Limbic System: Robert Sapolsky Stanford Lecutures

Robert Sapolsky is a valuable resource of knowledge.  He has a set of Stanford University  lectures on YouTube regarding various aspects of his field, taught from his undergraduate course at Stanford University in 2010,

It’s free, it’s available on YouTube, search on Dr. Sapolsky’s Stanford Lectures:

YouTube: Robert Saposky Stanford University Lectures

All mental health professionals working with court-involved family conflict must watch Robert Sapolsky’s Stanford lecture on the limbic system.  It is free, it is available, it is your introduction to the limbic system.

YouTube: Dr. Sapolsky Stanford Lectures: Limbic System

Attend to statements about the amygdala, frontal cortex, and anterior cingulate.  Attend to the James-Lange theory of emotion, and the role of interpretation and attribution for a bodily state.

Dr. Sapolsky’s lecture on the Limbic System is mandatory.  From this point on, I will assume that all court-involved mental health professionals will be familiar with all of the material discussed by Dr. Sapolsky in this lecture.  The remainder of his 2010 course at Stanford University on YouTube is “optional” – a post-doc of mine would watch the entire course, knowledge is a good thing when working with children.

Child Development Knowledge

Mental health professionals working with complex family conflict surrounding divorce must understand child development.  In 2020 this is substantially more than Erickson’s stages of basic trust vs basic mistrust, industry vs inferiority, from the 1940s.  Since 1990, understanding child development means understanding the neuro-social development of the brain during childhood,

They are inseparable.  Childhood is the period of brain maturation.  To understand childhood, and importantly, the different phases of childhood and the different socio-neurological developmental tasks-challenges for that period, requires – requires – an understanding for the neuro-development of the brain in childhood across different developmental levels.

If the mental health professional does not want to learn the neuro-development of the brain during childhood, that’s fine – just don’t work with children.  Work with adults.  Because since the 1990s, child development has required a professional understanding of the neuro-development of the child.

This is not optional knowledge – knowledge of child development when working with children – it is required knowledge.

Robert Sapolsky’s Standford University course lectures on YouTube are an exceptionally good introduction.  Of central importance is information about the limbic system (emotional system), which includes essential information on a cortical portion of the limbic system, the prefrontal cortex and the executive function systems.

Professional Ignorance

I am only assigning you Dr. Sapolsky’s Stanford lecture on the Limbic System.  I do that with post-docs, I “assign” some material, and I “recommend” other material, the difference being direct relevance and indirectly important.

You should watch them all.  You will only be using the knowledge about the limbic system when you reach the material from Stern, Shore, Tronick, Trevarthan, van der Kolk – and others – attend also to the Polyvagal Theory and Porges.

Notice something important at the start of Dr. Sapolsky’s Limbic System lecture.  It is a week before the midterm and the material about the limbic system is not going to be on the midterm.  Dr. Sapolsky nonchalantly comments on a number of empty seats.

There are two types of humans, and they are reflected in the students’ decisions.  One group, “Is this going to be on the midterm?” and if not, then they disregard the knowledge that they will need as professionals, because it is not directly relevant to their task at the moment, passing the midterm exam.

This failure in frontal lobe systems surrounding time projection, called foresight and planning, indicates unresolved traumas in other regions of the prefrontal cortex and limbic system that is inhibiting full activation of frontal lobe executive function systems – or – developmentally appropriate maturational processes during the 18-to-24 period. 

The students that skipped the class did not have the frontal lobe capability “to do the hard thing” (attend class) “when it is the right thing to do” (learn knowledge).  The students came to Stanford University, a top-tier educational institution, to learn.  Yet they do not attend class because the material is “not on the midterm.” 

A very “now” orientation to their motivation.  Is this going to help me… now?  The frontal lobe systems for foresight and the inhibition of other competing limic systems activity driving motivation has not yet fully developed.  That’s relatively normal for that age period.  The frontal lobe does not complete its maturation until age 25.

Other students attended. Even though they weren’t going to be “tested” on the information, they came to learn the information.  They understand the value of the information, that’s what they came to Stanford University for, the knowledge. They want this knowledge because it then serves as a foundation for the next set of knowledge, and they will need this next set of knowledge for the tasks they will undertake professionally. 

Do you see the difference between a limic brain of motivation that’s oriented toward the now, and the executive function systems of the prefrontal cortex that inhibit limic activity to allow us to “do the hard thing, when it’s the right thing to do.”

Ignorance is Not Acceptable with Children

To my professional colleagues, you are working with children. Their lives are in your hands. Your ignorance can destroy their life trajectories, or it can fulfill and enrich the entire future course of their lives, and the lives of their spouses and children.  Their future is in your hands – in your ignorance or your knowledge.

What reason do you have for ignorance and sloth?  Is any level of ignorance and sloth acceptable when working with the lives of children?

The court also holds the lives of these parents and their children in the balance of its decisions, lives will be changed, potentially destroyed or saved, by the court’s decision.  The court is seeking consultation from professional psychology for recommendations supporting the child’s healthy development – the “best interests of the child.”

The court is coming to you.  You hold the lives of these children and the lives of these parents in your hands, in the difference between your ignorance and knowledge.

The Limbic System is on my midterm, the midterm of Dr. Childress for professional competence in working with children, especially emotionally dysregulated children – that’s the limbic-prefrontal cortex network.  You will need this information for the information on intersubjectivity, attunement, emotional regulation, and complex trauma that will follow next. That is the information you need to know; Stern, Tronick, Trevarthan, van der Kolk, Fonagy, Shore, Lyons-Ruth, and others.

The rest of Sapolsky’s Standford University lectures are not on the midterm of Dr. Childress.  Bear in mind that I already know the material.  I watched them anyway, and I learned more.  Because ignorance is never acceptable when working with children.

What’s your excuse for your ignorance?  Is understanding child development not important to working with children?  Is understanding the neuro-development of the brain too difficult? 

Then you are ignorant of child development, and you need to go away and not work with children, or you should follow the instructions of people who are not ignorant and who do understand child development – including the neuro-social development of the brain across its various phases and processes.

Do you understand intersubjectivty?  “What’s that?” you say.  I know.  You don’t know what that is, do you?  You don’t know what you’re doing, do you?… I know.  That’s a problem.

Do you understand the roles of attunement and misattunement in the joint construction of meaning?  Do you understand the processes of affect regulation and dysregulation, and its treatment?  Do you understand the neuro-social processes of identity formation and stabilization within the variations across the developmental stages of childhood? 

If not, then I cannot even have a professional-level discussion with you.  You are too ignorant (lacking knowledge or information).

You do not understand child development, the scientific research on child development… you don’t know any of it.  That’s a serious problem if you are working with children whose lives hang in the balance of your knowledge or ignorance… because you’re ignorant.

Dr. Sapolsky’s class is an undergraduate course.  You are not even at the level of an undergraduate student if I cannot discuss the role of the limbic brain, particularly and especially the amygdala, prefrontal cortex, and the vagus nerve of the autonomic nervous system.

I have to first educate you in order to have a professional-level discussion with you. That’s not okay.  I shouldn’t have to educate you, you should already be educated before – before – you start to work with children.

Start with van der Kolk’s two day course-seminar from PESI in trauma and complex trauma.  As a preliminary assignment, watch Sapolsky’s Stanford University lecture on the Limbic System.  Google Polyvagal Theory; Porges.   You will ultimately be headed toward Tronick and Stern (intersubjectivity), this will include Trevarthan and Fonagy.

Oh… know Bowlby.  Read all three volumes on attachment, know Lyons-Ruth, buy and know the Handbook on Attachment.

I would consider all of this an assignment for a post-doc.  If you do not know this information, you are not ready to begin work with children… you are not ready to even – begin – not even begin – your work with children if you do not know this information about child development.  You are ignorant, which means you will be incompetent.

If you were my post-doc and didn’t know this information, I would not let you have patient contact until you knew this information.  Not only would I be supervising your work because you’re still in training, I wouldn’t even let you work with child patients until you knew this information.

Google ignorance: lack of knowledge or information

Do you know Sapolsky and van der Kolk?  Cicchetti and Lyons-Ruth?  Stern and Tronick?  Then you lack knowledge or information, you are ignorant.

Ignorance solves nothing. Ignorance is unacceptable professional practice when you hold the lives of children in the balance of your knowledge and ignorance.

Google incompetence: inability to do something successfully; ineptitude.

Can you resolve interpersonal conflict?  Then do it.  You can’t, can you.

You can’t do it because you lack knowledge about how to do it, about how to resolve conflict.  You are ignorant.  And because of your ignorance, you are unable to solve the parent-child conflict, you are unsuccessful, you are incompetent.

Google sloth: reluctance to work or make an effort; laziness.

Have you watched Sapolsky’s Stanford University lecture on the limic system, available for free on YouTube?  Have you watched all of Dr. Sapolsky’s Standford University course lectures?  Have you taken Bessel van der Kolk’s two-day course from PESI on trauma and complex trauma?  Or are you reluctant to work and make an effort? Are you lazy and slothful?

Google negligence: failure to take proper care in doing something; (law) failure to use reasonable care, resulting in damage or injury to another.

Did you use proper care?  Or are you ignorant, incompetent, and slothful?  Did your ignorance, incompetence, and professional sloth result in injury to the parent, harm and damage to the child?

Do any of those words apply to you?  Ignorance, incompetence, sloth, or negligence?

Do you lack information and knowledge, are you unable to solve the family conflict because you lack knowledge and information about how to do that, and do you fail to know this knowledge and information because you are reluctant to make an effort, you’re lazy, and then this causes harm, causes injury to the child and the parent, because you failed to take proper care in first learning about child development and parent-child conflict and bonding – before – you started to work with children.

None of those words apply to me.  I work with children.  None of those words apply to me.

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

Complex Trauma & Bessel van der Kolk

Professional practice with court-involved family conflict surrounding divorce requires competence in five domains of professional psychology:

  • Attachment
  • Family systems therapy
  • Personality Disorders
  • Complex trauma
  • Neurodevelopment in childhood

Leading figures in each of these domains would be:

John Bowlby, Mary Ainsworth: attachment

Salvador Minuchin, Murray Bowen: family systems therapy

Aaron Beck, Otto Kernberg, Theodore Millon, Marsha Linehan: personality disorders

Bessel van der Kolk: complex trauma

Edward Tronick, Daniel Stern: neurodevelopment of the brain

Trauma & Complex Trauma

Professional competence in the educational curriculium for trauma and complex trauma can be gained, and demonstrated on the vitae, through the PESI 2-day Continuing Education course from Bessel van der Kolk:

Bessel van der Kolk: The Body Keeps Score

It is my strong professional recommendation that all mental health professionals working with court-involved family conflict take this Continuing Education course from PESI to acquire and demonstrate current educational curriculum knowledge regarding trauma and complex trauma.

This two-day course from Bessel van der Kolk would not satisfy practice requirements as a trauma therapist, but would be sufficient for court-involved family conflict mental health professionals. Of note is that PESI offers a separate 75 hour Certificate Program in Traumatic Stress Studies.

Also of note regarding additional information, training, and competency in trauma and complex trauma is the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.

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

 

 

AFCC: Class Action Exposure?

The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC),is the professional organization for forensic psychologists and family law attorneys.  The AFCC specifically instructs child custody evaluators NOT to diagnose pathology.

The AFCC has published an instruction guide for child custody evaluations, the Model Standards of Practice for Child Custody Evaluations.

With this document, the AFCC has put their seal of approval, their imprimatur, on the practice of child custody evaluations.  I believe that is significant, because I wonder what sort of legal liability that establishes for the AFCC regarding the assessment procedure of child custody evaluation.

I’m not a lawyer, but as a psychologist I’d be worried if I were on the Board of Directors for the AFCC about the potential legal liability exposure this “Model Standards of Practice” creates for our organization.  If we’re telling people how to do it, and providing our professional credibility, name and status to the activity, then to what extent do we also incur legal liability responsibility for endorsing and recommending the practice?

If I’m on the Board of Directors as a clinical psychologist, I’m going to want our attorneys to offer an opinion on that, and I’ll want our attorneys to review our “Model Standards of Practice” with an eye toward legal liability exposure before we publish them and provide our organization’s imprimatur of support for the practice.

And, on the other hand, if I’m considering a class action lawsuit against the practice of child custody evaluations for essentially being a fraudulent financial racket (I’m not a lawyer, but if I were, I’d seriously look at a Rico violation with the AFCC as the organizing syndicate and the child custody evaluators as the capos), I’d be looking at linking the AFCC to the lawsuit specifically on this document, their Model Standards of Practice for Child Custody Evaluations.

Seems to me… they took ownership of the practice of child custody evaluations with that document.

Principle D Justice

The first problem the AFCC faces is that the practice of child custody evaluations is a foundational violation of Principle D Justice of the American Psychological Association ethics code.  Child custody evaluations, as a practice, are in violation of a foundational Principle of ethical practice, Justice, on two separate and independent counts.

Principle D: Justice
Psychologists recognize that fairness and justice entitle all persons to access to and benefit from the contributions of psychology and to equal quality in the processes, procedures, and services being conducted by psychologists.  Psychologists exercise reasonable judgment and take precautions to ensure that their potential biases, the boundaries of their competence, and the limitations of their expertise do not lead to or condone unjust practices.

