I have had an idea for a while now that I keep trying to push away, and it keeps coming back. So, I’ve decided to roll it out and see where it leads. Maybe somewhere, maybe nowhere.
I want to create a resource from the stories of grief and loss borne by so many targeted parents, your stories of love for your children, your stories about the failure of the mental health system, and your stories of the failed court system. Your stories of pain.
I know these stories far too well, because I’ve heard these stories far too often. While each story is unique, each story is also the same, over-and-over they replay in families, the loss of children to the pathology of a narcissistic/(borderline) parent.
I want to send your stories to the APA, to child custody evaluators, to media representatives, and to state legislators, so they can hear what I hear; the grief and loss, and the enduring family tragedy of “parental alienation” that occurs surrounding divorce.
To do this, I want to compile your stories into a book that can be sent to the APA, and to custody evaluators, and to state legislators. I want to say,
“Look. Look at this, hear these stories. Look at the lost love, the grief, and the nightmare of the failed mental health system and the failed legal system response to the malignancy of the parental personality pathology surrounding divorce; a child’s love that becomes twisted by the pathology of a narcissistic/(borderline) parent into unrecognizable anger, hostility, and rejection.”
Targeted parents are experiencing a form of complex trauma called “traumatic grief.”
A therapeutic approach to processing trauma is through journaling about the experience. Being able to form the trauma experience into the structure of an organized coherent narrative – forming and telling the story – helps to heal the trauma, it helps integrate the incomprehensibility of the trauma experience. Putting the chaotic emotions of trauma into words helps bring psychological organization to the experience, which then assists in the processing of the complex trauma experience.
But no sooner do I have these thoughts for compiling a book of stories, than sanity grabs ahold of me and says,
“What are you doing? Are you nuts? You already have way too much on your plate. You can’t take on editing a collection of stories from targeted parents regarding their grief and loss, and about the failures of the mental health system and legal system.”
“They’ll send you 10, 20, 30 pages of detailed stories. You’ll never have time to read them. The mere attempt to compile these stories would be overwhelming.”
But, in spite of this immensely sage wisdom from my sanity, I’ve come to the conclusion that your stories need to exist, your loss needs to be recognized, your love and heartbreak needs to be heard.
So, I’ve decided to start a book project of compiling stories from targeted parents. I have absolutely no doubt that each parent can write a full book, each of you on your own, regarding the wild roller coaster ride of tragedy created from your experiences, and many have. My goal, however, is different. It is to bring these stories together into a single powerful voice, each story unique, and yet all of them the same. I want to say with these stories, “Look. See these people. Listen to their heartbreak.”
And I also want to give each of you a chance to begin processing your complex trauma – the traumatic grieving created by the failed responses from the mental health system and legal system to the personality pathology of your ex-spouse that has emerged through your child following the divorce.
So, I have decided to request your stories – in a very structured format. I don’t have time to read pages and pages of each story. There are too many of you and it is too much.
Bringing organization and structure to your story is part of your brain’s way of making sense of it. If your experience simply spews forth, it remains disorganized and unprocessed. I am asking that you structure your stories in a very specific way, and then to send your story to me at an email address I’m going to provide.
The STRUCTURE is to tell your story in 11 paragraphs.
That’s all you get: 11 paragraphs total. Your entire story in 11 paragraphs.
And here’s how these paragraphs are to be formed:
Paragraphs 1 & 2: Love and Light
In these opening two paragraphs (of 4 sentences each; that’s all you get, four sentences for each paragraph), I want you to describe the love and bonding with your children before the pathology emerged.
I want you to tell me how wonderful your children are, how much you love them, and the deep love, joy, and bonding that you shared with your children before the tragedy. Help me to see your beautiful and wonderful children. Tell me how your son loves peanut butter and bananas and how your daughter was so proud when she scored her soccer goal. Let me love your children with you.
These are the paragraphs of light and love that will then devolve through paragraphs 3 through 9 into the dark night of the alienation and loss. There is a flow. Each story is unique, and each is the same.
Two paragraphs of 4 sentences each for love and light, that’s all you get.
This two-paragraph limitation is important, both for the processing of trauma and because that’s what the book needs, it’s not simply your story – it’s all of your stories together, each unique and yet each the same. By each story remaining focused and structured, the love becomes accessible to the reader, the nightmare becomes accessible to the reader, and the tragedy of profound loss and grief becomes accessible to the reader.
