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What is parental alienation? Recognize the 18 signs

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I have written extensively on the importance of the movement towards shared parenting. A review of 60-peer reviewed studies found that shared parenting is best for children in separated and divorced families — when time is split approximately equally between homes — including in high-conflict situations.

Very closely related is the recognition by courts and mental health experts of parental alienation, or the psychological manipulation of a child into showing unwarranted fear, disrespect or hostility towards a parent. Parental alienation is increasingly recognized as child abuse, and the result of mental illness in the alienating parent.

This post aims to serve as a clearinghouse of useful information for parents who feel they have been alienated, as well as children who are victims of parental alienation. This article does not address estrangement that is justified as a result of abuse or neglect. Parental alienation specifically focuses on the unjustified dislike or mistrust of one parent (the targeted parent), due to the deliberate actions of the other parent (the alienating parent).

If your children have been alienated from you — or you fear they might be — I recommend starting with the book Divorce Poison, by Richard Warshak, PhD, widely recognized as a leading expert on parental alienation.

From Amazon about Divorce Poison:

Your ex-spouse is bad-mouthing you to your children, perhaps even trying to turn them against you. If you handle the situation ineffectively, your relationship with your children could suffer. You could lose their respect, lose their affection, and even, in extreme cases, lose all contact with them.

This groundbreaking work gives parents powerful strategies to preserve and rebuild loving relationships with their children and provides legal and mental health professionals with practical advice to help their clients and ensure the welfare of children.

Divorce Poison offers advice on how to:

  • Recognize early warning signs of trouble
  • React if your children refuse to see you
  • Respond to rude and hateful behavior
  • Avoid the seven common errors made by rejected parents

Divorce Poison on Amazon >>

I write about parental alienation in my new book: The 50/50 Solution: The Surprisingly Simple Solution that Makes Moms, Dads and Kids Happier When Parents Split (Sourcebooks, March 26, 2024)

Cover of The 50/50 Solution book by Emma Johnson.

What is parental alienation?

Parental alienation is a form of child abuse in which the toxic actions of one parent intentionally harm the relationship the child has with the other parent. In these cases, the child rejects the alienated parent based on flimsy reasoning. Parental alienation occurs almost exclusively in cases of separated and divorced families, and one study found that parental alienation was an issue in 13.4 percent of divorced families, with nearly half being severe.

According to Vanderbilt University psychiatrist and parental alienation expert Dr. William Bernet:

“Almost every mental health professional who works with children of divorced parents acknowledges that Parental Alienation—as we define it—affects thousands of families and causes enormous pain and hardship.”

Beware of these 18 sneaky divorce tactics so you can overcome them

3 types of parental alienation

Psychologists have identified three degrees of parental alienation: 

Mild parental alienation

Child may resist visits with the other parent, but then enjoy their time when they are along with their mom and dad, and away from the alienated parent. 

Moderate parental alienation

These kids resist time with the alienated parent, and remain resentful during their time together. 

Severe parental alienation

Severely alienated children not only resist time with the other parent, but also actively run away or otherwise act fearfully to not be around that parent.

  • A campaign of denigration against the targeted parent
  • The child’s lack of guilty feelings for rejecting the target parent
  • When asked, the child gives irrational and frivolous reasons for the criticisms of the targeted parent
  • The child paints the parents in black and white — one parent can do no wrong, while everything the second parent does is horrible.
  • A knee-jerk defensiveness of everything about the favored parent
  • A child who parrots the favored parent's words, often using phrases of an adult to describe the rejected parent, or citing scenarios that he or she heard the favored parent speak about, but did not himself experience.
  • Spread of the child’s animosity toward the target parent’s extended family or friends.
  • A child suffering from parental alienation often insists that his feelings are entirely his own. The child might call his father to say: “I don’t want to come to your house anymore. Mom had nothing to do with this decision, I made it all on my own.” The alienating parent is quick to protect the child’s “right” to choose whether he wants to visit his parent.
  • Children may show warmth and affection towards the targeted parent when alone with them, but then speak poorly of them to others, including the alienating parent.

What are the signs of parental alienation?

In her book Working With Alienated Children and Families Amy J. L. Baker, author of Co-Parenting with a Toxic Ex, identifies these 18 toxic signs that a parent aims to alienate:

For more tips on co-parenting with an ex, read Co-parenting rules—even with a difficult ex

1. Badmouthing

Alienating parent uses toxic verbal and non-verbal communications that convey to the child that the targeted parent is unloving, unsafe, and unavailable. Existing flaws are exaggerated and non-existent flaws are manufactured.

