Why did I take on the Gardnerians so directly?
Because targeted parents are going into battle for their children and the Gardnerian PAS experts are abandoning them to fight this fight on their own.
They are not lifting a finger to help you.
For thirty years the Gardnerian PAS model has provided no solution whatsoever to the pathology of “parental alienation.” What solution do they propose that the continuation of the Gardnerian PAS paradigm is now going to provide that it hasn’t provided in the last 30 years.
The three diagnostic indicators of an attachment-based model provide an immediate DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed, the eight Gardnerian PAS symptom indicators do not. Why hold onto the Gardnerian PAS paradigm?
An attachment-based model provides 12 Associated Clinical Signs of the pathology, the Exclusion Demand, the use of the word “forced” to characterize being with the targeted parent, seeking the child’s testimony in court, excessive and intrusive texting and email contact,… The continuation of the Gardnerian PAS model does not offer any of these.
And here’s one I haven’t discussed before. If a narcissistic/borderline makes a false allegation of abuse and Child Protective Services investigates and finds the allegation to be unfounded, then CPS should ALSO investigate if the child’s symptoms evidence the three diagnostic indicators of attachment-based “parental alienation” representing the psychological abuse of the child by the allied narcissistic/borderline parent, and which would warrant the child’s protective separation from the pathogenic care of the allied narcissistic/borderline parent as a consequence of a DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed. Suddenly, allegations of abuse become a double-edged sword. If they are unfounded, then false allegations of abuse can initiate an equal investigation of the psychological abuse of the child by the allied narcissistic/borderline parent based on the presence of the three diagnostic indicators of attachment-based “parental alienation” in the child’s symptom display.
I haven’t discussed this double-edged investigation of abuse allegations previously because it only becomes available once we have CPS on board with the paradigm shift, which will be toward the end of the paradigm shift. But once we have CPS trained in the three diagnostic indicators of an attachment-based model of “parental alienation,” this double-edged investigation of unfounded abuse allegations would represent a strong disincentive to the narcissistic/borderline parent for manipulatively making false allegations of abuse toward a normal-range targeted parent as a means to terminate this parent’s involvement with the child. With a switch to the three definitive diagnostic indicators of attachment-based “parental alienation,” unfounded allegations of abuse can equally prompt an investigation of the allied parent for psychological abuse of the child because authentically abused children will not evidence the three diagnostic indicators of attachment-based “parental alienation.”
Continuing the Gardnerian PAS paradigm changes nothing. Everything remains just the way it is right now. False allegations of abuse result in no investigation of the allied narcissistic/borderline parent because the eight symptom identifiers of the Gardnerian PAS model are inadequate for the purpose.
The new paradigm of an attachment-based model of “parental alienation” allows you to seek and to obtain a change to the APA’s position statement on Parental Alienation Syndrome, to change the title of this position statement to “The Family Pathology of Parental Alienation,” to obtain formal acknowledgement from the APA that the pathology of “parental alienation” exists (using whatever term they wish to use for the pathology), and designating your children and families as a “special population” requiring specialized professional knowledge and expertise to competently assess, diagnose, and treat (thereby eliminating professional incompetence in mental health professionals working with your children and families and providing you with expert mental health professionals trained in the pathology of “parental alienation”).
Continuing with the Gardnerian PAS model does not allow you to seek or acquire this change, because the position statement of the APA is already about Gardnerian PAS. It’s right there in the title. Gardnerian PAS gives you the current position statement of the APA regarding the pathology being expressed in your family. Is this what you want?
An attachment-based model of “parental alienation” makes relevant the Standards of the Ethical Code of Conduct for Psychologists and Standards of Practice of the American Psychological Association regarding professional competence and avoiding harm to the client, and will activate the mental health professional’s “duty to protect” when the three diagnostic indicators of attachment-based “parental alienation” are evident in the child’s symptom display.