Paragraphs 3 – 4 – 5: The Pathology’s Emergence
In three paragraphs of 4 sentences each, tell me about the pathology, how it emerged, how your beautiful children changed, how the pathology of your ex-spouse twisted your children into their anger, hostility, judgement, fearfulness, and rejection.
Tell me what happened to your children. Tell me of their destruction.
Three paragraphs of 4 sentences each. All of the pathology in only three paragraphs of 4 sentences each.
Paragraphs 6 & 7: The Failed Mental Health System
Next, I want to learn about the failure of the mental health system, the failure by therapists and custody evaluators to identify the pathology and stop the pathology, and the collusion by mental health persons with enacting the pathology.
In two paragraphs of 4 sentences each, tell me about how the mental health system failed you, how no one listened, how no one saw, how no one made it stop.
Paragraphs 8 & 9: The Failed Legal System
In two paragraphs of 4 sentences each, tell me about the nightmare of the failed family courts, the financial bankruptcy created by the legal system, the endless delays, and the manipulation of the injustice system by your ex-spouse. Tell me about the false allegations and imposed separation from your children, tell me about the unwarranted supervised visitation orders, tell me about the injustice system of the family courts.
Two paragraphs of 4 sentences each. Hard, I know. But two paragraphs of 4 sentences each is all you get.
You can switch the order of Failed Mental Health and Failed Legal System if this order of presentation seems more appropriate to your family, but these two sections always follow the three paragraphs on the Emergence of Pathology. You can also write less, but just not more than the structure I provide.
Paragraphs 10 & 11: The Dark Night
In these final two paragraphs of 4 sentences each, share the dark night of your grief and loss. Your love, your tears, your helplessness, and your grief.
Working with Structure
I understand that the limitations will be hard. There is so much information, so much to understand in each of your stories. How can you possibly describe the emergence of pathology in your children in only three paragraphs? How can you possibly explain the injustice of false allegations and the nightmare of the legal system in only two paragraphs?
But that is the task. Eleven paragraphs of 4 sentences each.
Here’s my suggestion. Write six paragraphs on the Emergence of the Pathology. Don’t send them. Let them sit for a week. Then go back and edit the six paragraphs down to four paragraphs. Let it sit for a week, and then edit them down to three paragraphs. This will help you in processing the trauma experience. It will help bring psychological organization to the chaos of the trauma.
Each of your stories will be unique, and each story will be the same. Your specific individual story may not find its way into the final product. The universe will weave itself. Yet your story is in all stories.
Over-and-over this pathology takes its own course in each family, and yet the stories all have the same core, the same pathology, the same failure of the mental health system and legal system. The power is from bringing your stories together into a single voice that says, “Look. See this. We need to stop this.”
When you have your own unique story ready in 11 paragraphs of 4 sentences each, send your story to me at a special Gmail address just for this purpose:
I will read your stories. If I receive enough stories, I will edit and compile them into a book of stories – all unique – yet all variants of the same story – told over-and-over again with new characters in new families. Stories of your voice, your trauma, your helplessness, your grief and loss; abandoned by the mental health system, abandoned by the legal system. Your stories. In eleven paragraphs of 4 sentences each.
If this forms into a book of stories, then in my weaving of the presentation of your stories I will provide commentary on the pathology and the suffering it creates, bringing my professional voice to yours, amplifying and emphasizing your experience.
A book of stories may emerge, or it may not emerge. This is all to the source of that which leads. If a book of your stories emerges, what I then want to do is send this book to every Committee of the APA, to every licensing board, and to every state legislator’s office. I want to say,
“Look. Hear these parents. See the sorrow, the tragedy, the pathology; over-and-over again and no one makes it stop.”
Your voices, your stories, together – all unique, and all the same.
That’s my idea that just won’t go away, a book of stories, your stories. I have the email address to receive your stories (firstname.lastname@example.org). Eleven paragraphs of 4 sentences each:
Paragraphs 1-2: Light and Love
Paragraphs 3-5: The Pathology Emerges
Paragraphs 6-7: The Failure of Mental Health
Paragraphs 8-9: The Failure of the Courts
Paragraphs 10-11: The Dark Night
If nothing emerges, then the universe did not want to bring a book of stories into existence. Still, in writing your story, in struggling to fit your story into the structure I laid out, you will be journaling about your complex trauma, bringing “cognitive mediation” to an overwhelming emotional experience. This alone will be a good thing.