Let’s begin to apply this Principle of professional ethics to the practice of child custody evaluations…

“fairness and justice entitle all persons to access to and benefit from …”

A typical child custody procedure costs between $20,000 to $40,000 for each evaluation. That financial cost places the practice of child custody evaluation beyond the affordability of all but the most affluent of families.  Since lower-income families are offered no alternative, they must turn to substandard assessments conducted by less qualified, and often unqualified, professionals because the more qualified professionals and assessments are cost-prohibitive.

The most expensive clinical psychology assessment for the most complicated child pathology (e.g., trauma with autism-spectrum and ADHD features, learning disabilities, involving prenatal exposure to drugs, foster care placement, and current behavioral problems) would cost around $5,000 and take between four to six weeks to complete, with a report, for a high-end comprehensive assessment.  A typical clinical psychology assessment for most pathologies costs about $2,500.

That forensic psychology cannot develop an assessment protocol for their “high-conflict divorce” pathology for less than $20,000 to $40,000 strains credulity, and raises prominent professional concerns about their exploitation of a vulnerable population, the class of parents in family court litigation surrounding child custody and visitation schedules.

Forensic psychology claims this population as their exclusive property, prohibiting any recommendation for child custody visitation schedules being offered by clinical psychologists based on any criteria OTHER than the conduct of their $20,000 to $40,000 child custody evaluation procedure.

As a treating clinical psychologist with full, direct, and ongoing knowledge of the pathology in the family, I can form a professional opinion on the relative benefits of different custody visitation schedules… I just can’t tell the court my opinion.  I am prohibited from telling the court my opinion unless I’ve conducted one of their $20,000 to $40,000 child custody evaluations.  Then I can tell the court my opinion.

Parents who cannot afford the excessive and obscene cost of a child custody evaluation are denied “access to and benefit from” quality professional input into their family litigation and the court’s decision-making.  That is a fundamental violation of Principle D… “fairness and justice entitle all persons to access to and benefit from …”, less affluent families are being denied “access to and benefit from ” the input of professional psychology.

The practice of child custody evaluations, endorsed with guidelines from the AFCC, is foundationally in violation of Principle D Justice of the APA ethics code for denying “access to and benefit from” quality professional input into their court-involved family conflict because the excessive and prohibitive financial cost of their immensely bloated and ill-conceived assessment procedures.

“fairness and justice entitle all persons to… equal quality in the processes, procedures, and services being conducted by psychologists.”

There is no inter-rater reliability to child custody evaluations.  This means that child cusody evaluations are not a valid assessment of anything, they are just the opinion of one person, the evaluator, based on no supported foundations.

The absence of inter-rater reliability means that different evaluators can reach entirely different conclusions and recommendations based on exactly the same family information and data.  Families are therefore denied “equal quality in the processes, procedures, and services” by the absence of inter-rater reliability to the procedure.

Two of the prominent experts in forensic psychology, Stahl and Simon, who literally wrote the book on child custody evaluations, published by the Family Law Section of the American Bar Association, acknowledge the high degree of variability in the quality of “services” delivered by child custody evaluators.

From Stahl & Simons: “The American Board of Forensic Psychology is a subspecialty board of the ABPP. In the fall of 2011, there were approximately 250-300 ABPP board certified forensic psychologists in the United States and an unknown number of psychologists who specialize in forensic work but are not board certified.  On top of that, there are many psychologists who dabble in forensic practice, occasionally performing child custody or other types of forensic evaluations, and who find themselves called to testify in court on occasion.  While we recognize that there is a range of quality in their work, it is clear that forensic psychology is a growing area of specialization.” (Stahl & Simons, 2013, p. 9)

Stahl, P.M. and Simon, R.A. (2013). Forensic Psychology Consultation in Child Custody Litigation: A Handbook for Work Product Review, Case Preparation, and Expert Testimony, Chicago, IL: Section of Family Law of the American Bar Association

The procedure of child custody evaluations violates Principle D Justice of the APA ethics code by failing to provide “equal quality in the processes, procedures, and services being conducted by psychologists.”  This is an openly acknowledge fact (“we recognize that there is a range of quality in their work”; Stahl & Simon, 2013).

To the extent that the AFCC issues Model Standards of Practice for Child Custody Evaluations they are providing recommended “Standards of Practice” for an unethical procedure.

Avoiding Diagnosis

Diagnosis is considered professional standard of practice in all cases.  Diagnosis guides treatment.  The treatment for cancer is different than the treatment for diabetes.  In order to develop a treatment plan and recommendations (any recommendations), we must first know what the pathology is, what’s the diagnosis?

The treatment for cancer is different than the treatment for diabetes.  Diagnosis guides treatment.

How can we possibly know what to do about a problem, until we first identify what that problem is.  The term “identify” is the common-language word for the professional term “diagnosis.”  We must first identify what the problem is in order to know how to fix it; we must first diagnose what the problem is in order to know how to treat it.

identify = diagnosis

fix = treatment

It is professional standard of practice to first diagnose (identify) the pathology before offering any recommendations about what to do.  If we don’t know what the problem is, if we haven’t identified (diagnosed) what the problem is, how can we possibly know what to do about it?

Failure to first diagnose (identify) what the pathology is prior to making recommendations about how to fix it (treatment or remedy) would be a violation of Standard 9.01a of the APA ethics code requiring that;

Standard 9.01a 9.01 Bases for Assessments
(a) Psychologists base the opinions contained in their recommendations, reports, and diagnostic or evaluative statements, including forensic testimony, on information and techniques sufficient to substantiate their findings. (See also Standard 2.04, Bases for Scientific and Professional Judgments.)

If the assessing evaluator has NOT even identified what the problem is (diagnosis), then the recommendations contained in their “reports, and diagnostic or evaluative statements, including forensic testimony” are not based on information “sufficient to substantiate their findings” because they don’t even know what the pathology is – they have not yet even identified – diagnosed – what the problem is.

In addition, the Model Standards of Practice for Child Custody Evaluations from the AFCC specifically instruct child custody evaluators to AVOID making a diagnosis.

4.6 Presentation of Findings and Opinions
(c) Evaluators recognize that the use of diagnostic labels can divert attention from the focus of the evaluation (namely, the functional abilities of the litigants whose disputes are before the court) and that such labels are often more prejudicial than probative.

While not directly prohibiting child custody evaluators from identifying what the pathology is (the “diagnostic label”) prior to offering recommendations to the court, the clear indication from the AFCC is that identifying pathology (the “diagnostic label”) is “often more prejudicial than probative” and should be avoided, because it “diverts attention” from the true focus of the assessment, which must be something other than identifying what the problem is and offering recommendations on how to solve it.

Diagnosis guides treatment.  We do not know what to do about a problem until we first identify (diagnose) what that problem is.  The treatment for cancer is different than the treatment for diabetes.

In addition to the deeply troubling prominent encouragement from the AFCC to avoid diagnosing pathology before making recommendations to the court, is the further troubling assertion from the AFCC that child custody evaluators should strive to influence the court’s decision-making by withholding from the court information about pathology that the custody evaluator thinks might be “prejudicial” to the case of the pathological parent.

The AFCC is recommending that the child custody evaluator preempts  the court’s authority to assess the relative value of a “diagnostic label” (identifying what the problem is), and that the child custody evaluator should instead independently weigh the relative “prejudicial” and “probative” value of disclosing to the court the identifying name for the pathology in a family, apparently to influence the court’s decision in favor of the pathological parent by withholding diagnostic information from the court’s consideration.

It is a deeply troubling role for a child custody evaluator to be making preemptive decisions on the relative prejudicial and probative value of diagnostic information in order to then withhold information from the court’s consideration that will influence the court’s decision in favor of a pathological parent, based solely on a decision made by the custody evaluator regarding the relative prejudicial and probative value of the information.

Not only is this diagnostic information withheld from the court’s consideration, it is also not disclosed to the parties.  This violates the rights of the non-pathological parent to present evidence to the court because the relevant evidence is being arbitrarily withheld from disclosure to the parent by the child custody evaluator, based on instructions made to the evaluator from the AFCC in their Model Standards of Practice for Child Custody Evaluations, Standard 4.6(c).

In issuing Model Standards of Practice for Child Custody Evaluations, to what degree has the AFCC assumed legal liability for the practice of child custody evaluations?

Principle D Justice
“Psychologists… take precautions to ensure that their potential biases, the boundaries of their competence, and the limitations of their expertise do not lead to or condone unjust practices.”

How?

How have child custody evaluators taken “precautions” to limit their “potential biases“?  What specific precautions in the child custody interview process has that child custody evaluator taken to limit the “potential biases” of the evaluator?

The mother in the case reminds the evaluator of his ex-wife, the tone of her voice, what she says.  She’s really irritating.  The custody evaluator doesn’t agree with the cultural parenting practices and values of one of the parents, he just doesn’t think that’s the right way to parent.

What precautions did that child custody evaluator take in that evaluation to limit the potential biases – many of them unconscious biases (the evaluator may have mommy-issues or daddy-issues, may have been sexually abused as a child and harbor unconscious anger toward “abusive men”).

What type of “precautions” are taken?  None.

Child custody evaluations take NO precautions to limit “potential bias.”

What “precautions” did the custody evaluator take to ensure boundaries of competence?

This is an attachment pathology, a child rejecting a parent.  Where on the custody evaluator’s vitae does it demonstrate background training and experience in assessing, diagnosing, and treating attachment pathology?

This is a family conflict pathology.  Where on the custody evaluator’s vitae does it demonstrate background training and experience in family systems therapy.  Or do they assert that family systems therapy, one of the four primary schools of therapy and the only one dealing with families… is not relevant to boundaries of competence.

Do they believe that knowing about families and how families function is not required knowledge for assessing, diagnosing, and treating family conflict pathology?

How has the custody evaluator taken “precautions” to ensure their boundaries of competence?  What precautions?

“…do not lead to or condone unjust practices.”

Do you mean like denying people “equal access to and benefit from the contributions of psychology and to equal quality in the processes, procedures, and services being conducted by psychologists”? 

That type of “unjust practice”?

In issuing Model Standards of Practice for Child Custody Evaluations, and placing their professional endorsement and imprimatur of credibility onto the practice of child custody evaluations, to what degree has the AFCC incurred legal liability relative to the practice of child custody evaluations in forensic psychology?

I don’t know, I’m not a lawyer.

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

 

Specialized Expertise

I tell everyone I’m not an “expert” – and that’s true. I’m just a clinical psychologist. I apply knowledge, I don’t create it. I would consider experts to be John Bowlby and Salvador Minuchin, Aaron Beck and Murray Bowen, Marsha Linehan for personality disorders.

I’m just a clinical psychologist. I’m an excellent clinical psychologist, but I’m just a clinical psychologist. I apply knowledge to solve pathology.

But in the court system, I’m an expert. I am in the role of providing the court with applied information from professional psychology to assist in the court’s decision-making.

I’m currently in discussions with an attorney about my possible role in the matter.  He wants me either to do the assessment personally (if the court will order the allied parent and child’s participation in my assessment), or the attorney wants my involvement as a consultant to an assessment performed by someone else because of my “specialized” expertise.

And I do have specialized expertise surrounding this pathology, in four pretty special domains.  I’m going to note them and the vitae citations to this specialized expertise.

1) Trauma and child abuse:

I served as the Clinical Director for a three-university collaboration in treating children ages 0-5 in the foster care system. I have assessed, diagnosed, and treated child abuse and trauma up close and personal, and I was responsible for leading the multi-disciplinary treatment team for these abused and traumatized children in foster care.

10/06 – 6/08:  Clinical Director
START Pediatric Neurodevelopmental Assessment and Treatment Center
California State University, San Bernardino
Institute of Child Development and Family Relations

2) Attachment pathology:

This vitae citation as Clinical Director for the children’s Assessment and Treatment center also establishes my background with attachment pathology, along with additional trainings in attachment-related diagnostic models and treatment interventions.

Certificate Program: Parent-Infant Mental Health: Fielding Graduate University, 1/14/08; 1/15/08.

Early Childhood Diagnostic System: DC:0-3R Diagnostic Criteria: Orange County Early Childhood Mental Health Collaborative.

Early Childhood Diagnostic System: DMIC: Diagnostic Manual for Infancy and Early Childhood. Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental and Learning Disorders: assessment, diagnosis, and intervention for developmental and emotional disorders, autistic spectrum disorders, multisystem developmental disorders, regulatory disorders involving attention, learning and behavioral problems, cognitive, language, motor, and sensory disturbances.

Early Childhood Treatment Intervention: Watch, Wait, and Wonder: Nancy Cohen, Ph.D. Hincks-Dellcrest Centre & the University of Toronto.

Early Childhood Treatment Intervention: Circle of Security: Glen Cooper, MFT, Center for Clinical Intervention, Marycliff Institute, Spokane, Washington.

10/06 – 6/08: Clinical Director
START Pediatric Neurodevelopmental Assessment and Treatment Center
California State University, San Bernardino
Institute of Child Development and Family Relations

3) Shared delusional pathology:

I have over 12 years of experience assessing and rating delusional-psychotic pathology from my time as a Research Associate with an NIMH-funded longitudinal research project at UCLA on schizophrenia.

