I am not your warrior

I received a comment from a targeted parent regarding my last blog on recovering the adult children of alienation.  I believe my response to be of sufficient importance to all targeted parents that I have decided to make my response a full blog post.  I have removed the comment from my blog because I don’t want to put the parent in an uncomfortable position. I fully understand the frustration, helplessness, and deep sorrow that gave rise to the comment.  However, I also want to use the comment to address a larger issue.

Here is the comment:

“As nice as this is, it is not the least bit helpful. Not one parent out here has any idea whatsoever how to reach their alienated older teenage or young adult child. Can you please, try to come up with some ideas for that. Thanks”

Here is my response:

This attitude highlights a fundamental problem in creating the solution to “parental alienation.”  As long as targeted parents wait for me, or for anyone else, to rescue their children there will be no solution.

The fundamental and primary responsibility of a parent is to protect the child.  I am not the parent.  You are.  Your children are waiting for you to protect them.  Your children are waiting for you to rescue them.  I am not the parent, you are.

I am not your warrior.  I am your weapon.

I have given you everything you need to protect and rescue your children. 

The solution to parental alienation is available right now, today, this instant.  All that needs to happen is for the paradigm to shift from the failed and inadequate PAS model of Gardner to an attachment-based model of “parental alienation” (AB-PA).  As long as Gardnerian PAS remains the dominant paradigm, there will be NO solution to “parental alienation.”  The moment the paradigm shifts to an attachment-based model, the solution becomes available immediately.

I’ve collaborated with Jason Hofer (mostly Jason’s work) on creating a list of the

Top 15 Things Targeted Parents Need to Know About Attachment-Based Parental Alienation (AB-PA)

I thought he did a wonderful job of presenting all of the important information.  I just tweaked a word here and there and added my name to make the list “official.”

Attachment-based “parental alienation” is not a theory.  It is diagnosis.  The application of standard and established psychological principles and constructs to a set of symptoms is called diagnosis.

Pathogenic parenting that is creating significant developmental pathology in the child (diagnostic indicator 1), personality pathology in the child (diagnostic indicator 2), and delusional-psychiatric pathology in the child (diagnostic indicator 3) represents a DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed.

This is not a theory.  This is diagnosis.

I have given you rock-solid Foundations on which to stand, based on well-established, fully accepted, scientifically validated constructs and principles of professional psychology.

I have given you three definitive diagnostic indicators of the pathology that can reliably and consistently distinguish attachment-based “parental alienation” (AB-PA) from all other forms of child and family pathology, including authentic child abuse, normal-range parent-child conflict, and child oppositional-defiant behavior.

I have given you booklets to provide to the mental health and legal professionals involved with your families describing the pathology of the narcissistic parent and the pathology of attachment-based “parental alienation” (AB-PA).

I have activated for you Standard 9.01a and Standard 2.01a of the APA ethics code for psychologists so that you can now hold ALL psychologists (and other therapists under their separate ethical codes of conduct) accountable for the competent assessment and accurate diagnosis of the pathology when the three diagnostic indicators of pathogenic parenting are present in the child’s symptom display.

I have given you the rationale to seek a change in the APA Position Statement on Parental Alienation Syndrome that will immediately restore professional psychology as your ally.

I have given you everything you need.  But I am not your warrior.

You are the warrior.  You, the children’s authentic parents, you must rise up, you must unite, and you must become an unstoppable force for change.  You, together, must protect ALL of your children.

I know this pathology better than anyone on this planet.  The pathogen is located in the attachment system (the brain network responsible for governing all aspects of love and bonding across the lifespan, including grief and loss) and it has a specific meme-structure – a specific information structure – that acts to keep the victim isolated and alone.  As long as the pathogen can keep you isolated and alone it can keep you powerless.