If you send me a STRUCTURED story of 11 paragraphs, I will read it. If you send me an unstructured story or a story longer than 11 paragraphs, I will not read it. I don’t have time. I wish I had time, but I don’t have time. There is too much work still to be done. With your stories, if you choose to tell me your story, you need to help me. Structured – 11 paragraphs.
Once you complete your 11 paragraphs and send your story to me, if you then want to write your book, that becomes a “you thing.” Turn each section into a chapter. Write your story to full measure. Just don’t send it to me. I don’t have time. I wish I had time. I don’t. There’s still too much work to be done.
Eleven paragraphs. That’s all I have time to read from each of you. There are so many of you, each story unique, and each story a variant of the same story told over-and-over again because no one is making this stop.
We will make it stop. We can’t stop what happened to you, but we can stop it from happening to other families, other parents, other children. Your stories can help make it stop.
But 11 paragraphs of 4 sentences each is all you get to tell your story.
Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Psychologist, PSY 18857
32 thoughts on “Your Stories”
I’m bawling right now. Yes I can compile my story into 11 logical concise paragraphs. I am blown away by your efforts to fight the pathogen. Thank you just doesn’t seem like enough.
RIGHT? HE’S and ADHD specialist.
HE HAS ACCESS TO ADDERALL… I’M POSITIVE THAT’S HOW HE DOES IT!
We need to work together. Ginger Gentile, the producer of the documentary is already collecting stories. In fact, in episode 4 of her you tube videos, she and her team teach targeted parents how to write their stories. Please go to Erasing Family.org for all of the information.
I have so much respect for the outstanding work done by Dr Craig Childress concerning AB:PA however I believe more effective approaches to campaigning might be to:
HIGHLIGHT THE WORST FORMS OF DAMAGE TO CHILDREN CAUSED BY THE CURRENT SYSTEM such as:
-high rates of child suicide and other mortality events;
-family court induced murders of children;
-children living without both their biological parents are much more prone to be physically and sexually abused;
-the intergenerational aspect of the problem.
APPEALING TO VOTER SELF INTEREST:
-So much of our crime is committed by adults who as children who did not grow up with both of their parents;
-The indirect financial cost to society of crime;
-The direct cost to society of government services related to family breakdown such as, Family Courts, Family Violence courts, CPS, Police, Child Support Agency, income support payments, reduced income tax receipts.
-the affect on GDP of family breakdown.
I don’t believe that people who call the shots in our societies have any empathy for the upset and trauma experienced by the victims of the current family court system which fosters AB:PA.
I am going the submit my story from the UK.
I imagine, when the collection is used for lobbying in the USA, you’ll have to be careful how you present international stories.
But given the commonality in the affected affected…the stories will be relevant…and representative. And you might consider saying to US lawmakers “this exists globally. Let’s lead and set an example” or an equivalent call to arms.
TY for all your work. And this initiative
I have wanted to write a book regarding our sons experience….but to be honest I am tired. This is a wonderful idea, it gives us all a chance to have a voice. Thank you. Your information throughout the years has been life saving for our family. This isn’t just about us, it never has been….its about every child who has been ripped away from the kind, loving compassionate sane parent. These children lose so much, trust, faith, innocence, they are changed forever, and many times they grow up and repeat what they have experienced….so the sickness continues. Blessings to you and every person who helps you with all you have taken on.
Okay, I’ll do this for our (my) children, (child).. My Heart felt Thanks.
Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone
MAY YOU BE ETERNALLY BLESSED, Dr. Childress, for being the ONLY professional and human being who TRULY understands our overwhelming, abysmal helplessness. THANK YOU for taking your precious time and energy to always take the CHAOS of AB-PA, MASTER it and bring it to ORDER. THANK YOU FOR LOVING OUR CHILDREN AS MUCH AS WE DO and for riding ahead of us on the stallion of Truth, championing for us and our children. Your encouragement and the love I have for my daughter, Sofia, are the ONLY encouragement giving me the strength to get out of bed and try another day. With so much love, gratitude and affection, Lisa Langton, Safe and Sound Foundation, Canada.
I would not be surprised if I were to learn that Parental Alienation and NPD were behind this Christmas tragedy:
My condolences to the children’s remaining loving family.
I have two stories. One for myself, as a child, and one for my stepchildren. I wonder if I could do one for each as long as it follows the format?