2. Limiting contact

The alienating parent violates parenting plans and/or takes advantage of ambiguities in the plan to maximize time with the child. The targeted parent has fewer opportunities to counter the toxic, badmouthing message, leading to the attenuation of the parent-child attachment relationship. The child acclimates to spending less time with the targeted parent.

3. Interfering with communication

The alienating parent demands constant access to the child when the child is with the targeted parent but does not reciprocate when the child is with him/her. Phones are not answered, email messages are blocked, and messages are not forwarded. The targeted parent has fewer opportunities to be a part of the child's daily world and share with the child the small moments that make up a child's life.

4. Interfering with symbolic communication

A man prohibiting a child from using a mobile phone. What is parental alienation? Recognize the 18 signs here.

Thinking about, talking about, and looking at pictures of a parent while away can help a child feel close and connected to an absent parent. The alienating parent creates a toxic environment in which the child does not feel free to engage in these activities with respect to the targeted parent.

5. Withdrawal of love

A man speaking to a child who is ignoring him. What is parental alienation? Recognize the 18 signs here.

Alienating parents make their approval of paramount importance to the child; so much so that the child would do anything to avoid the loss of love that is experienced when the child has disappointed or angered that parent. Typically what angers and hurts the alienating parent most is the child's love and affection for the targeted parent.

Thus, in order to secure the love of one parent, the child must relinquish the love of the other. Although this is not something likely to be explicit to the child, it will be apparent to the targeted parent that the child lives in fear of losing the alienating parent's love and approval.

6. Telling the child that the targeted parent is dangerous

This involves creating the impression in the child that the targeted parent is or has been dangerous. Toxic stories might be told about ways in which the targeted parent has tried to harm the child, about which the child has no memory but will believe to be true nonetheless, especially if the story is told often enough.

7. Forcing the child to choose

A husband and wife reprimanding their child who is covering his ears. What is parental alienation? Recognize the 18 signs you have to know.

The alienating parent will exploit ambiguities in the parenting plan and create toxic opportunities to seduce/compel the child away from the targeted parent by scheduling competing activities and promising valued items and privileges. If both parents are present at the same even/location the child will favor the alienating parent and ignore or be rude to the targeted parent.

8. Telling the child that the targeted parent does not love him or her

A dad talking to his son who is crying. What is parental alienation? Recognize the 18 signs here.

Another specific form of badmouthing occurs when the alienating parent allows or encourages the child to conclude that the targeted parent does not love him or her.

The alienating parent might make toxic statements that conflate the end of the marriage with the end of the parent's love of the child (i.e. daddy left us, or mommy doesn't love us anymore). The alienating parent will foster the belief in the child that she is being rejected by the targeted parent and distort every situation to make it appear as if that is the case.

9. Confiding in the child

A woman carrying a child with a sad face. What is parental alienation? Recognize the 18 signs by reading here.

The alienating parent will involve the child in discussions about legal matters and share with the child personal and private information about the targeted parent that the child has no need to know. The alienating parent will portray him/herself as the victim of the targeted parent, inducing the child to feel pity for and protective of the alienating parent, and anger and hurt toward the targeted parent.

10. Forcing child to reject the targeted parent

Alienating parents create situations in which the child actively rejects the targeted parent, such as calling the targeted parent to cancel upcoming parenting time or request that the targeted parent not attend an important school or athletic event. Not only is the targeted parent being denied something that s/he truly desires but s/he is being delivered the news by the child, leading to feelings of hurt and frustration. The targeted parent may respond by lashing out at the child, further damaging their already fragile relationship. Further, once children have hurt a parent, the alienation will become entrenched as the child justifies his/her toxic behavior by devaluing the targeted parent.

11. Asking the child to spy on the targeted parent

A child typing on a laptop. What is parental alienation? Recognize the 18 signs to consider.

The targeted parent may have information in their files, desk, or computer that is of interest to the alienating parent, such as pay stubs, receipts, legal documents, medical reports, and so forth. An alienating parent might suggest directly to a child or hint that the targeted parent has information that s/he is not sharing with the alienating parent. The alienating parent will likely create the impetus in the child by linking the information to the child’s desires (i.e., if we knew whether Daddy got a raise we could ask for more money and buy a new dog for you). Once children betray a parent by spying on them, they will likely feel guilty and uncomfortable being around that parent, thus furthering the alienation.

12. Asking the child to keep secrets from the targeted parent

A father whispering something to his daughter. What is parental alienation? Recognize the 18 signs you can find here.