As long as each of you fights only to protect your specific child, then the pathogen and its allies can keep you powerless; helpless.  You must come together.  You must stop fighting to recover your specific child and begin fighting to recover each others’ children, the children of your colleague and neighbor, the children of other targeted parents.   You must begin fighting to recover each others’ children.

Just like I am fighting for your children, you must mirror this and also fight for each others’ children.

Fighting just for your own situation is a reflection of a narcissistic attitude of personal self-interest.  We cannot fight narcissism with narcissism.  We must fight narcissistic pathology with self-sacrifice to each other.  Fight for your neighbor’s children, for your colleague’s children, fight for the children of other targeted parents.

We cannot solve parental alienation in any single specific family until we solve it for ALL families.

“What about MY situation?”

“What’s the solution for MY situation?”

“How can I recover MY child?”

Stop it. 

I am not working for my own children – my Jack and my Annie are fine.  They’re in college, my wife and I are married.   We’re fine.  I’m not fighting for MY children… I’m fighting for YOUR children.  You need to begin fighting for each others’ children. 

The mental health system is broken.  The legal system is broken.  There is no solution.  Gardnerian PAS is a failed model.  It provides no solution.  There is no solution.

We must put a bullet in the brain of Gardnerian PAS and return to established and accepted psychological principles and constructs. 

In proposing a “new syndrome” which is supposedly unique in all of mental health, and which, according to Gardner, is identifiable by an equally unique made-up set of symptom identifiers, Richard Gardner skipped the crucial step of professional diagnosis. He did not apply the professional rigor necessary to define the pathology using standard and established, scientifically validated constructs and principles within professional psychology.

Gardner and PAS have taken us down a dead-end road of controversy which only leads us to rampant and unchecked professional incompetence and gridlock.

Foundations corrects this.  Foundations defines the pathology of “parental alienation” from entirely within standard and established, scientifically validated constructs and principles in professional psychology.  The application of standard and established psychological principles and constructs to a set of symptoms is called diagnosis.

Diagnosis.  AB-PA is not a theory.  It’s diagnosis.

Gardner constructed a model on the shifting sands of his personal assertions.

An attachment-based model of “parental alienation” (AB-PA) is built on the solid bedrock of standard and established, fully accepted, and scientifically validated constructs and principles. In Foundations  you can stand on the solid bedrock of established and scientifically validated constructs and principles in your fight for your children.

So stand and fight.  Wake up from your slumber of helplessness created by 30 years of Gardnerian PAS.  You are more powerful than you can imagine.  But only if you come together, and only if you begin to fight for each other rather than for yourself alone.

We cannot solve “parental alienation” in any one specific family until we solve it for ALL children and ALL families.   This is crucial for you to understand.

We need to put a bullet in the brain of Gardnerian PAS.  It is a dead paradigm.  It gives away your power through poorly defined diagnostic indicators and endless controversy.

Re-own your power.  Join together in a movement of unstoppable power.  In a single isolated voice you are helpless.  When you come together into 100 you have reclaimed your voice.  In 1,000 you reclaim your power.  In 10,000 you become an unstoppable force for change. Become that unstoppable force.  Your children need you to become that unstoppable force.

Write to the APA – your leadership has the contact information.  Demand a revision to the APA position statement on “parental alienation” because there is a new model of the pathology, an attachment-based model, which must be considered.  The APA Position Statement on Parental Alienation Syndrome ONLY and specifically addresses PAS, it doesn’t address an attachment-based definition of the pathology.  The AB-PA model makes the APA position statement too narrow, the APA position statement must now be revised to take into account a second model and second definition of the pathology.  I have given you your weapon… but you must use it.

I am NOT your warrior.  These are your children.  You must be their warrior.  I am your weapon.  I have given you everything you need.  But it is up to you to use what I have given you… NOT for your own child, but for each others’ children.  We cannot solve this for YOUR child until we solve it for ALL children.  Don’t be narcissistically self-absorbed, thinking only of yourself.  You must act each for the other.  Let others fight for your specific child while you fight for theirs.

