Let the trumpets sound to rouse the warriors from their slumber. Let the drums of battle bring courage to our hearts. The battle comes. The time is now. Come bring your banner to the battlefield and join us, the time for our battle has arrived.
The pathogen sees us and it is evaluating our threat. It has sent its minion skirmishers out to test our mettle, and it has felt our resolve.
We will not waver, we will stand and fight with steadfast determination because we fight for your children. And when this battle day is finished, the minions of the pathogen will lie at our feet and your banners will fly from the citadel of establishment mental health. This is the battle to reclaim mental health as your ally, for you and your children. The citadel of establishment mental health belongs to you, not to the pathogen. Take it back.
I will stand in the center of this battlefield. The pathogen will attack me with savage viciousness that will seek not only to defeat the content of what I say, but will seek to destroy me personally. You’ve seen already how the pathogen weaves personal attacks into the assaults from its minions. Distortions and innuendo layered into personal attacks. And the pathogen is not constrained by any limits imposed by truth or accuracy or reality. You know this better than any, because you have personally felt the savage fury of its venom, its lies, and its distorted falsehoods.
It will now bring this to me. It will attack me, not just the content of what I say. It will attack me personally. It will seek to destroy me at a personal level. It will search every crevice of my life, my family, my career, seeking some vulnerability that it can exploit to destroy me. Because I threaten to expose it.
I am ready. I will stand and fight. And we will prevail because we fight for your children.
I will not abandon you, I will not abandon your children. I will not waver. I will stand in the center of this battlefield and fight against this pathology with ferocity and steadfast resolve, but with different weapons than those used by the pathogen. We fight with weapons forged in truth and knowledge and love.
We are unstoppable. We fight for your children.
Let the drums of battle call forth our warriors. Steel your hearts and set fast your will. Wake your neighbors from their slumber and call them to us. The battle for your children has arrived.
The minion of Mercer was right about only one thing, the battlefield of Gardnerian PAS is a swamp. When we fight on that battlefield the ground gives way beneath our feet, the marsh clings to our boots and we stumble and fall. We cannot move and maneuver, we become bogged down, and the pathogen devastates our forces with archers from afar. This is not the battlefield on which we want to fight.
If someone brings the banner of Gardnerian PAS onto this battlefield, I will attack you myself.
Foundations provides us with the solid bedrock of established psychological principles and constructs on which we can firmly plant our feet. With Foundations, WE hold the high ground.
You saw how I dealt with the minion of Mercer.
“I will in no way defend the Gardnerian PAS model.”
Immediately we are free from the swamp and have claimed the high ground. Immediately ALL of the arguments against the Gardnerian PAS model are made irrelevant – completely and totally irrelevant.
The Pathogen: How do you diagnose…?
Dr. Childress: The three diagnostic indicators in the child’s symptom display and the entire puzzle that forms the picture of three cats in the garden.
The Pathogen: But what about authentic child abuse?
Dr. Childress: An authentically abused child does not display five specific a-priori predicted narcissistic and borderline personality traits toward the authentically abusive parent. The authentically abused child therefore does not meet Diagnostic Criterion 2 for an attachment-based model of “parental alienation.”
Stimulus Control: Furthermore, in authentic parent-child conflict the child’s behavior is under the stimulus control of the parent’s behavior.
You saw me weave these responses. There are more. I’m ready.
The Pathogen: Peer-reviewed research – show us the peer-reviewed research.
Dr. Childress: See Chapter 11 of Foundations or see my first response to Mercer.
What do you want peer-reviewed research about? The existence of personality disorders? The existence of attachment trauma? The existence of family systems theory? What? What – specifically – do you want peer reviewed research about?
The Pathogen: Where is the peer-reviewed research about Dr. Childress’ model?
Dr. Childress: It’s NOT my model. It’s Aaron Beck, it’s Theodore Millon, it’s John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth. It’s Salvador Minuchin. It’s Jay Haley. It’s Marsha Linehan and Otto Kernberg.
It is not me. The attachment-based description of the pathology comes from the preeminent figures in mental heath. If you have a problem with the model, take it up with them – because they’re the ones that said it, not me.