9/85 – 9/98 Research Associate
UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute
Principle Investigator: Keith Nuechterlein, Ph.D.
Area: Longitudinal study of initial-onset schizophrenia

4) Munchausen by proxy:

The pathology traditionally called “Muchausen by proxy” is a DSM-5 diagnosis of Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another. This is a pathology that is nearly always confined to children’s medical centers, primarily Children’s Hospitals, as the child-patient continues to rise in the level of treatment care provided through the course of unresolved medical pathology (from the Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another).

I was trained as a pediatric psychologist at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA), including training in Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another (Munchausen by proxy), and I was on medical staff as a pediatric psychologist at Children’s Hospital of Orange County  (Choc).  I am expert in the assessment and diagnosis of Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another (for example, a parent imposing a delusional pathology on the child for secondary gain).

4/02 – 10/06: Pediatric Psychologist
Children’s Hospital Orange County – UCI Child Development Center

9/00 – 4/02 Postdoctoral Fellow
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

9/99 – 9/00 Predoctoral Psychology Intern – APA Accredited
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

Note that these are all work-experience vitae support for professional competence, not “Presentations Given” or attended.  I suspect there is not another clinical psychologist on the planet with this particular combination of directly relevant high-level professional work-experience, expertise in 1) complex trauma and child abuse, 2) attachment pathology, 3) delusional-psychotic pathology, and 4) Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another (Munchausen by proxy).

Plus, I am a family systems therapist familiar with all schools; Structural, Strategic, Bowenian, Millan, Contextual, Family of Origin, including post-modern narrative and solution-focused therapies.

Court-Orders for Consultation

The consideration offered in argument to the court is to allow me to consult with the assessing mental health professional surrounding the referral question:

Referral Question: “Which parent is the source of pathogenic parenting practices creating the child’s attachment pathology, and what are the treatment implications?”

My consultation support is necessary because of my specialized professional expertise in specialized areas of professional practice, each domain of specialized exertise supported by direct vitae work for a set of specifically relevant domains of pathology.

Work experience vitae support.

In addition, there is substantial vitae support for my involvement with court-involved family conflict and pathology (“parental alienation” and an attachment-based reformulation based in established knowledge).  Vitae support is provided by the first page of my vitae and from my publications regarding court-involved child and family pathology.

I am likely to be the best trained and most capable clinical psychologist on the planet to be assessing, diagnosing, and treating this complex court-involved family pathology surrounding divorce because of my specialized work experience expertise in multiple domains of highly specialized and directly relevant pathologies.

  • Trauma and child abuse.
  • Attachment pathology.
  • Delusional-psychotic pathology.
  • Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another.
  • Family systems therapy.
  • Court-involved family conflict.

I don’t anticipate that you will find anyone with a stronger work-experience expertise in the multiple domains of knowledge needed for professional practice with this pathology.

Moving forward, if someone wants the highest caliber possible of clinical psychology assessment of the pathology, that would be me.  However, it is not practical to take me from my private practice in Southern California for a week to conduct a trauma-informed clinical psychology assessment of this pathology.

Instead, a more reasonable use of my specialized professional expertise is through professional-to-professional consultation with the local-area assessing mental health professional, to provide for my additional specialized expertise and support to the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment recommendations.

As we move forward, it might be helpful for parents and their attorneys to request this consultation support from Dr. Childress in their requests for court orders surrounding assessment, that Dr. Childress be allowed to consult directly with the assessing mental health professional as needed.

I believe the argument for my involvement is sound, I believe my consultation support to the involved mental health professional will be valuable to developing solutions for the family and the court, and I believe this represents the most cost-efficient access to my specialized professional knowledge and expertise.

In the world of clinical psychology, I’m just a clinical psychologist, I assess, diagnose, and treat pathology.  In the world of court-involved clinical psychology, I have specialized professional expertise in multiple specialized domains of pathology that are useful and valuable for the court’s consideration.

We do not know how the court will rule regarding my consultation involvement with the assessing mental health professional in this pending matter.  If the opposing party wishes to engage their own consulting psychologist, that would be fine; one assessing psychologist and two consulting, one for each party.

In professional practice, that’s called a ”second opinion.”  That’s fine.

My court-allowed involvement as a consulting clinical psychologist for attachment-related family conflict may offer a valuable approach to my assisting in the assessment and resolution of complex family conflict surrounding divorce.

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

Standard 9.01a Assessment

You have rights, codified by the American Psychological Association code of ethics.  Let’s talk about Standard 9.01a Bases for Assessments.

9.01 Bases for Assessments
(a) Psychologists base the opinions contained in their recommendations, reports, and diagnostic or evaluative statements, including forensic testimony, on information and techniques sufficient to substantiate their findings. (See also Standard 2.04, Bases for Scientific and Professional Judgments.)


The APA ethics code is mandatory for all psychologists and violations to the APA ethics code are subject to sanctions from the state licensing board.

Violations to the APA ethics code mean, by definition, that you are an unethical psychologist.  When unethical professional practice results in harm to the patient, that is especially bad.

That’s why the APA ethics code has two Standards, 1.04 and 1.05, mandating my response as a clinical psychologist when I learn of potential ethical violations by other psychologists.  Violations to ethical practice are serious, they harm people.  When they result in substantial harm to the client, they are egregiously serious.

Standard 9.01 Bases for Assessment defines requirements for assessment.  Let’s examine Standard 9.01a more closely.  It states:

9.01 Bases for Assessments
(a) Psychologists base the opinions contained in their recommendations, reports, and diagnostic or evaluative statements, including forensic testimony, on information and techniques sufficient to substantiate their findings. (See also Standard 2.04, Bases for Scientific and Professional Judgments.)

1.)  Scope 

The first thing to note is that Standard 9.01a specifically references Standard 2.04 requiring the application of the “established scientific and professional knowledge of the discipline” (that would be the DSM-5, ICD-10, Bowlby (attachment), Minuchin (family systems therapy), Beck (personality disorders), van der Kolk (complex trauma), and Tronick (neuro-development of the brain in childhood)

Second, Standard 9.01a specifically mentions “recommendations” (such as custody recommendations and treatment recommendations), “reports” (such as custody evaluations and treatment reports), “and diagnostic or evaluative statements” – diagnosis is identifying pathology, evaluation is any sort of assessment – “including forensic testimony.”

“… including forensic testimony” – This standard covers the entire scope of professional assessment in all aspects – recommendations, reports, testimony, diagnosis.

2.)  Requirements

Now… recognize what is required: “Psychologists base their opinions on… “information and techniques sufficient to substantiate their findings” – then it specifically references Standard 2.04.

“…sufficient to substantiate their findings.”

Did the psychologist assess for IPV spousal abuse of the ex-spouse-targeted parent using the child as the weapon?

No.

Did the psychologist assess for a DSM-5 diagnosis of Child Psychological Abuse (pathogenic parenting creating pathology in the child)?

No.

Did the psychologist assess for a shared persecutory delusion between the child and the allied parent?

No.

Did the psychologist assess for a cross-generational coalition or multi-generational trauma in the family (Minuchin, Bowen; family systems therapy)?

No.

Then that assessment is not based on “information” “sufficient to substantiate their findings” because of their violation to Standard 2.04, referenced directly in Standard 9.01a.

3.) Cross-Examination

My recommended cross-examination of any mental health testimony offering “recommendations” and any “diagnostic or evaluative statements” is to ask the following series of questions:

Did you assess for IPV spousal abuse of the targeted parent using the child as the weapon?  How?  What were the findings?

Did you assess for a persecutory delusion in the child, that is also shared by the allied parent relative to the targeted parent, an encapsulated shared persecutory delusion?  How?  What were the findings?

Did you assess for a DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse from the child’s imposed and coerced role as a regulatory object for the allied parent?  How?  What were the findings?

Did you assess for a cross-generational coalition between the child and the allied parent?  How?  What were the findings?

Did you assess for multi-generational transmission of trauma creating an emotional cutoff in the parent-child bond (Bowen; Titelman)?  How?  What were the findings?

For good measure, I’d throw in a couple of lines at this point on family systems therapy:

Who is Murray Bowen?  Have you read his book, Family Evaluation?  Do you believe it is important to understand the functioning of families when assessing family conflict?  What is a triangle?  What is an emotional cutoff?  What is multi-generational trauma?  Are an emotional cutoff and multi-generational trauma linked?  How does the transmission of multi-generational trauma cause an emotional cutoff in the child’s relationship to a parent? (boundary violations from unresolved parental anxiety).  Is that what’s called an “enmeshed relationship”? (yes).

Who is Salvador Minuchin? (may I approach?) This is a Structural family diagram from Salvador Minuchin depicting a form of family pathology.  Are youSlide1 familiar with this diagram from Salvador Minuchin?  Can you please explain this diagram for us?  Are those three lines in Minuchin’s diagram what you were talking about regarding boundary violations and an enmeshed relationship with the parent and child? (yes).  Are those broken lines, those gaps, between the mother and father and mother and son, are those the emotional cutoffs caused by the over-close enmeshed relationship between the allied parent and child? (yes).

This line of questioning speaks to the requirement: “information… sufficient to substantiate their findings” as required – required – by Standard 9.01a for all of their reports, evaluative or diagnostic statements, and testimony.

4.) Violation of Standard 9.01a

“Psychologists base the opinions contained in their…” 

If they base their opinions on “information” that is NOTsufficient to substantiate their findings” (with a specific reference to Standard 2.04 requiring application of the “established scientific and professional knowledge of the discipline” – and this violation to Standard 9.01a causes harm to the client – to either parent or to the child – then this is an ADDITIONAL violation, an egregious violation, of Standard 3.04 Avoiding Harm.

It involves a cascading series of four ethical code violations beginning with a violation to Standard 2.04 requiring the application of the “established scientific and professional knowledge of the discipline.”

The reason they failed to apply knowledge, is that they failed to know knowledge (vitae), a violation to Standard 2.01a, they were practicing beyond the “boundaries of their competence.” 

Their failure to both know and apply the “established scientific and professional knowledge of the discipline” (violations to Standards 2.01a: know, and 2.04: apply) lead to their violation of Standard 9.01a – their assessment was not based on “information” (Standard 2.04) “sufficient to substantiate their findings.”  This causes substantial harm to the client (untreated IPV spousal abuse, untreated DSM-5 Child Psychological Abuse), a violation of Standard 3.04 Avoiding Harm.

5.) The Chain of Violations

Standards 2.04 – 2.01a – 9.01a – 3.04.  It is a causal link of professional failures from their professional ignorance and sloth.

Google ignorance: lack of knowledge or information.

Google sloth: reluctance to work or make an effort; laziness.

Google negligence: failure to use reasonable care, resulting in damage or injury to another.

Now add Standard 2.03:

2.03 Maintaining Competence
Psychologists undertake ongoing efforts to develop and maintain their competence.

The burden to develop (Standard 2.01a) and maintain (Standard 2.03) professional competence is on them.  It is not the client’s role to educate them, it is their obligation to ALREADY be educated and competent.

Violations to four requirements of the APA ethics code (five with Standard 2.03) represents unethical professional practice.  Unethical professional practice and their failure to know (Standard 2.01a) and apply (Standard 2.04) the “established scientific and professional knowledge of the discipline” represents a “failure to use reasonable care” that resulted in “damage or injury” to the person – harm, Standard 3.04, to their client.

6. Failure in their Duty to Protect

Their unethical professional practice also resulted in the failure of their duty to protect on two separate counts; 

1) IPV Spousal Abuse: failure to protect the targeted parent from IPV spousal abuse (using the child as the weapon, they didn’t even assess for IPV spousal abuse, which is a violation of Standard 9.01a);

2) Child Psychological Abuse: failure to protect the child from DSM-5 Child Psychological Abuse (a shared persecutory delusion created by the “primary case” of the allied parent), they didn’t even assess for it (a violation of Standard 9.01a.).

7. Standards 1.04 & 1.05

The annoying thing about truth is… it’s true.

I have obligations as a clinical psychologist mandated by Standards 1.04 and 1.05 of the APA ethics code when I “believe that there may have been an ethical violation by another psychologist.”

Part of my professional obligation as a clinical psychologist when I learn of potential “ethical violation by another psychologist” is to educate the consumer on their rights relative to the APA ethics code and potential licensing board oversight and remedy.

I do not want to see my professional colleagues harmed.  At the same time, compliance with the APA ethics codes is not optional, it is mandatory – required.  I have required obligations under Standards 1.04 and 1.05 of the APA ethics code, and part of that obligation is to educate the consumer who is subject of the potential ethical violations regarding the APA ethics code and their rights guaranteed under the APA ethics code.

In this case, Standards 2.04, 2.01a, 9.01a, 3.04, and 2.03.

I am fulfilling my required professional obligations with these parents pursuant to Standards 1.04 and 1.05 of the APA ethics code.

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

2020 – Goals for the New Year

My five goals for 2020:

1.  Diagnosis

We need to start getting an accurate diagnosis for this pathology so we can develop an effective treatment plan. The DSM-5 diagnosis is V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse, and the ICD-10 diagnosis is F24 Shared Psychotic Disorder.

