AB-PA: The Scientific Method

AB-PA is the scientific method.   Did you know that?  It is.  AB-PA is science.

The pathogen thinks AB-PA (an attachment-based model of “parental alienation”) is a new theory.  That’s because the pathogen is stupid.  It’s a trauma pathogen and trauma is simply pattern, it can’t reason.

The pattern the pathogen is familiar with is Gardner’s PAS, that’s the model that shaped the defensive structures of the pathogen.  Gardner proposed a “new theory” of pathology, Parental Alienation Syndrome.  The pathogen attacked the “new theory” of Gardner’s proposal and the eight unique new symptoms he created for a supposedly unique new form of pathology he called “parental alienation.”  Gardner’s PAS is a new theory; AB-PA is not… AB-PA is diagnosis.

I knew the pathogen would attack any “new theory” proposal, so I simply didn’t propose a new theory.  Instead, I used the standard and established constructs of professional psychology – attachment, personality disorder pathology, family systems therapy, and complex trauma, to work out the explanatory pathway (the diagnosis) for the child’s pathology (a child rejecting a parent following divorce).

It wasn’t all that hard.  It’s just that no one ever seems to have done that before, apply the standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology to the child’s symptoms of rejecting a parent surrounding divorce.  I have no idea why they haven’t.  Diagnosis is standard of practice, yet no one is diagnosing – everybody is running with this “new theory” proposal of Gardner.

AB-PA is not a “new theory” – it’s diagnosis.  Diagnosis is the application of standard and established constructs and principles to a set of symptoms.  Diagnosis.

Gardner didn’t do that.  He skipped the step of diagnosis – he skipped applying standard and established constructs and principles to a set of symptoms – and instead he took a lazy approach of proposing a “new theory” for a new form of pathology, a pathology that is supposedly unique in all of mental health.  In doing that, Gardner led everyone away from the path of established professional standards of practice for assessment, diagnosis, and treatment, and he led the entire field into the wilderness of “new theory” forms of pathology.

He shouldn’t have done that.  It’s great that he identified the pathology, but he shouldn’t have broken professional standards of practice by proposing a “new theory” – first he should have diagnosed the pathology by applying the standard and established constructs and principles of professional psychology to the set of symptoms.

Establishment psychology tried to tell him, but he wouldn’t listen.  Nor would his followers, the Gardnerian PAS “experts.”  They just don’t listen.  They’re very locked up into being “experts” about something, and apparently it’s too hard to be an expert in something real, like attachment or trauma, because there’s already established experts in those fields.  But if there is a “new pathology” then these Gardnerians have something to be “expert” in – the pathology the think they’re “discovering.”

I didn’t do that.  I listened to the constructive feedback of establishment psychology – which, by the way, I agree with.  Gardner’s 8-symptom PAS model is a horrific model for a pathology.  If a student had submitted Gardner’s PAS to me as a professor, I’d have given it a D-. The only reason it’s not an F is because the student turned in something.  He tried.  So I’d give it only a D-.

If you’re curious as to HOW bad Gardner’s 8-symptom model for a “new theory” of pathology is, I did a video series discussing each of the eight symptoms:

Gardner’s PAS Series

Gardner’s 8-symptom “new theory” of pathology model is simply awful.  That’s why it is “controversial” even after 40 years of using it, and that’s why it doesn’t work to solve the pathology, even after 40 years of using it.  It is NOT a good descriptive or explanatory model for a pathology.

Gardner proposed a “new theory” – I’m not.  AB-PA remains entirely within established constructs and principles that are fully supported by mountains and mountains of scientific evidence – attachment, personality pathology, family systems therapy, complex trauma.

AB-PA is not “new theory” – it’s diagnosis.  But the pathogen doesn’t recognize that, because it’s stupid as sin.  That’s because the trauma pathogen neurologically inhibits frontal lobe executive function systems – the logic and reasoning systems of the brain… trauma doesn’t think, it repeats patterns.