I have already written a book about this and it was set over a 12 year period 2000-2012. I will happily write another truncated story set in the perimeters that you have set above and making a precis of 11 paragraphs for the APA. Anything that will help.
Since I wrote that book many interesting developments have happened. I would like to make a Sequel but don’t think I have enough material for it. ABPA wasn’t around in those days and it was set in the NM courts. I will share the most important one with you right now in that my 26 year old son (abducted/alienated at 10) admitted voluntarily to me that ‘he was made to say things that my husband and I didn’t do to them to the Judge). My elder son (very sensitive) became psychotic after the abduction – never been the same since and on strong anti-psychotic medication for this since.
My ex is a Narc (no doubt at all) However, he was overindulged as a child – and only child spoilt rotten. I think you must include this as one of the reasons for the NPD/BPD result as an adult as well as all the other causes that you have correctly stated. Maybe rare but true.
Yep, going to do this!
Take care and thank you for all the wonderful work you do for trying to solve this tragic poorly understood family endemic.
Want to write mine 🙂
I ordered a copy of your book “Broken Lives, Broken Minds” as a result of this comment. Have read it for only a few hours yet, but I cannot believe how extremely similar your ex-husband’s alienating behavior was to my ex-husband’s, and what it did to our four children. It is truly as if these monstrous human beings are a form of failed artificial intelligence without human emotion, operating from the “Pathological Narcissist’s Manual.”
I looked at the world differently after my husband turned on us. I had not previously realized that my normal middle-class milieu could contain such people. Saying he was a Jekyll & Hyde character does not begin to explain the shock of it. Something that I wish to point out — that I have learned in all of my thinking and reading since — is that pathological Narcissists tend to be attracted to either another such NPD type, or more commonly, to a partner who is as empathetic and caring as the Narcissist is not. Opposites attract, in this case. So the targeted/alienated parent is likely to have been one of those cannot-do-enough-for-others type of person. They may even be a grown child of a Narcissistic parent themselves, in an unfortunate re-enactment compulsion — not that this excuses the situation in the least.
It makes this all the more surreal — that a parent/spouse so caring and compassionate should be falsely accused of child abuse. It is a double kick in the teeth — the world well and truly turns upside-down for you when you find yourself in this Twilight Zone. And yes, I too have found the Family Court system as bad as you describe. It is a terrible farce, as if they are all trained in devilry and stupidity. I kept pinching myself, saying in my own mind it could not possibly be real. But it was.
I had meant to add that the whole experience of being parentally-alienated — both losing my children, and being falsely accused of abuse — hit like a major Trauma in my
life. It was indeed. I feel as if I am a refugee from a once-normal existence (or perhaps it was never truly normal; my continual enforced doormat-hood just kept the worst of my husband’s Narcissism at bay for years).
I liken this experience to being in a sudden war-zone, where your nearest and dearest betray you by turning you in to the enemy; you cannot work out what is worse — the heinous betrayal, or the subsequent torture. It is as if the signposts you had learned to read for meaning in life have all been tampered with. The resulting confusion is as bad as the accompanying emotional pain. Yes, this is without a doubt a major Trauma.
For anyone thinking they may be a Caretaker/Empath type, and this is how they attract pathological Narcissists into their lives unknowingly, it hurts all the more to think that the better you have been, the worse you get. Appears to turn upside-down the values of our society, not to mention the old Golden Rule. I think that at least some targeted parents fall into this category.
I recommend these books:
“Human Magnet Syndrome” by Ross Rosenberg
“Removing the Mask of Kindness” by Les Barbanell
“Breaking the Addiction to Please” by Les Barbanell
What I take from learning about this is that a move towards the middle of the Personality Spectrum of human life is the best way to go; extremes or polar positions (Pathological Narcissism at one end, Overly Empathetic Personality at the other) guarantee trouble.
May help you; may help your children. I also recommend Juliet Butler’s story, “The Less You Know the Sounder You Sleep” for a hard-hitting illustration of a relationship of the extremes: Psychopath + Empath. In this case, they happened to have been conjoined twins, and neither could simply walk away.
I just finished reading your book. Your story had so many similarities to mine, I was astonished. Yes, I too experienced being related to as if I were invisible, or as if every valid piece of information and word of truth I offered was not seen or heard. I thought at times it was as if the professionals and I were living in a different dimension — we were not in the same reality. Truth bounced off of them while lies and deceit were welcomed with open arms. It is a very strange twisting of reality that is hard to explain to anyone who has not experienced this. The Group-Mind pathogen?
