A Cheshire Cat in Wonderland

I’ve done what I came here to do.

I have provided you with three gifts.

I have provided you with the confirmed DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse for the pathology of “parental alienation.”

I have provided you with a means to require the American Psychological Association to revise their position statement on “parental alienation” to formally recognize that the pathology exists and formally designate children and families evidencing this pathology as representing a “special population” requiring specialized professional knowledge and expertise to competently assess, diagnose, and treat.

I have provided you with a road to reunite with your natural allies in mental health and restore the unity within mental health regarding the pathology of “parental alienation.”

There’s nothing more I can do for you at this point in time. It’s now up to you.

To Targeted Parents:

These are your children. This is your fight.

I’ve activated Standards 2.01 and 9.01 of the APA ethics code to give you the weapon of licensing board complaints that you need to require professional competence (Standard 2.01) in the assessment (Standard 9.01) of your children and families to prevent harm to you and your children (Standard 3.04).

I have given you the strategy for changing the APA’s position statement to formally recognize your children and families as a special population requiring specialized professional knowledge and expertise to competently assess, diagnose, and treat.

It’s now up to you.

The APA must eventually change its position statement to incorporate an attachment-based model of the pathology because their current position statement is now too narrow and too specific to only Gardnerian Parental Alienation Syndrome. So at some point they must change their position statement. Whether this takes one year or ten, is up to you.

To Gardnerian PAS Experts:

I’ve corrected the initial mistake by Gardner that took us down the wrong path of a “new syndrome” unique in all of mental health when he did not apply the professional rigor necessary to define the pathology within standard and established psychological principles and constructs.

By correcting this initial error of Gardner in too quickly abandoning established and accepted psychological principles and constructs in his proposal of a “new syndrome,” I have given you the DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed. This changes the conceptual framework from one of child custody and visitation to one of child protection which requires a period of protective separation for the child from the pathogenic parenting of the allied narcissistic/borderline parent during the active phase of the child’s treatment and recovery. 

Correcting Gardner’s initial error in proposing a “new syndrome” which is unique in all of professional psychology and by instead defining the pathology entirely within standard and established psychological principles and constructs, I’ve provided defined domains of professional knowledge (personality disorder pathology, attachment trauma pathology, family systems pathology) that are necessary for professional competence and expertise, and to which all mental health professionals can be held accountable.

I’ve given you a set of three definitive diagnostic indicators in the child’s symptom display that are defined by standard and established forms of symptom pathology and that can reliably identify the pathology of “parental alienation” and reliably differentiate the pathology of “parental alienation” from all other forms of parent-child conflict.

By reformulating the description of the pathology from entirely within standard and established professional constructs and principles within mental health, I’ve also given you a road back to reuniting with establishment mental health, and bringing the unity to mental health that is so desperately needed by targeted parents and their children.

It’s Up to You

Activating these gifts will require a paradigm shift from the Garderian PAS model to an attachment-based model. Whether this paradigm shift takes one year or ten, is up to you.

I’ve done what I set out to do. I’ve given you these gifts.

My continued overt presence on the stage of “parental alienation” serves no useful function at this point in time other than to distract from what needs to happen to activate these gifts. So, like the Cheshire Cat in Wonderland, my conversation with Alice is done and I will vanish now,

alice23a“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’

‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland; Chapter VI

So which way you decide to go is up to you now. And like the Cheshire Cat who has reached the end of his conversation with Alice, I will fade from view and allow you to choose whatever path you wish.

Going Dark

This will be my last blog post. My blog is going dark. And I don’t plan on making any more posts to the parental alienation area of my website. If a time comes that needs my Diagnosis book, I’ll produce that.

I’ll still be around. I’ll be available for expert testimony in court cases if your attorney thinks my testimony could be helpful, or for professional-to-professional consultations or writing collaborations. But this is your fight now. As I’ve said all along, I’m not your warrior, I’m your weapon.

I’ll still be working with Dorcy in getting you the intervention you need to restore your children’s normal-range functioning once you’re able to acquire the necessary protective separation (we must first be able to protect the child before we can ask the child to show his or her authenticity).  And I’ll be standing shoulder to shoulder with her in the upcoming battle with the pathogen.  But the assault on the individual allies of the pathogen, the binding sites of ignorance, and on the citadel of establishment mental health, these are your battles.  I cannot fight these battles for you.

My primary professional focus now will be to reveal a model of developmentally supportive child psychotherapy that’s based in the scientific research on the neuro-development of the brain during childhood, as a replacement for our current obsolete behaviorist child therapy approach that’s based in outdated research from the 1940s on changing the behavior of lab rats. You think solving “parental alienation” is difficult, I’m going to set about solving all of child psychotherapy.  I already have the model for that.  Wish me luck.

I’ve given you what you need, now it’s up to you. If it takes one year or ten, that’s up to you now.

This will be my last blog post. There is nothing more for me to to say that will advance our ability to change the mental health and legal response to the pathology.  You have Foundations.  You have Professional Consultation.  You have the ABAB Assessment and Remedy protocol. You have the online California Southern University Master Lecture Series seminars (google California Southern University Dr. Childress).  Foundations actives Standards 2.01 and 9.01 and gives you the DSM-5 diagnosis of Child Psychological Abuse, and an attachment-based alternative to Gardnerian PAS provides you with the reason needed to seek a change in the APA position statement.  You have everything you need.

So my blog is going dark.

“No, please stay with us.  We’ll miss you.”

If you need me, I’ll be here. And I’ll still be working with Dorcy on having the solution available when we reach that point. But there is nothing more for me to say for the time being. Things need to change. These are your children, this is ultimately your fight. If you’re waiting for someone to rescue you, you will be waiting a very long time.  I am a lone psychologist in private practice. I cannot rescue you. My going dark is empowering you.

I can only give you the tools you need and show you the strategy.  But you must come together.  You are all in this together.  You cannot solve the pathology of “parental alienation” in any one case, for just your child, until we solve “parental alienation” for all children.  “Me and mine” are narcissistic attitudes.  We cannot fight narcissism by being narcissistic.  You will only solve this pathology by coming together in support of each other, and not in mutual commiseration, but in action.

I’m leaving the stage so as not to distract you from your task, whatever you may decide that to be, wait for someone to rescue you, or set about the hard road of rescuing your children.

Like the Cheshire Cat with Alice,

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’

‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat,

Craig Childress, Psy.D
Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857

The Domestic Violence Variant

The first case of “parental alienation” I treated involved a narcissistic husband/father and a targeted parent mother. The father was clearly using the child’s induced rejection of the mother as a weapon to inflict suffering on his ex-wife for having rejected his self-perceived “magnificence,” and the child was in fear of the father’s narcissistic retaliation if the child failed to show sufficient rejection of his mother.

Soon after, I treated another case with a narcissistic/antisocial father and targeted parent mother. In this case the hostility of the adolescent son toward his mother was excessive and required her to call the police for self-protection on several occasions. The domestic violence themes of power, control, and domination which were being enacted by the narcissistic/antisocial father through the child’s open contempt, hostility, and disrespect for his mother were clearly evident.

I have since been involved in several other cases of “parental alienation” involving a narcissistic father who displayed obsessive-compulsive personality overtones (i.e., highly moralistic judgement of the ex-wife from fundamentalist religious beliefs), in which the domestic violence themes of power, control, and domination were again evident.

I am not a domestic violence expert, but as a clinical psychologist I know enough to recognize the pathology of domestic violence.

There are several related variants of “parental alienation” involving a narcissistic/(antisocial), narcissistic/(obsessive-compulsive), and narcissistic/(paranoid) personality husband-father and a targeted parent mother that essentially represent domestic violence by proxy. The verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse by the narcissistic father of the mother during and following the marriage in this variant of the “parental alienation” pathology clearly evidence the themes of power, control, and domination characteristic of domestic violence. 

In some cases the loss of the mother’s beloved children is used as the weapon to inflict suffering,

“Aren’t you sorry now that you left me. I’ve killed your children. You don’t have your children anymore. They’re mine.”

In other cases, the children’s open contempt and hostility toward the targeted parent mother are used as violence-by-proxy weapons by the narcissistic (or narcissistic/antisocial or narcissistic/obsessive-compulsive or narcissistic/paranoid) ex-husband to continue the emotional and psychological abuse of his ex-wife following divorce.

So as I was researching why the mental health system response to this pathology was so broken, imagine my surprise in learning that the National Organization of Women (NOW) was one of the staunchest opponents of the “parental alienation” construct. Are you kidding me? They should be one of our staunchest allies. But instead, they are active opponents to recognizing the pathology of “parental alienation.” Why?

Gardnerian PAS.

They are afraid that the poorly structured symptom descriptions of Gardnerian PAS will discount the reports by children of authentic domestic violence based on false allegations of “parental alienation” made by the abusive narcissistic spouse. They are afraid that children exposed to authentic domestic violence, who are authentically afraid of their violent and abusive narcissistic father, and who are authentically being protected by their normal-range mother, will have their fears discounted based on false allegations of “parental alienation.”

So I looked at that concern. I imagined scenarios of authentic domestic violence and applied the Gardnerian eight symptom identifiers to these hypothetical cases. Is it possible that a poor application of the Gardnerian eight symptom identifiers could result in an authentically abused child potentially being returned to and re-exposed to an abusive narcissistic father based on a false allegation of “parental alienation”?

And you know what? Using the Gardnerian eight symptom identifiers… it’s possible.

That’s why you see the opening statement of the APA’s Position Statement on Parental Alienation Syndrome address the issue of discounting allegations of domestic violence. They have a legitimate concern and this legitimate concern is officially recognized by the American Psychological Association.

So one of my main goals in working out an alternative model and alternative set of diagnostic indicators has been to address this concern of NOW and other domestic violence mental health professionals to ensure the protection of children from authentic child abuse by a narcissistic ex-husband/father.

A child who has been authentically abused will not meet the three diagnostic criteria of an attachment-based model of “parental alienation.”

The primary diagnostic indicator that will not be met by authentically abused children who are afraid of their abusive parent is Diagnostic Indicator 2: five specific personality disorder traits evidenced in the child’s symptom display. Authentically abused children will not evidence a haughty and arrogant attitude toward the abusive parent, and authentically abused children will not evidence an attitude of entitlement toward the abusive parent.

Nor will authentically abused children meet Diagnostic Indicator 3 of an attachment-based model of “parental alienation” regarding a delusional belief in the supposedly “abusive” parenting of the normal-range and affectionally available targeted parent, because in authentic abuse the child’s beliefs regarding the abusive parenting of the feared parent have a reality basis. They are not delusional. They are real and authentic concerns that can be supported by the evidence.

The child will actually not meet Diagnostic Indicator 1 of attachment system suppression either, but recognizing that symptom feature is more subtle and requires expertise in the attachment system display of children and the attachment system display in response to trauma.

In my former role as the Clinical Director for an early childhood assessment and treatment center, one of our primary client groups were children in the foster care system (we had a contract with the Department of Children and Family Services – our child protective services agency). I have seen all of the various forms of severe child neglect, physical abuse, and sexual abuse. Meth addicted parents whose children had no food in the house for days as the meth parent slept off a multiple-day drug binge. Children of meth addicted parents who were sexually abused by other meth addict friends of the parent while high. Children who were beaten with electrical cords leaving raised welts across their backs, or who had burns from where the parent put cigarettes out on the child’s arm as a form of discipline. I’ve seen authentic child abuse up close and personal.

And the attachment system response of these authentically abused children does not display the same pattern of distortion as it does in the pathology of “parental alienation.” If you know the attachment system and if you know how it responds to authentic trauma, it’s actually quite easy to differentiate the authentic trauma of child abuse from the induced pathology of “parental alienation.”

Our goal is to protect 100% of children 100% of the time from all forms of child abuse, physical, sexual, and psychological.

Interestingly, just the other day I took on two new cases involving “parental alienation.” One is a treatment-related case involving a clearly borderline personality mother who has a narcissistic personality veneer, who is seeking to make the ex-husband an ex-father in order to establish her “dream family” with the new spouse (with mountains of substantiated false and delusional allegations by the mother of supposed “abuse” by the clearly normal-range and affectionally available father), and the other case I accepted is a legal case working as a consultant and possible expert witness for an attorney involving a false allegation of “parental alienation” in which a clearly narcissistic, emotionally and psychologically abusive ex-husband and father is seeking to discount the child’s authentic fear by making false allegations that the child’s authentic fears are the product of “parental alienation” by the mother. In the legal case, I’ll be applying an attachment-based model to the child’s symptom display, along with the prior evidence of substantiated abuse, and I will be using this model to highlight how the child’s symptom display is actually consistent with authentic anxiety associated with chld abuse rather than induced pathology.

False allegations of “parental alienation” are a legitimate concern.  Not everything is a dog.  But neither is everything a cat.