You want their quotes regarding the pathology? Here, let me tell you what they said. Let me tell you how Jay Haley and Salvador Minuchin defined the cross-generational coalition. Let me tell you how the American Psychiatric Association has defined the splitting pathology. Let me tell you what Aaron Beck says about the pathology of the narcissistic and borderline personalty and what Theodore Millon says about the decompensation of the narcissistic personalty into delusional beliefs. Let me tell you about what Marsha Linehan has said about the “invalidating environment.”
It’s not me. It’s not Dr. Childress. It’s them. It is the preeminent figures in mental health who have said this.
In his account of the Gallic wars, Julius Caesar said that you will win the battle when you choose where and when to fight. We fight this battle on the battlefield of our choosing. We fight on the battlefield of personality disorder pathology, attachment-trauma pathology, and family systems pathology. We fight this battle on the solid ground of established theoretical Foundations.
We are NOT asking mental health to accept anything. Because the principles and constructs on which our Foundations are grounded are ALREADY firmly established and accepted constructs within mental health.
Personality disorder pathology is already accepted, with an extensive peer-reviewed literature base.
Family systems pathology is already accepted, with an extensive peer-reviewed literature base,
Attachment trauma pathology is already accepted, with an extensive peer-reviewed literature base.
There is NOTHING for establishment mental health to accept or reject. It has already been accepted.
This is key for you to understand. For too long you have been forced by the Gardnerian PAS model to fight for a “new syndrome” to be accepted in mental health. No. This stops. The pathology is NOT a “new syndrome.” It is a manifestation of well-established and well-defined forms of already accepted psychopathology.
If you want to explain it quickly, here it is…
“It is the addition of the splitting pathology of a narcissistic/borderline parent (as defined by the American Psychiatric Association) to a cross-generational coalition of the child with one parent against the other parent (as defined by the preeminent family systems theorists, Jay Haley and Salvador Minuchin).
There. Done. That’s what the pathology is.
“It’s the addition of the splitting pathology of a narcissistic/borderline parent to a cross-generational coalition of the child with one parent against the other parent.”
If someone wants a more in-depth explanation, tell them to talk to me and I will provide it (or have them read Foundations). If they ask for “peer-reviewed” literature, tell them to talk to me and I’ll provide it, or refer them to my first response to Mercer, (or have them read Foundations – Chapter 11 on professional competence).
If they ask for the DSM-5 diagnosis of the family pathology it’s on pages 663-666 of the DSM-5; Borderline Personality Disorder, it’s on pages 669-672 of the DSM-5; Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and it’s on page 719 of the DSM-5; Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed.
If they want the specific DSM-5 diagnosis of the pathology which is given to the child, it is
309.4 Adjustment Disorder with mixed disturbance of emotions and conduct
V61.20 Parent-Child Relational Problem
V61.29 Child Affected by Parental Relationship Distress
V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed
See. The pathology is already in the DSM-5. There is nothing to accept or reject. ALL we need is professional competence. That’s it. That’s all we are seeking – and that’s also what we are requiring.
Under a Gardnerian PAS banner you must seek to have the citadel accept a “new syndrome” within mental health. No. This belief that we need to have something accepted by establishment mental health (by the DSM diagnostic system) is deeply embedded into the very fabric of your psyche. ROOT IT OUT.
Under the battle flag of Foundations, there is NOTHING that needs to be accepted by establishment mental health – because ALL of the constructs and principles on which Foundations are grounded are ALREADY well-accepted, well-defined, and well-established psychological principles and constructs.
Personality Disorder Pathology: DSM-5; Millon; Beck; Kernberg; Linehan
Attachment Trauma Pathology: Bowlby, Ainsworth, Mains, Sroufe, Fonagy, van der Kolk
Family Systems Pathology: Bowen, Minuchin, Haley
We are not asking establishment mental health to accept anything. They have already accepted everything.
What we are asking them for – we are REQUIRING of them – is to enforce their existing Standards for professional competence.
We have established ourselves on the high ground in this battle. The high ground is ours.