2.  Resources

We need to develop local-area mental health resources for parents to efficiently assess, accurately diagnose, and effectively treat attachment-related pathology and complex trauma pathology surrounding divorce.

I will be initiating my training period from 2020-2022, offering a three-day training seminar in Southern California twice a year, spring and fall, for mental health professionals in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of court-involved family conflict.

My longer-term goal is for this next generation of professionals to then carry knowledge and conduct training in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of court-involved family conflict pathology surrounding divorce.  I train – you train is the fastest way to spread professional standards of practice.

These parents and children are immensely vulnerable because of their court-involved position.  These parents and children warrant the highest standards in the application of knowledge and professional standards of practice, not the lowest.

The court has an awesome and profoundly serious responsibility surrounding the family.  The decisions of the court regarding this family matter will have immense consequences for the lives of the child and the parents.  Professional responsibilities to the court in its decision-making warrant the highest standards in the application of knowledge and professional practice, not the lowest.

That is the standard I will be training to, twice a year in Southern California. 

My first training for mental health professionals will be extra-special, because I’ll be joined by Dorcy Pruter for a four-day collaborative training.  The mental health professionals who train with both of us will leave as the best trained professionals on the planet in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of complex court-involved family conflict.

We’re getting rid of “experts” and are instead establishing boundaries of competence for all mental health professionals working with court-involved family conflict pathology.  The standard of practice for professional competence is to know everything there is to know about the pathology, and then read journals to stay current.

In 2020, we will begin training to that standard.

3.  Research – CCPI

I would very much like to enlist some university-based research over here.

It is sorely needed.

There is zero actual-real research over here, and nearly everything is opinion pieces.  The only “research” are a few soft retrospective self-report studies with problematic operational definitions of constructs.

We need to get some actual scientifically grounded research over here.  My goal for 2020 and beyond is to get university-based researchers involved in collaborative pilot program research with the family courts for solutions.

In addition, I would like to get university-based researchers hooked up to Dorcy Pruter (through a Memorandum of Understanding; MOU) regarding trauma recovery and family pathology surrounding divorce.

She’s not a psychologist.  She’s not in a university doing research.  She’s a businesswoman, she’s a professional life and family coach, and she is out here actively recovering children from complex trauma and child abuse.  She’s not the one at the university doing research, that’s all of you.

I’ve worked with top-tier researchers at UCLA (Keith Nuechterlein, Ph.D.; schizophrenia) and UCI (Jim Swanson, Ph.D.; ADHD).  Those are both top of their respective fields.  I absolutely know what top-tier NIMH research looks like.  The research coming from a collaboration with Dorcy Pruter and the Conscious Co-Parenting Institute will be of that caliber.

She is not the principle investigator, that’s you.  She is a consultant collaborator through an MOU.  You’re the researcher, she’s the consultant in recovery from complex trauma.

On a scale of 1-to-100, I’d put Keith Nuechterlein and Jim Swanson at 98, I’d put Amy Baker’s research at about 10 and Jennifer Harman’s at about 5, retrospective self-reports on samples of convenience are just about worthless as research.  When I think research, I think the MTA multi-site research on ADHD or Sroufe’s longitudinal research on attachment, or Nuechterlein’s research on schizophrenia.

My professional estimate of the research potential from a major university collaboration with Dorcy Pruter and CCPI is that it would yield research product in the 90-95 range.  Superior and substantial.

Whoever develops a research collaboration with Dorcy Pruter and CCPI will be an incredibly happy researcher.  My professional estimate from my background with other research at UCLA and UCI is there will be at least 10 years of very productive trauma and attachment research from that collaboration, as well as substantial research on solutions for court-involved family conflict.

You’re the researcher.  That’s you.  She is a trauma recovery consultant on an MOU agreement.

Dorcy’s a businesswoman, a life and family coach, and a child of alienation herself.  She has a recovery workshop for complex trauma and child abuse that can fully recover the child’s healthy and normal-range development gently and in a matter of days. And she has more.

Her workshop approach has application across a range of trauma-involved pathologies, from substance abuse recovery to prison recidivism.  And she has more.

I’m hoping 2020 sees the emergence of research opportunities from university collaborations, both through university-led evaluation research of pilot program solutions for the family courts, as well as through separate MOU collaborations with Dorcy Pruter and CCPI across multiple levels.

4.  Vitae & Standards of Practice

The exploitation of these parents stops. The destruction of their lives, and the lives of their children, stops.

I’ll be bringing personal-professional “peer-review” and standards of practice to court-involved clinical psychology.  I am an old-school conservative clinical psychologist.  If you’ve ever seen the John Houseman character in Paper Chase…  My manner is gentler, but no less direct and clear.

I will begin this focus on improving standards of professional practice by focusing on vitaes.  To do this, I become the first review.  It is incumbent upon me to establish my professional foundations and qualifications to review the vitaes and professional practices of others.  I have. 

My vitae is available online for review: Dr. Chldress Vitae

I have a YouTube Series regarding my vitae: Dr. Childress: YouTube Vitae Series

I have background professional education, training, and experience, evident on my vitae, in the following domains:

  • Attachment pathology
  • Trauma and child abuse
  • Family systems therapy (all schools and theorists)
  • ADHD and school behavior problems
  • Oppositional-defiant and conduct disorder
  • Juvenile justice pathology
  • Autism-spectrum pathology
  • Pediatric psychology (including Munchausen by proxy; DSM-5 Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another).
  • Schizophrenia and psychotic disorders
  • Early childhood mental health and the neuro-development of the brain in childhood.

I consider the standard for professional competence is knowing everything there is to know about the pathology, and then reading journals to stay current.  That has been the accepted standard of practice everywhere I have ever worked.  I am asserting that personal standard for professional competence with the above pathology domains.

Now I wish to peer review my professional colleagues.

If you challenge my authority fine, lets hear your challenge.  Otherwise…

The financial rape and exploitation of these parents stops. The destruction of their lives and the lives of their children… stops.

I have prepared two evaluation instruments to assist in my analysis of professional reports:

This is consistent with my role as a clinical psychology consultant to parents and their attorneys.  I am currently and will be providing a review of mental health reports using these two instruments for the Custody Resolution Method.

This “Psychology Tagging” of mental health reports and vitaes is a stand-alone service offered through the Custody Resolution Method (Dorcy Pruter; CCPI), as well as an included service in their larger data-tagging of data sets offered through the Custody Resolution Method (CRM).

If parents or their attorneys believe it would be helpful to have the mental health reports in their matter reviewed directly by Dr. Childress using the Checklist of Applied Knoweledge and Vitae Documentation Form, contact the Conscious Co-Parenting Institute and ask about their “Psychology Tagging” of mental health reports.

5.  Dublin, 2020

I will be presenting in Dublin, Ireland April 18-19 at the Alex Hotel.  I will be joined by Dorcy Pruter.  On Saturday, I will discuss foundations, assessment, and diagnosis.  On Sunday, Dorcy Pruter and Dr. Childress discuss solutions.

I anticipate this is the last initiative I will take in Europe, and I will more directly focus my attentions on the United States and Canada.  I believe the emerging forces for change in the Netherlands are on a positive path of consideration, I would like to open up Spanish language translations and collaborations.

Our seminars in Dublin in April will bring excellence in professional knowledge and standards of practice to the British isles.  England is the home of John Bowlby and attachment. That they should be self-inflicting attachment pathology on their families is entirely unnecessary and deeply unfortunate.

I am hoping that Cafcass will take the opportunity afforded by Dr. Childress and Dorcy Pruter traveling to Dublin to attend and engage the dialogue on the application of knowledge and solutions.

We present on Saturday and Sunday.  During the week, the Gardnerian PAS “experts” have a full conference offering their perspectives.  This represents the perfect opportunity to hear both positions, side-by-side, consider, and make informed decisions on the path forward.

I am recommending the development of three pilot programs for the family courts (AB-PA/High Road is one, develop two more).  Recruit university involvement for implementation and evaluation research.  Implement the pilot programs, collect data, see what works. Do that.

In April, Dr. Childress & Dorcy Pruter travel to Ireland. Registration is available on my website, scroll down the page.

Dr. Childress & Dorcy Pruter: Dublin, April 18-19

1.  Diagnosis

I’d like to get my second book out and published in 2020, An Attachment-Based Model of Parental Alienation: Diagnosis.  We’ll see what happens.  These are milestones on the path, it’s like giving birth to children. Women, I feel your pain.  That – has to come ouf of – me?  I guess so.  You’ve heard the formulations and echoes in my Alliance posts this past year.

Foundations, Diagnosis, and Treatment.  I’m envisioning three.  We’ll see how much I can get done.

Clinical Psychology:  Assessment leads to diagnosis, and diagnosis guides treatment.  The assessment is always directed to the referral question.  What’s the referral question?  The assessment is designed around the referral question, the assessment answers the referral question.

Referral Question: Which parent is the source of pathogenic parenting creating the child’s attachment pathology, and what are the treatment implications?

That is a limited-scope and focused referral question that can be answered. Which parent is creating the child’s attachment pathology, and how do we fix it?

We need a treatment plan.  Treatment is guided by diagnosis.  You tell me the diagnosis, and I’ll tell you the treatment plan.

A persecutory delusion.  An echo of trauma and abuse from many years ago.  A shared persecutory delusion imposed on the child.  A shared delusion (ICD-10 F24 Shared Psychotic Disorder).

From the American Psychiatric Association:

From the APA: “Usually the primary case in Shared Psychotic Disorder is dominant in the relationship and gradually imposes the delusional system on the more passive and initially healthy second person… Although most commonly seen in relationships of only two people, Shared Psychotic Disorder can occur in larger number of individuals, especially in family situations in which the parent is the primary case and the children, sometimes to varying degrees, adopt the parent’s delusional beliefs.” (p. 333)

A shared persecutory delusion, use the BPRS to anchor the symptom rating. This is not new knowledge, there is no “new theory” – the established knowledge of professional psychology, the ICD-10 and the DSM-5

Pathogenic parenting that is creating a delusional-psychotic pathology in the child is a DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse.  Mental health professionals need to step-up to their professional obligations in diagnosis and the assessment of pathology.

The ICD-10 and DSM-5 are not new.  We need a treatment plan.  Treatment depends on diagnosis.  You tell me the diagnosis, and I’ll tell you the treatment.

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

 

 

Chowderheads, glaikit chowderheads one and all.

Am I saying the same thing over and over again?

Yes.

I do that a lot.  Say things over and over again.  Pretty much the same things.

My goodness gracious, I’ve been saying pretty much the same thing over and over since 2010.  Recently, when I moved my website and was moving essays over, there was an essay from 2010, same things.

Childress (2010) Negative Parental Influence and Spousal Conflict

“Within an alienation dynamic, the personality disorder with the alienating parent, and the re-enactment processes produced by the personality disorder, result in the development of encapsulated, persecutory, non-bizarre delusional processes regarding the abusive-inadequate nature of the targeted parent…” (Childress, 2010)

See that, “encapsulated, persecutory, non-bizarre delsusional processes”.. since 2010. Ten years, I’ve been telling everyone for… ten… years.  Exactly the same thing.  Truth is truth, knowledge is knowledge.  it hasn’t changed in 10 years, it’s not going to change in another 10 years.

“It is the child’s diagnosis of a Shared Psychotic Disorder that is the key feature of making the clinical diagnosis of a Parental Alienation Dynamic.” (Childress, 2010)

Why do I say the same things over and over again? I don’t know, you tell me. Why do I HAVE to say the same things – the same knowledge – DSM-5 – ICD-10 – for years?  Here is the definition from the American Psychiatric Association (notice the date for this citation, 20 years ago, this is not new knowledge).

From the American Psychiatric Association: “Persecutory Type: delusions that the person (or someone to whom the person is close) is being malevolently treated in some way.” (APA, 2000).

Does the child present as being “malevolently treated in some way” by the targeted parent?  Yes.

Is it a persecutory delusion?  Use the BPRS to anchor the symptom rating.  This is the description of the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale from Wikipedia:

From Wikipedia: “The Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) is a rating scale which a clinician or researcher may use to measure psychiatric symptoms such as depression, anxiety, hallucinations and unusual behaviour. Each symptom is rated 1-7 and depending on the version between a total of 18-24 symptoms are scored. The scale is one of the oldest, most widely used scales to measure psychotic symptoms and was first published in 1962.”

“One of the oldest, most widely used scales” – “first published in 1962” – “which a clinician or researcher may use to measure psychiatric symptons” – this is not new knowledge.

The rating of a delusion turns on the issue of “full conviction.”  The instructions for rating delusions (Item 11 Unusual Thought Content) direct the rater to “Consider the individual to have full conviction if he/she has acted as though the delusional belief was true.”

Has the child acted as though the false persecutory belief in supposed victimization – in being “malevolently treated in some way” – was true?

Yes.  Then the child has “full conviction” in the persecutory delusion.

The anchor point for a rating of 3 (non-delusional) states, “Content may be typical of delusions (even bizarre), but without full conviction.”

