I was housecleaning some of the writing files on my computer and I came across an essay from 2011 that I started and never finished… five years ago. That’s how long this has been waiting. I read through it and decided it was time now to finish it. In fact it’s overdue.
This essay is now on my website, buried up toward the top because there are just too many writings piling up on my website. I need to do some housecleaning on my website too, but there are so many things calling for my attention.
The direct link to this essay is:
The pathology of “parental alienation” is psychological child abuse.
The pathology of “parental alienation” is domestic violence; spousal abuse.
These are facts. The pathology of “parental alienation” is the manifestation of a narcissistic personality psychopathology within the family. The narcissistic/(borderline) spouse-and-parent is using the child as a weapon, as a narcissistic object, to inflict suffering on the other spouse for the rejection of the divorce.
The time for recognizing the pathology of “parental alienation” as domestic spousal abuse is long past overdue – long past overdue. I deeply apologize that I have been delayed for so long, but there was much to accomplish. But it is time now to fully and completely recognize the pathology of “parental alienation” as a severe and heinous form of emotional-psychological domestic violence, and to respond accordingly. Professional psychology must recognize this extremely destructive form of psychological child abuse and this emotionally violent form spousal abuse. Professional ignorance and collusion with the domestic violence, the spousal abuse, and the psychological abuse of the child is abhorrent and can no longer be tolerated. The pathology of “parental alienation” is domestic violence, pure and simple.
And it needs to stop. Today.
Mental health professionals, ALL mental health professionals need to begin routinely assessing for the three diagnostic indicators and twelve associated clinical signs of the pathology when there is an evident disturbance to the child’s attachment bonding motivations toward a normal-range and affectionally available parent following divorce.
When a severe disturbance to the child’s attachment bonding motivations toward a normal-range and affectionally available parent is evident in the child’s symptom display, failure to properly assess for the potential domestic violence and psychological child abuse of a narcissistic/(borderline) spouse-and-parent would represent a violation of Standard 9.01a of the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct of the American Psychological Association which requires that all psychologists – ALL psychologists – base their diagnostic statements on “information sufficient to substantiate their findings.” If the psychologist does not even assess for the pathology, then they have not based their diagnostic findings on “information sufficient to substantiate their findings” and they are therefore in violation of Standard 9.01a of the ethics code of the American Psychological Association.
If they do not know how to assess for the domestic violence and psychological child abuse pathology of a narcissistic spouse-and-parent, then they are likely practicing beyond the boundaries of professional competence in diagnosing and treating this form of pathology, in violation of Standard 2.01a of the ethics code of the American Psychological Association.
If harm then accrues to the targeted parent and child as a result of the domestic violence and psychological child abuse that was not properly assessed and diagnosed by the mental health professional, then this would likely represent both a violation of Standard 3.04 of the ethics code of the American Psychological Association regarding avoiding harm to the client, and a failure in the psychologist’s “duty to protect.”
Violations of Standards 9.01a, 2.01a, and 3.04 of the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct of the American Psychological Association and the psychologist’s “duty to protect” may warrant administrative review by the licensing board of the psychologist regarding the possibility of sanctions on the license of the mental health professional.
This is not a “new theory” of pathology. It is the diagnosis of psychopathology.
Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857