Standard 9.01 BannerStandard 9.01a and Standard 2.01a of the ethics code of the APA are active for you.  You can now demand – you can now demand – professional competence from ALL psychologists using the rock-solid Foundations of established, fully accepted, and scientifically validated constructs and principles.

Will you get professional competence?  Of course not.  But you’re not fighting for your child, you’re fighting for your neighbor’s child. 

If you file a licensing board complaint, will Standard 2.01 Bannerthe licensing board do anything?  Of course not.  But you’re not fighting for your child, you’re fighting for your neighbor’s child.  

When the next targeted parent comes to this therapist and asks the therapist to assess for the pathology, the therapist will now assess for the pathology because the therapist wants to avoid another licensing board complaint, and the therapist will now accurately diagnose the pathology because the therapist wants to avoid another licensing board complaint. 

Did your complaint, did your malpractice lawsuit, change anything in your specific family?  No.  Did it help solve “parental alienation” for all families, for your neighbor’s family?  Absolutely yes.

I have made you dangerous.  Be dangerous.  Demand professional competence.  Be kind, but demand competence.  Lay the paper trail.  Document in a letter to the mental health professional your request that the therapist or child custody evaluator assess for pathogenic parentingnot “parental alienation” – pathogenic parenting – use the words of power I’ve given you.

Document in this letter that you provided the therapist with a copy of the booklet Professional Consultation.

Document in this letter that you provided the therapist with the Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting – note it’s not called the Diagnostic Checklist for Parental Alienation – use the words of power I have given you.

Document in this letter that you are giving the therapist my email address (drcraigchildress@gmail.com) and that you are asking the therapist to contact me to schedule a professional-to-professional consultation.

Lay the paper trail.  Will the therapist assess for the pathology?  Of course not.  But when this therapist does not assess for the pathology (and does not document in the patient record the results of the assessment), then file a licensing board complaint citing Standards 9.01a and 2.01a of the APA ethics code.  Will the licensing board do anything?  Of course not.  But you’re not fighting for your child, you’re fighting for ALL children.  Do you think that the next targeted parent who asks that this therapist assess for pathogenic parenting is going to get an assessment for pathogenic parenting?  Absolutely.  If not, then this parent is also going to file a licensing board complaint so that the next targeted parent will get an assessment for the pathology.  Fight for each other.

“But what about Master’s level therapists?”

Really?  Are you kidding me?  You can’t figure this out?   Master’s level therapists have their ethics codes as well, and all of these ethics codes have a Standard regarding professional competence.  Figure it out.  I’ve listed these ethics codes and the specific standard in a previous post (Demanding Professional Competence). This is your fight, not mine.  I am not your warrior.  You are the warrior.  Will their licensing board do anything?  No, of course not.  But what do you think the Master’s level therapist is going to do the next time a targeted parent requests an assessment of pathogenic parenting? 

The goal is to provoke a risk-management response throughout ALL of mental health, a system-wide change, in which ALL mental health professionals take responsibility for becoming professionally competent from their personal self-interest to AVOID a licensing board complaint (and possible malpractice lawsuit) if they continue to remain incompetent.

They can be incompetent, and they can remain incompetent, but from now on they do so at their own peril.

The licensing board may collude with allowing them to be incompetent, but we’re going to make the licensing board collude with professional incompetence over-and-over again until the licensing board eventually stands up and fulfills its responsibility by no longer colluding with professional incompetence and the blatant refusal by incompetent mental health professionals to assess for and diagnose child abuse when they are mandated reporters and have a “duty to protect.”

I have made you dangerous to professional incompetence.  So be dangerous to professional incompetence.  NOT for your child, but for your neighbor’s child, for each other’s children.

Unsheathe your sword and take a swing.

“I did, but it missed.  Nothing happened.”

