Pathology Markers in Case I Leave

My current focus is on the battle to solve “parental alienation” by establishing professional competence throughout mental health.  The extent of profound professional ignorance and incompetence in mental health surrounding the pathology commonly called “parental alienation” is astounding.

In this post, however, I want to take a step to the side for a moment to place “pathology-markers” down that can serve as guides for other mental health professionals to follow in unraveling the pathology of attachment-based “parental alienation” (AB-PA).  Once we’ve solved the pathology of “parental alienation,” once all of the children are returned to their loving and authentic parents targeted by this horrific pathology, once we’re able to prevent “parental alienation” within the first six months when it emerges, then I’ll hopefully have time to walk more fully down the paths of these pathology-markers.  But for right now, I just want to set the markers, because right now the most important goal is simply achieving basic competence in mental health.

Ultimately, we need to achieve “special population” status for targeted parents and their children so that mental health professionals will be required to possess specialized professional knowledge and expertise to competently assess, diagnose, and treat this form of pathology.  It’s when we accomplish that phase of the solution – when mental health professionals who work with AB-PA (attachment-based “parental alienation”) have a high level of specialty expertise – that the pathology-markers I’m currently putting down can be more fully unpacked.

But right now, the goal is simply to move from abject professional incompetence to just basic professional competence.

I’m over 60 years old and have already had one stroke.  Hopefully, I’ll be around for another decade or so, but perhaps I could leave tomorrow.  There is a lot about this pathology that I know but am not sharing because it’s too far beyond where everyone is right now.  I’m waiting for mental health professionals to catch up to the most basic constructs of the cross-generational coalition with a narcissistic/(borderline) parent and the addition of the splitting pathology to the coalition, and to the trans-generational transmission of attachment trauma in the schema pattern of “abusive parent”/”victimized child”/”protective parent” (contained in the internal working models – schemas – of the attachment system).

The attachment system is the brain system for managing all aspects of love and bonding throughout the lifespan, including grief and loss.  What we’re dealing with is an attachment-related pathology (a love-and-bonding pathology) involving distorted information structures (schemas; relationship patterns) in the attachment system of the allied narcissistic/(borderline) parent that are being transmitted to the child’s attachment-related behavior with both the allied and the targeted parent. 

Once we move away from defining the pathology of “parental alienation” as a new form of pathology that’s unique in all of mental health and instead recognize that the pathology is an attachment-related and parental personality disorder pathology, a truly amazing amount of insight emerges regarding both the origins and the symptom manifestations of the pathology.

But we’re still waiting for all mental health professionals to release from the conceptually flawed and dead-end construct of Gardnerian PAS and return to standard and established, scientifically validated constructs and principles of the attachment system and personality disorder pathology so that we can then solve this pathology.

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), in order to meet the emotional and psychological needs of the parent represents a DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed.

This is not a child custody issue; this is a child protection issue.

But the extent of professional ignorance and incompetence is stunningly profound, and it may outlive me.  So while I’m still here I want to at least put down some pathology-marker signposts, breadcrumbs on the path if you will, for others to follow should it take too long for the rest of mental health to catch up.

Personality Pathology-Marker

The personality pathology is the Dark Triad and Vulnerable Dark Triad (see references). 

The Dark Triad Personality is comprised of:

  1. Narcissistic personality traits
  2. Psychopathic personality traits
  3. Machiavellian manipulation

The Vulnerable Dark Triad (Miller, et al., 2010) is a variant of the Dark Triad which is comprised of:

  1. Vulnerable rather than grandiose narcissism
  2. Psychopathic manipulation
  3. Borderline personality traits

The Dark Triad personality pathology is associated with the use of four types of high-conflict communications, contempt; criticism, stonewalling, and defensiveness (Horan, Guinn, & Banghart, 2015).  In the research literature on communication, these four destructive high-conflict communication patterns are called the Four Horsemen of destructive communication :

According to Gottman (1992):

“Contempt involves “statements that come from a relative position of superiority…‘You’re an idiot’”; criticism entails “stating one’s complaints as a defect in one’s partner’s personality…‘You always talk about yourself. You are so selfish’”; stonewalling describes “the listener’s withdrawal from interaction;” and defensiveness describes self-protection in the form of “righteous indignation or innocent victimhood.” (Gottman, 1993, p. 62)