Domestic Violence “Parental Alienation”

We need to recognize the legitimate concerns of mental health professionals and women’s rights groups regarding authentic domestic violence and child abuse relative to problematic aspects of the Gardnerian eight symptom identifiers. We should be allies with domestic violence mental health professionals and women’s rights groups, not adversaries. An attachment-based model of “parental alienation” with its three diagnostic indicators can achieve this reunification with our domestic violence allies in mental health.

There are a group of variants within the “parental alienation” pathology that essentially represent domestic violence by proxy.

The domestic violence variants of “parental alienation” typically involve a narcissistic husband-father (although not always) who may have additional antisocial, obsessive-compulsive (i.e., rigid moralistic beliefs), or paranoid overtones to the personality disorder pathology. In these cases, the targeted parent mother was typically attracted initially to the narcissistic/(antisocial) charm of the husband, and she believed that their emotional intimacy would develop over time during their marriage.

However, once married, the narcissistic emotional and psychological abuse by the husband became increasingly more evident. Eventually, the wife could no longer tolerate the emotional coldness and distance of the narcissistic husband and his continual openly displayed contempt and hostility toward her. In some cases, the children may have been so exposed to the father’s openly contemptuous and demeaning treatment of the mother that they are primed to evidence the same attitude toward the mother, in other cases the narcissistic father’s incapacity for emotional intimacy has allowed the children to form an emotionally close bond with the mother during the period of the marriage and intact family.

Having suffered years of emotional and psychological abuse from her narcissistic husband, the wife eventually decides to divorce her abusive narcissistic husband. It is at this point that the “parental alienation” pathology takes off into over-drive. This rejection of the abusive narcissistic husband creates a narcissistic injury of exposing his core self-inadequacy to public display. The narcissistic ex-husband is being publicly exposed by the divorce and by the wife’s rejection of him as being an inadequate husband and person.

This narcissistic injury provokes a narcissistic rage and an intense desire for retaliatory revenge against the ex-wife. However, because she is no longer physically present in the home to be emotionally and psychologically degraded and abused by the narcissistic ex-husband, he turns to his only remaining weapon, the children who are beloved by the mother, as the means to exact his retaliatory revenge and continue his emotional and psychological abuse of her.

By divorcing the narcissistic (antisocial, moralistic obsessive-compulsive, paranoid) ex-husband, the mother has escaped his direct emotional and psychological abuse and degradation. But because they still share children, she has not escaped him entirely, and he can continue his abuse of her indirectly through his use of the children as his proxy weapons of continuing emotional and psychological domestic violence.

With the mother’s decision to divorce, the narcissistic husband begins to poison the children against their mother by blaming her for the divorce and for her supposedly breaking up “our family” because “she doesn’t love us anymore.” The interpersonal power of narcissistic confidence and his open contempt for the children’s mother models for them what their attitude toward her should be. The father elicits criticisms from the children of their mother through his directive and motivated questioning and their role-reversal relationships with him as external “regulatory objects” to stabilize his emotional and psychological state. The narcissistic ex-husband and father then inflames and exploits these elicited child criticisms to create a culture of denigrating the mother for her supposed inadequacies and failures as a parent (as a person), all the while hiding his continuing psychological and emotional abuse of the mother behind the children’s induced hostility and rejection:

“I’m just listening to the children. Just ask them. I’m telling them that they need to love their mother no matter how bad she is. But what can I do, she’s just a bad parent. Just ask the children.”

This is not some “new form of pathology.” This is a all a manifestation of standard personality disorder pathology triggered by the rejection inherent to divorce. Once we stop thinking “parental alienation” and start thinking narcissistic personality disorder pathology (in the domestic violence variants with possible antisocial, moralistic obsessive-compulsive, and paranoid overtones, in other variants with possible borderline and histrionic overtones), the pathology becomes evident and easily diagnosable by professionals who are competent in assessing and diagnosing personality disorder pathology.

There is no “new syndrome.”  Richard Gardner was simply a poor diagnostician. 

It’s all standard and well-established forms of pathology fully accepted within the established domain of clinical psychology. We need to stop thinking “new form of pathology” and simply do an adequate job of diagnosing pathology.

The personality disorder pathology of the psychologically controlling parent will be evident in the child’s symptom display. Since the child’s symptoms are being induced by the personality disordered parent, the child’s symptoms act as a lens into exposing the exact personality disorder pathology of the narcissistic parent – with borderline overtones, with antisocial overtones, with histrionic overtones, with paranoid overtones, with moralistic obsessive-compulsive overtones.

Dr. Childress’ “new theory.” Nonsense. Personality disorder pathology. The only reason it seems “new” to some people is because personality disorder pathology is new to them. This is nothing new. Standard mental health constructs and pathology.

Letter of Support

I was recently asked for consultation regarding the domestic violence variant of “parental alienation” by a mental health professional who is seeking to get this component domestic violence by proxy pathology incorporated into the domestic violence response of the mental health system in her state. In response to her request for consultation, I wrote a letter of support for recognizing variants of “parental alienation” pathology as a form of domestic violence. I have posted this letter of support to my website in case this letter might be helpful to targeted parents who are going through this type of domestic violence by proxy form of the “parental alienation” pathology.

Domestic Violence in “Parental Alienation” Support Letter

Mental health professionals concerned about domestic violence and women’s rights groups, such as the National Organization of Women, should NOT be our adversaries, they are actually are natural allies. They have legitimate concerns. We need to address their legitimate concerns. An attachment-based model of the pathology of “parental alienation” that defines the pathology from the perspective of standard and established personality disorder pathology provides a road to reuniting with our allies in domestic violence prevention and treatment.

Let’s take that road.

Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857

The APA End Game

Let me start by saying that I know persons of other nationalities are following the discussion, but I’m not trying to solve things in your countries, at least not yet (you’ll see my thoughts on this aspect by the end of this post). I’m just trying to solve things in the United States right now.

In the United States, the key player in the solution is the American Psychological Association, the APA. The APA has established standards of practice governing psychologists, the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. There are different professional organizations for Marriage and Family Therapy and Social Work, but if the APA changes then these other professional organizations will follow suit. The key is the APA.

It doesn’t matter what we think as a collective group within “parental alienation experts.” What matters is what the APA thinks. The end game is not whether Dr. Baker and Dr. Childress make up and play nice. That’s not going to change a thing. What matters is that we create change in the APA that will ripple through all of the professional practice response to the pathology of “parental alienation.”

What’s important to understand, is that I have a strategy here. I’m not just running off crazy and half-cocked. There is definitely a strategy to this. There are about 20 components to this strategy, with about three main lines. I laid out one of the main lines in my post I’ll Explain It Just Once. In this current post I’m going to explain another main line to the strategy, the APA end game strategy. But it’s important to understand that there is a strategy to this.

My Motivation

I’m not a “parental alienation” expert. I’m from the outside. I’m from ADHD and early childhood mental health. I only came over here to fix the broken mental health response to the pathology of “parental alienation.” Once we’ve completed the APA end game, I’m going back to ADHD and parenting generally.

The reason I left ADHD and came over here is because this is the most horrific pathology I have ever seen, and I’ve worked with kids in the foster care system. To kill someone’s children because you’re mad at them and want revenge is an abomination. And what this pathology does to the self-structure development of children is a form of child psychological abuse. When I ran into this pathology and recognized the extent of the failures in both the legal system and the mental health system, I just had to stop what I was doing and come over here to fix this.

The first thing I did was a thorough analysis of the broken mental health system and legal system response. Once I figured out what needed to happen to fix these systems’ response to the pathology, and the order of the fix, I then set about analyzing the structure of the pathology. I realized that people wouldn’t be able to recognize the solution by just explaining it to them, there were too many integrated moving parts to the solution. I would simply have to enact the solution, and then at some point they would see its integration and go, “Ohhhhh, I get it.” Hopefully we’re reaching the “I get it” moment (actually we’re past where I thought it would start to dawn on people). 

So now I’m going to explain the APA end game.

The APA Strategy

The primary problem in the professional mental health response to the pathology of “parental alienation” is the degree of extensive incompetence of mental health professionals who are involved in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of this pathology. If we could limit the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment to only persons expert in Gardnerian PAS we’d have the solution. Problem is, we can’t.

So we need to establish domains of competence to which all mental health professionals can be held accountable in order to clear out the extensive incompetence surrounding the recognition and diagnosis of this pathology. This will allow us to gain control of the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of this pathology. Establishing domains of professional competence that would be subject to APA Standard 2.01 (and 9.01) requires that the APA give its tacit approval to the pathology. There’s no formal governing body of the APA tasked with “approving” official pathologies, but if we can obtain a signal from the APA, then this would go a huge way to solving things.

The group tasked with formally designating pathologies is the American Psychiatric Association through their diagnostic codex, the DSM (currently in its fifth revision; the DSM-5). I know, Psychological – Psychiatric; APA and APA. Confusing. But we in mental health have all of this squared away. I’m focused on changes in the American Psychological Association not changes in the DSM.

The key is the APA (American Psychological Association) Position Statement on Parental Alienation Syndrome. Notice an interesting aspect of this official position statement, it is directed specifically at Gardnerian PAS. It’s so incredibly specific. If we offer up an entirely different model for defining the pathology, then the APA must then CHANGE their position statement to accommodate this new model. Are gears beginning to click into place, are you beginning to get it?

This change in the position statement MUST occur, because the current position statement ONLY covers Gardnerian PAS.

Whether this formal change to the wording of the position statement occurs in 10 years, or 5 years, or next week, it must at some point change. That’s the revolutionary importance of Foundations. It presents the American Psychological Association with an entirely different and separate model for defining the pathology, so that they MUST now change their official position statement in order to accommodate this new model as well. Ten years, five years, next week, it must happen, it’s just a matter of time.  Get it?

I’ll give you a little preview of where this post is going to end. I want to achieve a four-day conference hosted by the APA with invited participants to work out the new wording changes to the official APA position statement. The participants at this official sit-down will include representation from our team and representation from opponents and other relevant stakeholders. From this 4-day official conference, the APA will announce the new wording, and the group will probably produce an official position statement paper, with individual commentary by each of the participants who want to provide a commentary.

From our team, I’d like to see William Bernet, Amy Baker, Linda Gottlieb, and myself. I’d like Dr. Bernet to lead our team. I’m not familiar enough with the other side to comment on who would receive an APA invitation for that team, but it’s likely to include all the standard arch-nemeses of Gardnerian PAS.

But this is important to understand:

This formal APA 4-day conference is ONLY to address wording changes to the APA position statement made necessary by a NEW model – an attachment-based model – NOT to deal with anything Gardnerian PAS, because the current position statement of the APA fully addresses what they want to say about “Parental Alienation Syndrome.” Been there, done that.

So the ONLY people who will receive invitations from the APA (I’m not going to be in charge of invitations to this little soiree; the APA is going to decide to whom it wants to extend invitations) will be people relevant to the discussion of wording changes needed to address the NEW attachment-based model. They are not going to re-open Gardnerian PAS. So if William Bernet and Amy Baker and Linda Gottlieb – or whoever – want an invitation to this event, and I really-really want them at the table, then they are going to have to speak from an attachment-based perspective, because that’s the only people who will be on our side. The APA is not going to invite Gardnerian PAS people. They’ve already decided on that model. That’s closed.

Do I hear more gears clicking?

So let me finish off with the guest list. I’d like to see our team headed by Dr. Bernet because he has the most extensive knowledge of the pathology and of the history of trying to get formal recognition for the pathology. I’d like Amy Baker there because of her solid research into the pathology and she is the media face of “parental alienation.” I’d like Linda Gottlieb there because she worked with Salvador Minuchin and she has the family systems component nailed. I’ll be there as the central representative of the NEW model.

But Drs. Bernet and Baker and Linda Gottlieb are ONLY going to receive an invitation from the APA (not from me, from the APA) if they are relevant to an attachment-based model, because their expertise in Gardnerian PAS isn’t relevant to the purpose of the conference, which is ONLY made necessary by the need for a wording change to accommodate a NEW alternative model to Gardnerian PAS for describing the pathology.

So when Dr. Bernet and the other Gardnerians want me to play nice and work together, they don’t get it. If an attachment-based model is subsumed under a Gardnerian PAS model, then there is NO REASON for the APA to revise its position statement. It is vital – and indeed central – to this strategy that an attachment-based model be an entirely different and ALTERNATIVE model to the Gardnerian PAS model. This will force the APA to change the wording to their position statement. Get it?

To flesh out my wish list for the participants from our team, I would hope that Karen Woodall could receive an invitation representing our global colleagues, since this is a global phenomenon, and I would propose that Amanda Sillars attend representing both Australia and the stake-holders of targeted parents. I think that’s a pretty good dance card for our team.  But I’m open to who is on our team.