Stop thinking of yourself.  Stop being narcissistically self-involved.  Okay.  So nothing happened in your specific situation.  Your specific situation wasn’t solved.  But in taking out your sword, in taking a whack at the pathogen, you have improved the chances that your neighbor’s blow will strike home.  You have improved the chances that your neighbor’s efforts with his specific case or her specific case will succeed.  Work for each others’ children.

And your neighbors’ efforts in their specific cases may not succeed for their specific children, but in taking out their sword and in their taking a whack at professional incompetence they will be improving the chances that you will succeed in your fight for your child.  Fight for each other.  Stop saying “what about me, what about me.”  This isn’t about you.  We don’t fight narcissism with narcissism, we fight narcissism with empathy and self-sacrifice.  Fight for each other.

Come together – 10,000 strong.  The recent Petition to Change the APA Position Statement on Parental Alienation Syndrome has 4,000 signatures.  Really?  There are only 4,000 targeted parents in the world?  If you are not willing to expend the minimal effort necessary to sign an online petition, then there is nothing I can do for you.  I am not your warrior.  YOU are the warrior.  This is your fight.  I am your weapon.

4,000 signatures.  Really?  You should be ashamed of yourselves.  This means that there are less than 4,000 families in the world who are affected by “parental alienation, assuming that targeted parents who signed the petition also asked friends and family to sign the petition, or it means that there are less than 4,000 targeted parents, friends, and extended family who are willing to actually fight for their children.  “What about me?  The petition won’t change my situation.” – What about all the children.  We cannot solve the pathology of “parental alienation” until you start fighting for each other, for all families, for all children.

But what about the now-adult children of childhood alienation? How do we also recover them when their parents can’t contact them.

“What about me?  How do we solve my situation?”

We solve this by solving “parent alienation” for ALL families.  And in solving “parental alienation” for ALL families we need to create and generate as much media attention as possible – lots and lots of media attention.  And we need to actively encourage the formation of online support groups of recovered adult children of alienation who can help each other. 

How about this for an idea… form a closed online peer support group for adult survivors of childhood alienation… and invite me in as a participating consultant…  I’m willing.

The targeted parents of now-adult children of alienation cannot contact their children.  This is a fact.  We must do it for them, our movement must do it for them.  Don’t worry about your specific child, that will be the responsibility of the rest of us – all of us – together.  Worry about your neighbor’s child.  How are the targeted parents of now-adult children going to restore their relationship with their children?

We need to work to get articles in the local papers, in the national media.  Targeted parents have a great “hook” for the media.  The human pathos of your personal stories are heartbreaking. 

The rampant professional incompetence provides a “hook.” 

An “epidemic” of undiagnosed child abuse provides a “hook.” 

The lack of action from the APA to enforce their own professional ethical standards for professional competence by not recognizing your children and families as a “special population” who require specialized professional knowledge and expertise to assess, diagnose, and treat, provides a “hook.” 

A grassroots movement of targeted parents hellbent on recovering their children, who are now consistently filing licensing board complaints and malpractice lawsuits against all mental health professionals who refuse to assess for the pathology of pathogenic parenting (use the words of power) and who refuse to accurately diagnose the pathology as Child Psychological Abuse when the three diagnostic indicators of pathogenic parenting are present, provides a “hook.”

This isn’t my fight, it’s yours.  Not for ten of you, or even one hundred of you.  It’s the fight for ten thousand of you.  You are more powerful than you know… if you come together and fight for each other.  Become an unstoppable force, become a tsunami of 10,000 voices, 20,000 voices.

We need to surround the now-adult children of alienation with information, and with an invitation to recovery.   And we need to give them a path to recovery.  We need to create competent mental health professionals who are able to help the adult child of alienation when that now-adult child wants to recover the lost relationship with the targeted-rejected parent.  We need to encourage the formation of online peer support groups of recovered adult children of alienation.  We need to flood the media with advocacy and awareness.