The empirical research of Horan, Guinn, and Banghart (2015) link the Dark Triad personality to the Four Horsemen of high-conflict communication:

“Hypotheses 1a–1c examined the relationships among the Dark Triad personality structure and general nature of romantic partner conflict.  Results demonstrated that individuals reporting higher levels of Machiavellianism, subclinical psychopathy, and subclinical narcissism tended to have higher levels of romantic partner disagreement and that such conflict discussions were both intense and hostile.” (Horan, Guinn, & Banghart. 2015, p. 165; emphasis added)

“Hypothesis 2 explored the relationships among the Dark Triad personality structure and use of the Four Horsemen during romantic partner conflict.  Correlations revealed that individuals reporting higher levels Machiavellianism and subclinical psychopathy also reported greater use of contempt, criticism, stonewalling, and defensiveness.  A similar picture was painted for narcissism, with the exception of stonewalling.” (Horan, Guinn, & Banghart. 2015, p. 165; emphasis added)

The use of the Four Horsemen of high-conflict communication has also been linked to insecurity in attachment bonding:

“Recently, Fowler and Dillow (2011) examined how attachment orientations predicted the enactment of Four Horsemen.  They found that attachment anxiety predicted an increased use of the Four Horsemen and attachment avoidance predicted the use of stonewalling.  Their findings underscore the importance of studying individual personality traits, or predispositions, in conjunction with the Four Horsemen; a similar approach was adopted here by studying the Dark Triad.” (Horan, Guinn, & Banghart. 2015, p. 160; emphasis added)

Pathology-marker:  Given these empirically demonstrated linkages in the research literature between the Dark Triad personality and high-conflict communication, ALL mental health professionals – including child custody evaluators – who are diagnosing and treating family pathology involving high-conflict divorce need to assess for potential parental Dark Triad and Vulnerable Dark Triad personality pathology as being responsible for creating the high-conflict patterns of communication in the family.

Scientifically based practice grounded in the empirical research, not unique new made up forms of pathology.

Pathology-marker:  Currently, there are self-report measures for the component pathologies of the Dark Triad (narcissism, psychopathy, Machiavellianism), and for the Dark Triad personality as a whole.  There is also a scale on the HEXACO personality inventory (low scores on the H scale for Humility and Honesty) which is associated with the Dark Triad personality.  However, since these are all self-report inventories they will be vulnerable to self-serving bias in the self-report of the Dark Triad personality when being assessed as part of a custody evaluation, so these measures may currently be of limited utility for direct use in custody evaluations.

An alternative approach in child custody evaluations would be to have each parent rate the other parent’s personality characteristics on the HEXACO – called “informant ratings” – with the goal of assessing specifically for a low-H score.  These informant ratings would still be vulnerable to the self-serving reporting bias of one ex-spouse rating the other ex-spouse (this time in a negative way), but these informant ratings on the HEXACO potentially could reveal the possible presence of a Dark Triad personality in one of the parents, which could then be confirmed by additional supportive evidence from history and symptom information, creating an overall pattern of the Dark Triad personality within the data.

(The informant ratings by the narcissistic/(borderline) parent regarding the personality traits of the other ex-spouse would be fascinating research, and may actually reveal a characteristic pattern of distortion that may be more diagnostic of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent than anything else we might develop.  Rather than assessing the Dark Triad personality directly, this would be assessing the characteristic distortion to perception created by the Dark Triad personality pathology.)

The association of the Dark Triad personality with high-conflict patterns of communication also highlights the extremely high importance that all child custody evaluators – who are specifically assessing families in high-conflict divorce – need to be exceptionally knowledgeable and skilled in the clinical assessment and recognition of narcissistic personality traits, borderline personality traits, psychopathic personality traits, and evidence of Machiavellian manipulation.

Typologies of AB-PA

There appear to be two patterns of AB-PA (attachment-based “parental alienation”), the first is associated with a more prominent narcissistic-style personality parent (the Dark Triad personality) and the second is associated with a more prominent borderline-style parent (the Vulnerable Dark Triad).  Based on my experience, there tends to be a gender association with these two differing styles, with “alienating” fathers tending to show the more narcissistic pattern of the pathology and “alienating” mothers tending to show the more borderline pattern of the pathology. 