I know this, though.  If none of the Gardnerians change to an attachment-based model, I may have to carry representation all on my own.  I don’t want to, but if I have to I will.

Then there will be the other side, probably composed of all the arch-nemeses of Gardnerian PAS.

But again, this APA conference is only caused by an attachment-based model being a new and alternative model to Gardnerian PAS, so that there are now two different models which must be addressed by the APA’s position statement, and the only people getting invitations will be attachment-based people since the Gardnerian PAS model will be nowhere on the agenda.

Back in my younger days of being an expert in Internet Psychology, I received an invitation from the American Academy for the Advancement of Science in collaboration with the Office for Protection from Research Risks (OPRR) to a conference to develop a white paper on Internet research in mental health. I envision a very similar sort of targeted “white paper” type of officially sponsored 4-day conference, focused specifically on coming up with wording changes to the APA position statement made necessary by the NEW attachment-based alternative to the Gardnerian PAS model

Is the strategy starting to make sense to you?

Positions

Our position is that we want two things, 1) acknowledgement that the pathology exists, and 2) designation of these children and families as representing a special population who require specialized professional knowledge and expertise to assess, diagnose, and treat.

I think those are totally middle-of-the-road and reasonable positions.

Here’s how I envision the negotiation process:

Their Side: No Gardnerian PAS.

Our Side: Agreed

Our Side: Acknowledge the pathology exists (personality disorder pathology affecting families surrounding divorce) and “special population” status for these families.

Their Side: Agreed.

Yay. Breakthrough. The gridlock is ended.

(We may have the framework of a deal worked out even before the start of the conference).

Now to the specifics of the wording.

Wording of Pathology Exists

Our Side: “Family relationships surrounding divorce can be affected by a variety of factors, including the negative influence of one parent regarding the child’s relationship with the other parent.”

Their Side: We want acknowledgement of child abuse trauma and domestic violence.

Our Side: Then we also want acknowledgement of “pathogenic parenting” and personality disorder pathology

Proposal: “Family relationships surrounding divorce can be affected by a variety of factors including the child’s response to child abuse, prior domestic violence in the home, and pathogenic parenting by a personality disordered parent.

And so we’d go, back-and-forth. Perhaps the best option would be to remain general and not be too specific, and to just produce a general sentence that:

Proposal: “Family relationships surrounding divorce can be affected by a variety of complex factors.”

I could probably live with that. The conference itself and the invited guest list of conference participants is acknowledging that the pathology exists. We’d work something out in terms of acceptable wording. My goal is to get us the conference, the sit-down with APA. From that point on, I’m flexible.

Wording of Special Population

Our Side: “Because of the varied complexities of family relationships, those families that are involved in high-conflict divorce situations represent a special population requiring specialized professional knowledge and expertise to competently assess, diagnose, and treat.”

Their Side: “We want this specialized knowledge to include children’s response to abuse trauma and domestic violence.”

Our Side:  “Agreed. We want this specialized knowledge to include personality disorder pathology, attachment trauma pathology, and family systems expertise.”

And so we’ll work out the exact wording, back-and-forth in productive dialogue and mutual cooperation to reach a common goal. The APA itself can close its position statement with the same general neutral position it currently has, of having “no official position” on the pathology of “parental alienation.” No problem.

Kumbaya, and the lion lays down with the lamb.

Okay, I’m not entirely that naïve. But we’re smart people. We’ll be able to work something out. If the other side becomes intransigent, then they will just marginalize themselves because then they expose that nothing is acceptable to them. Narcissistic and borderline pathology exists. The particular vulnerabilities of these personality disturbances will be specifically triggered by divorce. To be intransigent on recognizing this is simply to maintain a false position of inflexibility. Authentic child abuse and domestic violence exist. We have no problem acknowledging that, as long as the pathology (personality disorders and “parental alienation” – with a fall-back position to “pathogenic parenting”) is also acknowledged as existing. Dogs exist and cats exist. No problem. We’ll be able to work this out.

Then I go back to ADHD, leaving Dr. Bernet, Dr. Baker, Linda Gottlieb and the rest of the “parental alienation” experts to work out the details within the actual field of practice.

The conference itself will be a high-profile acknowledgement that the pathology exists, as is the need for a wording change to the APA position statement. As importantly, if not more so, is that targeted parents and their children are formally designated as a special population requiring specialized professional knowledge and expertise, which will dramatically improve the quality of the mental health response to the pathology.

Paradigm Shift

From where I sit, this is a win all the way around, most of all for the targeted parents and their families. But it is ONLY made possible by a second NEW model alternative to Gardnerian PAS. As long as Gardnerian PAS remains the dominant paradigm for defining the pathology, there is no need for the APA to change its position statement.

Are you still not seeing that?

So, Dr. Bernet, when you write an article saying that an attachment-based model is just the same old thing (Old Wine in Old Wine Skins) you are actually preventing this sit-down with the APA.

You’re all saying I’m not working with you. From my position, you’re not working with me.

My goal is to get this sit-down sometime in 2016 simply by the pressure on the APA applied by targeted parents. But Dr. Bernet, imagine if you went to your contacts in the APA and started talking up the attachment-based model,

“Oh my God, there’s a new model out here for parental alienation that defines it from entirely within standard and established constructs using the attachment system. This could potentially revolutionize our approach to diagnosis and treatment. You really need to take this new model into consideration. We need a sit-down conference to work out wording changes to your official APA position statement to take this new model into consideration.”

And I’m handing you the good-cop/bad-cop on a silver platter.

APA: Well Bill, you know this Dr. Childress calling for licensing board complaints, that’s kind of over the top

Bill:  Yeah, I know.  He gets like that. But if we had this sit-down conference to change the wording of the APA’s position statement, I’m confident I could get him to back off on that.

Work with me people.  I’m taking the outside position so you don’t have to.  You can be all moderation and reasonableness.  Work with me.  You don’t think I know what I’m doing?

Dr. Baker, you are the media face of “parental alienation.” Imagine if you made a high-profile switch to using the three diagnostic indicators of an attachment-based model. That would create a tectonic shift in mental health. The APA would have to have this sit-down with us on a wording change to their official position statement.  You and Dr Bernet working in tandem, it’s sure to get done.

Work with me people. I’m not your enemy. If you stop me, then we don’t get this 4-day conference to change the wording of the APA position statement to acknowledge that the pathology exists and obtain special population status for targeted parents and their children.

But this is ONLY possible from an attachment-based model. It is not possible from a Gardnerian PAS model because the APA already has a position statement on Gardnerian PAS.  

And look at this, if their position statement were about “parental alienation” more generally, a wording change might be a harder sell. But look there, right in the title, and in the body of the statement, they are ONLY referring to Gardnerian PAS. A new alternative model has ‘em. They have to change their position statement to accommodate the new alternative model as well. We’ve got ‘em.

But only if we approach this from an attachment-based model perspective.

And then look at the first key breakthrough. Our opponents don’t want a Gardnerian PAS model. We agree. That’s the key to achieving this breakthrough. But then does the position statement say there’s no Gardnerian PAS?  No it doesn’t.  If you want to go back to a Gardnerian model after the conference, go ahead.  After the conference if you want to define 30 variants of “parental alienation,” be my guest.  There will be more than enough time for that, once we stop the bleeding out of this pathology.

Think of this, once we get a statement that the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment requires specialized knowledge and expertise, this doesn’t specify what knowledge and expertise.  You can all discuss and debate what type of expertise is necessary to your heart’s content.  Fine by me.  But first things first.

Dr. Bernet, Amy Baker, Linda Gottlieb and the rest, if you insist on holding onto the Gardnerian PAS model, then I along with those targeted parents who “get it” are ultimately going to provoke the APA into this 4-day conference (that’s why I’m calling for licensing board complaints – I’m trying to motivate the APA to address our issues, the wording changes to the official APA position statement. – I’m trying to be as annoying as hell to them. Get it?).

And this conference won’t be about Gardnerian PAS.  They already have a position statement about Gardnerian PAS.  If you hold onto Gardnerian PAS you won’t get an invitation to participate in this conference, because the conference is NOT going to re-open Gardnerian PAS. It’s ONLY going to address wording changes to the APA position statement prompted by the existence of a second, alternative model to Gardnerian PAS.

I want you at this conference. Dr. Bernet, I’d like you to lead our side. Amy Baker, Linda Gottlieb, I’d like you there. But I’m not in charge of the guest list invitations. If you remain on the outside, you will remain on the outside. Ultimately targeted parents and I are going to prod and provoke the APA into eventually holding this 4-day conference on wording changes to their official position statement on “parental alienation.”  It’s going to happen because the current position statement of their’s is too narrow now that there are two alternative models.  Get it?  If you simply subsume the attachment-based model into the current Gardnerian model then we lose this entire advantage. Get it?

This is really far more of the strategy than I was hoping to have to spell out in print.  After all, we will eventually be going into negotiations and I’d rather not spell out too much in advance.  I was hoping that just the general sophistication advantage of the attachment-based model and it’s ability to give us a DSM-5 diagnosis of Child Psychological Abuse and the call to change the APA position statement would be enough to get you to come on board.  But apparently not.  So I guess I need to be really specific on the strategy.

Good-cop/bad-cop.  Get a conference with the APA for them to change their wording on their official position statement to acknowledge the pathology and require specialized domains of knowledge and expertise. Get it?

If left on our own, I’m hoping that targeted parents and I can achieve this sit-down with APA sometime in 2016.  But maybe targeted parents will be slow to mobilize and activate. And maybe it will take two or three years to achieve this conference. But Dr. Bernet and Dr. Baker, with your fully active support, could we achieve this 4-day conference by March of 2016?  April?  July?  Every day that passes is one day too long for these families.

Please. Don’t sit on the sidelines in this fight. You’re saying I’m not cooperating with you. From where I sit, you’re not cooperating with me. We’re all on the same team. Join me. But if you choose to sit on the sidelines and force targeted parents and I to achieve this sit-down with the APA entirely on our own, oh well, I guess that’s what we have to do.

This is far more of the strategy than I was hoping to have to disclose. So if at some point this blog post mysteriously disappears, don’t be surprised.

So we have the APA end game and we have the DSM-5 diagnosis of Child Psychological Abuse. Those are two of the lines. There’s more. There’s another line for how we join with allies in domestic violence and attachment trauma, both for the conference but also for the DSM-5.1 revision.  There’s more. But are you starting to see it yet?

If you leave targeted parents and I to do this on our own, well, not much we can do about that.  We’ll do what we have to do.

Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857

Personal Boycott

I am not speaking to targeted parents, I am speaking only to my professional colleagues in mental health.

Let me extend this request to all of my professional colleagues on this side of the “parental alienation” debate within mental health, whether you like me or not, whether you support me or not.  Let’s stop using the term “professional” to refer to our mental health colleagues on the other side who are evidencing such profound professional ignorance and incompetence in their response to this pathology. Let’s start calling them “mental health persons.”

I’m asking for a professional boycott on our use of the word “professional” in referring to our professional colleagues who are colluding with the expression of this savage and brutal psychopathology.  If you choose to join me in this boycott, you can do so openly as I’m doing through the strikeout, or you can simply subtly replace the word “professional” with “person.”

I know for myself, I’m not going to use the term again in reference to them until they begin to act like “professionals.” I’m done calling them professionals. To me, they are mental health persons until they start behaving at a level commensurate with a professional.

We can’t get to this boycott through Gardnerian PAS. If we try to use Gardnerian PAS to start boycotting the use of the term “professional” then we just look petulant.

But I’m using personality disorder pathology. I’m done with Gardnerian PAS. I am acting from entirely within standard and established psychological principles and constructs. I want either professional competence or I want the professional licenses of incompetent mental health professions revoked.

I know licensing boards won’t revoke their license… yet.  But I want these ignorant and incompetent mental health professionals persons to know that I’m trying with all my knowledge, skill, and determination to revoke their license to practice. And they underestimate me at their peril.

Core Issue

The core issue is the savage and brutal covert anger dyscontrol of a narcissistic or borderline personality spouse and parent being expressed into the surrounding family context, and the collusion with and abetting of this covert anger dyscontrol pathology by the professional ignorance and incompetence of the mental health professional person.

Core Principle

The core principle guiding my actions is Standard 1.04 of the APA ethics code that states,

1.04 Informal Resolution of Ethical Violations
When psychologists believe that there may have been an ethical violation by another psychologist, they attempt to resolve the issue by bringing it to the attention of that individual, if an informal resolution appears appropriate and the intervention does not violate any confidentiality rights that may be involved.

The ethical violation by these mental health professionals persons is of Standard 2.01 of the APA ethics code regarding practice beyond the boundaries of their professional competence, and the area of professional competence is in the manifestation of narcissistic and borderline personality pathology into a family context surrounding divorce (rejection by the attachment figure of the former spouse).

