The Rubicon

After Julius Caesar conquered the Gauls in France, the senators in Rome felt threatened by Caesar’s popularity and power, so they ordered him to return to Rome but to leave his legions in Gaul.  Their goal was to disempower Caesar and bring him under their control so they could kill him.

Caesar responded by marching – with his legions – to Rome.  After he crossed the Alps, he came to the river Rubicon that demarcated the boundary between Gaul and Rome.  If he crossed the Rubicon with his legions he would be in direct violation of his orders from the Roman senate, and he would essentially be starting a civil war. 

He crossed the Rubicon with his legions and he entered Rome.

To “cross the Rubicon” has come to mean that a decisive decision has been made. 

I have crossed the Rubicon with my legions.  We’re taking Rome.  It’s time.

Dr. Bernet, one of the leading figures advocating in support of the construct of “parental alienation,” and founder of the Parental Alienation Study Group, posted the following Comment about my blog  critiquing Linda Gottlieb’s… essay?  article? in which she asserts the supposedly “BREAKING NEWS” that science has discovered Parental Alienation Syndrome and has declared that it is child abuse:

Chilldress blog: PAS is a Bad Model for a Pathology

In my blog post, I said that I would be willing to debate any Gardnerian PAS expert anytime, anywhere.  In response, Dr. Bernet wrote the following:

I am sorry that Dr. C becomes so offensive when he engages in conversation with professional colleagues. Why would anyone agree to debate a person whose goal is to insult his opponent? Dr. C has made some useful and interesting proposals regarding parental alienation, so it would be nice if he could discuss his ideas in a friendly and collaborative manner.

I believe the issue raised by Dr. Bernet to be of such importance that I have decided to make my response to Dr. Bernet’s Comment a full blog post on my part.

I wasn’t being insulting, Dr. Bernet.  I was being truthful.  Granted, I was blunt in my truth-telling – but everything I said was the truth.  If the truth is insulting, might I suggest changing the truth. 

Point out one thing I said in my response to Ms. Gottlieb that wasn’t truthful.

Misleading Headline

I called Ms. Gottlieb’s headline false and misleading.  That’s not insulting.  That’s the truth. 

Science has not just discovered PAS.  That’s absurd on its face.  PAS has been here for 30 years.  So that’s not true.  What do we call something that’s not true?  It’s called a lie.  To be perfectly blunt, Ms. Gottlieb is lying.  That’s not my fault.  So actually, I showed restraint by not saying that she’s lying.  That’s what we call something that someone says that isn’t true.  It is not “BREAKING NEWS” that “Science Discovers PAS.”  That simply isn’t true.  PAS has been here for 30 years and nothing has changed recently.

Is it insulting to say she’s not telling the truth when she is clearly not telling the truth?  PAS has been here for 30 years, yet Ms. Gottlieb is saying it’s “BREAKING NEWS” that “Science Discovers PAS.”

Come on, Dr. Bernet.  You’ve got to admit, that’s just not a true statement, especially with the lead in of “BREAKING NEWS.”

If Ms. Gottlieb, or you, finds the truth insulting, it’s not my fault.  Change the truth.  She shouldn’t be deceitful by making misleading statements that aren’t true.

Furthermore, science has not declared that PAS is psychological child abuse.  All of the studies cited by Ms. Gottlieb state that child abuse is bad.  Not one of them declares that PAS is child abuse.  To be blunt, again…  Ms. Gottlieb is not telling the truth.  When something is not true it is called a lie.  That’s not my fault.  My goal is not to be insulting.  My goal is to tell the truth.  Science has not declared that PAS is psychological child abuse. Ms. Gottlieb is not telling the truth – she’s lying.  It’s not my fault that she is not telling the truth.

If you find the truth insulting, don’t blame me.  Change the truth.  Ms. Gottlieb needs to stop making misleading and false statements. 

Ms. Gottlieb is looked upon as one of the leading advocates for “parental alienation.”  When she makes these clearly false and over-the-top statements it not only hurts her credibilty, it hurts all of our credibility.  We are all painted with the same broad brush of professional irresponsibility.  The APA looks at something like that and says, “those parental alienation people are fringe fanatics who don’t care about truth or accuracy in their work.”  Is that okay with you?  Because let me tell you, I don’t want to have my professional credibility tainted by Ms. Gottlieb’s loss of professional credibility.

So in order to maintain my own credibility with establishment mental health, I must repudiate Ms. Gottlieb’s loose relationship with truth and accuracy.  If you want to defend lies and deception, it’s up to you.  For my part, I am going to sternly rebuke anyone who engages in making false and deceptive statements.

I’m not insulting Ms. Gottlieb by calling her an un-truth teller, I’m just bluntly telling the truth.  If Ms. Gottlieb feels insulted by the truth, I suggest she change the truth and moderate what she says so that it reflects actual reality.

