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.”


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.

11 thoughts on “Stark Truth”

  1. I left a comment on the FaceBook page of Amy JL Baker in which she promotes her Psychology Today series of articles. I commented that leaving out the work of Craig Childress is a significant omission.

    The problem of “parental alienation’ has grown to the point where there is a market to be captured and milked, just as occurs in every other area of human psychology. Market share controls the officialdom of family courts and diagnostic protocols and training programs. Parents should not fail to recognize this. People who say they are there to help you such as social workers, psychologists, and counselors will ‘help’ you by aligning with the parent who is using your children as a weapon against you. Lives have been ruined and ended through this type of professional incompetence. Incompetence is actually a misnomer because the distortion is not the result of carelessness. It is the result of intentional bias and avoidance of evidence. The entire mental health profession is implicated in this misconduct.

    I commend Dr. Childress for putting his neck on the line for the health and wellbeing of our children. Just yesterday I spoke at length with a father whose two daughters have been taken psychological hostage by their very disturbed mother. This father’s heart is broken as the girls have forced him out of their lives by their adoption of their mother’s delusionary belief system. This man is a gentle, and demonstrably dedicated father. I was able to explain to him that his daughters get punished for wanting to spend time with him. Not much solace, but better than nothing. The courts failed this man and his daughters. They are suffering psychological child abuse because the court appointed social workers did not do their jobs. I will continue to encourage and support this father through this awful experience. Childress’ work offers strategies for parents like this and their children too. The social workers who failed to do their jobs (I have studied the records and I am qualified to make this judgement) claim knowledge in “parental alienation”, but apparently only for the purpose of keeping the slaves on the plantation.

  2. Dear Dr. Childress,
    For me you are as Nicolaus Copernicus whose work was denied by the ones who knew better and thought that just they were right saying that the Sun goes around the Earth.

  3. Please stop it! The “Stark Truth” demonstrates a growing fissure in the psychological community of professionals addressing parental alienation/pathogenic parenting and it needs to stop now. Go about your work submitting article proposals, preparing for court appearances, and respond to individual consultants. Stay focused and refuse to engage in these useless self-defense rants which are just that – useless. Take the high road, ignore the slights, and continue to use your expertise to help the traumatic suffering targeted parents and their children.

    I have not seen my 26 years-old daughter in seven years. My ex started the psychological abuse when she was 18 years-old. He escorted her to a police officer with a letter “she” had written claiming that I had abused her years, and that she wanted no contact with me. And because she was an “adult,” he was able to charge me with harassment when I put a care package in her car before she left for college. Four court appearances later, he was able to obtain a five-year Restraining Order forbidding me (and my daughter) any contact. She lived in Boston during the marathon bombing and her neighborhood was quarantined while they hunted for the evasive bombers – no contact! She was hospitalized for a kidney disease, accelerated by the anti-despressant he insisted she needed and prescribed by his geriatric psychiatrist (who wouldn’t be depressed by the actions of eradicating her authentic, loving mother from her life?). I was prohibited from any contact with her thanks to four overzealous judges (all white men approximately the same age as my ex) and pathogenic parent acting to “protect her” from me.

    Most of the psychologists working to expose and address parental alienation/pathogenic parenting issues are largely focused on minor children, custody, and ensuing legal battles. More and more I am learning about children who are becoming adults (18 years) and being escorted to legal entities (police stations, judges) to acquire legal separation from authentic, loving parents. Coerced false allegations never fail to produce sanctions against these parents because they are “adults” acting in their own best interests.

    Dr. Childress, you have presented important, life-affirming, and empowering work with your ground-breaking “Attachment-Based Model of Parental Alienation,” and I for one want, no desperately need, you to remain focused on what you do best. We still have so far to go and I dearly miss and grieve for my beloved daughter.