The core feature of this pathology’s expression is of the savage and brutal covert anger dyscontrol expressed by the narcissistic or borderline personality spouse and parent, and the manipulative and exploitative use of the child by the narcissistic and borderline spouse and parent as a means for the covert expression of psychologically violent anger dyscontrol.

Notice I’m not using the term “parental alienation” anywhere. All standard and well-established psychological principles and constructs.

These mental health persons are not recognizing and not responding appropriately to personality disorder pathology. Personality disorder pathology exists. I’m not a Gardnerian PAS advocate. I’ve distanced myself from Gardnerian PAS. I’m a standard and established mental health guy. And from entirely within standard and established psychological principles and constructs, I am personally boycotting the term “professional” when referring to mental health professionals persons who are practicing beyond the boundaries of their competence, and so who are, as a result, colluding with and abetting the savage and brutal covert expression of anger dyscontrol by a narcissistic or borderline personality spouse and parent toward the targeted parent.

I am asking my professional colleagues to consider joining me in this boycott, as a matter of personal conscience and in a personal expression of solidarity with the victims of this savage and brutal covert expression of anger dyscontrol by a narcissistic or borderline personality spouse and parent.

This pathology must stop.

Through their ignorance and incompetence regarding the expression of narcissistic and borderline personality pathology into and within a family context, these mental health professionals persons are colluding with and abetting in the psychological brutalization of the ex-spouse.

The narcissistic or borderline spouse and parent is manipulating and exploiting the children (fully consistent with the interpersonal processes characteristic of narcissistic and borderline psychopathology) to be used as weapons for inflicting suffering onto the ex-spouse. The desire to produce suffering in the ex-spouse is a manifestation of the anger dyscontrol associated with the narcissistic and borderline personality psychopathology.

The manipulation and exploitation of the children in this pathology represents a manifestation of the characteristic interpersonal style and approach of narcissistic and borderline personalities. The anger dyscontrol of the narcissistic or borderline spouse and parent is being covertly manifested through the manipulation and exploitation of the children as vehicles for the expression of this anger dyscontrol.

If mental health professionals are going to assess, diagnose, and treat – in any way – the impact created in the family from narcissistic and borderline personality pathology surrounding a divorce, then they MUST possess a high level of professional expertise in the overt and the covert manifestations of the pathology of narcissistic and borderline personalities.

The propensity for both overt and covert expressions of anger dyscontrol by a narcissistic or borderline personality, particularly arising from the interpersonal rejection inherent to divorce (rejection by the attachment figure), places the ex-spouse at a high risk of being targeted for the anger dyscontrol of the narcissistic or borderline personality spouse and parent. Intense anger is associated with both the narcissistic and borderline forms of personality pathology, and intense anger is also associated with interpersonal violence and brutalization. Mental health professionals treating this form of psychopathology in the family must therefore be highly alert and sensitized to recognizing both overt and covert expressions of interpersonal psychological violence and the brutalization of the ex-spouse by the pathology of the narcissistic or borderline personality spouse and parent.

Failure to possess the required professional competence regarding the overt and covert manifestations of narcissistic and borderline psychopathology with a family context represents practice beyond the boundaries of professional competence in violation of Standard 2.01 of the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct of the American Psychological Association.

When there is an ethical violation by our colleagues, we are required by Standard 1.04 of the APA ethics code to “resolve the issue by bringing it to the attention of that individual,” In my decision to personally boycott referring to these ignorant, stupid, and incompetent mental health professionals persons as professionals, I am exercising my professional obligation to “resolve the issue by bringing it to the attention of that individual” consistent with my ethical responsibilities under Standard 1.04 of the ethics code.

I don’t care if they recognize that they are assessing, diagnosing, or treating narcissistic or borderline personality pathology within the family – because you know what? That’s their job to recognize that they’re treating personality disorder pathology.

To the stupid and incompetent mental health person:

You are not a plumber. You are not an engineer. You are a mental health professional, and unless you act like a mental health professional you don’t deserve to be called a mental health professional.

So from here are out, to me, you are not a professional. You are a plumber who is doing mental health work. You are an engineer. You are simply a person. You are not a mental health professional. You are simply an incompetent and stupid person who is doing mental health related work. I don’t care what letters you have after your name or what job you may hold. You are an incompetent and stupid person until you start acting with the knowledge and competence of a professional.

The core of this pathology is narcissistic and borderline personality pathology. That’s what needs to be recognized and understood within the mental health system. This isn’t “parental alienation.” This is a manifestation of narcissistic and borderline personality pathology surrounding divorce. This is the core of the issue that I want to drive into and throughout the mental health system. Narcissistic and borderline personality pathology exists. It is activated by divorce. It is prone to anger dyscontrol that can be both savage and brutal. You know it. I know it. And they know it.

Both the narcissistic and borderline personality pathologies are referenced and operationally defined in the DSM-5. Narcissistic and borderline personalities have also been extensively described in the works the preeminent theorists Otto Kernberg, Theodore Millon, and Arron Beck. This is established and existing, fully recognized and fully accepted psychopathology. I want to drive this pathology into the mental health system’s understanding regarding the pathology that we typically describe as “parental alienation.”

We can talk about all the variations and nuances of the “parental alienation” pathology later, once we bring this pathology to an end. But first, I want to stop the evil of a narcissistic or borderline personality ex-spouse seeking revenge on the abandoning attachment figure of the targeted parent by killing the targeted parent’s children (“Now aren’t you sorry you rejected me. You don’t have your children anymore. I’ve killed your beautiful, wonderful children.” – evil, pure evil).

Mental health professionals persons who collude with the pathology and abet in the enactment of this evil do not deserve the appellation of “professional,” and from here on out, I’m not going to give it to them.

I’m going to try as hard as I can, as a mental health professional, to overtly and publicly shame my professional colleagues for their professional ignorance and incompetence.

To all my professional colleagues on this side of understanding, who know the reality of “parental alienation,” I’m not going to nit-pick and get diverted by all the different shades and variations of this pathology. I know they exist. There will be time enough for that once we bring this pathology to an end. But I want to drive home to the core of our professional colleagues on the other side that this isn’t some esoteric fictional pathology, this is an all too real and existing, severe and savage pathology that they are colluding with and that they are abetting because of their professional ignorance and stupidity.

Professional Decorum

To the incompetent and stupid mental health professionals persons:

If you don’t like me calling you ignorant and stupid. Then stop being ignorant and stupid.

“Dr. Childress, you need to act with greater professional decorum toward your professional colleagues.”

You’re absolutely right. I agree 100%. And the moment they begin to act like professionals is the moment I will treat them with appropriate professional respect.

Why are you talking to me about professional decorum, and giving a complete pass to their profound professional ignorance and stupidity that is colluding with and abetting the severe and savage psychological brutality of narcissistic and borderline personality psychopathology that is being expressed within the family.

If a narcissistic and brutally violent husband beat his ex-wife so that she lay in a crumpled mass on the floor, bloody, swollen, and bruised, would you just walk away – no wait – would you actually hand this narcissistic husband a stick, a rod, a staff, so that he could beat her all the more savagely, breaking her ribs and injuring her even more severely?

Because that is EXACTLY what is happening. Only the beating and the club are psychological, not physical. And you are colluding with and abetting in the covert psychological brutalization of the ex-spouse by the narcissistic or borderline pathology of the supposedly “favored” parent, who is manipulating and exploiting the child – fully consistent with the pathology of the narcissistic or borderline parent and spouse.

You should be ashamed of yourself, for both your ignorance and for you abject professional incompetence.

If you don’t like me calling you ignorant and incompetent, then don’t be ignorant and incompetent.

So APA, what would you say about a mental health professional person who not only didn’t step in to stop the savage and brutal beating of the ex-spouse, but who actually handed the violent narcissistic spouse the rod to more fully beat his ex-spouse with even greater savagery? Why are you chastising me for my lack of professional decorum in pointing out the savage psychological brutalization of the ex-spouse, and you are not at all addressing the ignorant stupidity and incompetence of the mental health professional person who gives the man the staff to more savagely beat his ex-wife?

If you want me to be quiet, if you want me to act with professional decorum toward my professional colleagues, then DO SOMETHING about the beating. Make it stop, and I’ll shut up. Make it stop, and I’ll be nice and polite. But make it stop.

If you stand by and do nothing, then I will call you stupid and ignorant and incompetent. Because you are stupid and ignorant and incompetent. If you don’t like me calling you these things then stop being these things.

Standard 2.01: Don’t be incompetent

Standard 1.04: Call attention to their incompetence

Anger Dsycontrol

Central to the pathology of both the narcissistic and the borderline personality is their immense vulnerability to anger dyscontrol. Overt anger dyscontrol is readily apparent. Yelling rageful displays. But this pathology involves a covert expression of anger dyscontrol, just as savage and just as brutal psychologically, but just not as overtly displayed.

To all of my professional colleagues, you and I both know that anger dyscontrol is a central vulnerability and key feature of both the narcissistic and borderline personalities. You know it – and I know you know it.

Central to the pathology of both the narcissistic and borderline pathology is an interpersonal style of extensive manipulation and exploitation. The child is being manipulated and exploited by the pathology of the narcissistic and borderline personality parent as a vehicle for the covert expression of the savage and psychologically violent anger dyscontrol of the narcissistic or borderline personality parent.

To all of my professional colleagues, you and I both know that manipulation and exploitation are central and key features of the narcissistic and borderline personalities. You know it – and I know you know it.

To not recognize, diagnose, and respond to the savage and psychologically brutal covert expression of anger dyscontrol within a family context by a narcissistic or borderline personality represents profoundly destructive professional incompetence, in violation of Standard 2.01 of the APA ethics code.

When these mental health professionals people start acting like professionals, with the necessary level of professional knowledge and expertise required to stop the savage psychopathology of the narcissistic or borderline spouse and parent, then I will start treating them with the respect deserved by a professional. Until then, they are stupid and ignorant plumbers and engineers, but they are NOT mental health professionals.

From this point on, I am personally boycotting the application of the term “professional” to refer to all incompetent and ignorantly stupid mental health professionals persons who, through their ignorance, stupidity, and incompetence collude with and abet the covert enactment of the savage and brutal anger dyscontrol of a narcissistic or borderline spouse or ex-spouse within in a family context.

I am personally boycotting from this point forward the use of the term “professional” to refer to all incompetent and ignorantly stupid mental health professionals persons who, through their ignorance, stupidity, and incompetence collude with and abet in the manipulation and exploitation of children by a narcissistic or borderline spouse or ex-spouse as a means for the covert expression of savage and brutal anger dyscontrol within a family context.

I believe this personal boycott is required by my ethical and moral obligations to the children and parents who are the recipients of the savage and brutal covert anger dyscontrol being expressed toward them by a narcissistic or borderline personality spouse and parent, which is receiving an entirely inadequate and inappropriate response from the mental health professional person because of this professional’s person’s professional ignorance and incompetence, in violation of Standard 2.01 of the APA ethics code requiring professional competence.

My personal boycott of the term “professional” when referring to these mental health professionals persons in all of my future writing is consistent with my professional obligations under Standard 1.04 of the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct of the American Psychological Association.

1.04 Informal Resolution of Ethical Violations
When psychologists believe that there may have been an ethical violation by another psychologist, they attempt to resolve the issue by bringing it to the attention of that individual, if an informal resolution appears appropriate and the intervention does not violate any confidentiality rights that may be involved.

I will maintain this personal boycott until the children and families who are the recipients of the savage and brutal covert anger dyscontrol by a narcissistic or borderline personalty spouse or parent are designated a “special population” of children and families who warrant specialized professional knowledge and expertise to competently assess, diagnose, and treat, and until these children and families receive just and fair coverage by Standard 2.01 of the APA ethics code requiring professional competence.

Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857

 

Personal Motivation

This isn’t about us professionals.

This is the most horrible pathology I have ever come across. This evil pathology must stop. I am passionate because there is no way we should be tolerating this pathology for a single day.  It is unconscionable that this pathology is tolerated within mental health.

Early on, when I was working with one family the exact nature of the pathology suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks.

Oh my God – one day the targeted parent has a child, and the next day they don’t. It’s as if someone killed their child.  The alienating parent is so angry that they are killing – they are murdering – the other person’s children.

“I’m so angry at you for leaving me, I’m going to kill your children.”

Oh my God. That’s the most horrible thing I’ve ever heard. To be so angry at someone that you kill their children to get revenge. That is the most horrible thing I’ve ever heard.

But not only that, the alienating parent is getting the child to be the murderer of the other person’s children. Oh my God, I don’t know which is more horrible, to turn your own child into the murderer of the other person’s children, or to turn the other person’s child into the murderer of the other person’s children.

