unnecessary because they are specifically designed NOT to assess for pathology within the family that would then lead to proper recommendations for resolving the family pathology.
Lack of Validity
There has never been any study conducted to establish the face validity, content validity, construct validity, concurrent validity, convergent validity, discriminant validity, or predictive validity of the conclusions and recommendations of child custody evaluations.
In addition, there are no established operational definitions for the two key constructs in child custody evaluations, “parental capacity” and the “best interests of the child.” Without operational definitions for these key and central constructs, child custody evaluations are essentially voodoo assessment with absolutely no scientifically supported validity.
I challenge any supporter of child custody evaluations to cite me a single research study demonstrating the validity of the conclusions and recommendations of child custody evaluations or that offers a defined operational definition of “parental capacity” and “best interests” of the child.
Absence of Assessment
What’s more (and I find this appalling), child custody evaluators are specifically instructed NOT to identify pathology in the family. That’s right, they are instructed not to identify pathology in the family.
For example, in her book, A Comprehensive Guide to Child Custody Evaluations: Mental Health and Legal Perspectives, Dr. Rohrbaugh specifically states:
“Remember, do not use psychiatric diagnoses because they are often used in pejorative, manipulative ways by the parties and their attorneys.
Furthermore, the child custody evaluation does not necessarily yield the kind of data that is collected during a psychiatric in-take, and hence the custody evaluator does not readily have the data on which to base a psychiatric diagnosis.” (p. 341-342)
The first sentence is disturbing. But the second sentence sends chills down my spine. The child custody evaluation does not “yield the kind of data… on which to base a psychiatric diagnosis.” So in other words, child custody evaluations entirely MISS personality disorder pathology in the parent that is creating the family conflict and inducing the child’s pathology.
I am stunned.
Yet despite this glaring oversight in the assessment, they continue to make recommendations. Child custody evaluations are a professional abomination. And I am a conservative “old-school” psychologist. I’m not some radical psychologist. I teach graduate level courses in Assessment and Psychometrics, in Diagnosis and Treatment Planning, in Research Methodology. I was on medical staff at Children’s Hospital of Orange County and served as a clinical supervisor in their APA internship program. I was the Clinical Director for a children’s assessment and treatment center operated under the auspices of Cal Sate University San Bernardino’s Institute of Child Development and Family Relations. I was the Clinical Director for a FEMA/DOJ project to develop a national model for the clinical assessment of juvenile firesetting behavior. I’m a conservative “old-school” psychologist who held my interns’ feet-to-the-fire in justifying their diagnosis and treatment plan.
And I am appalled by child custody evaluations.
So, in essence, the highly relevant clinical psychopathology of parental narcissistic and borderline personality pathology is not even assessed, and is entirely irrelevant to the conclusions and recommendations of custody evaluations. Are you kidding me? I am professionally astounded.
Child custody evaluations are conducted under the auspices of “forensic psychology” (i.e., professional psychology involved with the legal system).
From my world of “clinical psychology” (professional psychology involved with diagnosing and treating psychopathology), the narcissistic and/or borderline personality pathology of the parent is directly relevant and is central to the pathology being expressed by the child.
To not assess for or diagnose this major parental psychopathology that is driving the child’s induced psychopathology is professionally unconscionable.
In my career as a clinical psychologist, I was never aware of just how bad the clinical psychology interpretations contained in child custody reports actually were. I rarely came across a child custody evaluation, and when I did it typically involved a child in the foster care system.
However, through my efforts to solve the pathology of “parental alienation” I have increasingly been asked to review child custody evaluations in my role as an expert consultant in clinical psychology involving this form of family pathology. I am deeply disturbed and deeply concerned as a clinical psychologist by the extremely poor level of clinical interpretation and analysis I have found in all of the child custody reports I have reviewed. The clinical interpretation of data in the child custody reports I have reviewed is bad, bad, bad.
The pathology is evident in the data of the child custody evaluation, but is not identified and is entirely ignored relative to the conclusions and recommendations reached. It is a stunning degree of professional incompetence.
Professional mental health needs to take a serious and deeply critical look at the practice of child custody evaluations. It is a financially lucrative racket that cannot self-regulate because of an inherent financial conflict of interest motivating the continuance of a practice that has absolutely NO scientifically established validity.
The issue with child custody evaluations is NOT the means by which data is collected, it is the complete absence of formulated guidelines for how the information is subsequently interpreted. The absence of guidelines for the interpretation of the data essentially means that child custody evaluators are just making up their conclusions and recommendations based on their own highly unreliable and scientifically unsupported beliefs.
Collusion for Financial Gain is a Racket
The collusion of mental health professionals with the surrounding legal professionals in not identifying the psychological child abuse and the parental pathology, when all of these professionals have a financial interest in continuing the family pathology, is essentially a racket which I believe would merit consideration for a RICO lawsuit, particularly against the mental health professionals who should be making an appropriate DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed based on the child’s symptom display.
I’m not an attorney. I’m a psychologist. But if there is any help I can offer to an attorney group to support a RICO lawsuit, please let me know. But I’m not getting any younger, so if a legal team wants my help I suggest you get on it relatively soon.
Of note is that none of the solutions offered by an attachment-based reformulation of the family pathology traditionally called “parental alienation” are available from a Gardnerian PAS model.
A Gardnerian PAS model cannot be used to define the pathology as a DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed
A Gardnerian PAS model cannot be used to define domains of knowledge necessary for boundaries of professional competence, and so cannot activate Standard 2.01 of the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct of the American Psychological Association
A Gardnerian PAS model cannot be used to leverage a protective separation of the child from the pathology of the narcissistic/borderline parent through the DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed
A Gardnerian PAS model cannot be used to challenge the mental health professional’s “duty to protect” which is established by the DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed
The sooner the paradigm shifts from a Gardnerian PAS model to an attachment-based model for the pathology, the sooner we will actualize the solution.
The Gardnerian PAS paradigm is actually becoming a significant impediment to achieving the solution.
There are two paradigms currently competing for the description of the pathology. Only one model will survive. The other model will become irrelevant.
Gardnerian PAS experts,
Amy Baker, Linda Gottlieb, William Bernet, Richard Sauber, Michael Bone, Richard Warshak
you will soon be asked to declare for a paradigm, either the Gardnerian PAS paradigm that has not produced a solution in 30 years as the dominant model for describing the pathology of “parental alienation,” or for an attachment-based reformulation for the pathology traditionally called “parental alienation” which will provide an immediate solution – overnight.
We are going to battle with the citadel of establishment mental health for a change in paradigm. If you publicly declare for the attachment-based reformulation of the pathology, your voice and influence will greatly accelerate the paradigm shift that leads to an immediately actualizable solution. If you withhold your voice, you will slow the pace at which we achieve the solution.
The time for sitting on the fence is rapidly coming to an end. Will you join with us in our battle to recover the children, or will you turn your back and walk away from us, leaving us to fight this battle on our own? I am asking you to join us.
Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857
Rohrbaugh, J. B. (2008) Comprehensive Guide to Child Custody Evaluations: Mental Health and Legal Perspectives. New York: Springer.