While there may be a gender association with these different variants, this would by no means be an absolute association, so that some pathogenic mothers may evidence a more narcissistic-style and some pathogenic father’s may be along the borderline continuum.  But I have noticed in my work a tendency toward a gender association, in which pathogenic “alienating” fathers’ tend to present a more narcissistic-style pathology while pathogenic “alienating” mothers tend to present a more borderline-style pathology.

Pathology-Marker Narcissistic-Style AB-PA:  The pathogenic “alienating” parent in this variant tends to be the father, and this pattern has a stronger domestic violence feel to the pathology (evidencing themes of power, control, and domination). The mother in this variant typically was led into marriage by the seductive narcissistic-psychopathic charm of the Dark Triad father, believing that emotional intimacy would develop as the marriage progressed. However, once married, the father’s emotional abuse of her and his increasing exercise of power, control, and domination became evident.

In this variant, the mother often reports that the marriage included degrading and demeaning treatment of the mother in front of the children.  The mother in this variant typically tries to put up with the verbally demeaning treatment from her Dark Triad husband during the marriage, but ultimately seeks a divorce (often when the eldest child is between the ages of eight and 14 years old).  At this point, the father’s overt contempt for the mother escalates, although he will present to the children that he is the aggrieved party in the divorce, that he still wants to keep the family together, and that the mother is “breaking up the family” because of her own “selfishness.”  The narcissistic-style father will sometimes enlist the allied child as an emissary to try to get the mother to call off the divorce – sometimes providing the child with the extraordinarily manipulative narrative: “Tell your mother that I forgive her and that I still love her, and I want to work things out for the sake of the children and family.”

In the presentation to therapists and attorneys, the father in the narcissistic-style of AB-PA tends to use the children’s rejection of their mother as evidence of the grandiose magnificence of the father as the “all-wonderful” and ideal parent, and his reporting to therapists and the Court will often include descriptions of his wonderful parenting and the wonderfully idyllic bond of love he shares with his children.  The narcissistic-style father’s parenting is often notable for the frequent use narcissistic indulgences with the children as rewards, such as providing the children with expensive gifts and adult-like privileges.

The children of narcissistic-style AB-PA tend to show extremes of contempt and hostility toward their mother, which may rise to the level of physically threatening her, which prompts the mother to call the narcissistic father and sometimes the police for help with a child who is exceedingly angry, threatening, or assaultive.  When called, the father’s response to the mother’s requests for help in disciplining the angry child is to admonish the child, “I know she’s difficult, but try to get along with your mother, okay?” and he will respond as being put-out by always having to deal with the “consequences of the mother’s bad parenting.” The oft-heard refrain from the narcissistic Dark Triad father is, “I’m always telling the child to get along with his (her) mother, but what can I do, I can’t force the child to… xyz.”  In the narcissistic-style of AB-PA, the children’s reasons for rejecting the mother tend to emphasize the inadequacy of the mother as a person. 

When the eldest child is a daughter and the narcissistic-style father is not remarried, narcissistic-style AB-PA can sometimes evidence an “uncomfortable-creepy” spousification of the daughter by the father.  In the “spousification” of the daughter there are uncomfortable non-sexualized but incestuous undercurrents where the eldest daughter replaces the mother in the spousal role in a non-sexualized but affectionally bonded “spousal” relationship with the father.

For mental health professionals knowledgeable about attachment, this narcissistic “domestic violence” variant of AB-PA is the product of the parent’s disorganized attachment with anxious-avoidant overtones.  The psychodynamic origins for the prominent angry-aggressive display of this “domestic violence” variant of AB-PA is in the narcissistic parent’s underlying (unexpressed) hostility and rage at the rejecting “mother” of childhood (the rejecting attachment figure) who emotionally abandoned the narcissistic parent as a child into the avoidant attachment surrounding an absence of parental nurture.  This psychodynamic attachment rage toward the abandoning mother is currently being vented toward the current wife-and-mother, the current attachment figure/mother.

(This underlying rage of the narcissistic Dark Triad father toward his own mother (which is being displaced onto the targeted parent) can be present even if the father reports having a “close” relationship with his own mother.  Upon closer inspection this “close” relationship with his own mother is likely to be an enmeshed psychological relationship in which his mother dominates, controls, and invalidates the separate authenticity of her son; the father – creating the inner rage that cannot be expressed toward her but which is instead vented toward the targeted parent as the attachment figure and “mother”.)