Standard 2.01 – Professional Competence
Standard 9.01 – Professionally Competent Assessment
Standard 3.04 – Do No Harm
These battle flags of the APA ethics code are ours.
These are the battle flags you will carry in your assault on the citadel of establishment mental health. We hold the high ground.
We are not asking them to accept anything. We are requiring that they live up to their established Standards of practice. We are seeking – we are requiring – professional competence in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of existing and established forms of personality disorder pathology, family systems pathology, and attachment trauma pathology.
And when the pathogenic parenting practices of a narcissistic/borderline parent are creating
Developmental Pathology: Attachment system suppression
Personality Disorder Pathology: Five narcissistic/borderline traits in the child’s symptom display
Psychiatric Pathology: Shared psychotic delusional beliefs (and sometimes an additional phobic anxiety)
V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse Confirmed.
The pathology of “parental alienation” is already in the DSM-5. There is nothing for the DSM-5 to accept or reject. The DSM-5 diagnosis for the pathology of an attachment-based model of “parental alienation” is V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed – p. 719.
All we are seeking is professional competence – we are demanding professional competence.
In the coming days I will engage the pathogen in the center of the battlefield. Once the battle is engaged, it will attack me with great viciousness and it will seek to destroy me personally – because I am a threat.
It will bring out its tried and true attacks:
That an attachment-based model represents a “new theory of Dr. Childress” – because this worked with Gardnerian PAS.
It won’t work this time.
It will seek to destroy me personally – because this worked with Richard Gardner and PAS
It won’t work this time.
It will throw out the buzz words of “peer-reviewed” – because this worked with Gardnerian PAS.
It won’t work this time.
It will claim that we’re sending children back to be with an abusive rejected parent – because this worked with Gardnerian PAS.
It won’t work this time.
I will stand, square in the middle of this battlefield, and I will engage the fight.
Your job is to storm the citadel of establishment mental health. You are not asking them to accept anything – you are demanding professional competence in assessing, diagnosing, and treating established forms of accepted psychopathology; personality disorder pathology, family systems pathology, attachment-trauma pathology.
Make them argue that professional ignorance and incompetence are acceptable standards of practice.
Make them argue that narcissistic and borderline personalities don’t exist.
Make them argue that inducing severe developmental, personality disorder, and psychotic psychiatric pathology in a child is acceptable, that this is NOT a form of psychological child abuse.
Make them argue this. These are untenable positions for establishment mental health to take. Make them take these positions or relent to your demands for professional competence in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of this pathology.
The pathology exists – we want them to acknowledge that fact.
The existence of cats (personality disorder pathology) does not nullify the existence of dogs (authentic child abuse); and not all animals are dogs. Cats exist. We just want them to acknowledge that cats (personality disorder pathology) exists and adversely affects family functioning following a divorce. That’s the structure of our position.
Make them acknowledge that personality disorder pathology exists and make them put the acknowledgement into their position statement on “parental alienation” pathology.
Break the pathogen’s veil of concealment.
Demand that the complexity of this pathology requires specialized professional knowledge and expertise to competently assess, diagnose, and treat. Make them argue that professional ignorance and incompetence are acceptable standards of practice. They won’t be able to take this position.
Demand that your children and families be acknowledged as a “special population” requiring specialized professional knowledge and expertise to competently assess, diagnose, and treat.
Storm the citadel of establishment mental health carrying the banner of Standard 2.01 of their own ethics code, the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct that REQUIRES professional competence. Make them either renunciate their own ethics code or else live up to their ethical principles and code of conduct.
Storm the citadel of establishment mental health carrying the banner of Standard 9.01 that requires assessment “sufficient to subtantiate” “the opinions contained in their recommendations, reports and diagnostic or evaluative statements, including forensic testimony.” Make them live up to their ethical principles and established code of conduct.
This pathology is not some “new form of pathology.” It is the manifestation of narcissistic and borderline personalty pathology (as fully described in Foundations). Every single mental health professional who is assessing, diagnosing, and treating this pathology MUST be professionally competent in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of narcissistic and borderline personality pathology as it is expressed in family relationships.