I would be interested in knowing what has happened to date in your family situation. I recall a book on families caught in the awful “Satanic Panic” of the 1990s, and the fact that some children who had made the false allegations later recanted, while others did not.
Craig Childress’s story idea is a good one. Dan Siegel advocates narrative therapy for trauma, which is what this is. Help yourself; help others.
One more comment. Your son’s is the third case, Pamela, that I know of involving Shared Psychosis, or what has been termed “Schizophrenia” in a family with one or both parents who have Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). An uncle of mine was parentally-alienated in the 1930s (it is not a new phenomenon), never snapped out of it — quite the contrary — and then went on to marry a spouse with suspected NPD. They had a son who seemed normal in early childhood, but by early adolescence, he was psychotic. It was eventually deemed Schizophrenia, and he has wondered the streets homeless for much of his adult life so far, sometimes medicated, sometimes not.
I always wondered whether his father’s delusional world due to parental alienation as a child
had had an impact on him in this way. And that was long before I ever heard of the term “Parental Alienation.” Then I saw the concept touched on in your book. How many other cases might there be, where an undiscovered Shared Psychosis is at the root of such problems?
Thank you for trying to bring attention to the problem some judges dismiss. Children need help emotionally when raised by this type of parent.
I have had an idea that quite frankly I have always thought I would be able to initiate once I have the Court battle behind me… the process has delayed this initiattbut I would like to tell you I have always thought we parents should write a old fashioned letter or 11 paragraph story … put into a light blue or a light pink envelope. To make an enormous impact to the APA , as they would receive a visual imagery of the lost boys and girls .
One color per child . Some families will have more than one color envelop with their story Per sex of child.
Colored mailed envelopes standing out like. Sore thumb screaming read our plight!
I don’t know if this idea can be collaborative, but I think we are both thinking about the impact of many voices being heard.
Yours is a book of stories , mine is symbolic in nature but substantive in personal losses and trauma caused by the pathogenic ex and inept professionals and Court!
Maybe it can be both! I thought I would send in this idea , hoping it may help.
Tha you so much!
Dearest Dr. Childress:
I want to thank you for this wonderful idea you just shared with us. Although I live in Mexico and my story involves the Mexican mental health and legal systems, I still would like to participate in this idea of yours if you let me, to put out my story and that of my children, particularly the one of my son who died last May 27th in his narcissistic’s father home, alone, from a “fatal seizure” due to the neglect of the father to take care of my beloved son. I respect and will commit to the structure you give. All my gratitude and love for you and your loved ones in this Holiday Season. Yours sincerely,
Paola Bustamante >
Thank you so much, Dr. Childress! I am in! I am reading your book- An Attachment Based Model of Parental Alienation. Each page is a gift explaining what happened to our imploding family. Three therapists could not put into words what you have. I get it now and reading your book has helped heal some of my tramatic grief. Thank you so much! Rose Syroid
Is there a Deadline to have the stories sent in?
No, not really. At the earliest I would imagine I will compile these stories of alienation during late spring of 2018, more likely summer or late summer.
Craig Childress, Psy.D.
I’m going to follow the progression of trauma and send a story from my view as a grandparent who has lost the company and love and companionship of her grandchildren, and has witnessed the grief and loss my son has endured. If it cant be used, that’s fine. Its out and on paper.
Thanks for all the work you’ve done and continue to do.
Excellent project. You will receive my story in the structured form. I have perused many good psy.phd’s on the internet. You are on the very top’ including Dr Gardner. Above the genius level,for sure. Thank you, Frederick G Kaufmann
On Dec 19, 2017 10:16 AM, “Dr. Craig Childress: Attachment Based Parental Alienati
This is what happened to me. The entire story with all the personal things like Complex-PTSD is not fully explained. But the horror is there. http://www.childabusivejudges.com/example-of-complaints.html
What an awesome idea.I would be honored to be included(if chosen ) in any of your endeavors that would help the future’s of all the abused children and targeted parents.
I will attempt to do as you wish. I’m not very good at writing but as long as someone else can edit any boo boos!
I will do my best.
What a fabulous undertaking, thank you.
This is a Godsend.
What do you think of a daily/weekly docu drama for television of each story to expose and teach and heal?
Submitted today. I’ve been trying to write it for weeks now, finally just sat down and relived it. Damn it hurt.
I hope it helps. Thank you for the opportunity to tell my story.