Professional Standards for Style

I said that Ms. Gotlieb’s article, or essay, or whatever it is, did not achieve, or even approach, a professionally acceptable standard stylistically – inaccurate authorship attribution, no quotes differentiating author content from quoted content, a seemingly biased author with an agenda who is posing as a “newspaper reporter” reporting “BREAKING NEWS.”  You know what that’s called nowadays?  Fake News.

The presentation is not even remotely professional on Ms. Gottlieb’s part. I’m not “insulting Ms. Gottlieb.”  I’m telling the truth.  Yes, I’m blunt.  I will admit that.  But the truth is the truth.  If you don’t like the truth, change the truth.  Come on, Dr. Bernet… no quote marks, inaccurate authorship attribution.

It’s just really sloppy work, and it raises the question that if she is that sloppy in her work in this basic area of simple attention to basic principles of stylistic format (no quote marks, Dr. Bernet – that’s just sloppy work), is she also that sloppy with her work in other areas, such as diagnosis and treatment? 

Do you want your heart surgeon writing blog posts that are that sloppy?  Or do you want your heart surgeon to demonstrate a professional level of attention to excellence in everything she does?  I mean, it’s your life, Dr. Bernet, but I’d want my heart surgeon to demonstrate a commitment to excellence in everything she does.  Which raises the point of why targeted parents and children should expect any less.  Why is it acceptable for Ms. Gottlieb to bring anything less than excellence to her advocacy for these children and families?

Am I insulting her, Dr. Bernet?  Or am I holding her to a standard for excellence which targeted parents and their children deserve?

Primitive and Conceptually Lazy

I said that Ms. Gottlieb’s analysis was primitive and conceptually lazy.  That’s not insulting, that’s the truth.  She might find it insulting because she wants to think that her analysis was something special, but it wasn’t.  That the pathology of parental alienation is triangulation and the formation of a cross-generational coalition that includes enmeshment is, in truth, a primitive and conceptually lazy professional analysis.  That’s not my fault, that’s just the truth.

No one is disputing the triangulation, cross-generational coalition, enmeshment presentation.  Enough already with the one-note analysis.  Go further.  My goodness gracious, Dr. Bernet, I provided this analysis two years ago in my Master’s Lecture Series presentation.  Both the presentations and my slides are online.  Look on pages 3-4 from the handout for my November 21, 2014 presentation:

Master’s Lecture Series Powerpoint Handout

Masters Lecture Series: 11/21/14 Treatment of Attachment-Based Parental Alienation

Masters Lecture Series: 7/14/14 An Attachment-Based Model of Parental Alienation

My goodness, Dr. Bernet.  That was from two years ago.  What Ms. Gottlieb is talking about in her article, or essay, or whatever it is, is hardly “BREAKING NEWS.”  What’s more, I incorporated this family systems analysis into a broader discussion that included personality disorder and attachment-related pathology. Ms. Gottlieb is ONLY talking about three basic family systems systems constructs.

But wait, I also offered this same analysis of “parental alienation” as triangulation, a cross-generational coalition, and homeostatic stabilization of the family in 2013 in an essay up on my website (that also includes a broader analysis of the personality disorder and attachment-related pathology).  In this 2013 essay, I state,

Family processes that have traditionally been referred to as “parental alienation” represent standard family systems dynamics (Haley, 1977; Minuchin, 1972) involving the child’s triangulation into the spousal conflict through the actions of the alienating parent, who forms a cross-­generational coalition with the child referred to by Haley (1977) as a “perverse triangle,” whereby the child becomes over-­empowered and inappropriately elevated in the family hierarchy to a status above that of the targeted parent (Minuchin, 1974). The child’s over-empowered elevation in the family hierarchy is created, supported, and maintained by the child’s coalition with the allied and favored parent.  These family processes are in homeostatic balance with the child’s symptoms present (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 1996) because the child’s symptoms serve to stabilize the alienating parent’s psychological functioning within a role-­reversal parent-child relationship. Krugman (1987) describes this process… (Reconceptualizing Parental Alienation, Childress, 2013)

Come on, Dr. Bernet.  This is from something I wrote three years ago.  Not exactly groundbreaking material from Ms. Gottlieb in 2016.  She didn’t even discuss how the symptoms maintain the homeostatic balance within the family.  Her analysis is primitive and conceptually lazy.  Three years ago I described this – 2013 – along with the additional attachment-related and personality pathology.