None of this… NONE of this… is possible using Gardnerian PAS.  We need to put a bullet in the brain of Garnerian PAS.  It is a failed paradigm that offers no solution whatsoever.  In over thirty years since its introduction it has given us exactly what we have right now – no solution whatsoever.  We must kill Gardnerian PAS.

An attachment-based model of “parental alienation” (AB-PA) provides an immediate solution, today. 

Pathogenic parenting that is creating significant developmental pathology in the child (diagnostic indicator 1), personality pathology in the child (diagnostic indicator 2), and delusional-psychiatric pathology in the child (diagnostic indicator 3) represents a DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed.

We start by getting an accurate DSM-5 diagnosis of the pathology in all cases of AB-PA.  We then build on that.

Diagnosis begins with assessment:  The Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting.

Step-by-step we construct the solution.

There is no reason your current mental health professional cannot assess for the pathology of pathogenic parenting today, right now.  There is no reason your current mental health professional cannot make an accurate DSM-5 diagnosis of the pathology as V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed today, right now.  There is no reason your current mental health professional cannot file a suspected child abuse report with Child Protective Services today, right now when a confirmed DSM-5 diagnosis of Child Psychological Abuse is made.

There is nothing standing in the way of a solution to attachment-based “parental alienation” (AB-PA) occurring today, right now.

I want you to let that sink in… 

Everyone has been so captivated by needing to have something “accepted” – i.e., the new and unique pathology of Gardnerian PAS – that people are failing to comprehend that the moment we give up the Gardnerian PAS model and switch to an attachment-based model of “parental alienation” (AB-PA) there is nothing to accept or reject – because all of the component pathology in attachment-based “parental alienation” (AB-PA) has ALREADY been accepted, and it is ALREADY scientifically established fact.

Jason gets it.  Look at item 6 of the Top 15 Things Targeted Parents Need to Know About Attachment-Based Parental Alienation (AB-PA)

There is nothing – nothing – standing in the way of the solution offered by attachment-based “parental alienation” (AB-PA) occurring today, right now:

A DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed and a child abuse report filed with CPS by the mental health professional… as just the beginning of the solution that then unfolds.

We need to put a bullet in the brain of Gardnerian PAS so that it goes away and mental health professionals stop using this failed and utterly inadequate model of the pathology.

We need to demand professional competence in the assessment and diagnosis of the pathology (pathogenic parenting – not “parental alienation”), and you need to become extremely dangerous to continued professional incompetence under Standards 9.01a and 2.01a of the APA ethics code, not for your child in your specific case but for your neighbor’s child; for all children. 

We must expect and achieve professional competence in the assessment and accurate diagnosis of the pathology – every single time in every single case.  Now.  Today.  Or else the mental health professional who fails to conduct the assessment for pathogenic parenting and who fails to make an accurate diagnosis when the three definitive symptoms of pathogenic parenting are present in the child’s symptom display needs to be held accountable.  What happens at the licensing board is not our concern.  They’ll do what they’ll do.  If they wish to collude with professional incompetence, there’s nothing we can about that… except continue to file complaints over-and-over again in each case of professional incompetence in the assessment and diagnosis of pathogenic parenting, until eventually mental health professionals step-up to their professional obligation to be competent and until they begin to assess and accurately diagnose the pathology.

I am not your warrior.  Don’t expect me to solve this.  Your children need you to protect them.  I am your weapon.  You are the warrior.  Fight for each other.

Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857

14 thoughts on “I am not your warrior”

  1. I hope that was okay to give out the websites?! So the candidate for family court judge emailed me back and had a very positive response!!
    So now I’m thinking of stepping out a bit more and maybe running some sort of article in local newspapers!
    Parents/ friends and family members can also use their education or obtain education in an area where you may find employment with an attorneys office, SW, government agencies, courts, schools etc.
    Power in numbers!
    Thanks Dr Childress and all of you who blog, post and share!