AB-PA is also science.  In science, an explanatory model (like AB-PA) makes a prediction which is testable – provable or disprovable – by the evidence.  Then the evidence is collected.  If the prediction is confirmed by the evidence, then the explanatory model that made the prediction is confirmed.  That’s called the scientific method for proving something:

Make a prediction – collect the evidence – and see if the prediction is confirmed.

AB-PA is grounded in the scientific method.  It’s science.  AB-PA makes a prediction – three impossible symptoms will be present in the child’s symptom display.  Now we simply need to collect the evidence and see if the evidence supports the prediction.

Did you know that all three diagnostic indicator symptoms of AB-PA are impossible?  They are.  All three symptoms of AB-PA are impossible.  They never show up anywhere – ever.  They are all impossible symptoms.

The expected prevalence for Diagnostic Indicator 1 (attachment system suppression toward a normal-range parent) is zero.  We never see this.  Maybe sometimes we see attachment suppression toward a severely abusive parent – but a severely abusive parent is NOT normal-range.  We never see a child’s attachment bonding suppression toward a normal-range parent.  There is no pathway by which that could occur.  Bad parenting creates an insecure attachment, never a suppression of the attachment system.

There is no explanatory path for Diagnostic Indicator 1… it is an impossible symptom… it never happens… and yet the AB-PA explanatory diagnostic model predicts that this – impossible symptom – will be present in the child’s symptom display.  So… is it?

Let’s play scientists and test the prediction… is Diagnostic Indicator 1, a suppression of the child’s attachment system toward a normal-range parent, is that predicted symptom present, absent, or somewhat present in the child’s symptom display?

Scientific method.  AB-PA makes prediction.  Test it.  Is the predicted symptom present, absent, or somewhat present?

Prevalence rates for Diagnostic Indicator 1 in the general population are zero.  It is an impossible symptom.  And yet, it is the symptom predicted by an AB-PA explanatory model for the pathology.

Diagnostic Indicator 2 – the five narcissistic personality traits – is also a provable or disprovable prediction from AB-PA, and a narcissistic personality disorder is also impossible in a child.  We would never expect to see five narcissistic personality traits in a child’s symptom display because a narcissistic personality disorder in a child is not possible.

In the general population, the prevalence of children with five narcissistic personality disorder traits is zero.  We will never find that.

Yet… AB-PA predicts this impossible symptom.  This prediction of the AB-PA explanatory model is ALSO testable by the evidence.  Are these five narcissistic symptoms present, absent, or somewhat present in the child’s symptom display?  Simple.  We would expect the answer to be no in 100% of cases, because five narcissistic personality disorder symptoms in a child’s symptom display is impossible.  It never happens.

So then, let’s look.  Are they present?  Because if they are, that is proof – empirical evidence – for the explanatory model that predicted exactly this set of impossible symptoms.

And then, there’s Diagnostic Indicator 3; the trauma reenactment symptom of the child’s persecutory delusion toward a normal-range parent.  There is absolutely no pathway to a normal-range parent creating a persecutory delusion in the child.  Can’t happen.  It is an impossible symptom, we never-ever see it, it never happens.

In the general population, the prevalence of child persecutory delusions toward a normal-range parent is zero.  It never happens because it is an impossibility.

And yet… AB-PA is predicting exactly this impossible symptom. And not just one impossible symptom… AB-PA is predicting THREE impossible symptoms – that never occur – they are impossible.  The expected prevalence in the general population for any of these predicted child symptoms is zero.

So, let’s test the predictions of AB-PA with the evidence.  Are these three symptoms present, absent, or somewhat present in the child’s symptom display.

Aren’t you curious what we’ll find?  I know, I am too.  It’s called scientific curiosity.  Isn’t it wonderfully exciting, science.  We make a prediction, then we test it with empirical evidence… empirical means we look to see if something’s there, and document it if it is.  I love science.