Wait, there is a handout on my website from back in 2012 (Structural Family Systems Constructs) in which I provide visual diagrams and discuss the triangualtion, inverted hierarchy, and cross-generational coalition involved in “parental alienation.”  2012, Dr. Bernet.  Four years ago.  Four years.  And Ms. Gottlieb is presenting this as if it’s “BREAKING NEWS.”  It’s just beneath… It’s just…. <sigh>

And as recently as 2015, in Foundations, I devote the first two Chapters to a family systems analysis of “parental alienation.”  Listen to the description from page 8:

“The construct of “parental alienation” represents the child’s triangulation into the spousal conflict through the formation of a cross-generational coalition with a narcissistic/(borderline) parent.  This cross-generational coalition of the narcissistic/(borderline) parent with the child is directed against the other parent, causing a breach in the child’s relationship with the targeted parent.  In this cross-generational coalition, the child is being used by the narcissistic/(borderline) parent in a role-reversal relationship as a “regulatory object” for the regulation of excessive parental anxiety triggered by the divorce.” (Childress, 2015)

Look at that, triangulation, cross-generational coalition, narcissistic-borderline parent, role-reversal relationship, regulatory object for anxiety.  Look at all the constructs linked in a single paragraph.  That’s just one paragraph from Foundations, and that’s from a year ago.  Ms. Gottlieb in her essay, or article thingy, only discusses three very basic family systems constructs (triangulation, a cross-generational coalition, and enmeshment) and acts as if this is “BREAKING NEWS.”  Come on, Dr. Bernet.  Hardly earth-shattering conceptual work from Ms. Gottlieb, is it?

The truth is the truth.  If you find the truth insulting, change the truth.

Constructive Feedback

In my analysis of Ms. Gottlieb’s essay (?), or article (?), or whatever, I then go even further by providing a constructive criticism of what Ms. Gottlieb would need to do to raise her level of professional discussion:

“In order for Ms. Gottlieb’s analysis to enter the domain of professionally responsible discourse, she would need to address the attachment system level of the pathology as well as a more comprehensive integration of the family systems pathology she describes with the personality disorder pathology of the parent.” (Childress, 2016)

That’s not insulting, that’s constructive feedback.  My statement that her analysis is primitive and conceptually lazy is followed by specific recommendations for what is needed to improve her analysis.  That is constructive feedback.  The truth is the truth.  Granted, I’m a blunt truth-teller, but it’s still the truth.  If you don’t like the truth, change the truth.

I could have stopped there in my constructive feedback, but I provided even more constructive feedback regarding specifically – specifically – how she might have enhanced her analysis using specific family systems constructs through the application of the basic, and I mean basic, family systems construct of “homeostatic balance,”

“The dysfunctional family is in “homeostatic balance” with the symptom present.  The family will therefore resist efforts to remove the symptom because the symptom is actually serving a function, it is stabilizing the dysfunctional family system.  According to established family systems theory, families develop symptoms when they are faced with a transitional event that they cannot successfully master.  The symptom develops to stabilize the dysfunctional family system faced with an unmanageable transition.

What is the transition faced by the family evidencing the symptom of “parental alienation” (a child’s rejection of a normal-range and affectionally available parent)?  The divorce, of course.  A major family transitional event.

Why is the family having difficulty transitioning from the previous intact-family structure to the new separated-family structure?  Because the narcissistic or borderline personality pathology of one of the parents (the allied parent in a cross-generational coalition with the child) is characterologically unable to process the emotions of sadness, grief, and loss surrounding the divorce… [leading to a discussion of pathological mourning (Bowlby, 1980)]…

The symptom of the child’s triangulation into the spousal conflict through the formation of a cross-generational coalition with the allied narcissistic/(borderline) personality is emerging in order to stabilize the psychological structure of the allied narcissistic/(borderline) parent that is threatened with collapse as a consequence of the rejection and abandonment by the spousal attachment figure surrounding the divorce.” (Childress, 2016)

I’m not insulting Ms. Gottlieb, I’m pointing out – albeit bluntly, I’ll admit – the profound inadequacy of her analysis.  It’s not my fault that Ms. Gottlieb offers a woefully inadequate analysis of the pathology and frames it as “BREAKING NEWS” with the misleading intention of asserting that science has just discovered this analysis (Childress, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 – fully four years ago, Dr. Bernet, WITH an additional analysis of personality disorder and attachment-related pathology).

To be current, Dr. Bernet, Ms. Gottlieb should be discussing pathological mourning (Bowlby, 1980) not triangulation.

In my critical analysis of Ms. Gottlieb’s essay (?), article (?), I am backing up my professional critique of her arguments as being primitive and conceptually lazy, first with general guidelines for what would constitute a more professional-level analysis, and then with specific feedback in this regard.  I’m not insulting Ms. Gottlieb by calling her analysis primitive and conceptually lazy – that’s the truth.

If you don’t like the truth – change the truth.

Man on the Moon vs Fire

Yes, I am mocking Ms. Gottlieb with this analogy.  Yes, I’m sure it stings.  That’s the point.

My intent in mocking her professionally inadequate analysis of the pathology (and her presenting it as “BREAKING NEWS”) is meant to sting so that next time she advocates for these children and families she will be motivated to exert more effort to improve her analysis.  That’s the point.

Look, Linda Gottlieb is one of the leaders in the “parental alienation” movement, and her effort on this was significantly below professional standards.