With the Gardnerian PAS model all of these standards and the duty to protect remain unavailable and inactive.
The continuation of the Gardnerian PAS model continues exactly what we have right now. No solution.
The attachment-based model of “parental alienation” provides the solution because it was specifically designed to provide the solution.
The Gardnerian PAS model has actually created exactly the situation we have right now, and as far as I can tell it promises another 30 years of the exactly the same. I would ask any Gardnerian PAS expert to please describe for me how they envision the continuation of the Gardnerian PAS paradigm is going to lead to a solution?
If you want to see the solution provided by the Gardnerian PAS model, just look around you. For thirty years it’s been the dominant paradigm for describing the pathology. The situation we have right now is exactly what’s produced by the Gardnerian PAS model.
Why in the world would anyone want to continue with the failed paradigm of Gardnerian PAS when a change to the three diagnostic indicators of an attachment-based paradigm offers targeted parents an immediate DSM-5 diagnosis of the pathology as V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed.
So far, the reasons offered have been 1) that an attachment based model is not really a change but is simply Gardnerian PAS using different words (Old Wine in Old Skins: Bernet and Reay), which is bizarre and strained reasoning on its face, and 2) that an attachment-based model does not address situations where the targeted parent is also to blame for the alienation (Parental Alienation and Paradigm Shifts: An unnecessary diversion for the UK: Woodall). An attachment-based model deals only with the pathology it is designed to deal with, i.e., the presence in the child’s symptom display of the three characteristic and definitive diagnostic indicators of pathogenic parenting associated with attachment-based “parental alienation.” I’m not trying to solve everything under the sun, just this type of pathology (call it whatever you want). The apparent reasoning is that because an attachment-based model does not solve all forms of pathology we shouldn’t solve this specific form of pathology; because an attachment-based model doesn’t solve all forms of pathology, we shouldn’t provide targeted parents with a DSM-5 diagnosis of Child Psychological Abuse for this form of pathology; because an attachment-based model does not solve all forms of pathology, we shouldn’t obtain a change in the APA’s position statement regarding the pathology of “parental alienation” generally. That too, is strained reasoning.
Neither of these arguments address the actual substance of an attachment-based model. Is there any disagreement with the substance of the model?
It’s as if they are searching as hard as they can to identify reasons NOT to give up the Gardnerian PAS model with its eight symptom identifiers to be replaced by an attachment-based model and its three diagnostic indicators. If you’re going to make a case for holding onto the obviously failed paradigm of Gardnerian PAS (just look around you, this current situation is what the Gardnerian PAS model gives us), then you’ll have to do better than these two weak and irrational reasons.
In sports, there is a definitive argument for ending debates about games: “scoreboard” – which means just look to the scoreboard to see who won.
Scoreboard – just look to what the Gardnerian PAS model has given us in 30 years of being the dominant paradigm governing how we define the pathology of “parental alienation.” How’s that workin’ for you? Are you satisfied with how things are? Then maybe we should consider a paradigm shift to an attachment-based model that is grounded entirely within standard and existing forms of pathology, that gives us an immediate DSM-5 diagnosis of the pathology as Child Psychological Abuse, that allows us to change the APA’s position statement to formally acknowledge that the pathology exists and to REQUIRE professional expertise in assessing, diagnosing, and treating the pathology.
Targeted parents are going into battle to achieve this paradigm shift for their children and families because they want this paradigm shift. They want a diagnosis of Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed regarding the distorted pathogenic parenting of their ex-spouse that is destroying their lives and the lives of their children. We are going into battle with them to fight the minions of the pathogen who will seek to stop us. We could use all the help we can get in the upcoming battle to create this paradigm shift. The time is now. The battle is now. Bring your banner to the battlefield now. Or we will note your absence. We will note that when targeted parents went to battle for their children, your banner was nowhere to be seen on the battlefield.
It is better to be on hand with ten men than absent with ten thousand.