“Without full conviction” – the child has acted as if the persecutory belief is true, i.e., “full conviction,” the BPRS rating for the child’s persecutory belief is higher than a 3.

The anchor point for a rating of 4 on the BPRS states, “Delusion present but no preoccupation or functional impairment.”

Does the child’s persecutory delusion create “functional impairment”?  Yes, to the child’s family relationships and bonding.  Then the child’s symptom rating on the BPRS is higher than a 4.

The anchor point for a rating of 5 Moderately Severe states, “Full delusion(s) present with some preoccupation OR some areas of functioning are disrupted by delusional thinking.”

“OR some areas of functioning are disrupted by delusional thinking” – this appears to adequately capture the functional impairment of the child. The child’s rating on the BPRS is a 5 Moderately Severe persecutory delusion… at least.  Higher levels of preoccupation or functional impairment would elevate the rating.

The BPRS is from the 1960s, it is “one of the oldest, most widely used scales to measure psychotic symptoms.”  I should not have to be educating mental health professioals about the BPRS and the rating of delusional symptoms in order to have a professional-level discussion with them about their patients.

This is all – all – information they should ALREADY know, and that they should ALREADY be applying – at least – at least for the past 10 years (I told everyone in 2010, and again and again and again since then, even now, right now), and STILL they REFUSE to apply the DSM-5, the ICD-10, and the BPRS, “one of the oldest, most widely used scales to measure psychotic symptoms.

Am I that smart, or are they that stupid?  Is it me?  Am I some sort of brilliant human of superior intelligence?  Or are they simply stone-cold stupid? Ten years, at least, and even still today, right now, they continue to be… stone-cold ignorant.

Google the word “ignorant” here’s what you get:

adjective: ignorant

1)  lacking knowledge or awareness in general; uneducated or unsophisticated.

2)  lacking knowledge, information, or awareness about a particular thing.

By definition, they are ignorant. They are “lacking knowledge, information, or awareness about a particular thing.” They are ignorant.

Here are some of the synonym choices the google definition of ignorant gives me to select from in my description of these mental health people.

uneducated, unknowledgeable, untaught, unschooled, untutored, untrained, unlearned, unread, uninformed, unenlightened, unscholarly, unqualified, benighted, backward, inexperienced, unsophisticated, unintelligent, stupid, simple, empty-headed, mindless, pig-ignorant, thick, airheaded, (as) thick as two short planks, dense, dumb, dim, dopey, wet behind the ears, slow on the uptake, dead from the neck up, a brick short of a load, dozy, divvy, daft, not the full shilling, glaikit, chowderheaded, dumb-ass, dotish, dof

Glaikit (pronounced glay-kit; also spelt glaiket) is an adjective used to describe a stupid, foolish and thoughtless person or action. It is mainly used in Scotland and Northern England, like in: “Don’t just stand there looking glaikit, do something!”

So those are my choices to describe these mental health people.  All of them. If they are not applying and have not applied the DSM-5 and ICD-10… these are the descriptive terms Google says apply.

I like uneducated.  They are stone-cold ignorant.  How did they ever get out of school being this ignorant of knowledge and training.  I’d hold their graduate program accountable. Get their vitae, write their graduate program a letter saying what a lousy job they did educating this person, because they are simply pig-ignorant.

Unqualified most definitely applies.  Completely and totally unqualified to be doing what they’re doing, because they are so entirely pig-ignorant.  Yep, that one too.  I think that one is pretty spot-on.

Stupid.  That’s an option.  Ignorance is lacking knowledge, but ten years of lazy sloth, with the requirement of Standard 2.03 of the APA ethics code:

2.03 Maintaining Competence Psychologists undertake ongoing efforts to develop and maintain their competence.

That’s more than ignorance.  I think by this point, stupid applies. These mental health people are just stone-cold stupid. That’s descriptive.  I’m simply using the English language as the words of the language are defined.

Glaikit, what the hell is that?  Oh, yeah, that one too.  Don’t just stand there looking glaikit, get to work and diagnose the pathology. Stop being so pig-ignorant. What are you, stupid or something?

I guess so.

Or am I that brilliant?  Am I ten years more advanced, at least, than the average psychologist?  Am I some sort of Leonardo da Vinci making helicopters while the rest of the world is using swords and sticks?  Is it me? Am I that brilliant?

I’m going to go with them being that stupid. Just pig-ignorant chowderheads.  Seriously, if those are my choices for descriptive labels, they are a bunch of pig-ignorant cowderheads.

Why do I have to say the same things over and over again? Sloth and apathy. The persecutory delusion has always been there. Look, on the Diagnostic Checklist, it’s Diagnostic Indicator 3 – a persecutory delusion.

That’s from 2015. So I’ve been telling everyone about the persecutory delusion since 2015. Five years I’ve been saying – “This pathology is a persecutory delusion.”

Apathy and sloth.

Standard 2.03 of the APA Ethics Code:

2.03 Maintaining Competence Psychologists undertake ongoing efforts to develop and maintain their competence.

Apathy, sloth, and pure professional laziness. I shouldn’t even have to educate them.

The DSM-5 of the American Psychiatric Association and persecutory delusions are something they should ALREADY know.

Parents ask me, “How do I get a trauma-informed assessment?”  Honestly, with this crop of pig-ignorant chowderhead mental health people around you, I honestly don’t know.

How about family systems therapy – hmm, working with family conflict, you might want to know and apply family systems therapy. What do you think? Do you think that might be helpful?

Here… here is a diagram from Salvador Minuchin for exactly – exactly – this pathology.  It’s from 1993 – over 25 years ago – not new – 25 years ago – standard and established Slide1family systems therapy… for the past 25 years.

Do you see that “triangle” pattern?  Here’s what the Bowen Center website says about the Triangle:

From the Bowen Center: “A triangle is a three-person relationship system. It is considered the building block or “molecule” of larger emotional systems because a triangle is the smallest stable relationship system. A two-person system is unstable because it tolerates little tension before involving a third person.”

Do you see in Minuchin’s diagram how the child is being “triangulated” into the spousal conflict?  Do you see how the child has formed a “cross-generational” coalition with the father that elevates the child in the family hierarchy above the mother, to a position where the child judges the parent as if the parent were the child, and the child the parent?  That’s called an “inverted hierarchy,” a characteristic symptom of the “cross-generational coalition.”

Do you see those broken lines between the mother and father and mother and son? That’s called an “emotional cutoff.”  The emotional cutoff between the spouses, the mother and father, is the divorce.  The cutoff between the child and mother is the pathology created by the child’s cross-generational coalition with the father, in which the father is using a loyalty alliance formed with the child to require the child to similarly cutoff the mother.

See that, triangulation, cross-generational coalition, inverted hierarchy, emotional cutoff. all that in Minuchin’s 1993 Structural diagram for this type of family pathology?  See that?

Family systems therapy, one of the four primary schools of psychotherapy and the only one that deals with fixing family relationships, has been fully developed since the 1970s. Do you think the established knowledge of family systems therapy would use useful to apply in resolving family conflict?  Whaddya think?

Wait, is 1993 not current enough for you?  Do you want something more current?  How about this description from Cloe Madanes of the cross-generational coalition in her 2018 book, Changing Relationships: Strategies for Therapists and Coaches.

From Madanes: “ Sometimes cross-generational coalitions are overt.  A wife might confide her marital problems to her child and in this way antagonize the child against the father.  Parents may criticize a grandparent and create a conflict in the child who loves both the grandparent and the parents.  This child may feel conflicted as a result, suffering because his or her loyalties are divided.”

So have they ever applied family systems therapy to resolving the family conflict surrounding ongoing, high-conflict, court-involved child custody litigation?  No.

Why not?

Dead from the neck up?  Stupid?  Pig-ignorant?  Just standing around looking all glaikit while families are destroyed, while the lives of children are destroyed?  I don’t know, you tell me why no one has applied the knowledge of family systems therapy to the solution for the past 25 years, and why EVEN NOW, they are STILL not applying the knowledge of family systems therapy to solving family conflict.

Nor… nor… are they applying the established knowledge of the DSM-5 and ICD-10.  Nothing, they are applying no knowledge whatsoever, nothing.  Ten years of lazy, slothful, pig-ignorant, practice destroying the lives of children, destroying the lives of parents because these unqualified mental health people insist – insist – on remaining stone-cold stupid.  Completely ignorant chowderheads one and all.

Family Systems Therapy – DSM-5 & ICD-10.

Let’s talk for just a moment about the APA ethics code – required – mandatory for all psychologists – sanctions to license and potential malpractice for violating the APA ethics code.  There are no “optional” Standards in the APA ethics code for psychologists.

Standard 2.04 of the APA ethics code:

2.04 Bases for Scientific and Professional Judgments
Psychologists’ work is based upon established scientific and professional knowledge of the discipline.

That seems pretty clear to me.  Does that seem clear to you?  It seems pretty clear to me.

The DSM-5 and ICD-10 ARE the “established scientific and professional knowledge of the discipline.”  And, when assessing, diagnosing, and treating family conflict, family systems therapy IS the “established scientific and professional knowledge of the discipline.”

That’s not really in any rational dispute. That is reality.

And yet… none of them have ever applied the DSM-5 and ICD-10, and they STILL, to this very day, are not… and none of them have ever applied the constructs of family systems therapy to their “work” with family conflict, and STILL, to this very day, they are not.

They’re still not applying the knowledge, not “new knowledge,” the “established scientific and professional knowledge of the discipline,” what they should have been doing ALREADY for the past 25 years, at least, and they are STILL not applying knowledge.

Why do I have to say things over, and over, and over again?  I don’t know, why don’t you tell me.

Why do they stand by glaikit while families are destroyed, the lives of children are destroyed, the lives of parents are irreparably destroyed by their… pick your word… ignorance – uneducated incompetence – stupidity and sloth.  Pick your descriptive words for it.

Am I that brilliant?  Or are they that stupid?

Absolute chowderheads, dead from the neck up.  Stone-cold stupid.  Pick your term.

I think unqualified is very apt.

I can tell them exactly what the diagnosis is, exactly the symptom features to look for – my goodness gracious, I even make it a simple 3-item checklist of symptoms for them, check, check, check – and that’s still too complicated for them.  Just stone-cold stupid, ignorant, and entirely unqualified and incompetent.  Choose your words for it:

adjective: ignorant

1)  lacking knowledge or awareness in general; uneducated or unsophisticated.

2)  lacking knowledge, information, or awareness about a particular thing.

uneducated, unknowledgeable, untaught, unschooled, untutored, untrained, unlearned, unread, uninformed, unenlightened, unscholarly, unqualified, benighted, backward, inexperienced, unsophisticated, unintelligent, stupid, simple, empty-headed, mindless, pig-ignorant, thick, airheaded, (as) thick as two short planks, dense, dumb, dim, dopey, wet behind the ears, slow on the uptake, dead from the neck up, a brick short of a load, dozy, divvy, daft, not the full shilling, glaikit, chowderheaded, dumb-ass, dotish, dof

Glaikit (pronounced glay-kit; also spelt glaiket) is an adjective used to describe a stupid, foolish and thoughtless person or action. It is mainly used in Scotland and Northern England, like in: “Don’t just stand there looking glaikit, do something!”

In Foundations I describe every little detail of the pathology – down to words and sentences that are used.

How much simpler can I make it?  I can’t make it any simpler for them… and… still, nothing, not a lightbulb on in the attic, dense, dumb, dim, and dopey, I can’t make it any easier, and still… nothing.  No movement whatsoever north of the shoulders.  Pig-ignorant chowderheads.  Pick your term.

Unqualifed is apt.  So is incompetent.

When parents ask them, “Is a persecutory delusion present?” they’re told… “I’m not going to tell you.” That’s what they’re told, “I’m not going to answer that.”

Holy cow.  That is absolute stone-rock professional lazy and a complete abdication of professional responsibilities.  They absolutely refuse – refuse – to apply knowledge. “Is there a persecutory delusion present?” – I’m not going to tell you.

All the Gardnerian folk have been pig-ignorant for years and years.  They’ve known about the diagnosis from my work since 2012-2013, and it is also information they should ALREADY know. The DSM-IV was not a secret, a Shared Psychotic Disorder and persecutory delusions were not secrets.

I told them. Did they do anything?  Did they apply knowledge?  No.  We still have people like Karen Woodall who think they’re “discovering” new pathology, coming up with new names for things she thinks she’s “discovering.”

Does she give an ICD-10 diagnosis of F24 Shared Psychotic Disorder and a DSM-5 diagnosis of V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse?

No. Why not? That’s the diagnosis.

I honestly don’t know. She just refuses to apply knowledge. The ICD-10 and DSM-5 – nope, not going to do it.

Since 2013 – 2015 – 2018 – years and years, I’ve been saying exactly the same thing.  Do they listen?  No.  They just stand around glaikit, doing nothing while familes are destroyed, chldren and parents are abused, their lives destroyed irrevocably.

Do they tell us why they don’t apply knowledge – like the ICD-10 and DSM-5?  No.

They just… don’t.

Listen, no one is ever-ever going to say, “Hey, maybe we should give this Gardner PAS thing another look-see.”  That has been fully and completely reviewed – most recently in 2013 (7 years ago – seven years ago) by the American Psychiatric Association, and they said “No.”  Years ago, time to move on from that failed construct.