Who is this article written by?  Linda Gottlieb takes credit for it, “By Linda J Gottlieb.”  Right there, under the title, it says, “By Linda J Gottlieb” – she’s saying she wrote it.  If she didn’t write it, that’s called plagiarism, taking credit for someone else’s work.  But in the article the writer self-refers as “this newspaper reporter” and most of the article (or essay, or whatever) sounds like it’s written by someone else who quotes Ms. Gottlieb.  So it seems pretty clear that Ms. Gottlieb isn’t actually intending to plagiarize, but it’s just sloppy – sloppy – sloppy.  And not including quote marks to demarcate direct quotes. It’s just sloppy work.  Far-far below acceptable professional standards.  But she’s taking credit for it by posting it to her Facebook page.

She is a representative for all of us.  Her work reflects on all of us.  How do you think establishment psychology is going to look at this essay or article or whatever it is?  “Those “parental alienation people are sloppy – they’re just not professional.” 

She represents us, Dr. Bernet.  The level of her work reflects on all of us.  So she needs to bring her A game.  Not something this sloppy and this conceptually inadequate, and then claim it as “BREAKING NEWS.”  We all lose credibility when she does sloppy work.

But there’s something even more important at stake here.  We’re fighting for targeted parents and their children.  These parents are suffering tremendous heartbreak, and the children are being subjected to psychological abuse and are losing a loving relationship with a loving parent.  We’re fighting for them.  We should ALWAYS be bringing our A game, Dr. Bernet.

There is absolutely no excuse – no excuse whatsoever – for anything less than our best effort each and every time we advocate for these children and families.  Is this Ms. Gottlieb’s best effort?  Really?  No.  It’s sloppy professional work that reflects poorly on all of us who are fighting for the families and children affected by “parental alienation.”  And these children and families deserve our best.  Nothing less than our best is acceptable.

So does my mocking her sloppy effort sting.  Yes.  Good.  Don’t be sloppy.  Don’t be lazy.  Don’t be untruthful.  Don’t mislead.  Bring your A game each and every time, because these children and families deserve no less.  And if you’re sloppy, and lazy, and don’t bring your absolute best to advocating for these children and families, you should be afraid of me, because that is NOT acceptable.

Sloppy and lazy work may be acceptable to you, Dr. Bernet.  It’s not to me.  Not when we’re fighting for these children and families.  You may care more about the sensitivities of “professional colleagues” than excellence in professional work – but I don’t.  I don’t care one whit for our polite little professional enclave.  The ONLY thing I care about is ending this nightmare of “parental alienation” as fast as is humanly possible.  If you join me, we move faster.  If you resist me, the end will take longer to achieve.  You are currently an impediment to the solution.  That is the truth.  I’m not insulting you, but the truth is the truth. 

It is acceptable to you that Ms. Gottlieb’s work is sloppy and reflects poorly on all of us. It is acceptable to you that her work is stale and conceptually lazy.  It is acceptable to you that she does not bring her A game each and every time she advocates for these children and families.  It is acceptable to you that she distorts the truth and misleads with false statements.  It is NOT acceptable to me. 

I don’t care one whit about discussing “ideas in a friendly and collaborative manner.”  The ONLY thing I care about is bringing this nightmare to an end for all of these suffering parents and their children.  You may find me “offensive” because I expect excellence in advocating for these children and families.  I don’t care.  If the price to be paid for bringing this pathology to an end is that a whole bunch of people think I’m an pompous ass, I don’t care.  Gladly paid if it brings this nightmare to an end for these children and families. 

I’m not fighting this fight to be popular, to make friends, to attend conferences, to be an expert, to pontificate in a self-congratulatory echo chamber that accomplishes nothing.  I’m in this fight to win.  I’m in this fight to return these children to their authentic parents who love them dearly.  And with or without you, that’s what we are going to do.

If Ms. Gottlieb is so sloppy, untruthful, misleading, and conceptually indolent in this essay or article or whatever it is, is she also that sloppy, and untruthful, and indolent in all of her work as well?  Does she approach her diagnosis and treatment with the same disregard for the highest standards of professional practice?  Or is she only this sloppy, and untruthful, and indolent, when it doesn’t matter? Or when she doesn’t care?

She is advocating for targeted parents and their children.  What possible excuse could she have to NOT bring her absolute best effort?  Seriously, Dr. Bernet… do you honestly believe that inaccurate authorship, misleading and false sensationalistic headlines, and sloppy professional standards in writing and presentation represents her best work, her A game?

Because if she is NOT bringing her A game in advocating for these parents and these children… why not?  Shame on her. 