And then, the alienating parent is also getting the child to kill his or her own mother or father.  That’s so incredibly horrible. To get a child to kill his or her own mother. That’s such a horrible-horrible thing to do. To get a child to kill his or her own father. Oh, my God.

This is THE most horrible thing ever. This is evil. Pure evil.

So while I was reading up about personality disorders and attachment trauma, and all that “professional” stuff, I was also reading up about evil. Pure evil. Because this pathology is on the same line as core, fundamental evil.

So as I was reading Kernberg and Millon, I was also reading up about evil, and the research and science surrounding evil:

Baumeister, R.F. (1996). Evil: Inside human cruelty and violence. New York: Freeman/Times/Henry Hold.

One of the interesting things is that evil never sees itself as evil. It actually thinks the other is evil, that the victim is evil. The Nazi’s didn’t see themselves as evil. They thought it was the Jews who were evil.

The alienating parent thinks it’s the targeted parent who is evil.

And then there’s the link between the absence of empathy and evil:

Baron-Cohen, Simon (2011). The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty. New York: Basic Books.

And the link between developmental trauma and the absence of parental empathy.

Moor, A. and Silvern, L. (2006). Identifying pathways linking child abuse to psychological outcome: The mediating role of perceived parental failure of empathy. Journal of Emotional Abuse, 6, 91-112.

“Only insofar as parents fail in their capacity for empathic attunement and responsiveness can they objectify their children, consider them narcissistic extensions of themselves, and abuse them. It is the parents’ view of their children as vehicles for satisfaction of their own needs, accompanied by the simultaneous disregard for those of the child, that make the victimization possible.”

The absence of parental empathy is the origin of inflicting psychological trauma on the child. And inflicting psychological trauma on the child destroys the child’s capacity for empathy. And the absence of empathy is the origin of human cruelty. And the absence of empathy is the origin of evil.

The attachment system is the neurological brain system governing all things love-and-bonding. Empathy is critical in love and bonding, and the absence of empathy is the source of human cruelty and evil. Trauma to the attachment system destroys the capacity for empathy within the attachment system. The origins of evil are in psychological trauma to the attachment system.

The MOST disturbing child symptom is not the suppression of the attachment system, it’s not the delusional disorder, it’s not the haughty and arrogant contempt and scorn. The most disturbing child symptom is the absence of empathy that allows the child to kill this other person’s children.

To the pathological parent:  For you to kill another person’s children because you are angry with them is the worst thing I have ever heard. To get a child to exhibit that level of cruelty is beyond the psychological abuse of the child, it is evil.

And then there is the grief of the targeted parent. To have someone kill your children is the worst possible thing ever. The grief bores to the very marrow of one’s being. Oh my God, the grief is so profound and so deep. How can it possibly be endured.

This is the most awful and horrible thing I have ever come across. This is pure evil.

This must stop. Immediately.

I was on my way to writing marvelous books solving parenting and ADHD, but there’s no way I could continue on that path. This evil must stop. Today.

To the pathological parent:  You are not allowed to kill someone’s children because you’re angry with them.

But we can’t stop it because… because why?… why can’t we stop this, why doesn’t anyone see it?  Stupid, stupid, stupid, these mental health professionals are so incredibly stupid. Don’t they see it? Why don’t they see it? They are colluding with this astounding evil.

That stops. Any mental health professional who colludes with this profound evil does not deserve to be a mental health professional. They do not deserve their license to practice.

How do we pull that stupid, stupid, so incredibly stupid mental health professional’s license? If they are going to collude with this evil, I want to pull their license. They do not deserve to have a license to be a mental health professional.

“I’m angry with you because you rejected me. So I’m going to kill your children.”

And the mental health professional – and I use that term extremely loosely in reference to these people – is colluding in this murder of someone’s children. I want their license revoked.

Can I do that with Gardnerian PAS?  No.  Okay, then we need something else. Because I want their license revoked if they are going to collude with this astonishingly cruel, this cavalierly cruel murder of someone’s children. If the mental health professional is that incredibly stupid, then they don’t deserve a license to practice in the field of professional psychology. Go be a plumber. Go be a computer technician. Go be an engineer. Go be anything else – but DON’T practice professional psychology. Stay away – stay far, far away from working with children and families.

So what do I need to do to pull their license to practice psychology? We need to able to hold these stupid and incompetent mental health “professionals” ACOUNTABLE. I need to activate professional standards of practice to be able to get their licenses revoked if they are going to be that incredibly incompetent.

Can we revoke their license based on Gardnerian PAS. If we can, I’m totally fine with that. I’d be the biggest fan of Gardnerian PAS ever. If we can’t, then we need to do something else, because I want their license revoked.

“I’m so angry with you because you rejected me, I’m going to murder your children.”

Abhorrent. Evil. Just plain evil. And the mental health “professional” (I might just start putting the word “professional” in quotes regarding these people) is so incredibly stupid, so incredibly incompetent, that they are colluding with the murder of this person’s children, and they are colluding with the profound degree of child abuse that empties the child of human empathy and allows the child to perform such an abhorrent act of human cruelty.

I am disgusted. Viscerally disgusted by these stupid, stupid mental health… people. How do we get their license revoked, these stupid….

If it takes defining this pathology totally within standard and established constructs so we can activate professional standards of practice to revoke their licenses, then let’s do it.

Can we revoke their license – today – not in five years, not in ten years – today – can we revoke their license to practice today?  No. Then let’s do something different, because we need to revoke these stupid mental health… people’s licenses today.

You know what… I think I might just stop calling them “professionals” and start calling them “mental health people,” because they don’t deserve the title of being a professional.

So I’m sorry if I’m abrasive. I’m sorry if I’m arrogant. I don’t really care. I don’t want this to continue a single day – a single minute longer than absolutely necessary. I will push, and prod, and drive this as fast as I possibly can. Working late into the evening. Working weekends. Working every spare moment of my time. I want these mental health people’s licenses revoked. Today. Now. They do not deserve a professional license.

And now we’re finally here. Once I got Foundations published, I can now hold them accountable. I’m trying my best to give them fair warning –

I’m coming for your professional license to practice. I’m going to do EVERYTHING in my power to get your professional license revoked.

That is my sole mission, to get your license to practice professional psychology revoked. And I may not be able to do it today, or tomorrow, but I am not going to stop until I get your license to practice revoked – or until you stop colluding with this evil, with this profound human cruelty; with the induced evacuation of the child’s capacity for normal-range empathy that makes them a collaborator to their pathological parent’s astounding act of human cruelty.

I may not be able to get your license revoked today.  You may escape me today.  But I will not rest until you either stop colluding with this human cruelty, this evil, or I get your license to practice revoked.

So I have no patience for professional discussions about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin or what makes for a “bona fide” expert. The ONLY thing I want is to revoke the professional license of these stupid, stupid mental health… persons – or for them to stop colluding with this evil; with this immense human cruelty.

I’m sorry if I’m a “problem child.” I just want the professional license of these stupid mental health persons revoked, and by God I’m going to do everything in my power to accomplish that. Every ounce of my knowledge, every ounce of my skill, is directed toward one goal – to get their licenses revoked or else for them to stop colluding with this evil.

If we can do it with Gardnerian PAS, I’ll be the biggest fan ever. But we can’t. Then I’ve developed an approach that will allow me to go after them. And I am absolutely going after their licenses. Join me, don’t join me. I don’t care. I am going after their licenses to practice. If you join me and we can end this one day sooner, then I hope you join me. If me being a pigheaded pain-in-the-butt moves this one day faster to getting their licenses to practice revoked, or for them to no longer collude with this cruelty, then I’m going to be a pigheaded pain-in-the-butt.

I want them to STOP colluding with this human cruelty and evil, or I want their license to practice professional psychology revoked, and I will not relent until either one or the other is accomplished.

This immense human cruelty stops. This evil stops. And every ounce of my will is directed toward this purpose.

Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857

Stark Truth

At the request of some targeted parents, I just reviewed the blog post by Amy Baker on what qualifications are supposedly required for a “bona fide” expert in “parental alienation.”

How to Find a Parental Alienation Expert


Oh my goodness everyone, I’m sorry, I don’t seem to qualify as a “bona fide” expert in “parental alienation.” My apologies. I guess you should all just disregard what I’ve been talking about. Oops, sorry, my mistake. Nevermind. Just go back to what you’re doing, and I’ll just go away.

And Amy Baker is right, I’m not a qualified expert in “parental alienation.”

So far, I’ve been qualified as an expert witness in ten court cases involving the pathology traditionally called “parental alienation,” in fact I just testified in a case this morning as an expert witness, and in not a single case was I “qualified” by the court as an expert witness in “parental alienation.” Not one. And in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever even used the term “parental alienation” in any of my testimony in those ten cases.

Truth be told, in the handout that I send to parents and attorneys who are considering engaging me for expert consultation and testimony, I specifically say:

“My professional expertise is in clinical psychology, child and family therapy, diagnosis and psychopathology, parent-child conflict, and child development, not in “parental alienation,” since I approach what has traditionally been referred to as “parental alienation” from within standard mental health constructs and principles, particularly centering around the normal-range development and expression of the “attachment system” during childhood.

“In my professional view, the term “parental alienation” is a general common-culture label rather than a professional term, which is used in common parlance to quickly refer to a complex set of family process involving the induced suppression of the normal-range functioning of the child’s attachment bonding motivations toward one parent (i.e., the “targeted parent”) as a result of the pathogenic influence on the child of the other parent’s personality disordered psychopathology (i.e., the “alienating parent”). The correct clinical term for the pathology generally described as “parental alienation” is pathogenic parenting (patho=pathology; genic=genesis, creation). Pathogenic parenting is the creation of significant pathology in the child as a result of aberrant and distorted parenting practices.”

“In my professional work, I describe the parent-child and family psychological and interpersonal processes from within standard and accepted psychological principles, with a particular focus on the development of child symptomatology in response to a parent’s personality disorder processes. I typically do not use the term “parental alienation” in my expert work and testimony, and my expertise for Court purposes is in:

  • Clinical psychology
  • Child and family therapy
  • Diagnosis and treatment of parent-child conflict
  • Diagnosis of psychopathology within a family context
  • Child development

Handout: “Dr. Childress Expert Consultation and Testimony” (2015)

According to Amy Baker, the qualifications that have been developed (uhhh, by who?  Oh, right, by the “bona fide” experts. Okay.) which are apparently necessary to become a “bona fide” expert in “parental alienation,” disqualify me as a “bona fide” expert in “parental alienation.”  My professional qualifications as a licensed clinical psychologist aren’t sufficient to qualify me as a “bona fide” expert. Dang. Well, nevermind everyone, disregard what I’ve been telling you. According to Amy Baker and the “bona fide” experts listed on her blog, I’m not a “bona fide” expert in this pathology. Sorry, I guess you should go to one of them. They’re the “bona fide” experts.  As for me? Well, I guess I don’t know what I’m talking about. Don’t listen to me.

Odd, though, that the list of required qualifications include:

“An advanced degree (masters or doctoral) from an accredited educational institution in a relevant discipline or field.”

Why wouldn’t they specifically say clinical psychology and marriage and family therapy?  Why did they extend it to the vaguely worded “relevant discipline or field?” Oh, that’s right, Amy Baker has a degree in Developmental Psychology. She’s not actually licensed to practice therapy or diagnose psychopathology, and she’s never actually diagnosed or treated any family for anything. Oooops. Sorry. Okay… I understand… a “relevant discipline or field.” Yeah, okay, got it.

Oh wait, this criteria also excludes Dorcy Pruter doesn’t it. Oh, now that’s a shame. Because Dorcy has the solution for this pathology in her hip pocket. I’ve seen it. She does. We have submissions pending for presentations at the 2016 national conventions for both the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) and the American Psychological Association (hope they get accepted, I guarantee amazing).

Oh dang. So according to the criteria for being a “bona fide” expert Dorcy Pruter will be disqualified from solving your children’ pathology. That’s really unfortunate, because she can restore your kid’s normal-range functioning in a matter of days… days. So I guess you’ll just have to go to one of the “bona fide” experts listed. Oh, jeez, that’s too bad.

So, let’s see who’s listed… Oh, wait. Good news. Dr. Reay is listed. She has a treatment program she developed, the Family Reflections program I think its called. Oh, aren’t you lucky. Whew. Good thing a “bona fide” expert is available to solve your children’s pathology. Whew.  Sorry Dorcy… you can just go away now. We don’t need your High Road protocol that you’ve used with over 80 families and 100 children with 100% success. Don’t need it, because you’re not a “bona fide” expert in “parental alienation.”

So, anyway, I apologize to everybody for my not being a “bona fide” expert in “parental alienation.” You can stop listening to me. Nevermind. Don’t pay any attention to Dr. Childress, he’s not a “bona fide” expert in “parental alienation.”