The alienating parent will ask or hint that certain information should be withheld from the targeted parent in order to protect the child's interests.

Such as, “If Mommy knew that we were planning on taking a trip she would take me to court and try to stop it. Let's not tell her until Saturday, when it will be too late for her to interfere.” Like spying, keeping secrets creates a toxic parenting psychological distance between the targeted parent and the child, who may feel guilty and uncomfortable with the targeted parent.

13. Referring to the targeted parent by first name

Rather than saying “Mommy/Daddy” or “Your mommy/Your daddy” the alienating parent will use the first name of the targeted parent when talking about that parent to the child. This may result in the child referring to the targeted parent by first name as well.

The message to the child is that the targeted parent is no longer someone whom the alienating parent respects as an authority figure for the child and no longer someone who has a special bond with the child.

14. Referring to a step­ parent as  “Mom” or “Dad” and encouraging child to do the same

A son hugging his father while his mom tries to talk to him. What is parental alienation? Recognize the 18 signs here.

Once the alienating parent is remarried, s/he will speak of the new partner as if that parent were the only mother/father of the child. This parent will be introduced to others (teachers, coaches, parents of friends) as the “mother/father” rather than as the step-parent.

15. Withholding medical, academic, and other important information from targeted parent/keeping targeted parent's name off medical, academic, and other relevant documents

A man filling out a form seriously. What is parental alienation? Recognize the 18 signs here.

All important forms from school, sports, religious education, and so forth ask for information about the child's mother and father. The toxic parent will not provide information about the targeted parent in the appropriate place on the form and may not include the information at all.

16. Changing child's name to remove association with targeted parent

If the alienating parent is the mother, she may revert to using her maiden name after the divorce and will institute a practice of using that name for her children as well.

If the alienating parent is a mother and she remarries, she will assume the surname of her new husband and will institute a practice of using that new surname for her children as well.

If the alienating parent is the father, he may start referring to the child with a new nickname (convincing the child that s/he has always been called by this name) and in this toxic way forge a new identity for the child in which the alienating parent is the most important parent.

17. Cultivating dependency/undermining the authority of the targeted parent

Alienating children often speak of the alienating parent as if that parent's dependency/undermining were perfect, exceptional, and in every way above reproach. They also behave as if they are dependent on that parent in a way that is not necessary or appropriate given their age and life experience. Alienating parents are able to develop dependency in their children rather than (as is typical of non-alienating parents) help their children develop self-sufficiency, critical thinking, autonomy, and independence. At the same time, they will undermine the authority of the targeted parents in order to ensure that the child is loyal to only one parent. Examples include instituting rules that the child must follow even when with the targeted parent, and mocking or overwriting the rules of the targeted parents.

18. Child’s polarized views of their parents

A lonely child looking out the window. What is parental alienation? Recognize the 18 signs you can find here.

Richard Warshak, PhD., another leading expert on parental alienation and is author of the bestselling Divorce Poison, How To Protect Your Family from Bad-mouthing and Brainwashing. 

Warshak writes on his website of these behaviors in children suffering from parental alienation:

“Severely alienated children express extremely polarized views of their parents; they have little if anything positive to say about the rejected parent and often rewrite the history of their relationship to obscure positive elements …Severely alienated children treat the rejected parent with extreme hostility, disobedience, defiance, and withdrawal … These children harbor strong and irrational aversion toward a parent with whom they formerly enjoyed a close relationship. The aversion may take the form of fear, hatred, or both.

Alienated children’s thoughts about their parents become highly skewed and polarized. They seem unable to summon up positive memories or perceptions about the rejected parent, and have difficulty reporting negative aspects or experiences with the favored parent. They rewrite the history of their relationship with the rejected parent to erase pleasant moments.

With children who are severely and irrationally alienated, critical thinking about parents is nowhere in evidence. Instead the children demonstrate knee-jerk support of the favored parent’s position in any situation where the parents disagree.”

Learn more about parental alienation, and solutions for reuniting estranged parents and children in the documentary Erasing Family, a film by Ginger Gentile:

How to prove parental alienation

Unfortunately, parental alienation is hard to prove, whether to a therapist, to the victim, friends, family, as well as lawyers and judges.