So if my mocking her for her obvious lack of effort and sloppy professional work stings… good.  My question to you, Dr. Bernet, is why aren’t you demanding more of her?  Why is her sloppy professional work acceptable to you?  Why is it more important to you that we professionals discuss ideas in a “friendly and collaborative manner” when with each passing day the hearts and souls of so many parents are being torn apart in grief so profound that it’s unbearable?  And you’re worried about professionals discussing ideas in a “friendly and collaborative manner.”  You and I obviously have different priorities.

If my mocking of her sloppy and conceptually lazy works stings so that she steps up and brings her A game each and every time… good.   That’s what it’s designed to do.

She Represents Us

My mocking of her sloppy and conceptually lazy effort is also designed to regain our credibility with establishment psychology.  This analysis by Ms. Gottlieb, in which she distorts truth, brings tired arguments, and is professionally sub-standard in her sloppy presentation, reflects poorly on all of us.  She represents us.  In my taking her to task for her sloppy and conceptually lazy effort, I am reestablishing our credibility with establishment psychology. 

This does not represent who we are or the level of our professional work.

Come on, Dr. Bernet.   You’re honestly going to maintain that this article, or essay, or whatever it is from her represents our best effort?  That these are our best arguments presented in the most compelling and cogent fashion?  You’re proud of this piece of work by Ms. Gottlieb?  You feel comfortable with this piece representing to the APA the quality of work produced by “parental alienation” experts? 

Because, I tell you, Dr. Bernet.  I’m not at all comfortable with any of that.

You honestly believe this represents Ms. Gottlieb’s A game – recycling arguments I made years ago and acting as if they’re new – “BREAKING NEWS” – and overstating reality to the point of falsification.  You feel comfortable with this representing your quality of work, Dr. Bernet?

Because I’m not at all comfortable with this representing my quality of work.  Not by a mile. 

In my taking Ms. Gottlieb to task for sloppy work, I am making a clear statement that this is sub-standard and unacceptable.  We are fighting for these parents and their children.  There is NEVER any excuse to bring anything less than our best.

Insulting, Dr. Bernet?  No.  It’s the truth.  If you don’t like the truth, don’t blame me.  Change the truth.

Multiple Communication Channels

Murray Bowen, who Ms. Gottlieb cites so prolifically, described how different communication messages can be delivered across differing channels of communication.  A person’s words might say one thing, but their body language or tone of voice might send a conflicting message.  Virginia Satir, another prominent family systems therapist, also described the discrepancies in messages delivered across multiple channels of communication.

I’m a clinical psychologist, Dr. Bernet.  I absolutely hear the multiple communications across different channels.  That’s part of my profession.  These multiple communications are called “crazy-making” because they’re designed to be denied if they are challenged – “No, what do you mean?  I never said that.”

Ms. Gottlieb’s essay-article thing is replete with multiple communications between-the-lines.  I hear them (and I hear yours).

Take, for example, her title… “BREAKING NEWS” is laughable it is so absurd.  There’s nothing at all new in PAS.  Thirty years.  Stale and dead.

What IS breaking news is AB-PA.  That’s new.  And you know what, AB-PA leads directly to a DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse.

Wow.  What a strange coincidence, isn’t it.  AB-PA is breaking news and leads to a DSM-5 diagnosis of Child Psychological Abuse and Ms. Gottlieb produces an article-essay thing that claims that PAS is “BREAKING NEWS”  and leads to a diagnosis of child abuse. And wow, her claim is supposedly supported by science.

AB-PA represents a new paradigm describing the pathology of “parental alienation” that is in direct competition with the PAS model, and AB-PA leads directly to a DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, Confirmed – and then what do you know, Ms. Gottlieb produces an article-essay thing claiming that PAS is “BREAKING NEWS” and that science has declared that PAS is psychological child abuse.

Thirty years of PAS and this is now “BREAKING NEWS.”  Give me a break.  This article, or whatever it is, is clearly designed to counter the threat to PAS posed by AB-PA.

She’s trying to reassert the relevance of PAS in the face of my attacks on PAS as a construct.  It is so incredibly transparent.  In my younger days with my buddies, I’d say… “I’m calling BS on that.”

This multiple communication continues through the body of the essay, or article thingy.  The between-the-lines communications trying to “put me in my place” are so transparent.  The overt words convey one message but there is a secondary meaning contained between the lines, yet if I try to respond to the secondary message then this message will be denied.

“Dr. Gardner’s eight symptoms or manifestations exhibited by an alienated child have been accepted by overwhelming consensus among those who are experts on alienation.” (Gottlieb?, 2016)

That is directly trying to slap me down and put me in my place.  I hear it.  Everyone hears it.  But you know what?  I’ll bet you and Ms. Gottlieb deny that the message is designed to put me in my place. 

“No, it’s not directed at you Dr. Childress. It’s just the truth.  Myself, and Linda, and Amy Baker, and all of us Gardnerian PAS experts accept Gardner’s eight symptoms of PAS.”