Place the Gardnerian PAS model next to the attachment-based model described by Foundations. Which is a better description of the pathology?
An attachment-based definition of the pathology describes the pathology in detail from each of three distinctively different levels of analysis, the family systems level, the personality disorder level, and the attachment trauma level, as well as integrating this description of the pathology across all three of these levels. It describes in detail how the child’s symptoms are induced and how the normal-range functioning of the child’s attachment-bonding motivations are suppressed by the pathogenic parenting of the allied narcissistic/(borderline) parent. It links this underlying theoretical structure to three specific diagnostic indicators of the pathology in the child’s symptom display, and it defines specific domains of knowledge within professional psychology necessary for professionally competent assessment, diagnosis, and treatment. It also links this underlying theoretical structure to a specific DSM-5 diagnosis that includes a definition of the pathology as V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed which requires the child’s protective separation from the pathogenic parenting of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent during the active phase of the child’s treatment and recovery.
And what is the theoretical foundation for a Gardnerian PAS model? “Brainwashing.”
That’s it. That’s the totality of it. “Brainwashing.”
Objectively, which one of those models is better? Is there any question about it? Really? Then why would any responsible mental health professional continue to hold to the simplistic and woefully inadequate “brainwashing” model when they have an elaborated theoretical framework offered by Foundations? It makes no sense.
It appears to be almost a motivated disregard for truth. Why?
What advantage does holding onto the failed Gardnerian description of the pathology provide? Tell us. Because I cannot see any advantage whatsoever.
A pathology cannot simultaneously be a “new syndrome” that is unique in all of mental health AND, at the same time, a manifestation of fully established and existing forms of pathology. It’s either one or the other. If it’s a unique new form of pathology as proposed by the Gardnerian PAS model, then it is not a manifestation of established and existing forms of pathology. If it’s a manifestation of established and existing forms of pathology, as proposed by the attachment-based model, then it is not a unique new form of pathology. Both cannot simultaneously be true. If one is true, the other is false.
So which is it? Is the pathology of “parental alienation” a unique new form of pathology (a “new syndrome”) or is it a manifestation of established and existing forms of pathology? We will know your answer by which set of diagnostic indicators you use, the eight symptoms of Gardnerian PAS or the three diagnostic indicators of an attachment-based model. Decide.
But just take a look for a moment at what happens when we stop trying to propose that the pathology of “parental alienation” represents a “new syndrome” that is unique in all of mental health, and we instead apply the necessary professional rigor to define the pathology entirely from within standard and established psychological constructs and principles. When we do this, the clinical pathology actually becomes pathogenic parenting and we wind up with a DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed for the pathology. Isn’t that exactly the proper diagnosis for this pathology? All we had to do is stop proposing a “new syndrome” and do the work needed to define the pathology within established psychological constructs and principles and we arrive at the proper diagnosis. Duhhh. That’s exactly how things are supposed to work. When we define the pathology using standard and established psychological principles and constructs we will arrive at the proper diagnosis of the pathology.
And in mental health, we then use the diagnosis to guide our treatment of the pathology. This is exactly how it is supposed to work. But the proposal that the pathology represents a “new syndrome” that is unique in all of mental health diverts us from this process of what is supposed to happen and we wind up in the current morass in mental health that we are witnessing with the pathology of “parental alienation.”
An attachment-based model of the pathology is specifically designed to fix this and to put us back on the proper path again.
For thirty years the Gardnerian PAS experts have intransigently insisted that establishment mental health accept a Gardnerian PAS model of the pathology as being a “new syndrome” unique in all of mental health as a condition of the solution. For thirty years establishment mental health has said no, that the theoretical foundations of the Gardnerian PAS model as a “new syndrome” lack the professional rigor necessary for an acceptable theoretical construct.