The American Psychiatric Association said no, there is no such thing as “parental alienation.” So, did any of the Gardner people, Bill Bernet, Amy Baker, Demosthenes Lorandos, did any of them start to apply the ICD-10 and DSM-5?

No.  They’re still telling people about Gardner’s PAS from the 1980s.  Just incredible.  Like rocks.  Just absolute rocks.

What about the other half, the forensic psychology people, all the “evaluators” and “reunfication therapists” who surround your families, what about them?

Same. They’re the ones telling parents, “No, I’m not going to even assess for a persecutory delusion in the child.”

Uhhh, okay.  Shall we ask the plumber to diagnose pathology then?  If not you, who should we go to for a diagnosis of pathology?

Seriously, that’s their job – that’s what the license means, they are “licensed” by the state to diagnose pathology – does the child have a persecutory delusion?  I’m not going to tell you.  Just incredible.

Then you’re pretty worthless aren’t you.  I guess we’ll have to find someone who does diagnose pathology because we need to know if this child and parent are psychotic.

Makes my head explode.  Blatant ongoing violations to Standards 2.04, 2.01a, 2.03, 9.01a, and 3.04 of the APA ethics code.  Do they care?  No.  Complete disregard for the Standards of the APA ethics code.

Completely and entirely unethical professional practices.  In 2018, we directly told the American Psychological Association in a Petition to the APA signed by 20,000 parents describing the multiple ethical code violations rampant throughout forensic psychology.

What’s been the response of the APA in two full years?  Nothing.  Complete and total silence.  They didn’t even deign to give these parents a reply.  Nothing.  Complete and total silence.

I shouldn’t even have to educate them.  Just rocks.

Why?  Why are they such completely pig-ignorant, unqualified, chowerheads?  I know why.  These are my people, psychologists.

Why are they not applying knowledge?  Because they are exploiting parents, financially raping parents, then discarding them when their money runs out.

They solve nothing. They fix nothing. They just run through these families, one after the other, moving them down a path of family destruction.  They don’t care. They are making their money, they don’t care.

And.. they are collaborating in the pathology.  They are actually part of the abuse pathology… a shared delusion.  If you do not see the persecutory delusion, if you also believe the persecutory delusion, then you are PART of the… first word… Shared Psychotic Disorder – the shared delusional disorder.

Oh my god, do you have any idea how bad that is?  When the mental health person is PART of a shared psychosis with the patient?

That’s bad.  That is seriously incompetent – beyond incomptent.  They are part of the pathology that is abusing the parent.  Abusing… the.. parent – they are collaborating in the abuse of their patient.  The mental health person is assisting – assisting – in the emotional abuse of the parent – their client.

That’s bad, soooo bad.  Oh my god, my head… it just explodes.

Does the APA care?  No.  Does the AFCC care?  No.

I went directly to the AFCC national convention in 2017, told them all about it.  My slides from that talk with Dorcy at the National Convention of the AFCC are up on my website (AFCC Childress & Pruter Powerpoint; 2017).  I told them, the AFCC, at their National Convention three years ago, explained everything.

Did they do anything?  No.  Are they STILL – PART – of the pathology, are they STILL collaborating and participating in the savage and brutal emotional abuse of their clients?  Yes.

Years.  Not months, years.  Thousands and thousands of emotionally abused and traumatized parents, thousands upon thousands of children abandoned to the pathology of their parent, left in a Shared Psychotic Disorder with a deeply pathological parent.

Misdiagnosis, rampant incompetence, abject ignorance, complete sloth and professional indolence, lazy, slothful, ignorance… for years.

They should already know everything.  I did, back in 2010 I posted an essay that describes it (Parental Alienation as Child Abuse; Childress, 2010).  In 2015 I published a book, Foundations, that describes the pathology in every detail. In 2017 I went and told the AFCC directly at their National Convention. In 2018 I went and told the APA directly in the Petition to the APA.

So… the question is… why am I saying the same thing over-and-over again?  Because of their… pick your word, I like pig-ignorant stupidity.  I think that’s apt.

My question to you is, why do I HAVE to say the same things over and over again?  This is not new, it is the ICD-10 diagnostic system of the World Health Organization – the standard diagnostic system used everywhere – and the DSM-5 diagnostic system of the American Psychiatric Association.

The “established scientific and professional knowledge of the discipline” (Standard 2.04)

And they refuse, for years and years and years.

Even now.  Even now, today… ask the involved mental health professional, “Does the child have a persecutory delusion?” – go ahead, ask them.

Instead, parents ask me, “Where can I find someone to apply the ICD-10 and DSM-5?” Honestly, over here, I haven’t got a clue.

In 2020-2022 I’ll begin my training seminars. I don’t know how much I can do if they don’t care to be ethical, all of them, if they don’t care to apply knowledge, if they are rock-solid ignorant chimps.

I should NOT have to educate a mental health professional about the pathology in order to have a professional-level discussion about that pathology – they should ALREADY know.  Do you know what it’s called if I have to educate you in order to have a professional-level discussion with you about your patient?  Unqualified.  You are unqualified to be treating your patient.

First learn what you are doing, and THEN start treating patients, not the other way around.  Oh my god, that I would even need to say that is insane professional indolence and pure professonal sloth.  You figure you’ll just come here to these families, take their money, solve nothing, leave destroyed families, childhoods, and the devastated lives of parents, and you don’t even care.

I have made it as easy as I possibly can for them, spoon feeding simple basic stuff.  Still, they do not lift a finger on their own to learn and apply knowledge.

2.03 Maintaining Competence Psychologists undertake ongoing efforts to develop and maintain their competence.

Do they care?  Not a whit, not a one of them.

Pick your term.  Unethical, unqualified, pig-ignorant, works for me.

Chowderheads, glaikit chowderheads one and all.

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

PBS Space Time

There are marks along the path, events of significance.  I believe the Australian Amicus Submission represents one of these marker points, a landmark to guide the path of solution.

I am taking this opportunity to speak to others, not to you. I will speak to a line segment they already see.

I seek knowledge, and I have acquired knowledge.  I will discuss knowledge another time, perhaps.  I merely want to note a passing landmark, that can provide guidance across multiple levels, both now and later.

I will reference only one link.  I do not wish to detract from current focus.  Life moves through now, we have our tasks, our roles.  I do not wish to distract focus, and yet I want to speak to those who will come later, who will see from hindsight, rather than foresight.

Markers, events within a broader flow.

I will reference only one link, I’m not speaking to you.

PBS Space Time: Are Space and Time an Illusion?

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

I’m a dead guy, no worries

I’m a dead man.  These people around me now, they think I’m alive.  But you, the one who’s reading this, you understand.  I’m dead, right?   See.  They don’t understand.  You do.

They think we have time. It’s that death delusion thing – existential psychology – our inherent fear of death, of impermanence.  We lose everything we hold dear… time… the inexorable march of time, sand slipping through our hands even as we try to hold on to the moments.

Grief and loss. We avoid the sadness and grief at understanding by going delusional… la-la-la, things are going to be the same forever.  There’s time, there’s always time.

No.  There’s not.  You understand.  I’m dead.   See.  All done.  They don’t understand.

I’m going to try to wake them up a bit on that, because I’ve only got a bit of time left, a moment.  We’ll see if I can awaken some of them, maybe we can get a little bit more accomplished before I leave.  How’d I do?  You know.  Did any of them wake up?

Doesn’t matter, not my worry.  I’m dead.  They may be too by this time.  You can see what I was doing,  Man, that ignorance and sloth is just a killer.  Of all the monsters I’ve tackled, that ignorance and sloth one over here, it’s like that big, dumb, troll ogre thing, uhhhhhggg.  That combination, ignorance and sloth, jeeze.  Reminds me of neglect trauma.  I hate neglect trauma.

Ignorance and sloth, boy-oh-boy that’s a tough combination.

And then there’s the transference dream.  Wow, that is an interesting one.  To have a transference dream at this scope, and they don’t see it. They are psychology people and they don’t see the transference.  Captured.  So I’m basically doing psychoanalytic therapy on all of professional psychology.

For a clinical psychologist, that’s a challenge of a career.  You understand.  You see.  Once we clear the dream… Doesn’t do me much good now.  I have a moment.  Maybe three.  How many do I have?  You know. 

I’m going to assume one.  I will do one last thing.  Then, if I can, I’ll do two, and if I have time three.  How many did I get to?  That’s a shame. There was so much more.  Oh well.  I’m not doing this again.  Get someone else next time.  That ignorance and sloth, the savage cruelty.  I’m done.  Last assignment.  I don’t like it here.

I’m tired.  It’s taken a lot to get here.  Expose that which is hidden.  

I’m ready.  I’m done.  I was worried at first whether I’d have enough time. That was why I kicked out that first set of YouTubes.  Triage.  Seriously, that’s what that was.  I’m trauma guy, I get over here and there’s massive-massive trauma, I immediately jumped into triage mode. What’s the fastest way to get the knowledge to the people who need it… YouTube.

Once I had the YouTube up, I had a little time, but this is active abuse and trauma, these patients are bleeding out and dying, all over the place. There are parents who haven’t seen their kids in 10 years. TEN YEARS, oh my god.  And other’s are still in active abuse trauma, with kids, ten-year olds, 14-year-olds, kids who they haven’t seen in years.  Oh my god, that’s awful.  And kids, not receiving the love of mom or dad… for YEARS.  Oh my god, this is the worst thing I’ve ever seen.

This is the worst thing I’ve ever seen, and I’ve just come from child abuse trauma in the foster care system – early childhood no less – three year olds who have been sexually abused by meth addicts, five year olds beaten with electrical cords… I left that, entered private practice, wandered over here out of curiosity and,..

Oh – my – god.  This is the worst thing, the worst abuse and trauma, ongoing abuse and trauma, that I have ever seen.  I’m a clinical psychologist.  I’m working, start with triage, get them the IV of knowledge set up, see if we can save a few while we figure out how to stop this.

And these psychology people are acting like this is all okay.  Holy cow.  That’s nuts! What’s going on, oh my god it’s trans-generational trauma and it’s captivated all of them in the transference dream… the “bad parent” needs to be “punished” – they “deserve” to suffer, oh my god, we have that brutality and abuse line… active… by the mental health people.  They are participating in the abuse of these parents.

Oh my god.  The mental health people are being used as a tool, an instrument, of the abuse. And its unconscious.  They are captivated in the transference, they don’t see.

How’d that happen.  Trans-generational trauma, it caught them on their counter-transference. But where’s their empathy?  Dang.  They have none. These mental health people have zero empathy for the suffering of these parents, and they have no understanding for the child, zero-zero empathy for the child.

Absence of empathy, abuse. We’re spot on into a narcissistic abuse trauma, active, ongoing, with the mental health people as a primary instrument of the abuse.  The mental health people are a weapon of abuse.  The child is the primary weapon, and the mental health people are collaborating in it.

Dang.  I can’t just walk away from these parents, these children.  I can’t walk away from the kids.  I’ve got to do something… okay.

Dang.  Where do we start?  Triage.  Let’s get the solution into them as fast as possible, use knowledge to solve pathology, diagnosis, let’s get them that as fast as possible.

Then I studied the pathogen.  I studied the history of Gardner and the response.  Why are they using such an awful-awful model rather than just applying knowledge?  Oh, psychiatrists, Master’s level, they’re not psychologists.  Where are the psychologists?  Forensic psychology. So, then, what are they doing?

Oh my god.  That is awful.  They are just making stuff up, they are applying zero knowledge from anywhere, WHAT? $40,000 for an assessment?  That is an OBSCENE financial rape of these parents.  And look at what they are. That is the WORST assessment of anything I’ve ever seen, smoke and mirrors – oh my god these forensic people are just raping these parents, financial rape, bend over and take it… they are the most foul professionals…

Ethics.  That’s where we’ll have to go with them. There is an actual APA ethics code.  They are disgusting filth as psychologists.

But they are powerful.  They have puffy vitaes of emptiness, they are a collective, they will protect their rape of these families.  Oh my god… this is a rippling of sex abuse trauma – rejecting a parent – the shame line.  These parents are the little girl.  They are being isolated by forensic psychology, that threat to licensure isolating the victim from clinical psychology, a “special” field of psychology just for this population, this vulnerable population.  And these parents are being abused by the psychologists, raped, financially raped in their vulnerability.

Disgusting, foul and disgusting.  These are the lowest form of professional – I’m not even going to call them professionals anymore.  They are abusing their patients for financial gain, for their counter-transference cruelty –  the “bad parent” deserves to suffer.  Filth and corruption, inside them.

This is a ripple of sex abuse trauma.  Straight up on the borderline, probably to the mother of the narcissistic line.

The solution is the application of knowledge.  There are a lot of powerful vested interests.  We’ll see how the Gardnerian “experts” respond when I bring knowledge and its solution.  If I can get their support that’d be helpful when I go up against forensic psychology.  Forensic psychology is going to be exceedingly dangerous, the pathogen inhabiting them has power in its positions of authority.  I’ll have to find ethical psychologists in these organizations.