Pathology-Marker Borderline-Style AB-PA:  The borderline-style pattern tends to emanate from an “alienating” pathogenic mother and is characterized by the mother’s exceedingly elevated anxiety and threat perception. In this variant the father was typically led into marriage by the emotionally expressive and sexually seductive charms of the mother’s borderline-style personality, and only after their marriage did the emotional instability, emotional neediness, and high-conflict/high-drama of the mother’s borderline-style personality emerge.  In some cases, this form of the AB-PA pathology will remain dormant after the divorce until the father remarries – i.e., replaces the mother as a “spouse” with a new wife – at which time the “alienation” of the children begins in earnest, often with the children expressing a theme of being rejected by their father’s time spent with his new wife.

In this borderline-style variant of the AB-PA pathology, the mother flamboyantly characterizes the father as dangerous and “abusive,” and prominently displays that the children need the mother’s “protection.”  However, when this threat perception is examined in more specificity, the father’s parenting practices are assessed to be normal-range and the children are in no objective need of “protection.”  The elevated perception of threat is emanating from the mother (from her trauma history) not from objective reality.  As a result of the mother’s (childhood trauma-related) elevated and unrealistic perception of threat, the prevalence of restraining orders and unfounded and unsubstantiated Child Protective Services abuse allegations is higher in the borderline-style AB-PA than in the narcissistic-style AB-PA.

The “protective” theme will often find expression as the mother sending food and clothing with the children when they go to their father’s home, which represents a subtle but clear signal to the children (emanating from the mother’s own belief in the father’s parental inadequacy) that the father is unable to provide adequate care for the children. The mother will also frequently query the children with an anxious emotional tone regarding their level of “safety” with the father (“Are you okay?  Did anything bad happen?”) which communicates to the children both an expectation that the father is dangerous and also that the mother is the “protective parent.”  The mother will also frequently make unwarranted “safety plans” with the children (“You can call me if anything bad happens and I’ll come pick you up”) which also clearly communicates to the children that the mother perceives the father as being dangerous to them and simultaneously creates an “us-versus-him” shared in-group/out-group bond between the “protective” mother and the children.

In the borderline-style of AB-PA, the mother’s presentation to therapists and the Court is filled with frequent assertions of threat perception regarding the father’s parenting and with frequent characterization of her own parenting as “protective” of the children.  The over-riding emotion is one of excessive maternal anxiety regarding her perception of threat, and the mother’s anxiety is notably not reassured by any reality-based evidence, argument, or intervention.

The children of the more prominently borderline-style of AB-PA also tend to present more strongly with anxiety symptoms, sometimes reaching the level of phobic anxiety displays (a “father phobia”), saying that they don’t feel “safe” when they are with their father.  When specificity is sought as to the source of their anxiety, the children’s reports will typically become vague and diffuse or linked to a low-level parent-child conflict or display of parental anger in the past, sometimes years in the past.

An intriguing symptom presentation of borderline-style AB-PA is when the mother asserts that the father was an uninvolved parent prior to the divorce and that this is the reason the children don’t want to be with him now (the children will sometimes echo this justification as a reason for current rejection of their father).  In these cases, the mother will spend a fair amount of time describing to therapists and custody evaluators how the father was an uninvolved parent prior to the divorce and how the mother was the much more involved and better parent, as if custody was a “competition” about who was the “better” parent, and since the father was not as involved as the mother, she is therefore the “winner” as the “better” parent so she should be awarded the “prize” of the children.

However, the illogic of this idea which is prominently presented by the mother escapes her (and many mental health professionals, I might add).  Even if we grant that “the problem” was the father’s prior lack of involvement with the children before the divorce (which is a big if and is often disputed by the father), but even IF, then the SOLUTION is to give the father MORE time with the children not less, so that the father and the children can now develop a healthy and loving bond.  The idea that the problem is that the father wasn’t involved before so the solution is to now restrict the father’s involvement is bizarre.

Note to all therapists:  If the problem asserted by the mother and children is the father’s lack of prior involvement, then the SOLUTION is to give the father MORE TIME with the children so that they have the opportunity to affectionally bond and develop positive parent-child relationships.