For thirty years professional mental health has been locked in this unproductive gridlock regarding the diagnosis of the pathology. Gardnerian PAS experts endlessly insisting that the pathology is a unique “new syndrome” within mental health, and establishment mental health endlessly telling them that the theoretical foundations of their construct lacked sufficient professional foundation. Round, and round, and round, in this same stale and unproductive debate that creates an echo-chamber for the Gardnerian PAS experts where they support each other in endlessly repeating the mantras of their model, but totally out of touch with the requirements of establishment mental health to propose a definition of the pathology from within standard and established psychological principles and constructs.
Round and round, for 30 years. Thirty years. Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. This is insane.
We need to end this insanity. We need to solve the pathology of “parental alienation” by ending this unproductive debate. In order to do this, we must give up our rigid insistence that establishment mental health accept a “new syndrome” model as defined by Gardnerian PAS. It’s not going to happen. Establishment mental health is not going to accept a Gardnerian PAS model for the pathology. Ever. Thirty years. Scoreboard.
To solve the pathology of “parental alienation” requires a change. It requires that we change to a new paradigm for defining the pathology. The attachment-based model for describing the pathology was created specifically for this purpose. It meets the standards of establishment mental health that the pathology be defined exclusively through established and scientifically valid forms of existing psychopathology. Done.
An attachment-based model meets this standard and can bring all of mental health together into a single voice as your ally in resolving the pathology of “parental alienation.”
The solution requires a paradigm shift to an attachment-based model for the pathology.
Targeted parents understand this. They will be going to battle to achieve the paradigm shift that’s necessary to solve the pathology in their families. They need your help. Don’t abandon them to fight this battle on their own. Join them and add your professional voices to theirs in a call for a new paradigm.
Because if you continue to hold onto the failed Gardnerian PAS paradigm for some unknown reason, then you become part of the problem which must be overcome. You have fought for so long and so hard, don’t become part of the problem now, at this moment when we are finally at the brink of solving the pathology of “parental alienation.” I know I’m an “outsider” and I’m not part of the club of Gardnerian PAS experts, and I know it’s hard for you to relinquish your beloved model of Gardnerian PAS which you’ve fought for so strenuously for 30 years.
But to achieve a solution to the pathology of “parental alienation,” we must sacrifice our intransigent insistence that establishment mental health accept a Gardnerian PAS “new syndrome” as a condition of solving the pathology of “parental alienation.” We must let go of the Gardnerian PAS model. It’s time is done. A new model for the pathology has arrived that is specifically designed to solve the pathology of “parental alienation.” You must allow me to solve “parental alienation.” I know exactly what needs to happen – and it requires a paradigm shift to an attachment-based model for the pathology.
That’s why I developed the attachment-based model, specifically for this purpose based on an analysis of what was needed in order to fix the broken mental health response to the pathology. We need the three diagnostic indicators of an attachment-based model rather than the eight Gardnerian PAS symptom indicators, and we need the DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed that these three diagnostic indicators provide.
If you join us in this new paradigm, I assure you that you will find that a wealth of new opportunities in research and diagnosis emerge that were not available under the Gardnerian PAS model.
But if you continue to propose the eight symptom identifiers of Gardnerian PAS rather than helping us replace these with the three diagnostic indicators of an attachment-based model which we need in order to enact the solution to “parental alienation” then you become part of the problem and you become my adversary. I don’t want this. But neither will I shrink from this.
I will stand in the center of this battlefield and I will fight with steadfast determination for targeted parents and their children, with all the firm commitment and necessary ferocity needed to achieve a solution. I will take the fight to incompetent “reunification therapists,” I will take the fight to child custody evaluators, I will take the fight to the minions of the pathogen, I will take the fight to the APA, and I will take the fight to you if necessary. Please don’t make it necessary. But understand this, the solution to the pathology of “parental alienation” REQUIRES a paradigm shift from the failed Gardnerian PAS model to an attachment-based model. The days of abandoning children to Psychological Child Abuse are over.
Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, PSY q8857