But hey, there’s always a bright side, maybe I can become a “bona fide” expert in “parental alienation” someday. Let’s see what I’ll have to do…

So, what do I need to do to become a “bona fide” expert in the pathology of “parental alienation?” Because I want to become a “bona fide” expert just like them, since right now I’m only a licensed clinical psychologist who is qualified to treat every other form of child and family pathology EXCEPT this one mysterious pathology of “parental alienation.”

Let’s see… okay, I need to get some journal articles published.

Okay, everybody. Just hold on for a couple of years because I have to take time out from my busy schedule to first write the articles, then submit them for publication, and then when they’re accepted for publication it will be for a journal issue nine months away. So this will probably take about a year and a half to two years to get something into publication – oooo and I have to condense all of Foundations into 20 pages. That’s going to be really tough. But if everyone can just hold on for two years, then maybe I can become a “bona fide” expert just like them.

You can wait a couple of years, can’t you?  Nothing pressing on your agenda is there?

Hey, whaddya know, look at that… Richard Sauber is one of the bona fide “experts” listed by Amy Baker, and he’s the editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Family Therapy. Wow, what a stroke of good fortune. Maybe I can submit an article to them. And look, William Bernet is also on the editorial board. How lucky is that. And, look, there’s Douglas Darnall on the editorial board, and Demosthenes Lorandos, and Richard Warshak.  Wow, that editorial board is just chock full of parental alienation people. Surely they’ll publish an article I submit to them.

Oh wait, I already did submit an article to them. In 2013. What happened with that, anyway? Oh, that’s right, it was declined because I didn’t pay proper homage to Gardner and it made one of the reviewer’s brain hurt. Seriously, that’s what one of the reviewers said, it made his “brain hurt.” That made me laugh. The act of thinking made this person’s “brain hurt.” Oh, I’m sorry. Sorry for asking you to think about something. I’ll try not to do that in the future.

That’s too bad too, that they rejected it. Imagine how much further along we’d be right now if they had accepted that article from me two years ago. Oh, well. I guess they know what they’re doing, because I’m not really a “bona fide” expert in “parental alienation” and they’re the “bona fide” experts.

Hey, but now that they’ve read Foundations they have a better understanding of what an attachment-based model is. What if they offered me four articles in a single issue of an upcoming American Journal of Family Therapy, one article on theory, one on diagnosis, one on therapy, and one on professional practice standards. Or even one of these articles across each of four consecutive issues. That would certainly get the attention of establishment mental health wouldn’t it?  We’d probably achieve the paradigm shift a whole lot easier, don’t ya think?  So, actually, they’re holding the solution to the paradigm shift right in their hands, right this moment. Wow, and you know what, they’ve been holding this solution in their hands all along. Sheesh, if only we had realized it sooner.  But at least we recognize it now.  What a stroke of good fortune that I’m not a “bona fide” expert because I don’t have any peer reviewed articles, because I’m sure with Richard Sauber as the editor-in-chief and all those “bona fide” parental alienation experts on the editorial board, I’m sure they’ll support publishing a series of articles on an attachment-based model, right?  How wonderful.

Do you think when this series of articles is published this would help end this scourge of “parental alienation” all the sooner for you and your families? Oh, but wait, that’ll never happen because I’m not really a “bona fide” expert in “parental alienation. Why would they offer four articles in their journal to someone who is not a “bona fide” expert in “parental alienation?” What could I possible add of relevance to the discussion? After all, an attachment-based model is just old wine in old wine skins. Nothing new. Nothing that other people haven’t already said before. Oh well.

So let’s see, what else do I need to do according to Amy Baker and the other “bona fide” experts to become a real “bona fide” expert in “parental alienation” just like them?

“Maintained collaborative communication with other experts in PA.”

Oh jeez, that’s going to be a problem isn’t it. I’m not part of the “inside club” of bona fide “parental alienation” experts. I wonder if “collaborative communication with other experts in PA” is code-speak for adopting the Gardnerian doctrine? Hmmm. That could be a problem. Sorry everyone. I guess I can’t become a “bona fide” expert because I don’t accept the Gardnerian PAS model, errr, I mean I don’t maintain “collaborative communication with other experts in PA.”  Oh well. I’ll just go away now because I obviously don’t know what I’m talking about. Everyone just go back to doing what you were doing, and just disregard everything I’ve said, because I’m afraid I’m not really a “bona fide” expert in “parental alienation,” I’m just a licensed clinical psychologist with a specialty in child and family pathology. Nevermind.

Stark Truth

I am a staunch ally of targeted parents. I will take on false “reunification therapists,” I will take on the voodoo assessment of child custody evaluations, I will take on the minions of the pathogen, I will take on the APA,… and I will take on any false allies you may have in mental health.

I’ll leave it up to you. You decide.

Am I a “bona fide” expert in the pathology of “parental alienation?”

If I am, then why are Amy Baker and the allies listed on her blog trying to nullify my credibility as an expert in this form of pathology?  I’m a clinical psychologist and I see things at levels deeper than most. That’s my job. So I know why they want to disqualify me as being a “bona fide” expert in this pathology. I’ve known for quite a while. But now I suspect it’s becoming increasingly obvious to you as well.

But I’m a big boy. I can take care of myself in this fight. What is really reprehensible now is that they’re also trying to disqualify Dorcy Pruter as a “bona fide” expert.

Let this sink in: The pathogen is also trying to disqualify Dorcy Pruter as a “bona fide” expert because she doesn’t have a college degree. So Amy Baker and all the “bona fide” experts are on the same side of this argument as the pathogen. Now that’s really interesting.

And look, they’re using the exactly same arguments that the pathogen is using, that Dorcy doesn’t have an advanced professional degree and that an attachment-based model has no peer reviewed research (all the while they control a journal, the American Journal of Family Therapy with Richard Sauber as the editor-in-chief and a slew of “parental alienation” experts on the editorial board – doesn’t that “peer-reviewed research” criticism start to smack of being sort of a disingenuous critique? So invite four articles from me, one on theory, one on diagnosis, one on therapy, and one on professional standards of practice).

But didn’t I just address that critique of “peer reviewed research” with the minion of Mercer?  And now exactly the same argument is being used by Amy Baker and the “bona fide” experts in “parental alienation.”  Do you find that unsettling?  I know I do.

Why are Amy Baker and the people listed on her blog trying to discredit and disqualify Dr. Childress and Dorcy Pruter?  I know why the pathogen is trying to disqualify us, because it doesn’t want us to solve the pathology.  It wants everything to stay just the way it is.  But why are Amy Baker and the listed “bona fied” experts also trying to disqualify Dr. Childress and Dorcy Pruter?”  That’s just so odd.

But I’m a big boy, I can take care of myself.  But to try to disqualify Dorcy Pruter when she holds the solution for your children in her hip pocket is reprehensible.

I have spoken truth to you every step of the way. I’ve had the courage to call out professional incompetence with blunt truth. You know that.

So listen to this statement:

The High Road to Family Reunification protocol of Dorcy Pruter will resolve your children’s pathology and restore the normal-range functioning of your children in a matter of days. Days. I’ve reviewed the protocol and I understand EXACTLY how it works. She has used it with over 80 families involving over 100 children, and has achieved 100% success. If anyone wants to apply it in a single-case ABAB research protocol, we’re more than happy to collaborate in any research protocol. We have proposals pending to the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) and to the American Psychological Association (APA) for presentations at their respective 2016 national conventions (if these proposals are accepted, I guarantee amazing).

And Amy Baker and these “bona fide” experts are apparently trying to deny you access to Dorcy Pruter and the High Road protocol. That is reprehensible. Think about this carefully and let this entirely sink in, in their attack on the “bona fide” expertise of Dr. Childress and Dorcy Pruter, these “bona fide” experts, your allies in mental health, are on the same side as the pathogen.

“We weren’t talking about anyone specifically, we were just presenting general guidelines.”

Yeah. Right. If they try to dodge responsibility for identifying who these sham “credentials” are directed toward disqualifying, shame on them. They should be direct.  If you want to say I’m not a “bona fied” expert say it, don’t hide behind a sham proposal of supposed “credentials.”

“No Dr. Childress, we didn’t mean you specifically.”

Right.

I am 100% proud that my name isn’t associated with that sham set of supposed “credentials” proposed by Amy Baker and the “bona fide” experts  If you want to read my recommendations for the required qualifications needed to address this pathology, they’re in Chapter 11 of Foundations, with specific citations to the relevant literature.  All of the required domains of professional competence are based in established and accepted domains of psychology and none of them have to do with a fictional disorder of “parental alienation.”  I wonder how much of the literature I cite in Chapter 11 these “bona fide” experts have read?  You don’t suppose this could be a tit-for-tat, do you?  They feel disqualified by my domains of professional competence so they’ll come up with their own qualifications for expertise, for the first time in 30 years – in 30 years – that just coincidentally disqualify me as an expert.  Do you think it’s really just a coincidence? Really?

But look at the two sets of proposed qualifications.  Mine are written for and directed to establishment mental health with the purpose of activating for you Standard 2.01 of the APA ethics code. That’s what my domains of professional competence accomplish.  There’s a specific purpose. By defining the domains of competence within standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology, I activate Standard 2.01a of the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct of the American Psychological Association for you. We are USING my standards to file licensing board complaints against incompetent mental health professionals. 

But these “bona fide” experts don’t understand the PURPOSE of my standards – which is to activate Standard 2.01 of the ethics code of the APA.  In their tit-for-tat, they come up with their own standards that reestablish their status on the pecking order above me but that ACCOMPLISH nothing.  Absolutely nothing.

Can you file licensing board complaints against your current incompetent mental health professional based on Amy Baker’s proposed standards?  Not a chance. Is establishment mental health going to accept Amy Baker’s proposed standards? Not a chance. The Gardnerian PAS experts live in their own echo-chamber world of reciting their doctrinaire mantras to each other, but they are out of touch with establishment mental health and with what is needed to integrate our efforts within establishment mental health.

The difference between my standards of professional competence as defined in Chapter 11 of Foundations and the sham standards developed by the Gardnerian PAS experts is night-and-day, and it points up in stark contrast the differing models. One, an attachment-based model, is anchored entirely within the world of established psychological principles and constructs, and leads to directly relevant actions in the real world, and the other, theirs, is based entirely within their own echo-chamber fantasy world of self-congratulatory status, with no real world application. 

There it is in a nutshell. Chapter 11 of Foundations and Amy Baker’s supposed standards for professional expertise. Look at them both and you decide.

And note this, in attacking and trying to nullify the expertise of Dr. Childress and Dorcy Pruter, these “bona fide” experts place themselves on exactly the same side as the pathogen. The pathogen is trying to do exactly the same thing. That is the stark truth.

Come after me if you want. I’m a big boy. But to try to nullify Dorcy when she has the solution in her hip pocket is reprehensible. 

Let me be clear on this, you will nullify her expertise over my dead body.  She is a professional colleague in every sense of the word.  In my professional opinion, she is among the TOP experts in this pathology in the entire country.  If I get a case of “parental alienation” in my private practice my first referral is to Dorcy Pruter and the High Road protocol because it is my professional opinion that it would be unethical professional practice to do therapy that will stress the child for months when the child’s normal-range functioning can be restored in a matter of days using the High Road protocol. I was working on a model for reunification therapy until Dorcy showed me what she had.  When I saw the High Road protocol, I stopped working on a model for reunification therapy.  No point in doing reunification therapy because she has exactly the right solution nailed.

If you succeed in nullifying Dorcy Pruter, shame on you, five-fold shame upon you for a reprehensible act of petty professional jealousy and egoism. I’m a big boy. I can take care of myself.  But to use your “professional standing” to nullify Dorcy when she has the solution in her hip pocket is reprehensible. You need to go back to your proposal for what represents a “bona fide” expert and rethink the criteria or you and I are going to have serious problems.

Is that clear enough. To nullify her you will need to nullify me.  If that’s what you want to do. Bring it.

Three Things.

  1. What plan do these “bona fide” experts offer for solving the pathology of “parental alienation” using Gardnerian PAS and its eight symptom identifiers?

I have told you in specific detail the plan using the attachment-based model and it’s three diagnostic indicators (I’ll Explain it Just Once). Tag. You’re it. Tell us your plan. Lay it out for us to see so we can compare the two plans and make a choice of our strategy. So far I’ve heard nothing but crickets.

  1. On what page of the DSM-5 is the diagnosis of “parental alienation?”

Using an attachment-based model of the pathology that is fully and completely grounded in the established and accepted psychological principles and constructs of professional clinical psychology, the diagnosis of an attachment-based model of “parental alienation” is on page 719 of the DSM-5: V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed.