In the borderline-style of AB-PA, the mother typically evidences a prominent identity fusion with the child in which there is a severe loss of psychological boundaries between the mother and the child.  This seems particularly true when the eldest child is a daughter, creating an identity fusion enhanced by an equality of gender identification as well.  In borderline-style AB-PA families where the eldest child is a daughter, there is often an intensely enmeshed relationship between the mother and eldest daughter, and younger children in the family are often not as affected by the “alienation” split within the family for the first two or three years following the divorce, and so are better able to maintain an affectionate bond with the father.  As time passes, however, the younger children will be pulled into the coalition of the mother and eldest child as well.

Excessive text messaging between the mother and the children when they are in the care of their father is also extremely characteristic of the borderline-style of AB-PA.  Sometimes the mother will put the allied oldest child “in charge” of ensuring the “safety” of the younger children.  While excessive text messaging is also characteristic of the narcissistic style of AB-PA, it is almost always a very prominent feature of the borderline-style of AB-PA.

On a clinical psychology note, there are also often a variety of soft clinical signs of a sexual abuse history with the mother.  I’m not going to elaborate on these soft clinical signs here, but if I should die before this pathology gets solved and before I’m able to get to this clinical issue, other mental health professionals should follow up on this pathology-marker.  In the borderline-style of AB-PA, a history sexual abuse trauma in the mother’s childhood is a strong possibility as the source for the mother’s elevated threat perception in the current family situation.

I cannot emphasize enough that this really is a pathology that warrants the designation as a “special population” requiring specialized expertise in the attachment system, trauma, personality pathology, and family systems pathology in order to competently assess, diagnose, and treat.  Right now in mental health we’re allowing plumbers and traffic cops to do open heart surgery, and guess what… patients are dying because plumbers and traffic cops are wonderful plumbers and traffic cops, but they’re not competent to do open heart surgery.

Attachment System Pathogen

This pathology is the result of distorted information structures (schema patterns) in the attachment system – the brain system that governs all things love-and-bonding throughout the lifespan, including grief and loss.  This is not a pathology like ADHD or autism.  This is fundamentally an interpersonal pathology.  It is an attachment-related pathology.

Prior to my work with “parental alienation” I was the Clinical Director for an early childhood assessment and treatment center that worked primarily with children in the foster care system.  I am trained to clinical competence in the two primary early childhood diagnostic systems that incorporate attachment-related pathology, the DC-03 and the ICDL-DMIC.  These are alternative diagnostic systems to the DSM system that are specifically designed for early childhood related disorders, which includes attachment-related disorders.  I am also trained to clinical competence in the two primary attachment-related therapies of early childhood: Watch, Wait, and Wonder and the Circle of Security.  I know attachment-related disorders.

I also have direct experience working with the attachment system that has been exposed to severe neglect – such as the child psychologically abandoned and exposed to severe physical neglect by meth-addicted parents. 

I have direct experience working with the attachment system that has been exposed to severe physical abuse – such children beaten with electrical cords and burned with cigarettes as “discipline.” 

I have direct experience working with the attachment system of children who have been sexually abused – the cruel and malevolent violation of the child’s self-integrity and trust. 

As a clinical psychologist tasked with diagnosing and fixing the traumatized attachment system, I know what trauma does to the attachment networks, and I know what each type of trauma looks like and does to the relationship systems of attachment. 

I know what the various forms of childhood trauma look like in the attachment networks, and I know what each of these forms of childhood trauma do to the information structures of the attachment system.

Pathology-Marker: For nearly a decade now, I have studied the fundamentally interpersonal, damaged and distorted attachment information structures of the “parental alienation” pathology, working out the various levels of the pathology.  For nearly a decade now, I’ve been studying in detail the pathogen that is inhabiting the attachment networks of AB-PA.

What I noticed early on is that the pathogen (the characteristic pattern of distorted and damaged information structures in the attachment system) contains particular sets and types of damage that are highly characteristic of sexual abuse trauma – particularly of incest.  But they’re not the complete set of damaged information structures, just fragments of the themes, like fragments from the source code of incest trauma in the attachment system.