I need to get out into the light and stay there.  When I take on these disgusting forensic filth, I’m going to need to be fully in the light of day, because they are going to want to hurt me and destroy me, to maintain their financial rape hidden and unseen, their rape and exploitation of these parents, and the abandonment of these children to child abuse.  They don’t want that exposed.  They will try to hurt me.  I must stay in the light.

I must find ethical psychologists to stand with me.  How’d I do?  Did anyone stand and speak?  Did anyone come to these families and children?  I know… eventually.  That makes me sad.

That’s who the battle is going to be with.  The power of forensic psychology. They have the AFCC and the APA, a Division in the APA.  They own the power structures. They’re solidly anchored in the courts.  I am going to have to expose and take out an entire field of professional psychology.  A very powerful field, who have zero ethics, zero standards of practice, and who have been violating the APA ethics code wantonly and with no regard at all for what’s right or wrong, for decades.  And they own the APA.

This is going to take some time to get ready. 

Sheesh, what are those?  What?  Flying monkeys?  Pretty good term for ‘em.  Yeah, its that counter-transference delusional thing.  We’re into delusion and trauma world here.  We’re entirely transference, pretty much everyone.  These monkeys though, boy, they’re a dangerous lot in their psychotic nonsense.

Ahhh, jeeze.  You know what… that monkey line is in forensic psychology and the family courts too, isn’t it?  This is really dangerous.  Active narcissistic and borderline pathology in litigation with an attorney surrounding exactly the transference trauma, and colluding narcissistic professionals in both mental health – upper echelons – and the legal system.

And I’m just me.  Hmmm.  Hardly seems fair.  Maybe they should get some more help.

Okay. Gotta take on the ignorance, sloth, and power – abusive and dangerous power – of forensic psychology.  We’ll see if I can get some help from the parents’ current allies, these Gardnerian PAS people.  I’ll bring over knowledge and solution and see what’s up with them.

They’re captured too.  Everyone’s captured by their narcissistic inflation, the Gardnerians, the forensic puffy vitaes, although theirs is more just the financial rape of these parents, my goodness gracious, $20,000 to $40,000 for that worthless piece of crap that isn’t even a valid assessment… there’s a bunch of narcissistic pathology in forensic psychology no doubt, but mostly it’s just rape and exploitation.

It’s the absence of empathy in forensic psychology that is just chilling… and so wrong. We’re psychology – we are empathy – and we most definitely do NOT traumatize our patients.  They do.  All the time.

Isolate the victim, alone, away from resources and help, “out in the woods,” so you can abuse them.  Keep them silent through shame.  And the only allies they have are leading them into the worst model of a pathology ever developed in the history of mankind, and they’re being made to prove a pathology, to a judge, a legal professional, at trial, an expensive-expensive trial. Rather than simply get a diagnosis. 

Persecutory delusion, Shared Psychotic Disorder. DSM-IV.  Persecutory delusion, Child Psychological Abuse, DSM-5.

Wow, I’m going to have to kill this PAS construct first. These PAS “experts” aren’t going to like that.  They have their personal and professional identities all wrapped up in being “experts” in “parental alienation.”  They’re not going to like me taking away their status and standing that they gain from their “new pathology” thing.  Plus they’ve got that “Star Wars” rebel alliance against the evil empire thing going, they’ve been captivated by an archetype – jeeze, the transference is just everywhere.

Hi, who are you?  Dorcy?  What’s up, what do you have there?  Hey, that’s pretty good. Excellent as a matter of fact.  Once we get outta here, there are potentially some pretty nice things that can be done with that approach in other trauma areas.  What’s that about prison recidivism, you have done this approach in a prison population and reduced recidivism by 80%?  Okay, you’re coming with me.

What’s with all the monkeys?  Dang, they’re just swarming you.  Okay.  You’re like a monkey magnet, you should should give them pet names or something, except that they’re so incredibly dangerous – delusional splitting with righteous overtones.  THAT is a dangerous psychology.  When we’re in delusional world… one of them is erotomanic – that’s stalker world thing.  Be safe.  Your safety is most definitely at risk with this pathology. 

And what’s up with all the disrespect to you from the Gardner people?  You’d think they’d want your help, you have the solution in your hip pocket, you’re being swarmed by monkeys because of it, and they are not lifting a finger to help, and instead are trying to exclude your from their weird little narrcissistic “experts” club.

Okay, whatever.  I have strong doubts about the professional character of these Gardnerian “experts” – I think it’s just exploitation everywhere.  Okay, you just stay close to me and I’ll tell everyone the truth, I’m a clinical psychologist, that’s what we are, truth-tellers.  If you need a statement from me, no worries.  High Road will recover and does recover children from complex trauma and child abuse.

That is a fact.  I’d call it an elegant approach, and I want to extend its application to other areas of complex trauma and abuse recovery, like substance abuse recovery and prison recidivism.  Whoever in research world works with Dorcy will be a happy human. 

So let’s get you over to the AFCC people to tell them about what you do, they’re the ones on the “chain of command” who should hear about what you’re doing,  It’s substantially remarkable and wow.  So they should know about it.  They won’t listen because they are low-life disgusting pond scum, but it’s the right thing to do, for us to do.  Give them the opportunity so that if they weren’t low-life disgusting pond scum, which they are, they could develop your approach and extend it more fully into the solutions available for the family courts.

Okay, now let’s get you over to the APA, Division 24 Theoretical.  Those are the folks who need to hear about this. We’ll take it to them on the trans-generational trauma line.

What’s that?  A kid relapsed when contact with the abusive parent was restored and you’re headed out to recover the kid… a second time?  You can do that, recover the kid just like that, in day or so, a second time?  Okay then.

Because that allows for a single-case ABAB clinical intervention – and, wow.  That’s the best there is.  A-baseline, B-High Road, A-baseline, B-High Road.  Causality is a lock, and we leave the child fixed.  Okay, let me write that up.  That’s excellent.

What’s that?  You’ve got another one?  A parenting curriculum?  Okay, let’s see that?  Wow, that’s excellent too.  Professional psychology will want to hear about that too.  You’re a regular little force of nature aren’t you.  We’ll have to find you some university collaborators, and oh my god, they’re gonna love you.  You generate data, that’s magnificent.  Evidence based practice, these researchers are going to love you once we get the two of you hooked up.

These ignorant mental health people are still maybe a decade away from a single-case ABAB, they’re still on fire, “fire good,” so we have to get them caught up through wheel and internal combustion engine, but when they eventually get there, that’s really good.

With the publication of Foundations, I’m ready to take on forensic psychology.  Let’s tell everyone where we’re going.  Filmed some YouTubes, wake up, wake up.  The learned helplessness in these parents is pretty dense.  Understandable, inescapable trauma.  But boy, they are inert.  Wake up!  Wake up!

The pathogen has these parents believing that they have to “prove something” to someone – that’s the transference thing, putting the “bad parent” on trial.  Jeeze louise, that transference just has everyone captured.  We’re gonna have to wake up parents that, no, you don’t need to prove anything, you need a diagnosis of pathology so we can develop a treatment plan to fix things.

Where do they get a diagnosis?  Ahhhh jeeze… from the forensic people.  Okay, hold that thought.  We’re gonna need to get you some actual mental health people to diagnose the pathology for you, forensic psychology… get this… refuses to diagnose pathology, they say it’s “prejudicial” to the pathological parent. Does that make logical sense to you?  It doesn’t to me, but nothing makes sense over here, it’s all delusional transference dream… literally everywhere.

So I pop out the six-session treatment focused assessment protocol.  Toss off the Contingent Visitation Schedule as long as I’m at it, again, an exceptionally good Strategic family systems intervention, a craftsman at work, but it’ll be too complicated for this crop of mental health people, we’re at “See Spot run. Go Spot, go” and the Contingent Visitation Schedule is a college textbook. Maybe by 2050.  It’s the Assessment protocol we need right now.

Look at how simple I had to make it.  Seriously, three symptoms, check, check, check.  I can’t make it any more simple… and look… that’s STILL too complicated for them. They’re going into apoplectic shock, trembling on the floor, “How do I do this? How do I do this?”

Uhhh, check the box indicating if the symptom is present or absent.

Tough instructions.  A three-item checklist is too hard for them.  That is how bad things are.  Stone-cold stupid.  Seriously, with these mental health people, I feel like I’m educating high-schoolers, not even upperclassmen, Freshmen, high school Freshmen, if that.  I dunno, maybe 7th graders throwing paper airplanes.  These mental health people are sooooo far from professional.  Maybe we should start training teachers and plumbers to do the assessment. “See these boxes, if the symptom is present check the box that says, “Present,” and if the symptom is absent, check the box that says, “Absent.”

Do you think we can get teachers and plumbers to do this, because apparently we can’t get mental health people to do it, check, check, check… way too complicated for them.

Seriously, the combination of ignorance and sloth are the worst.  I’m not doing this again.  Way too exhausting.  Don’t try to teach a pig to sing.

We need a whole new crop.  This current group is worthless.

So that’s where I stand now.  How much did I get done?

Hey people… I’ve had two strokes.  The first was about 2006, dropped me to the floor, entire left side was dysfunctional, I had that blah-blah-blah stroke talk thing.  I recovered mostly, 95%.  Last year I had a second stroke, called a TIA, took a hit on my balance and I’m having trouble articulating certain sounds, you’ll see me with a cane now because an old guy doesn’t want to take a tumble on an uneven surface and break a hip or something.

I’m a dead man.  Always have been.  See, am I dead?   Yeah, I know.   These people think I’m alive.  I’m tellin’ ya, stone-cold stupid.

So I’ll try one more thing, I’ll try to wake them from their transference dream, try to break through that sloth barrier.  It’s not my job to teach them, it’s their job to ALREADY know, and we’ll try to line up that licensing and malpractice line, that’s pretty much fully there already, it’ll be on the systems end, with the licensing boards, that ignorance and sloth will reemerge, once again.  If they’re able to work up the malpractice stuff while I’m still here they can grab my testimony, if not then not my worry.

I’m tired.  Doing this all on my own.  It’s nice to have a touch of sanity in Dorcy, otherwise, boy, you people are delusional – it’s the transference, it’s got you all captured. And your narcissism, jeeze louise, pretty much everywhere.

Sanity in the midst of insanity, Dorcy.  She’s a smart lady, she knows this pathogen inside out and seven ways to Sunday.  Way-way hugely better than any mental health person out there right now.  Come on people, time to up your game, Dorcy’s dustin’ you.  She’s lapping you.  Pace people, pick up your pace.

If people listen to her they’ll figure it out.  She’s got her health issues too though, trauma leaves impact, so people shouldn’t count on her either.  Word to the wise, better use her while she’s here.  But nobody listens to me.  Now their listening.  Fat lot of good.

I could have told you so much.  But we were stuck on “See Spot run.”  Whatever.

I suspect Dorcy’s got a couple of decades on me.  Did she?  How’d that work out?  I suspect pretty good, I like the lines on that one.  Who knows, we’ll see what happens.

Not my worry.  I’m a dead guy.  You.  The one reading this, that’s a you problem.  Hopefully things are working themselves out.  Be kind.  There’s enough suffering in the world, no need to add more.  See what you can do about taking some out. And add some happy, we need more of that.

Our problem is not that there’s too much happiness in the world, so we have to limit and restrict happiness.  The problem is that there is too little happiness.  Smile, say a kind word, restore bonds of love and affection, add more happy and love and kindness, that’s a good thing.

But it’s not my worry.  I’m a dead guy.  How am I doin’?  As a dead guy?  I’m fine, thanks for asking, no worries.  I know what I am, and I know where we are.  No worries, I’m fine.  I don’t like this place, too much cruelty, ignorance, sloth… an absence of empathy.  I’m fine.

Not enough love and kindness here.  This place is okay on my-end, trees and mountains are nice, oceans.  People?  Mark Twain said that the better he got to know people, the more he liked his dogs.  It’s okay here, but generally, I’m not liking the level of cruelty here.  I’m okay not being here anymore, no worries on that.  They can figure things out on their own. 

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

Pennsylvania Equal Shared Parenting Legislation

I recently attended hearings on the Equal Shared Parenting legislation introduced to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.  As a clinical psychologist with a specialty in child and family therapy, I am in full support of this proposed legislation. 

I’m in California.  I flew back to Harrisburg just to stand with these parents in support of this legislation.

It is well-crafted, thoughtful, and well-considered legislation that will be immensely helpful in solving family conflict surrounding divorce and children.  It will provide substantial support for clinical psychology and for the successful transitions of families to healthy separated family structures following divorce.

As a licensed clinical psychologist with a specialty in child and family therapy, I urge the passage of this bill in Pennsylvania, and of similar legislation throughout the United States and other nations.  Equal shared parenting is the correct thing to do.

Rebuttal to Opposing Testimony

There was testimony in opposition to the legislation.  The opposition arguments were all offered from legal professionals.  The committee did not hear from any representatives from clinical psychology and family therapy.  This was unfortunate, because the testimony from the legal professionals was not consistent with the knowledge from clinical psychology and family therapy.

Their testimony was incorrect.

Absent knowledge from clinical child and family psychology, errors in decision-making surrounding solving child and family conflict will occur.