Consider this, if I’m disqualified as a “bona fide” expert with regard to this pathology, then your children and families don’t get access to this DSM-5 diagnosis which is ONLY provided to you by a paradigm shift to an attachment-based formulation for the pathology.

3. Read the official position statement of the American Psychological Association regarding Gardnerian Parental Alienation Syndrome – right there in the title – January 1, 2008 – “Statement on Parental Alienation Syndrome”

Is this what you want the official statement of the American Psychological Association to read regarding your children and your families?

An attachment-based model forces the APA to update their position statement to include an attachment-based model of “parental alienation.” The pathology exists, and your children and families represent a “special population” requiring specialized professional knowledge and expertise to assess, diagnose, and treat.

Stand Up and Be Counted

Targeted parents are going into battle for their children and families. It’s time to declare. It’s time to stand with them in their fight for their children, or you will be abandoning them to fight this battle on their own.

I will not abandon them. Dorcy Pruter will not abandon them. We will stand shoulder to shoulder in the center of this battlefield and take on the impending vicious onslaught of the pathogen. Dorcy is going to take the most savage attacks, because she represents a huge threat to the pathogen. She solves the pathology. The pathogen must nullify Dorcy and the threat she poses to it by any means necessary. The attacks against her are going to be personal and they are going to be savage.

The pathology seeks allies, “binding sites of ignorance,” to enact the pathology and to nullify threats to its being exposed. That’s the pattern.  That’s how it functions.

When these attacks come, I will stand shoulder to shoulder with Dorcy in the center of this battlefield because she has the solution for you and your children. She has it. I would not say so if it wasn’t true.

If either or both of our professional presentations to the AFCC or to the APA are accepted, we will explain what the High Road protocol is and why it is effective. A professional convention is the proper venue for this presentation of her protocol to a professional audience, because I fully consider Dorcy Pruter to be a professional colleague.

If anyone can help us do a single-case ABAB research protocol for the High Road protocol, we would welcome the opportunity to provide research evidence of its effectiveness.

A DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed and the High Road protocol. We are holding the solution. We have a battle ahead of us, and apparently this battle may not only be with the pathogen, it may also be with the “bona fide” experts of “parental alienation.”

You will know where mental health professionals stand by which set of diagnostic indicators they choose, the eight symptom indicators of the failed and flawed Gardnerian PAS model, or the three diagnostic indicators of an attachment-based model for “parental alienation.”

30 years. Scoreboard.

Four invited articles to the American Journal of Family Therapy: theory, diagnosis, therapy, professional competence. Imagine how much faster we could achieve an end to the pathology of “parental alienation” with their active support.

Every day that passes is one day too long.

Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857

P.S.  I consider Karen Woodall to be an authentic ally of yours.  If you are involved with her clinic, you should listen to her wise counsel. She is most definitely your ally and she has my deepest respect and admiration.

PPS: Amy Baker says, “Research and the clinical literature consistently report that abused children generally cling to and are protective of the abusive parent.  They want to repair the relationship and forgive the abuser, and they are likely to deny or minimize past abuse.”  

Citations please.  I’ve been searching for research on this and haven’t found much.  There’s van der Kolk’s statement that

“Increased imprinting to abusing objects has been demonstrated in birds (33), dogs (34), monkeys (35, 36), and human beings (7). Sackett et al. (37) found that monkeys raised by abusive mother cling to them more than average: The immediate consequence of maternal rejection is the accentuation of proximity seeking on the part of the infant. After similar experiments, Harlow and Harlow (35) concluded: “Instead of producing experimental neurosis we had achieved a technique for enhancing maternal attachment.” (p. 34)

van der Kolk, B.A. (1987). The separation cry and the trauma response: Developmental issues in the psychobiology of attachment and separation. In B.A. van der Kolk (Ed.) Psychological Trauma (31-62). Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Press, Inc.

And I’ve followed up with all of the references cited by van der Kolk.  I’ve also located:

Raineki, C., Moriceau, S., Sullivan, R.M. (2010). Developing a neurobehavioral animal model of infant attachment to an abusive caregiver. Biological Psychiatry, 67, 1137-1145.

But I have not located any research to support the statement made by Amy Baker.  I followed all the various links in her blog but none of them led to relevant research.  So citations please, that:

“Research and the clinical literature consistently report that abused children generally cling to and are protective of the abusive parent.  They want to repair the relationship and forgive the abuser, and they are likely to deny or minimize past abuse.” 

Many thanks.

I’ll Explain It Just Once

Okay, listen up. I am going to explain this once. I’m not going to debate it. I’ve got a whole lot of work to do, and I need to get to that work. I’m not going to go round and round on this. So here it is. I’m going to explain it once.

The Problem

The mental health response to “parental alienation” is massively broken. The legal system response to “parental alienation” is massively broken. The solution is in first fixing the mental health system’s response. The diagnosis of pathology is a mental health issue, not a legal issue. Once we fix the mental health response, THEN we can fix the legal response. We cannot fix the legal system’s response to the pathology until we FIRST fix the mental health response.

Any solution that requires us to prove parental alienation in court is no solution at all. So whatever solution we develop (I’ve already developed it. It’s the attachment-based model) must be self-contained within the mental health response to the pathology.

The upper end of the pathology is so extreme that we will need at least the ability to protectively separate some of these children from the pathogenic parent. To accomplish this we will need the cooperation of the legal system. But we can’t get bogged down in proving “parental alienation” to the court. This means that in these extreme cases the mental health system, ALL of the mental health system, must go to the legal system with one clear and united voice to tell – not ask, we’re not going to prove it to them, they have to take our word for it – mental health needs to tell the legal system with a single clear united voice, that these children at the upper end of the pathology need to be protectively separated from the pathogenic parent in order for the mental health system to treat and restore these children’s healthy development.

So, to recap. The solution is not in the legal system’s response. The solution is in the mental health system’s response. We will need the cooperation of the legal system. When we turn to the legal system, the mental health system will need to speak with ONE clear and united voice so that the legal system can act with the decisive clarity necessary to solve this pathology (at least at the upper extremes of the pathology).

Conclusion 1.

We must unite mental health. This division within mental health must be brought to an end. To the extent that the Gardnerian PAS model contributes to continuing this division, we must jettison it. We cannot, however, jettison the divisive Gardnerian PAS model until we have something to replace it, otherwise there is simply a vacuum in our ability to diagnose and treat the pathology. Before we jettison the Gardnerian PAS model, we need a replacement model. This replacement model must be able to unite ALL of mental health into a single united voice so that when mental health goes to the legal system ALL of mental health can speak with a single voice so that the legal system can act with the decisive clarity necessary to solve the pathology (at least at the upper extremes of the pathology – I’ll address the solution to the lower end of the pathology’s spectrum later. But our solution to the upper extreme end of the pathology is key, and then we work our way down. We’re capping the pathology at its most extreme and working our way back).

Solution

So I set about solving Conclusion 1’s need for a replacement model for the pathology that can unite ALL of mental health into a single voice. So what’s causing the division?

Gardner proposed a “new syndrome” and establishment mental health is not accepting a “new syndrome.”

Plus, the Gardnerian eight symptom identifiers are poor. Their operational definitions are poor (I’m not going to debate this. They are. They are poorly defined symptom identifiers. As a professor, I’d give them a grade of D- for a variety of reasons. Primarily, too much subjectivity. Listen, we have to assume that mental health professionals are incredibly stupid. We cannot ask them to think. We have to give them diagnostic indicators that are simple and that minimize as much as is humanly possible the need for them to think – as much as possible we have to idiot-proof the diagnosis so that we can achieve the maximum amount of consistency and standardization to the diagnosis).

The replacement model needs to bring establishment mental health on board into a single unified voice. The Gardnerian PAS model is a poison pill. We need to entirely jettison this model. If we retain any component of it, this will just wrap us up in debate again and this will delay the solution. We need to bring establishment mental health a pristine model that meets their standards. This will allow us to move with the greatest efficiency and speed toward enacting the solution.

Establishment mental health does not want a “new syndrome” proposal. Okay. No “new syndrome.” Even the word “parental alienation” is part of this new syndrome. So to create a completely pristine model, I’ll shift even this term over to “pathogenic parenting.” The term “pathogenic care” was used in the DSM IV TR in reference to a Reactive Attachment Disorder. Since this new model is going to organize the description of the pathology around the attachment system, a change to the term “pathogenic care” or “pathogenic parenting” is appropriate and it will get us by establishment mental health at even this very most fundamental level of what we’re calling the pathology.

But if I switch this term out too soon, we’ll lose the Gardnerians, so I need to continue to use the term “parental alienation,” but I need to begin to also prepare everyone for the additional use of the term “pathogenic parenting” that we’ll need when we start to unite with establishment mental health. I’ll also begin to prepare everyone for this unification by always putting the term “parental alienation” in quotes, so that when we finally reach the point of uniting with establishment mental health, if establishment mental health has any problem with the use of the term “parental alienation” then I’m not tied to it, I can jettison it easily, and this term doesn’t bog us down. We simply switch it out to “pathogenic parenting” and keep moving.

But the construct of pathogenic parenting also offers us a huge, and I mean huge advantage. We don’t need to chase diagnosing the narcissistic/borderline parent down the rabbit hole of trying to get them to expose their pathology. From a clinical psychology perspective, we cannot get trapped into diagnosing the pathology of the “alienating” parent. Their manipulation is to hide behind the child. They’re using the child as a human shield. If we try to get to their pathology they just put the child in our path, “I’m just listening to the child. We need to listen to what the child wants. It’s not me it’s the child.” The pathogen hides. One of the primary defensive structures of the pathology is to remain concealed. The clinical diagnostic solution must be able to penetrate this concealment of the pathology behind the child.

How do we do that?  By not trying to penetrate the concealment.

Here’s the answer:  We cannot psychologically control a child without leaving “psychological fingerprints” of our control in the child’s symptom display. If we stay 100% diagnostically focused solely on the child’s symptom display – using the construct of pathogenic parenting – we can lift the “psychological fingerprints” of the allied narcissistic/borderline parent’s psychological control off of the child’s symptom display. Gotcha.

The “psychological fingerprints” in the child’s symptom display of the child’s psychological control by the narcissistic/borderline parent are the three diagnostic indicators of attachment-based “parental alienation”:

1.) Attachment System Display. The attachment system distorts in characteristic ways in response to problematic parenting. The normal attachment system does not ever distort in the way it displays in “parental alienation.” The display of the child’s attachment system – even if we grant problematic parenting by the targeted parent – never displays in the way it does in “parental alienation.” If you know what you’re looking for, the attachment system display in “parental alienation” reveals the psychological control of the narcissistic/borderline parent. But this is too technical a symptom. We need to idiot-proof the diagnosis. We’ll need more blatant fingerprints. This initial diagnostic indicator also puts us in the domain of “parental alienation” pathology (as opposed to ADHD or autism pathology).

2) Personality Disorder Traits: These are the most direct and obvious “psychological fingerprints” of the psychological control of the child by a narcissistic/(borderline) parent. They even carry the calling card of the parent’s personality disorder. The child is not evidencing paranoid personality traits, or obsessive-compulsive personality traits. The child is evidencing narcissistic personality traits. There’s a whole lot more here I could talk about, but I’m waiting because I don’t want to distract away from the primary focus. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Why do I always use the linked phrase narcissistic/(borderline) and put the term borderline in parentheses? There’s a reason I do this. Later I’ll be discussing narcissistic/(narcissistic) and narcissistic/(borderline)-(hystrionic) and narcissistic/(antisocial), etc. But not just yet. We need to stay focused right now.

3.) Delusional Belief: This is the lynchpin symptom. A child’s response to authentic child abuse is not delusional. It has a basis in reality. This is going to become a key diagnostic indicator when we go up against the allies of the pathogen. The attachment system also doesn’t display the way it does in “parental alienation” in cases of authentic child abuse, but that’s a technical and sophisticated issue requiring professional expertise. For the idiot-proof diagnosis, we’ll use the delusional disorder symptom.

But the use of the word “delusion” to describe the child is initially going to be off-putting to many ignorant mental health professionals. The child doesn’t seem psychotic. The child appears totally rational. That’s where understanding the trauma reenactment narrative is critical. The delusion in this case isn’t some sort of bizarre psychosis, it’s the intransigently held, fixed and false belief of the child that the child is a “victim” of the “abusive” parenting of the targeted parent. The targeted parent’s parenting practices are entirely normal-range.  The parenting practices of the targeted parent are not “abusive.” This is a delusion.

Who is the actual source of this delusion? Who actually has the delusion? The narcissistic/borderline parent. The narcissistic/borderline parent is the primary source of the delusion (the Millon quote is golden in this regard), and the child’s expression of this delusional belief is the result of the psychological control of this child (psychological fingerprint) by the delusional narcissistic/borderline parent (once we solve “parental alienation” we’ll be taking this shared delusion back to the DSM-5.1 revision).

