Pathogenic parenting that is creating significant developmental pathology in the child (diagnostic indicator 1), personality disorder pathology in the child (diagnostic indicator 2), and delusional-psychiatric pathology in the child (diagnostic indicator 3) in order to meet the emotional and psychological needs of the parent represents a DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed.
In all cases involving the suppression of the child’s normal-range attachment bonding motivations toward a parent surrounding divorce, the mental health professional should assess for these three specific diagnostic indicators of pathogenic parenting by an allied narcissistic/(borderline) parent (in accord with their professional obligations under Standard 9.01a of the ethics code of the APA to base diagnostic statements on “information sufficient to substantiate their findings”).
(notice I did not use the term, “parental alienation” – standard and established psychological principles and constructs)
When the three diagnostic indicators are present in the child’s symptom display, then all mental health professions should make the accurate DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed.
When a mental health professional makes a confirmed DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse (on p. 719 of the DSM-5), then this activates the professional’s “duty to protect” obligation that must be discharged by taking affirmative action to protect the child.
The easiest and most direct protective action would be filing a suspected child abuse report with Child Protective Services.
The goal then becomes getting the social workers at Child Protective Services to become professionally competent in recognizing and diagnosing this pathology (i.e., pathogenic parenting by an allied narcissistic/(borderline) personality parent – not “parental alienation; standard and established psychological principles and constructs) using the same three diagnostic indicators for pathogenic parenting.
The social workers would then use the same diagnostic criteria to confirm the DSM-5 diagnosis made by the mental health professional, thereby providing two independently made confirmed DSM-5 diagnoses of Child Psychological Abuse.
CPS would then respond by protectively separating the child from the abusive parent and placing the child in kinship care if available. Kinship care in cases of child psychological abuse involving pathogenic parenting by an allied narcissistic/(borderline) parent (commonly referred to in the popular culture terminology as “parental alienation”) would typically be available from the normal-range and affectionally available targeted parent.
The pathology is solved entirely within the mental health response, without the need for the involvement of the legal system. If the courts become involved to verify the appropriateness of the protective separation, then the targeted parent has two independently made DSM-5 diagnoses of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed to present to the Court as the treatment-related justification for the protective separation period required for the child’s treatment and recovery.
Once the child’s pathology has been treated and resolved, and the normal-range functioning of the child has been recovered and stabilized, then the pathogenic parenting of the abusive parent is reintroduced with appropriate therapeutic monitoring to ensure that the child does not relapse when re-exposed to the pathogenic parenting of the psychologically abusive parent.
This solution is available today. Right this instant. All it waits on is mental health professionals assessing for the pathology of pathogenic parenting by an allied narcissistic/(borderline) parent (the Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting) and making the correct and accurate diagnosis of the family pathology based on the child’s symptom display.
Does this solve everything under the sun? No. It just solves what it is designed to solve. But let’s solve this to start.
Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857