    While I do not want to speak for everyone, I read almost everything and anything put out there about parental alienation/pathogenic parenting. I’m constantly searching for that key to unlock the years of psychological abuse that both me and my daughter have endured by a narcissistic/(borderline) ex. In my case, I would also add “sadistic,” because he truly enjoyed the suffering he caused. The mental health professional working with this “special population” have barely begun to chip this insidious iceberg. There is little information about recourse for alienation of these emerging adults, or families with split siblings (my younger daughter and I enjoy a close, loving relationship).

    I am begging you and the other mental health professionals to nip this professional bickering, get on the different pages of the same book if necessary, but make it the book dedicated to exposing and then, eradicating this most vicious form of child abuse. Please resist the current path of division between Gardnerian vs. Attachment-Based mental health professionals. We can reasonably predict that this path will cause splitting amongst the most vulnerable people you claim to offer help. Please don’t make us choose.

  4. Della, in defense of Childress, I want to point out that to be silent in the face of child abuse is to make onself complicit with that child abuse. Ethical mental health professionals do not go along to get along. It is impossible to propose a more effective diagnostic model and treatment model of any psychological problem without at the the same time assailing the status quo that the field offers. So while we reasonably hope that mental health workers would be united in approaching a severe problem in unity, with the most efficacious tools available, that simply is not possible. In fact, in the world of social science it has never been possible. Childress’ defense of his work is useful, not useless. Only by engaging the dynamics of a disordered system can anyone come to see what holds it together. The Gardnerian advocates would b be happy to see Childress sit impotently on the sidelines. We can’t allow that to happen. The family mental health system purports to exist for the benefit of the patients/clients. Letting that objective slip into second place behind professional opportunism simply is not an ethical option.

    1. Kevin, You misunderstand. Dr. Childress needs no defense. I am an ardent supporter, believer in his work, and wholeheartedly embrace his Every Child Battle Cry. I have purchased “Foundations,” read it cover to cover and continue to keep it close-at-hand for referencing. I have Amy Baker’s book, as well as others, and reference them also. I could never imagine, nor want, him or others to “be silent in the face of child abuse.” My point is that the debate should be professional at all times, staying focused on the trauma of abused children and parents. Not one mental health professional has achieved the goal of reuniting every child with his/her authentic parent, and until that happens, we are, alienated family members, mental health professionals, and legal entities, far more effective and powerful when united.

      1. The issue has to do with systems change. A dysfunctional system is in “homeostatic balance” with the symptom present (homeo=all the same; static=remains the same; i.e., nothing changes, dysfunctional gridlock). The symptom (in this case the level of professional incompetence in diagnosis and treatment) keeps the dysfunctional system in a continual state of dysfunctional balance. This understanding of how systems function is all well-documented within the family systems literature (which is itself derived from another set of research on all types of systems generally).

        In order to change a dsysfunctional system, in this case the dysfunctional mental health system, we will need to go through a period of disequilibrium and imbalance, things will seem chaotic and disorganized. The system will then seek to re-establish its homoestatic balance. As it does so, this is the time when we will be able to introduce structural changes that lead to healthy systems functioning and remove the symptom that was stabilizing the prior dysfunctional system (in this case, mental health incompetence).

        So while unity is valuable, and certainly I’d like to see us moving with a single voice toward solution, unity is not useful if it simply maintains the dysfunctional homeostatic balance. What’s happening now is an early skirmish within the allies of targeted parents to create the necessary flexibility and authentic stability that we’ll need for the coming battle with the pathogen itself. The real battle is when the allies of the pathology unleash. That’s when things are likely to appear very chaotic. No worries, it’s a phase we must go through to create the necessary systems change. As the system moves once more toward stability, that’s when we can incorporate healthy structural changes that remove the symptom and create a healthy mental health system response to this pathology.

        A period of homeostatic imbalance is a necessary part of changing dysfunctional systems, whether it’s a dysfunctional family system or a dysfunctional mental health system. Think of it this way, we have a dsyfunctional block of ice. The change process involves transitioning the ice first into water and then into steam (disequilibrium), then as the steam condenses back into water, and as the water freezes back into a block of ice (homeostatic balance), we can change the shape of the block of ice as it refreezes into a healthy block of ice system, and a healthy homeostatic balance with no symptom present. No worries.