  2. Well I lost the first part of my comment!
    I was just saying how I am not very good at writing or speaking but I couldn’t pass up the chance to email a candidate for family court judge in my area so I did, I kept it short and focused on harm to children and destructive to families! I did give dr Childress’s and Kay’s website!

  3. Excellent commentary as always, Dr Childress. I would only that the information you provide is not just a weapon, but ammunition to add to one’s arsenal.
    Parents, please remember-even though you may feel its too late to work for your situation, keep up the fight. It is a problem in our society and we will all pay the price of alienated children in our future if we fail to educate professionals who have the mandate toward helping to solve this problem. Sometimes it’s easier to fight for a cause for others than it is to fight your own battles. Good luck to all.

  4. Dr. Childress, I once read a blog of yours that fits here… It was regarding the “perfect storm”, I loved it…but then was not able to relocate it 😦 ??

  5. Doc, bless you! You are our Champion, we are the Warrior parents who will fight to get our children back.
    Thank you for providing us with the Sword of Truth. We march onward with the breastplates of righteousness.
    Lisa Langton
    Director
    Parents for Children org.

  6. Thank you, Dr. Childress. As I am starting to get some attention and interest in my state’s legislature about this exact model after talking with almost 24 legislators or their assistants so far. This 15 point list information will only help.

    I am writing everyone in the APA I can about this very topic- a simple, clear way to define this that does not require the effort of coming up with anything new.

    I love that you make the distinction of weapon vs. warrior. I would be more than willing to share the information I’ve been providing if anyone else wants to start in their state or help me in mine. It is concise, to the point, and provides clear direction.

    What I say to those looking out for their own children is to remind them that the one of the pathogen’s properties are that it creates an illusion of being disconnected and alone and in the dark. AND IT IS AN ILLUSION. A powerful one, but an illusion.

    What I would say to anyone thinking it’s too much – remember that a bonfire can be started with a single lit match.

    Be the match.

    PS: Anyone reading this who wants to discuss how we might be able to work together using this model I would very much like to make contact. I am in contact with one other person looking to change the law in her state and it is *powerful* having contact with someone else who is working for the same end.

  7. James, I’d like to do something similar here in California and sent you a message through the site linked to your name with no response. Is there a way to contact you?

      1. Hi Judy,
        I thought I saw a note from you here that you had written me but hadn’t heard back. I looked though my e-mail but don’t see anything. If you’ll e-mail me again I’ll send you what I have. There is also some momentum starting to build in CA so it would be good timing.
        -James

  8. Stop shaming these parents. The words “You should be ashamed of yourselves, only 4000 signatures” and to oh so kindly take that person’s post down but post it on the blog without the name but basically shaming that individual by claiming it’s selfish to think only of their own child(ren).
    How do you know that the poster is only thinking of their own children? Shame on you, you could have sent the poster a message.
    Stop shaming people that are hurt and just want their kids in their lives. You have no idea what that person’s emotional state is.

  9. This is a worthy cause for I am watching my best friend struggle with this in the state of Arizona. I feel lost in thoughts and overwhelmed with how to provide support for him when the clinical side take on no blame or burden for their absent role. Reunification is a must, I have witnessed the opposite stance as a licensed professional failed at her one duty. I have seen how the system has failed over and over again. I would like to know if the courts recognize the diagnostic checklist? If this is the case then the alienated parent will have a valuable tool to start a movement in preventing this disparity amongst others. “It saddens me that the child is the one whom suffers at the cost of a selfish guardian!”

  10. David, I would like to assist you in your efforts to bring this to the attention of our legislators in California. Dr. Childress has provided us with extremely useful information to help us in our quest to save the next generation of targeted parents and alienated children. I need to put my agony into action.

  11. Thank you for writing so openly about PAS. It means a lot to families going through it all over the world. We can’t change what has happened to our family, but we can raise awareness and bring knowledge to professions and comfort to family’s who are also living with the consequences of PAS.

    THANK YOU SO MUCH

    Sarah (U.K)

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