Of course you do.  That’s a stupid argument.  You’re experts in Gardnerian PAS.  If you didn’t accept Gardner’s eight symptom identifiers then you wouldn’t be experts in Gardnerian PAS.  And if Gardnerian PAS is replaced by AB-PA, then you all cease to be experts in “parental alienation” because you are only experts in Gardnerian PAS.  I understand.  It is completely transparent.

Sorry, Dr. Bernet.  I’m a clinical psychologist and I call cow pucky on that.  I know exactly the message.  If Ms. Gottlieb doesn’t want a fight with me, then she shouldn’t pick a fight with me – “No, I wasn’t referring to you, I never mentioned you.”  Cow pucky.  Pure cow pucky.

Condescending and Patronizing

And you Dr. Bernet…

“Dr. C has made some useful and interesting proposals…”

Now that’s insulting.  Patting me on the head in such a condescending and patronizing tone.  Don’t patronize me, Dr. Bernet.  I find that insulting.  First off, I am Dr. Childress.  I am not Craig.  I am not Dr. C.  Let me be clear, Dr. Bernet, I am a clinical psychologist.  I take a measure of a man.  I don’t trust you one bit.

I am not Craig.  You have not earned the right to call me Craig.  I am not Dr. C.   You have not earned the right to call me Dr. C.  Show me respect.  Are we clear?

I am a clinical psychologist, Dr. Bernet.  I don’t trust you farther than I can throw you.  You are no ally.  You would like to bury AB-PA in obscurity so that it never sees the light of day, and never threatens PAS as a model for describing the pathology.

Let me be frank with you, Dr. Bernet.  I prefer an open adversary to a false ally.  I deem you to be a false ally.  Presenting words of “cooperation” while you carry a dagger under your cloak.

I have never once posted in the Parental Alienation Study Group.  Not once.  You know why?  Because I don’t trust you.  Beware the Ides of March, Caesar.  There’s no way I’m going near the senate.

The qualitative difference between AB-PA and PAS as models for the pathology is not even close.  AB-PA is so far superior as a model of pathology compared to PAS.  It is not even close.  There is no credible or rationally justifiable reason that you or anyone else would continue to hold on to the PAS model in the face of AB-PA.  None.

It’s not that you don’t want to debate me because I have poor manners.  You don’t want to be exposed as not having a rational leg to stand on in your continued defense of PAS.

I’ve clearly articulated why AB-PA and PAS are logically incompatible models, one is true and the other is false.  A pathology cannot be both a unique new form of pathology AND, at the same time, an existing form of pathology.  It’s either one or the other. 

If you hold to PAS and it’s unique eight symptom identifiers developed specifically for this supposedly unique new form of pathology, then you must believe that the AB-PA model is false.  Tell us why.  Support your position.  If you don’t want to do it in a one-on-one debate because you find my expectations for professional competence to be offensive – Fine.  Write an article.  Tell us why you believe AB-PA is wrong and why PAS is a better model of pathology.  Targeted parents and their children deserve this.  They deserve a robust professional debate.

One year ago, on 11/11/15, in my blog post Gardnerian PAS Offers No Solution, I posed this challenge to you:

For thirty years the Gardnerian PAS model has provided no solution whatsoever to the pathology of “parental alienation.”  What solution do they propose that the continuation of the Gardnerian PAS paradigm is now going to provide that it hasn’t provided in the last 30 years?

The Gardnerian PAS model has actually created exactly the situation we have right now, and as far as I can tell it promises another 30 years of the exactly the same.  I would ask any Gardnerian PAS expert to please describe for me how they envision the continuation of the Gardnerian PAS paradigm is going to lead to a solution?

That seems like an offer to discuss “ideas in a friendly and collaborative manner.”  Tell us the roadmap by which PAS will create a solution.  Then we can compare the solution offered by AB-PA to the solution offered by PAS.  Yet for an entire year, my question has gone unanswered.

I’m still waiting for an answer to that question.  Tell us your roadmap, Dr. Bernet.  Tell us how PAS is going to produce a solution to “parental alienation.”  Why will PAS give a solution now when it hasn’t given us a solution in 30 years?

You don’t want to debate?  Fine.  Write an article.  Just tell us the answer to the question I posed one year ago.  What is your roadmap for a solution using the PAS model so that we can compare the solution offered by PAS to the solution offered by AB-PA?

I have clearly laid out in several blog posts the roadmap for a solution that is available immediately – today – using the AB-PA model (The Solution; Dominoes Part 1: Paradigm Shift, Dominoes Falling: The Sequence; I’ll Explain It Just Once).

Once again, I ask you, after a year of your silence… tell us your roadmap for a solution using the PAS model.

The truth is, I don’t think you have an answer.  Gardnerian PAS provides no solution.  You know it, and I know it.  So then why do you hold on to it?  Ahhh, that’s an interesting question.  And the answer to that question is why I don’t trust you, Dr. Bernet.