This pattern of fragmentary damage in patterns characteristic of sexual abuse trauma suggests that the pathology of AB-PA had its origins in sexual abuse trauma, but not in this generation.  The sexual abuse trauma likely entered the family system a generation or two earlier, and only fragments of the trauma remain in the current attachment networks.  Let me be clear, AB-PA is NOT due to sexual abuse of the child.  But there are fragments of damaged information structures that are typically only found in sexual abuse, suggesting that the original trauma that entered the family a generation or two earlier was sexual abuse.

Based on my analysis of the pathology, I strongly suspect that the pathology of AB-PA represents the trans-generational transmission of sexual abuse trauma…

… from the generation prior to the current “alienating” parent…

… into the narcissistic/(borderline) parent as a child through the trauma-influenced pathogenic parenting of the sexually abused parent (the parent of the current narcissistic/(borderline) parent)…

… which then created the disorganized attachment in the narcissistic/(borderline) parent as a child…

… that then led to the formation of the narcissistic/(borderline) personality pathology…

… which is now being manifested into the current family as the symptoms of AB-PA.

This is just a hypothesis – a professionally informed guess – born in my background with attachment trauma and my years spent analyzing the attachment-related pathology of AB-PA.  And just as there appear to be variants of the pathology, there are almost certainly alternative variants in the origins of the pathology.  But if I leave the planet tomorrow I have at least placed these pathology-markers like breadcrumbs on the path so that others could explore the leads pointed to by these markers.

Shades of Color

The attachment system is the brain system responsible for managing all aspects of love and bonding throughout the lifespan, including grief and loss.  It functions in characteristic ways, and it dysfunctions in characteristic ways.  The brain is a complex organization of neural networks that are both genetically and environmentally wired.  Nothing is black-and-white, everything is complex shades of integrated colors.  I’m simply placing some pathology markers for others to follow should I leave earlier than anticipated.

Now that these pathology-markers are down, I’m going to go back to the work of obtaining professional competence from current mental health professionals in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of AB-PA; attachment-based “parental alienation.”

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

References for the Dark Triad

Baughman, H.M., Jonason, P.K., Lyons, M., and Vernon, P.A. (2014). Liar liar pants on fire: Cheater strategies linked to the Dark Triad. Personality and Individual Differences, 71, 35–38.

Book, A., Visser, B.A., and Volk, A.A. (2015). Unpacking ‘‘evil’’: Claiming the core of the Dark Triad. Personality and Individual Differences 73 (2015) 29–38.

Christie, R. C., & Geis, F. L. (1970). Studies in Machiavellianism. New York: Academic Press.

Giammarco, E.A. and Vernon, P.A. (2014). Vengeance and the Dark Triad: The role of empathy and perspective taking in trait forgivingness. Personality and Individual Differences, 67, 23–29.

Horan, S.M., Guinn, T.D., and Banghart, S. (2015). Understanding relationships among the Dark Triad personality profile and romantic partners’ conflict communication. Communication Quarterly, 63, 156-170.

Jonason, P. K. and Krause, L. (2013). The emotional deficits associated with the Dark Triad traits: Cognitive empathy, affective empathy, and alexithymia. Personality and Individual Differences, 55, 532–537.

Jonason, P.K., Lyons, M. Baughman, H.M., and Vernon, P.A. (2014). What a tangled web we weave: The Dark Triad traits and deception. Personality and Individual Differences, 70, 117–119.

Jonason, P.K., Lyons, M., and Bethell, E. (2014). The making of Darth Vader: Parent–child care and the Dark Triad. Personality and Individual Differences, 67, 30–34.

Jones, D.N. and Paulhus, D.L. (2014). Introducing the Short Dark Triad (SD3): A Brief measure of dark personality traits. Assessment, 21, 28-41.

Lee, K., and Ashton, M. C. (2012). The H factor of personality: Why some people are manipulative, self-entitled, materialistic, and exploitative —and why it matters for everyone. Waterloo, Canada: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.

Miller, J.D., Dir, A., Gentile, B., Wilson, L., Pryor, L.R., and Campbell, W.K. (2010). Searching for a Vulnerable Dark Triad: Comparing Factor 2 psychopathy, vulnerable narcissism, and borderline personality disorder. Journal of Personality, 78, 1529-1564.

Paulhus, D. L., & Williams, K. M. (2002). The dark triad of personality: Narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy. Journal of Research in Personality, 36, 556–563.