As a clinical psychologist, I am offering this rebuttal to the arguments presented in opposition to the Equal Shared Parenting legislation.

The two primary arguments were “Best Interest of the Child” and the value of a legal “Presumption” in the court’s decision-making.  An additional argument was offered involving child abuse and Intimate Partner Violence, but this argument was insufficiently organized to warrant response here, and I will address it separately to maintain the clarity to this rebuttal.

1. Best Interests of the Child

This is important, and it will be central to everyone’s understanding in order to reach resolution… what is meant by the term, “best interests of the child,” how is that constuct defined?

I’m certain Nazi Germany had a definition for the “best interests of the child,” and I’m confident that it was not an accurate definition.  It is crucial and central to resolution of this discussion that the term “best interests of the child” receive adequate understanding and definition.

This will then allow us to move forward into developing solutions.

First, it is important to understand that forensic psychology openly admits that they do NOT have an adequate definition for this construct (Stahl & Simon, 2013), and I will argue that an operational definition for this construct is fundamentally impossible, and inappropriate, outside of child abuse and child protection concerns.

Parents have the fundamental right to parent according to their cultural values, their personal values, and their religious values.  If there is no child abuse, then parents have the right to parent, and our society should be extremely circumspect in empowering magistrates to separate children from parents when there are no child protection concerns.

Magistrates should not be empowered to decide on cultural, personal, or religious values in parenting, and any decision beyond a child protection concern will, by necessity, be ruling on just those factors.  By itself, the construct of personal values will have broad latitude in parenting.  Parents have a right to parent.  If it is not child abuse, then empowering magistrates to judge parents as “deserving” or “not deserving” to be a parent should be of concern.

Parents have the right to parent according to their cultural values, their personal values, and their religious values.  Magistrates should allow broad latitude to that foundational parental right before separating parents from children.

Second, forensic psychology has no definition for the construct of the “child’s best interests.”

This is acknowledged by Stahl & Simon, forensic psychologists who literally wrote the book on child custody evaluations for the Family Law Section of the American Bar Association,

Stahl, P.M. and Simon, R.A. (2013). Forensic Psychology Consultation in Child Custody Litigation: A Handbook for Work Product Review, Case Preparation, and Expert Testimony, Chicago, IL: Section of Family Law of the American Bar Association. 

This is what Stahl and Simon say about the definition of the construct “best interests of the child.”

From Stahl & Simon: “A critical subject facing those working in the field of family law, whether they’re legal professionals or psychological professionals, is the concept of the best interests of the children. Even recognized experts in this concept differ with regard to what it means, how it should be determined, and what factors should be considered in determining what is in the best interest of a child. Thus, this ubiquitous term escapes consensus and remains fundamentally vague.” (Stahl & Simon, 2013, p. 10-11)

From Stahl & Simon: “It is defined differently from state to state; and even in Arizona, where there are nine statutory factors associated with the best interest of the child, the meaning behind many of the factors is obscure.  Additionally, when psychologists refer to the best interests of children, they are referring to a hierarchical set of factors that may have different meanings to different children with different families and that may be understood differently by psychologists with different backgrounds and different training.” (Stahl & Simon, 2013, p. 11)

In testimony before the committee in Pennsylvania, a father reported on a period following court restrictions on his time and involvement with his child when he became ill, seriously ill, and potentially terminally ill. We are grateful and happy for his recovery.

And this is important to understand as to why it is impossible – impossible – to render a judgement regarding the “best interests of the child” except for child abuse and child protection concerns. What if he had died?

We are all grateful and happy that this father survived and is with us still.  What is important to realize is, had the father died, the construct of the child’s “best interests” that was considered just months before, would have been grossly in error and extremely NOT in the child’s best interests.

If a son or daughter only has a short time left with a parent, their mother or father, it is always in the child’s best interest to spend abundant amounts of time with this parent, before the parent leaves us and this opportunity is lost to the child and is no longer available.

And this is the important point, determining the “best interests” of the child would require that we know what the future holds.  We can’t know of the father’s loss ahead of time.  We can’t predict the future.  We will never know what the future holds, so we cannot answer that question. 

That question is fundamentally unanswerable. 

If there is child abuse, we diagnose child abuse and protect the child.  If there is no child abuse, then we fix conflict and restore relationships of bonded love and affection in the family, because we can’t predict the future, our time may be short, who knows, and bonds of love and affection are too important to be lost.

If there is family conflict, we fix it. That’s a treatment issue, not a custody issue.

Mothers are not expendable in the lives of their sons, in the lives of their daughters.   Fathers are not expendable in the lives of their sons, in the lives of their daughters.  Is that a faulty presumption?  No, that is an established fact. 

Proof:  We have all had childhoods, we have all had mothers and fathers, we can all reference our own childhoods and direct personal experience for proof.  Was your mother important to you? Was your father important to you?

For my proof, I cite you and your own personal experience.  Mothers are not expendable in the lives of their sons and daughters, father’s are not expendable in the lives of their daughters and sons.  Children flourish when they receive abundant love from the mother and abundant love from their father.

Equal Shared Parenting is the correct approach for legal decision-making following divorce.

There are four types of parent-child bond, each is unique: mother-son, father-son, mother-daughter, father-daughter.

Each is unique, each is immensely valuable, none are interchangeable or replaceable, and none are expendable.  Reference your own personal experience for proof of that.

The only rational definition of a child’s best interests is that the son or daughter always benefits from receiving abundant love from his or her father and mother, in the wonderfully unique and special way that develops between them.

There is no “better parent” – there is mother, there is father.  Each unique, each special, each wonderful.

If there are child protection concerns, diagnose child abuse and protect the child. There are four DSM-5 diagnoses in the Child Maltreatment Section of the DSM-5; Child Physical Abuse (V995.54), Child Sexual Abuse (V995.53), Child Neglect (V995.52), Child Psychological Abuse (V995.51).  If there are child protection concerns, diagnose child abuse and protect the child.

If, however, there are no child abuse concerns accompanied by a DSM-5 diagnosis of child abuse, then parents have the right to parent according to their cultural values, their personal values, and their religious values.  There is no rational or supported reason to give primacy to any of the unique parent-child bonds, each is unique to itself, they are all of equal value and importance.

Equal Shared Parenting is the correct approach following divorce.

A presumption that each parent should have as much time and involvement with the child as possible is always in the child’s best interests.  How that is practically met becomes the only consideration.  Equal Shared Parenting is defined as broadly a 60% to 40% time share, with latitude provided to reasonable factors.

While according to Stahl and Simon, forensic psychology does not have a clear definition for the best interests of the child, clinical psychology does.  It’s that picture.Slide35

It is always in the child’s best interests for the family to make a successful transition following divorce to a healthy separated family structure of shared bonds of affection between the child and both parents, mother and father, son and daughter, a tapestry of unique relationships.

Clinical psychology focuses on treatment, and the recommendation to the family courts from clinical psychology is to similarly focus on treatment rather than custody.

A focus on custody, especially litigation that encourages parents to prove the other parent to be a “bad parent,” is destructive to our ability to achieve a healthy separated family structure.  A presumption of equal value to the father and mother in the lives of a son and daughter will support the family’s successful transition to a healthy separated family structure following divorce.

The child belongs to two families, unites two families into the very fabric of who the child is, two family cultures, two family lineages, two family bonds to mother and to father. This is the fabric of the child.  If there is parent-child conflict, we fix it. We do not expel a mother of father from the life of their son or daughter.

If there are child abuse concerns, then we diagnose them and we protect the child. 

If there are no diagnosed child abuse concerns, then we fix things.  For a child to reject a parent is for the child to reject half of themselves, half of their very being.  We don’t divide children as a “custody prize” to be won by the “better parent” – we respect the unique and immense value to the child of a mother, of a father, that unique bond in the life of that young boy, that young girl. 

Mother’s are not expendable in the life of their child.  Father’s are not expendable in the life of the child, they are of equal value.

Equal Shared Parenting legislation will reduce the family conflict surrounding the child, with a clear message of the court’s support for the child’s bond to mother and to father, love and bonding are good things for the child.  Equal Shared Parenting following divorce supports the child’s healthy attachment bonding and psychological development.

Equal shared parenting following divorce is a good thing.  It will help remove the child from conflict.

If there are no child abuse concerns, diagnosed, then each parent should have as much time and involvement with the child as possible.  Equal shared parenting legislation supports this healthy family solution.

2. “Presumption”

The construct of presumption” has legal implications and I am a clinical psychologist.  I defer comment on the legal definitions and application of terminology.  I will, however, offer my perspective from clinical psychology and child development regarding the definition for that construct, to assist in a more complete understanding for that term relative to the child and family.

The legal professionals who offered this argument noted that in the 1800s it was a presumption toward the father, and then the “tender years” doctrine provided a presumption toward the mother, and that both were in error and there should be no presumption.

That is not an accurate characterization.  The presumptions cited were for one role, either mother or father, as being more valuable to the child than the other is, and were, as they indicated, in error. The solution is not to litigate which is the “better parent.”  The solution is to value both.

An equal valuing of both the mother and the father is the Equal Shared Parenting legislation, it provides no presumption of one parent’s value over the other in the life of the child.

Equal Shared Parenting offers no presumption of one parent’s value over the other.  But wait, said in an alternative way it becomes, the presumption is for equal shared parenting (somewhere balanced between 60% and 40% based on factors).

Or… said in an alternative way, there is no presumption of either parent being of greater value to the child than the other parent, mothers and fathers are equally important.

Notice something important.  The construct of “presumption” depends on the context in which it is used. Sentence structure, not inherent meaning. Context of the word’s use.

A presumption that favors the father is not appropriate.  A presumption that favors the mother, is not appropriate.  That doesn’t mean that we should open up decision-making to a free-for-all blood sport of litigation designed to prove the inadequacy of the other parent in order to gain greater custody time.

The presumption that mothers and fathers are equally valuable to the child is the Equal Shared Parenting legislation being considered by the Pennsylvania legislature. That is a true and accurate presumption, mothers and fathers ARE equally important to the healthy development of the child.

There is no presumption that either parent is “better” – or that it is a good thing for parents to be engaged in litigation to prove that they are “better” and that they “deserve” more time because they are “better” than the other parent.  That is not a good thing.

3. Bias is Unavoidable

Our social offices are held by people, and people have inherent unconscious bias, called heuristics, that influence perception and decision making outside of awareness.  Unconscious.

Sapolsky (24:30 – 29:30): Judges are more lenient after eating than before eating because of the blood sugar rise from lunch.  It is important to the discussion of bias that everyone watch Sapolsky from 24:30 to 29:30.  All of it is wonderful, that five minutes is essential for a discussion of bias.

We cannot eliminate bias, because bias is inherent to the humanity of the person in the role.  We can only strive to control and limit the effects of bias on decision-making by the court.  Within the legal system, this is accomplished through the specificity of language in legislation, and by prior additional guidance and clarification through precedent interpretations and decisions.

In matters of family conflict, where unconscious personal history, personal values, and personal cultural factors are all likely unconscious influences on the human occupying the role, it is unwise to allow too great a latitude to interpretation of vaguely defined constructs.

Stahl and Simon, who are acknowledged professional representatives from the Family Law Section of the American Bar Association, identify how vague and poorly defined the construct of “best interests of the child” is, even when guiding factors are identified.

From Stahl & Simon: “Even recognized experts in this concept differ with regard to what it means, how it should be determined, and what factors should be considered in determining what is in the best interest of a child.  Thus, this ubiquitous term escapes consensus and remains fundamentally vague… It is defined differently from state to state; and even in Arizona, where there are nine statutory factors associated with the best interest of the child, the meaning behind many of the factors is obscure” (Stahl & Simon, 2013, p. 10-11)

The apparent recommendations from the legal professionals testifying in Pennsylvania is that the solution to having neither a presumption in favor of the mother nor one favoring the father is to turn custody decision-making into a blood-sport of litigation to prove to the judge that the other parent does not “deserve” to be a parent based on a set of factors, the goal, the factors in proving that the other parent doesn’t deserve to be a parent.

That is not a correct approach.  The solution is to give neither parent a presumption and to recognize the equal value of both parents, mother and father, in the life of the child.  The solution is to provide a presumption of equal shared parenting, of equal value to the child of a mother’s love and a father’s love.

Children are not a battleground, and we should not encourage parents to weaponize the child into a custody battle to prove to the court the supposed “inadequacy” of the other parent.  The Equal Shared Parenting legislation being considered in Pennsylvania will remove children from the spousal conflict and will help restore a normal-range childhood to them, a childhood of loving and bonded relationships with both parents, mother and father.

Mothers are important and essential in the lives of their sons and daughters.  Mothers are not expendable from the lives of their children. Fathers are important and essential in the lives of their sons and daughters.  Fathers are not expendable from the lives of their children.

Equal Shared Parenting legislation supports that, and will achieve that.

As a clinical psychologist with a professional specialty in child and family therapy, I am the professional who is tasked with fixing family conflict and restoring the child’s healthy development.  I am in full and complete support of the Equal Shared Parenting legislation in Pennsylvania.

So much so, that I flew back to Harrisburg just to be in the room.  This legislation is the right thing to do.

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