I prefer an open adversary to a false ally.  I am crossing the Rubicon, Dr. Bernet, and I am not leaving my legions in Gaul so you can quietly kill AB-PA.

AB-PA will replace PAS.

AB-PA will solve “parental alienation.” 

You are 100% wrong.  My goal is not to insult anyone.  My goal is to bring an end to the nightmare of “parental alienation” as quickly as is humanly possible.

Linda Gottlieb did not bring her A game in advocating for the children and parents suffering from “parental alienation.”  That is inexcusable.  These children and families are suffering day in and day out.  Each day that passes is lost.  Each day that passes is one day too long.  There is NO excuse for not bringing our A game each and every time we advocate for these children and families.  No excuse.

Linda Gottlieb’s lack of professional responsibility in presenting a misleading (false) headline reflects badly on all of our credibility.  Science has NOT just discovered PAS and science has not declared that PAS is child abuse.  That is not true.  Ms. Gottlieb is making false and misleading statements in an attempt to counter the paradigm shift to AB-PA so that Gardnerian PAS and her expertise in Gardnerian PAS remains relevant. In attempting to remain relevant by maintaining the inadequate paradigm of PAS that offers no solution whatsoever, she becomes an impediment to enacting the solution, she delays the solution and continues the suffering of these children and families.  That is not acceptable.

The solution to “parental alienation” only comes with the paradigm shift.  Trying to hold on to PAS delays the paradigm shift and so delays the solution.  Holding on to PAS is prolonging the suffering of these families.

The River Kwai

I began with the river Rubicon, let me end with the river Kwai.

There is a wonderful academy award winning movie from 1957, The Bridge on the River Kwai, staring Alec Guinness and William Holden.  If you haven’t seen it, you should watch it.  The Alec Gunness character, a British colonel, is in charge of a company of British soldiers taken prisoner by the Japanese during WW2.  As the story unfolds, the Alec Guinness character leads his soldiers in building a magnificent bridge across the river Kwai for their Japanese captors in order to maintain the British esprit de corp in his soldiers.  But in the process, he becomes so enamored of the bridge his British POW soldiers are building for the Japanese that when a group of Allied commandos led by William Holden come to destroy the bridge as part of the war effort, the Alec Guinness character tries to stop the destruction of the bridge. As William Holden dies at his feet in an unsuccessful effort to blow up the bridge, Alec Guinness suddenly realizes that he has lost sight of the broader war effort in his fixation on the bridge he has built.  To save Allied lives, and to win the war, the bridge over the river Kwai must be destroyed, and he has been working to prevent the destruction of the bridge.  Good movie.  Seven academy awards.

AB-PA will replace PAS.

AB-PA will solve “parental alienation.” 

To enact the solution, we must relinquish Gardner’s model of PAS.  It does not lead to a solution.  The bridge over the river Kwai needs to be destroyed in order to achieve victory over “parental alienation.”  Your efforts to delay the paradigm shift to AB-PA have only served to continue the suffering of the children and families you have fought for so long to save.

Look at the concepts Ms. Gottlieb refers to as “BREAKING NEWS” and look at these same descriptions (and more) that I made four years ago.  If you had provided your support for AB-PA, there is not a doubt in my mind that this pathology would have been solved several years ago.  Instead you have made me do this entirely on my own.  You want to bury AB-PA so it never sees the light of day and never challenges PAS.

I prefer an open adversary to a false ally.  I’m coming to Rome.

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

12 thoughts on “The Rubicon”

  1. DR. CHILDRESS educate and inspire me with each entry. I only wish he were my family’s therapist. He clarifies issues with specificity in ways few experts, no matter their field, can do. His passion brings color to his language and hope to those of us in need.


  2. There are lives of children and parents being destroyed in the toxic trauma that ensues. It is tantamount to a “psychological death”. Eventually, the science of ACEs shows early death results. Based on a small study of 610 respondents, projections show that in the US alone the severely affected are just under 30 million! That is a times 5 multiple of the Holocaust. The one lesson of the Holocaust is to never let it happen again!

    Therefore, cast aside differences and use common grounds to obtain recognition and acceptance of this problem so a solution can allay the suffering. Staying locked in a debate while a carnage continues is no longer acceptable. Building on solid verifiable and accurate ground and casting aside untenable constructs would be the robust way forward.

  3. What is there left to say after that? I am in continued awe of your ability to get to the point and make it crystal clear. I am not a doctor. Just a parent tortured by this hell.
    A willing and hopefully capable soldier in your army.
    P.S. I apologize and will not call you Dr. C again.

    1. Felicia, you can call me Dr. C. All targeted parents have earned the right to call me whatever you want. It’s a subtle thing Dr. Bernet has been doing for a while now of trying to take a top-dog status position over me, patronizing and condescending, and then dismissing AB-PA. If I challenge his dominance ploy then I seem rude and non-collegial, but if I don’t challenge it then he is able to take a top-dog dominant patronizing position over me in which he is empowered to dismiss the relevance and value of AB-PA. It’s a manipulative communication thing he’s been doing. Same with his “be nice” – “everybody get along” critique. It’s a method to try to disempower my criticisms of PAS. He wants to bury AB-PA so it never sees the light of day and never challenges PAS.