Accept nothing less. Demand more. This pathology is a manifestation of attachment trauma from the childhood of the narcissistic/borderline parent into the current family relationships, mediated by the personality disorder pathology that is itself a product of this childhood trauma.
Every single mental health professional who is assessing, diagnosing, and treating this pathology MUST be professionally competent in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of attachment trauma as manfested trans-generationally (through “schema” patterns; Beck et al., 2004).
Expect nothing less. And demand more. This pathology is a manifestation of the child’s triangulation into the spousal conflict through the formation of a cross-generational coalition with the allied parent against the targeted parent (a “perverse triangle”; Haley, 1977). Every single mental health professional who is assessing, diagnosing, and treating this form of family pathology MUST be professionally competent in family systems theory and family therapy.
Storm the citadel of establishment mental health. Take the citadel of establishment mental health – and plant your banners and those for your children upon the walls and turrets of the citadel. Reclaim establishment mental health as your ally against this family pathology and the psychological abuse of the child.
We want a change to the APA’s position statement that
1.) Acknowledges the pathology exists, using whatever terminology they want.
2.) Identifies the children and families experiencing this type of pathology as representing a “special population” requiring specialized professional knowledge and expertise to competently assess, diagnose, and treat.
The moment you take the citadel, the attacks on me will cease and the pathogen will flee from the field of battle to seek the dark crevices of the world in which to hide.
I am not your warrior, I am your weapon. Foundations empowers you to take the citadel of establishment mental health. The time for battle has arrived
Like great Ajax before the walls of Troy, I’ve seen Howie take on the pathogen over and over again with truth and power. Kay, like wise Ulysses, seeks to lead with wisdom and eloquence. Leadership will emerge from within your ranks. Follow them.
Wake up your allies who are lulled into the slumber of their victimization. You are victims no more. The time for battle has come. The time to recover your children is now.
Google is wonderful. The American Psychological Association has a website. Each state has a professional psychological association. Many large cities have professional psychological associations. Look them up. Who’s in charge? What’s their address? Alert your colleagues. Make the citadel aware of you. Demand professional competence.
Be kind, but be relentless.
If you approach with anger you will trigger a defensive response. You will trigger the release of brain chemicals in the listener which will take them into lower, more primitive brain systems for fight or flight, and which will shut off higher order cognitive processing and openness.
When we feel threatened we move into lower brain systems and essentially stop thinking. We want others to think. Be kind, be relentless but be kind.
When you interact with others you represent all targeted parents and all of your supporters. Represent us well.
Kind is not weak. Kind is strong. Gandhi was an extraordinarily tough adversary. But he fought without anger. He fought with unrelenting love and kindness.
Our goal is to end division and argument. Our goal is to bring both sides together. Both sides are “equally valid poles” in the dialogue. Many of those who are concerned about Gardnerian PAS are reasonable people who have valid concerns about discounting a child’s report of “abuse” and about overriding a child’s expressed reluctance to be with a parent. Recognize that dogs exist.
And in your reasonableness and gentle understanding of their legitimate concerns, help them realize that cats (personality disorders) also exist. We want to protect 100% of the children 100% of the time from ALL forms of child abuse. Agree that Gardnerian PAS was an inadequate model. Come together in a middle ground of agreement.
Dogs exist and cats exist. The existence of one does not preclude the existence of the other. Right now we’re talking about cats.
For the minions of the pathogen, offer them an opportunity to understand. They may actually be reasonable people with valid concerns. Your kindness and reasonableness will expose their motives. If they respond with reason, offer dialogue. If they expose their narcissistic and borderline personalities, move on.
The hallmark of the narcissistic/borderline personality is the absence of empathy. If there is no empathy, then there is pathology.
Avoid the splitting pathology of demonizing the other side. There are no sides. We are all on the same side of protecting children’s healthy emotional and psychological development. Cats exist and dogs exist. Lets work together to identify what animals are cats and what animals are dogs, 100% of the time. It can be done.
My goal is to bring an end to the pathology of “parental alienation” by Christmas of 2016. Join me in this goal. It can be accomplished because we are merely seeking professional competence in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of already accepted and already established forms of pathology.
The time is now. The battle to reclaim mental health as your ally has arrived.
Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857