Rasmussen, K.R. and Boon, S.D. (2014). Romantic revenge and the Dark Triad: A model of impellance and inhibition. Personality and Individual Differences, 56, 51–5.

Wai, M. and Tiliopoulos, N. (2012). The affective and cognitive empathic nature of the dark triad of personality. Personality and Individual Differences, 52, 794–799.

8 thoughts on “Pathology Markers in Case I Leave”

  1. Whenever I read I am taken aback at the accuracy of what is happening to me but more importantly why I have to keep fighting for my daughter,

    In regards to the origin of the pathology of AB-PA/borderline from the trans-generational transmission of sexual abuse trauma
    … from the generation prior to the current “alienating” parent…

    may I also suggest sudden loss of a parent caused by plane/car crash, This traumatic loss seems to be reenacted in the current generation by family court proxy and no contact orders.


    1. John Bowlby is responsible for first describing the attachment system. In his book, Attachment and Loss. Volume 3. Loss: Sadness and Depression, Bowlby describes the consequences of a certain type of attachment-related pathology, called “pathological mourning”:

      “The deactivation of attachment behavior is a key feature of certain common variants of pathological mourning.” (Bowlby, 1980, p. 70)

      The pathology of AB-PA is a form of “pathological mourning” involving the current child’s (and allied parent’s) inability to process grief and loss generally, and specifically to the divorce, and for the child regarding the lost relationship with the beloved-but-now-rejected targeted parent.

      The pathology of AB-PA is fundamentally a form of “pathological mourning” surrounding an unprocessed grief response.

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

    2. When I read your content I see clearly why all my efforts to protect my children failed. The relationships continue to be strained…….the texting..the putting the oldest daughter in control over my house etc…my son is 16 y/o and my two daughters and ex I feel are working on him…praying for all the children.. What a shame. I pray the LORD allows you to see the fruits of your labor through to see the changes. I am trying to educate parental alienation groups to see as attachment syndrome… To address the children… Peace

    3. Dear Dr. Childress, I find the self-serving nature of most people absolutely disgusting. Case in point, a recent article by Chris Hedges that reads in part, “More importantly, if less sensationally, the issue of Trump’s emotional stability has also been raised by a growing number of influential and highly respected mental-health practitioners. They have done so out of a sense of urgency, even in the face of a code of conduct promulgated by the American Psychiatric Association that cautions psychiatrists against making public statements about public figures whom they have not formally evaluated.”

      What is so damn disgusting about this is that when everyone’s ass is on the line, then it matters to act.

      When it comes to parents in the PAD silo, no one gives a damn.

      As I see it, everyone that is aware of PAD that doesn’t act is complicit in the pathology.

      For anyone reading this, if you’re in this camp, I hope you lose something comparable to a child. Then and only then can you begin to understand that it’s not where you come from but what you grow into…

  2. I believe the sexual abuse aspect plays a big role. My xW spoke often of being “psychologically and physically” abused, of “having the $hit beat out of me…”, courtesy of her dear (sic) Mother. But this never seemed to explain to me xW’s decades of struggle with intimacy, including occasions of panicked “recoiling” from seemingly run of the mill approaches. Always left me wondering “hmmmmm…”

    As my daughters approached puberty, xW seemed obsessed with hovering over them, being involved in every aspect of their being. I was clearly and increasingly pushed away, perhaps a version of the cross-generational coalition?

    So, if in a twisted way, my xW was determined to “protect” the children from revisiting her own childhood trauma, why target me? If her abuser was her mother, why target the father of her own children? I have never fully understood this logic thread, lately believing that the evil mother was not the only abuser.

    Hard to ever know when there is not a single word of honesty forthcoming.

  3. Reblogged this on | truthaholics and commented:
    “But right now, the goal is simply to move from abject professional incompetence to just basic professional competence.

    I’m over 60 years old and have already had one stroke. Hopefully, I’ll be around for another decade or so, but perhaps I could leave tomorrow. There is a lot about this pathology that I know but am not sharing because it’s too far beyond where everyone is right now. I’m waiting for mental health professionals to catch up to the most basic constructs of the cross-generational coalition with a narcissistic/(borderline) parent and the addition of the splitting pathology to the coalition, and to the trans-generational transmission of attachment trauma in the schema pattern of “abusive parent”/”victimized child”/”protective parent” (contained in the internal working models – schemas – of the attachment system).”

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