Psychiatrists examine parental alienation
An American Psychiatric Association panel has just completed an examination of what is called parental alienation. The concept is focused around how one parent can often try to turn a child against another parent when the couple is separated or divorced. In California, as well as elsewhere in the nation, this often occurs in the context of a battle over child custody. The psychiatrists were debating whether parental alienation should be officially listed as a mental disorder, as some had advocated, and ultimately declined to do so.
Had this designation been applied, parental alienation would have been listed in the association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Psychiatrists and other mental health professionals use the book to diagnose and treat a wide variety of mental illnesses.
The fact that the phenomenon is not classified as a mental illness, however, does not render it any less harmful and toxic to the wellbeing and emotional health of children. In the context of a separation or divorce, children frequently feel like the foundations of their life and world are shifting beneath their feet. It is extremely destructive for a parent to use the emotions and affections of children as some sort of weapon in a battle with their estranged spouse.
Many believe that such behavior constitutes abuse and should not be tolerated by the courts. Despite the fact that it is not classified as a mental illness, it can be a warning of other difficulties which could indicate that an individual might benefit from therapy. A good divorce attorney experienced in child custody and support disputes can help guide a parent through the emotional and legal difficulties that can arise if their former spouse is trying to turn their children against them.
Source: The Huffington Post, “Parental Alienation Not A Mental Disorder, American Psychiatric Association Says,” David Crary, Sept. 21, 2012