Once I had these three “psychological fingerprints” of the pathogenic parenting (i.e., diagnostic evidence of the psychological control of the child by the allied narcissistic/borderline parent) I then ran through every possible form of parent-child conflict and child pathology to see if any other form of pathology evidences ALL THREE of these diagnostic indicators. Nope. We’re good to go.

Gotcha. These three child symptoms expose the psychological manipulation of the child by the narcissistic/borderline parent using the construct of pathogenic parenting, which is a fully establishment construct (“pathogenic care” DSM-IV TR)

Theoretical Foundation

So in order to unite with establishment mental health we need to define the pathology entirely within standard and established psychological principles and constructs. No “new syndrome” proposal. And anything that even remotely involves Gardnerian PAS will be a poison pill and will distract us into debate and division. The alternative model needs to be pristine.

And it’s going to receive incredible scrutiny from the allies of the pathogen within mental health, looking for any little flaw in the model that will allow them to discredit it or lock it up in debate and controversy. It’s going to need to be rock solid theoretically. Not just on the surface layers, but down into its core. That’s what has taken me seven years. I had the superficial layers in two years. It’s been the core bedrock that’s taken longer. But let me tell you, there is some stuff in this model that people haven’t recognized yet that is going to ripple for decades. The pathology of “parental alienation” is about to move from the backwaters of high-conflict divorce to front and center of attachment theory. It’s just a matter of time until people start recognizing some of the profound implications (it’s like the ticking clocks on Dark Side of the Moon).

As I said in a previous post, I’m 60 years old and I’ve already had one stroke. My time here is limited. We can hope I have another 10 to 15 years, but it might be as short as 5 to 8. Who knows, maybe tomorrow. I am so far ahead in understanding this pathology than what I’m talking about now that I’m afraid the level I’m at now may be lost unless I get it out, but I don’t want to distract from the focus of solving the pathology. For example, what’s particularly interesting is if we could be talking about the actual specific “information structures” of the attachment system that are being distorted and damaged by the pathogen, there’s some amazing stuff there (the pathogen appears to attack both identity and memory information structures, leading to a loss of self-orientation, which then allows for the psychological control by the other). But I don’t want to distract focus. We need to remain entirely focused on solving this pathology as quickly as is humanly possible. Once it’s solved we’ll have the luxury of unpacking all of this.

I’ve gotten enough out already that if I die now, the solution will continue to reveal and enact itself. The solution genie is out of the bottle and can’t be put back in. So right now, it’s just a matter of how long the solution takes to be enacted, not whether it happens. It will happen.

But it’d be a shame if I die before I get some of this deep-level information out, such as what I just shared about both the construct of “information structures” in the attachment system and which information structures are attacked by the pathogen (I prefer the term “meme-structures” when talking about the structure of the pathogen – the patience is hard, wait, they’re not ready for it yet, wait, they’re still trying to wrap their heads around the solution). The pathology is like a “computer virus” in the attachment system (sorry, couldn’t resist). I’m trying to give clues and pointers in case I go suddenly then at least there are directions that people can follow for unraveling this pathology. The implications into trauma are also profound.  I come out of early childhood and the attachment system. Once the attachment people and the developmental trauma people in the citadel get ahold of this pathology, they’re going to become so excited. It’s like how brain damage can reveal what function the damaged portion of the brain served. The type of damage to the attachment system being expressed and revealed by the “parental alienation” pathology reveals so much about the nature and functioning of the attachment system and about the impact of developmental trauma in the attachment system, layers upon layers. But I can’t talk about any of this yet, because I’m waiting for people to catch up to just the basics of solving the pathology of “parental alienation.” But this is just the tip of the iceberg, people.

So I worked out the description of this pathology at a fine-grained level, so that when the time comes to integrate with establishment mental health, which is now, the time is now, the theoretical foundations of the alternative model are rock solid. I don’t want to get over-confident until the battle is fought, but I’m expecting the attachment-based model is going to fly through vetting by establishment mental health with nary a whisper of challenge. So far, there has been no challenge to the substance of the model. None.

This model can then bring us together with establishment mental health into a single unified voice. And then look what the model gives us:

An idiot-proof diagnostic model. Three diagnostic indicators. Not twelve, not eight. Three. Just three. Simple. To make it even simpler I’ve listed them as a checklist, One… check – Two… check – Three… check. Good, very good. Now when these three symptoms are present, all at the same time, in the child’s symptom display, what does that mean? Pathogenic parenting, right. Good. Oh, I’m so proud of you. And what DSM-5 diagnosis do we give to pathogenic parenting involving severe developmental pathology (Diagnostic Indicator 1), personality disorder pathology (Diagnostic Indicator 2), and psychiatric (delusional) pathology (Diagnostic Indicator 3)? That’s right, V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse. Good, very good. Oh, you’re doing so well with this. Now, is the child abuse suspected or is it confirmed? It’s confirmed, that’s right, good job. It’s confirmed because the child is displaying these symptoms, the pathogenic parenting is confirmed by the symptoms in the child’s symptom display. Good. Now, final question, so pay attention, as a mental health professional, when you’ve diagnosed child abuse what do you do? Oh my goodness, right again, you report it to Child Protective Services. Wow. You did such a good job. That was amazing. I’m so impressed.

Whew.

So now we have reports of Child Psychological Abuse starting to be made to CPS by mental health professionals based on an attachment based model of “parental alienation.” The social workers at CPS aren’t going to know what to do with these reports. They’ll interview people and come back with “inconclusive.” But they’ll start to be annoyed and curious. What’s this attachment-based model of “parental alienation” that’s creating all of these reports. Dr. Childress, can you offer a training for our social workers in an attachment-based model?

Certainly, I’d be glad to. Theory-theory-theory, narcissistic/borderline parent, attachment trauma reenactment narrative, theory-theory. Now, this pathology can always be recognized by a specific set of three diagnostic indicators. When all three of these child symptoms are present in the child’s symptom display there is no other possible explanation, other than attachment-based “parental alienation” by a narcissistic/borderline parent. Here, I’ve got this checklist right here for you of these three symptoms, can you pass these back, thank you. You’ll notice it also has some associated clinical signs listed. Now these associated clinical signs are not diagnostic, the diagnosis is made solely on the presence or absence of the three diagnostic indicators, but these associated clinical signs are some additional things you can listen for in your assessment that can help confirm and support the diagnosis. So, lets go over these indicators and associated signs. There are three definitive diagnostic indicators for this pathology. The first one is…

At that point, we’ll have CPS trained and on board.

Protective Separation

Diagnosis guides treatment. If a child has ADHD, we do treatment for ADHD. If a child has autism, we do autism treatment. If a child is being abused, we respond with a child protection response. In all cases of child abuse, we protectively separate the child from the actively abusive parent and we place the child in kinship care with a normal-range caregiver. In the case of “parental alienation” the kinship care is with the normal-range and affectionally available targeted parent.

Now, if the treatment team believes that a child protection response is not yet warranted in any specific situation, then no treatment is ever mandatory. But the focus should always be on the child’s symptoms. No symptoms, no need to protectively separate the child from the pathogenic parent. But if there are child symptoms, then we need to protect the child.

Narcissistic personalities do not understand the construct of authority. But they do understand the construct of power.

To the Narcissistic/Borderline Parent: If the child continues to evidence these symptoms directed toward the targeted parent, then the next step will be a protective separation of the child from you for at least a nine-month period, which is the required period needed to restore the child to normal-range functioning.  We’ve already discussed it fully and I’m not going to discuss it further.

See what we’re doing? We’re not placing pressure on the child to love and bond to the targeted parent, which only makes the child a “psychological battleground” between our efforts to restore normal-range functioning and the continuing efforts of the narcissistic/borderline parent to keep the child symptomatic. Instead, we’re going to the source (the actual source for the “stimulus control” of the child’s behavior), the narcissistic/borderline parent, and we’re making a very clear statement that provides the narcissistic/borderline parent with clearly structured boundaries for their (disorganized) manipulative pathology of exploiting the child: “Stop it. Release the child to love the other parent or we will remove the child from your care.”

An attachment-based model gives you the option to protectively separate the child from the psychologically abusive parent if this is what’s needed in order to treat and resolve the child’s pathology.

The solution is entirely contained within the mental health system response to the pathology, particularly once we reach the CPS level of the solution. If the court system becomes involved, the targeted parent has two independently made DSM-5 diagnoses of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed, one from an expert in this form of pathology and a confirming diagnosis from Child Protective Services. When presented with a single unified voice from the mental health system, the legal system will be able to act with the decisive clarity necessary to resolve the pathology.

Correcting Gardner’s Mistake

There is a correct professional procedure to follow in professional clinical psychology. Define the pathology from entirely within standard and established psychological principles and constructs. This leads to making the correct diagnosis of the pathology. The treatment we use is based on the diagnosis.

Gardner did not follow this procedure. In his eagerness to identify the pathology, he skipped the first step. He did not define the pathology using standard and established psychological constructs and principles. Instead, he opted for a short-cut of proposing a unique “new syndrome” with unique new symptom identifiers. But then notice the problem that this creates regarding diagnosis.

Rather than having a formal diagnosis for the pathology which would have been available if Gardner had followed the correct professional procedure, a short-cut “new syndrome” proposal REQUIRES that the syndrome itself be accepted as the diagnosis. This has produced 30 years of impasse.

I’m a clinical psychologist. What I’ve done is gone back and fixed the mistake of Gardner when he used a short-cut instead of established professional clinical psychology procedures of assessment and diagnosis. What I’ve done with an attachment-based reformulation of the pathology is to go back to that initial step that was skipped by Gardner, and I’ve done a proper clinical assessment of the pathology. I’ve defined the pathology (pathogenic care) entirely within standard and established psychological principles and constructs, which then leads to the diagnosis of the pathology, which then leads to the treatment plan. That’s how things are supposed to work. What I’ve done is standard clinical psychology.

Gardner got us off on the wrong track. I’m putting us back on the correct path. I’m doing this because I’m a clinical psychologist. That’s what I do. I assess, diagnose, and treat pathology. All sorts of pathology. In this case it’s a complicated pathology, but it’s not an unsolvable pathology. We just need to follow the appropriate professional steps of defining the pathology from entirely within established psychological principles and constructs, which will lead us to the proper diagnosis, which will lead us to the necessary treatment plan. I teach this to students all the time. Standard clinical psychology.

The solution is available to us, right here, right now, if we simply return back to the standard procedures of professional clinical psychology. What was needed was to fix the step skipped by Gardner of defining the pathology from entirely within standard and established psychological principles and constructs. Because of specific features of my professional background I was able to do this. That’s what I do in my book Foundations. That’s why it’s entitled Foundations. Through establishing the necessary Foundations in defining the pathology, I return us to the proper path of professional clinical psychology.

It’s not Dr. Childress’ new theory. There is nothing “new” in Foundations. It’s all standard and established psychological constructs and principles. That’s why I didn’t call it the “Childress Theory of Parental Alienation.”  No. It’s an attachment-based model for describing the pathology. The correct clinical psychology term for the pathology is pathogenic parenting (pathogenic care that’s distorting the child’s attachment system). I am just doing what a good clinical psychologist does. I’m first defining the pathology from entirely within standard and established psychological principles and constructs, which then leads to the proper diagnosis, which then leads to the necessary treatment plan. Standard clinical psychology.

For all mental health professionals:  At this point you are now either part of the solution or you are part of the problem. The only thing that is no longer acceptable will be our abandonment of children to the psychological abuse of a narcissistic/borderline parent. That stops. If you are going to collude with child abuse because of your ignorance and professional incompetence, then you may be looking at licensing board complaints and malpractice lawsuits from targeted parents based on violations of Standards 2.01, 9.01, and 3.04 of the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct of the American Psychological Association and for failure in your professional “duty to protect.”

Everyone’s gotten lost in Wonderland by thinking that we have to have the diagnosis of “parental alienation” accepted by establishment mental health and that we need to prove “parental alienation” in court. No we don’t. All we need is professionally competent clinical psychology. I’m a professionally competent clinical psychologist. I’m pulling us out of Wonderland and I’m putting us back on the right path.

Lesser Forms of the Pathology

This is easy. 

Once we solve the broken response of the mental health system to the extreme form of the pathology, then we can turn our attention to the lesser forms of the pathology and all the different variants.

And we will solve these in exactly the same way we solve the more extreme version of the pathology:  We define the nature of the pathology within standard and established psychological principles and constructs, which will lead us to the proper diagnosis, which will direct us toward the required treatment response.  No big deal. It’s called professionally competent clinical psychology. 

But first things first.  We need to solve the extreme version of the pathology first and put mental health back on the proper path of professional clinical psychology.

So. There it is. I’m going to get back to work.

Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857