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
10 thoughts on “The Solution”
With all my heart I want this mess solved.
I was working on solving ADHD and parenting generally when I first entered private practice from my role as the Clinical Director for a children’s assessment and treatment center. That’s when I came across my first case of “parental alienation” (my primary work is with angry-grumpy kids and parent-child conflict). I was so struck by the deep psychological trauma and emotional tragedy of this family pathology that I stopped what I was doing with ADHD and parenting generally to take on solving this.
Both the mental health and legal systems are massively broken in their response to this pathology. The solution is to fix the mental health system first. This is a mental health pathology, it’s our job, it’s our profession, to solve mental health pathology. Then, once we fix the mental health system, we will have the power to fix the legal system’s response to this family nightmare.
To fix the mental health system requires that we fix the profound degree of professional ignorance and incompetence that colludes with and maintains the pathology. To do this we must be able to hold mental health professionals accountable for their incompetence.
This required that I work out the diagnosis of this family pathology using standard and fully established psychological principles and constructs to which mental health professionals can be held ACCOUNTABLE.
This is Foundations.
Once Foundations was written, the world shifted on its axis. No one felt the shift, but it did. We cannot hold mental health professionals accountable to Gardnerian PAS. We can hold them accountable to the attachment-based model described in Foundations. The moment Foundations was published, the solution becomes immediately available. Diagnosis.
Now it just becomes a matter of enacting the solution. This starts by holding all mental health professionals accountable to assess for the personality disorder and attachment trauma of pathogenic parenting by an allied narcissistic/(borderline) parent. Standard and established psychological principles and constructs.
Me too. Me too.
Dear Dr. Childress,
Every day I glean new insights because of your work and make little connections everywhere. The pathogen is deadly and takes no hostages. It is ravaging my life and those of my children. It has to stop. I will do anything I can to stop it. The thing about me is I am willing. I am absolutely terrified about each step I take, but I learn and go through them anyway. The problem with me is that I am also an optimist—it catches me every time. It has to get better.
You said this, Dr. Childress, “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 is my greatest fear! Relapse. It does happen. My daughter was re-exposed and it breaks my heart. Not only does it hurt to have your own child say things to send you away again, but they are being abused right in front of you without being able to do one thing to stop it.
It is just horrifying and it repeats itself over and over. I have had enough of this. I am going all the way with the psychological child abuse reform that has begun here in Florida. The only one who can stop me from doing it is me.
Thank you for selflessly giving of your talent to recover our children. I hope I can imitate with some of the same.
Wow! Perfectly written in a nutshell!!! – From the National Alliance for Targeted Parents
I want to thank you, Dr. Childress, for the many astute and scholarly contributions to the battle against pathogenic parenting.
From the bottom of this targeted mom’s heart, thank you.
Thank you Dr. Childress. You truly deserve to be nominated for Nobel Peace Prize.
This family nightmare must end. I’m 60 years old. My shelf-life is limited. This isn’t about me, it’s about your children. Parental alienation is a form of child abuse and domestic violence. It must end. The profound incompetence within the mental health system is currently colluding with the domestic violence and psychological abuse of children. It must end.
Oh, and the Norwegian Nobel Committee is the organization who accept nominations (humor).
Thank you for your work. You make a difference for sure! I have a question for you. For years I have tried to explain that my children are alienated or have PAS (when people ask). That response does not seem helpful. What response would you recommend?
Thank you for your work on PA. Know that you are improving the quality of life for children around the world and even saving lives. My children have been alienated for 10 years. They are 21, 23, and 27 now and still very much alienated. When my children were first being alienated I tried to get the people around them to understand what was happening to help them, but the damage has been done now so my motive is mostly to educate others to try and stop it from happening to other children. I used to tell people that my children were alienated and proceeded to try and explain what that meant, which still always just leaves me feeling frustrated and people looking at me funny. Now I wait for people to ask but even then it seems that when I tell them my children have been alienated they don’t understand the seriousness. Given it is not called Parental Alienation in the DSM could you suggest a short answer for when someone asks “Do you have children?” “Where do they live? (I don’t know)? etc. I am looking for something to say other than “Yes but they are alienated.” that will help people to understand. Many Blessings to you.