If AB-PA is wrong – then none of these symptoms will be present because no other pathology in all of mental health produces these predicted symptoms – they are impossible symptoms.  So… let’s put AB-PA to the test – the scientific method.

Are the predicted symptoms of AB-PA present?  That is so simple to test. If people say they want proof of AB-PA, okay… let’s put AB-PA to scientific proof… are these three impossible symptoms that are predicted by AB-PA present or absent in the child’s symptom display?

If AB-PA is not true as an explanatory model, then the three predicted impossible symptoms won’t be present, and since each of the three symptoms is actually impossible, that’s what we would expect… that none of the three symptoms will be present in the child’s symptom display.

It’s called the scientific method.  An explanatory model (AB-PA) makes a testable prediction that is provable or disprovable by the evidence.  Then the evidence is collected, and the explanatory model is proved or disproved.

So.  Collect the evidence:

Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting

It’s called science.  If someone doesn’t think AB-PA is true as an explanatory model of the pathology – conduct the experiment for yourself.  Are the three impossible symptoms of AB-PA present or not?  Simple proof or disproof.  Check, check, check – yes, no, somewhat.

If the predicted symptoms aren’t there – which they shouldn’t be – we would expect them to not be there in 100% of cases because they are all impossible symptoms – then AB-PA is wrong.

If… on the other hand… the three symptoms predicted by AB-PA are present… then this proves the explanatory model that predicted them.

It is called the scientific method.  Make a prediction.  Collect the data to prove or disprove the prediction.

If these three symptoms ARE present in the child’s symptom display… then they have to be explained.  How did the child develop these three specific symptoms, each of which is impossible? 

There is no other explanatory path to these three symptoms other than AB-PA – which PREDICTS exactly these three – impossible – symptoms.  Try it.  Try to explain the presence of all three of these diagnostic indicator symptoms; how did the child acquire all three of these symptoms?  See.  There is only one explanation, AB-PA, which not only explains the presence of all three impossible symptoms, AB-PA predicts them.

So for anyone who doubts that AB-PA is true… try it.  Do the experiment for yourself.  Collect the data to prove or disprove AB-PA.  If AB-PA is not true, that’s easy enough to prove… none of the three impossible symptoms will be present; and since they are all three impossible, that’s what we would expect.  The prevalence rate for impossible is zero, so none of these three symptoms should be present in the evidence – in the child’s symptoms.

If… on the other hand… these symptoms ARE present… then they require an explanation for how these impossible symptoms… are possible… because you have confirmed the evidence for their existence – the child has exactly the three symptoms predicted by AB-PA.

There is only one explanation.  It’s proven by the scientific method.  The explanatory model makes a prediction that can be proven or disproven based on the evidence.  So… collect the evidence for yourself.  Do the experiment.  Are these three predicted symptoms present or not?

Isn’t it fun being a scientist, it’s so exciting.

For the critics of AB-PA who don’t think it’s true… my goodness, it’s easy-peasy to disprove AB-PA as an explanatory model for the child’s pathology, the three predicted and impossible symptoms WON’T be present.  Easy as pie to disprove AB-PA.  Let’s give it a try, let’s do the experiment.  Are these three symptoms present – yes or no.

It’s called the scientific method.  Science is a good thing.

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

Director of Psychological Services,
Conscious Co-Parenting Institute;
Custody Resolution Method

2 thoughts on “AB-PA: The Scientific Method”

  1. Thank you, Dr. Childress for fighting this fight. We are living in anti-science times with a new generation that is fragile and entitled. I don’t envy the challenge you are facing. But thank you for for it.

  2. The APA clearly has no interest in a “Scientific Method”. They are too driven by ideology to spend time on anything scientific…


    “For the first time in its history, the American Psychological Association (APA) released guidelines concerning men and boys, saying that so-called “traditional masculinity” not only is “harmful” but also could lead to homophobia and sexual harassment.”

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