      But for you, Felicia, and for all parents, Dr. C is wonderful, “hey mister” is good, “hey you over there, old bald guy” works. You’ve earned that right with your tears.

      Dr. C, the old bald guy.

      1. Thank you for the gracious reply, DR. C!

        These blogs are so vital in helping us with our battle. No one says it better than you! Phenomenal.
        I just talked to Dorcy about becoming a coach. I adore her already. This is going to be epic.

  4. Super article, yet again! Dear Dr you are my guru on this subject and we have similar opinions though you are much more elequent !
    My 1st recall of a Drive In Theater was my Mom and siblings entralled by Bridge over River Kwai , which I have watched many times, for its a very powerful story!
    Thank you for all you do. I’m writing my judge and including a print out or 2 of yours . And then I’m going to open my life up big time in what this is up close and damn well personal .

  5. WOW! Dr Childress you are an Awesome Awesome person! I agree with Felicia all the way!
    God bless you always!
    You really KNOW your stuff!
    I am so thankful that I found you a year ago or I would have already lost my mind! I knew ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ABOUT this sort of EVIL!
    Your books and utube videos and the blogs were telling our story! I then had something that made sense and my brain could accept, TRUTH! TRUTH! TRUTH!
    All of the other articles and publications I read were hitting close but YOUR’S was spot on! You have the TRUTH!
    God Bless You! Thank you!!!!

  6. My daughter is already lost, she aged out and I know it is possibly forever. I fight for others now as it helps me through the grief and guilt and honours what used to be my daughter’s authentic self. I am managing ok, one day at a time…I can do this.
    However, just when I feel I am turning a corner and coming to terms with grief I think about the last few couple of years since Foundations was released and my feelings of acceptance turn into feelings anger and utter disbelief at the possibility that losing my daughter was not necessary. How can the community of experts in this field just arrogantly dismiss the Attachment Model without providing any scientific feedback.

    This is directed to all the members of PASG:

    You owe us, all the target parents, an explanation. If ABPA is wrong, tell us why. If you know the pathology that you refer to as PAS, you know the pain being a victim of it brings. You know that target parents need answers. Do you think it is fair for us to read what seems to be an easy and direct roadmap to diagnosis in Foundations and we don’t deserve an answer from the scientific community as to why we aren’t immediately using this model. We all see the clear evidence of the PASG trying to discredit Dr Childress. When you do this and you don’t provide any scientific justification, target parents will reasonably believe you are doing it for personal reasons. Please, attack the science….go ahead, we want you to. Stop attacking the scientist, it makes you look like you have something to hide.

    We aren’t going away.

  7. Dr. Childress,
    I am an alienated parent that learned about AB-PA through your tireless efforts. I had become more educated than most people I know about narcissism but it wasn’t until my daughter blindsided and started rejecting me that I began searching and found you.

    I have been let down by an incompetent mental health professional and I found your resources to be comforting because it helped me understand what was happening when I knew I was trying my best to do everything right. I had my 16 year old watch your videos directed at the alienated child. She said that her dad didn’t do that. (But I know he is a very subtle covert narcissist and he DOES do that and his enmeshed wife does it a lot)…

    My daughter ended up living with her dad 24/7. I bought your book and if I had this knowledge many years ago it’s possible things would be different. The good news in my story is that your advice to continue to be the authentic parent and my ability with Christ to be consistently loving and kind in the face of rejection (and an evil pathogen that is her father) has actually gotten me 3 visits with her in the last 8 months and I was truly surprised that she was nice to me. I can clearly see she feels trapped but she turns 18 in 7 months and will hopefully hot-foot it out of there like her brother did.

    I said all that so you see my perspective but the purpose for my reply is to say THANK YOU. It is crystal clear that you have put countless hours into this and are being met with opposition from those that refuse to see that “PAS” is delusional to hold onto since it hasn’t helped anyone in 30 YEARS.

    I know this post wasn’t intended to be humorous but I laughed out loud multiple times because I LOVE to see truth and those that are not afraid to speak it, especially if they are willing to forge new ground and stand up for what they believe in. I too prefer an open adversary to a false ally. THANK YOU for going to Rome. You are not alone!

  8. Dear Dr. Childress,

    Being both an alienated parent for many years and now working as a support for others, I rely on you as our pillar for stability and a place to spring forward from.

    I know I speak for many of us when I say how much we appreciate that you nipped this ridiculous article in the bud.
    All of them have no idea who they are fussing with.



  9. thank you for all your hard work dr childress! i no longer use the PAS terminology. you’re absolutely correct about EVERY single thing you said in your blog.

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