        But this is a big system, the mental health system, so it’s going to take a lot of energy to melt this block of ice. I’m hoping we just have to melt it to water and not all the way to steam. We’ll see.

        One of the key indicators will be how the domestic violence people in the citadel respond. They should be our allies, because there is a variant of this pathology that is a form of domestic violence (narcissistic husband – targeted parent wife/mother). But historically with the Gardnerian PAS model they have been adversaries (note the position statement of the APA) because they have been concerned that we do not fully appreciate the impact of domestic violence on children, and that we’re simply attributing the child’s reluctance to be with an authentically violent parent (typically the father) to “parental alienation.” We will need to reassure them that we fully understand and fully share their concerns, and that we will NEVER return a child to a violent parent. Never.

        The steam phase is when we get into the issue of false allegations of child (sexual) abuse. That will be the second marker of how things are progressing. But these things are in the future. No worries.

        Craig Childress, Psy.D.

  5. I have Amy’s book and read her articles and watched her speaking on utube and she didn’t seem to be a fighter for pathological parenting she actually felt sort of like a generic knock off compared to Drchildress! Has she done anything new lately?
    I would think she could do something updated and new like get on board to help get this in place so parents can start living again, a normal life, they’ve suffered so long for people to be attacking dr Childresses work!And it’s very genius work!
    When I read her book it just felt like she is out there for money and notoriety not really a fighter for these parents!
    Amy, stop planting bad seed!
    That’s just like evil, something good comes along and the devil try’s steal it away!
    I know this is not a scientifically based argument but I am not arguing scientific! Just from the heart!
    Why do you care that Dorcy has a degree or not?Having letters behind your name hasn’t helped any of these “mental health experts” to be more qualified in what they do! There’s a lot of those people out there! Too many! I believe our country would be in a better situation if we would get rid of these career politicians and have the common man/ woman that can balance a checkbook and raise a good family!
    Drchildress is our hero!!!

  6. Dr. Childress I would appreciate your review of one of the most thorough studies I have seen on this that was instituted by a panel of 12 judges in the 70’s and studied 7000 families over 12 years and is part of the ABA library section of family law: CHILDREN HELD HOSTAGE by Stanley Clawar PH.D, C.C.S. and Brynne Rivlin, M.S.S. ISBN: 0-89707-28-1

  7. …I recently received the following response from Dr Baker when I reached out to her to state that the Mental health system was not yet unified with one voice to establish a clinically diagnosed DSM-5 based and accepted Pathology. There remains a lot of work to do and this crusade needs all of the effort and direction to publicize the Attachment-Based model for Pathogenic Parenting!
    I respect Amy is active in the field, but she does not recognize the pathogen, holding onto a failed Gardnerarian model and my response to her approach is basically – “HOPE is not a strategy!”

    I hope you find the help you are seeking.

    By the way, there are two organizations called APA so it can be a bit confusing but only one — the American Psychiatric Association — is charged with defining diagnoses. I agree that it would be good if that APA included parental alienation in the DSM, which is why I worked on the proposal. But in the end the APA decided not to include parental alienation — along with other proposed new diagnoses as well — into the DSM. When the APA begins the revision of the DSM, I may be involved in the renewed efforts to include PA. In the meantime, I hope that you find the help you are seeking.


  8. Dr. Childress, if I may add my humble opinion to your professional admonitions, I’d like to state what you cannot for reasons we need not explain. Slavoj Zizek explains the phenomenon as the Lacanian notion of fantasy as a constitutive lie, i.e., “Our inner truth is the lie we construct to be able to live with the misery of our actual lives.” As Louis C.K. puts it, he worked shitty jokes for 15 years before getting it which meant that he didn’t know how to do anything else – hence, he was stuck in his craft. PAS adherents are no exception to the finite realities of human existence – vested in their lie and terrified of liabilities. Chris Hedges adds that Peter Tillich identified all human institutions are inherently evil. Life is absurd and cruel.

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