If you suspect your child is being alienated against you:

  1. Document everything you observe, in a journal, your calendar, or a co-parenting app. Also document all your visits, so you can counter should the other parent accuse you of missing scheduled visits. Also keep track of requests or remarks made by the other parent. One of the first, and widely used, co-parenting apps is OurFamilyWizard. This app features chat, information storage (like pediatrician and teacher contact info, prescriptions, etc.), and financial record-keeping. They offer a 30-day free trial, discounts for military families, and a program to provide OurFamilyWizard free to low-income families. Try OurFamilyWizard for free for 30 days now >>
  2. Stick to, and enforce your visitation schedule. Either party skipping or interfering with scheduled visits is something that most courts will recognize as egregious at face value. Documenting any violations can help with future alienation court cases.
  3. Foster an open relationship with your child, so they feel comfortable talking about everything — including any alienating behavior (“Daddy told me not to tell you …”) or abuse. If you suspect abuse of any kind, take the child to a professional, opposed to addressing the issue with the other parent.
  4. Seek legal advice. Find a family attorney experienced with parental alienation cases, and seek their advice. This may include filing a court filing against your child's other parent, deposing them as well as any family therapists, relatives or people familiar with your family dynamic. Parental alienation court cases are almost always lengthy, expensive, and hard to prove.

How to disprove parental alienation

This article in the New York Bar Association’s Family Law Review by Ashish Joshi is a great overview of the legal process of disproving parental alienation.

How to deal with parental alienation

Parental alienation FAQs

What changes are needed for parental alienation laws?

Parental alienation affects millions of families, with one third of children whose parents divorce or separate losing all contact with one parent. But parental alienation goes beyond missing out on a relationship with one parent. Parental alienation means lost relationships with siblings, extended family and friends. The reasons for this human rights travesty are complex, and unfair court systems, as well as unstable, angry parents can be blamed.

To stem parental alienation requires a drastic paradigm shift in this country: one that stops celebrating mothers as the default better parent, and gets away from outdated and sexist assumptions that in times of separation, it is best for kids to have one primary home (with the mom), and occasional visit the other parent (the dad, who pays the mom). On all fronts, science has time and again obliterated these notions:

Whether you like it or not, shared parenting — which receives a 70 percent public popularity rating, split equally among men and women, conservatives and progressives, democrats and republics — is quickly being adopted by courts.

Why is child support so unfair to fathers? A case for needed reform

Since 2012, Arizona, Kentucky and Arkansas have passed shared-parenting laws that start custody negotiations with the presumption of equal time. This year, 25 states are considering bills that would do the same. 

In other words: The world is changing, and if you’re not on board with shared parenting, and recognizing the systematic atrocity that is parental alienation, it is time to get over it. Because faced with it in your own life, you are likely to lose in the face of a court, and if not, by a  judging society.

Ginger Gentile produced and directed Erasing Dad, a similar project in Argentina, and herself is the victim of parental resulting from her  parents’ divorce.

You can learn more about Erasing Family here, and support this important project.

Is parental alienation a crime?

While social science concludes that parental alienation is traumatic and abuse towards both the child and targeted parent, there is little legal precedent to position it as a punishable crime, primarily because it is nearly always dealt with in family court — not criminal court.

How prevalent is parental alienation against mother? How common is parental alienation against father?

There is an assumption — prompoted often by family violence advocates — that fathers use parental alienation to abuse their ex-partners.

Social science finds otherwise.

Jennifer Harman, a Colorado State University social psychologist who studies parental alienation and its consequences, in 2020 published in the Journal of Family Violence, findings that mothers and fathers use different tactics in alienating tactics, with mothers using indirect methods such as spreading rumors, while fathers used both indirect and direct methods, like badmouthing the mother to the child. Harman found that 14% of fathers, and 20% of mothers in the sample used equal amounts of both forms of aggression.

This article outlines many studies over the past three decades that have found that generally, parental alienation is used against fathers more often than against mothers.

‘Parental alienation’: What it means and why it matters at

Lost Parents: When High Conflict Divorce Leads to Parental Alienation on Huffington Post

Detroit Free Press article about a various reunification programs specifically for alienated families

Expert Richard Warshak's breakdown of leading program Family Bridges

Legal Dictionary on Parental Alienation

Edward Kruk, PhD, is a leading researcher on parental alienation and co-parenting, and his thoughtful posts on are a great read.

Podcasts about parental alienation

With co-founder of Leading Women for Shared Parenting, Terry Brannen:

On this Like a Mother episode I interview film maker Ginger Gentile, whose latest project is Erasing Family, a documentary about parental alienation. Award-winning documentarian and herself a victim of parental alienation, Gentile's work focuses on the now-adult children who grew up without knowing a parent, siblings, or extended family thanks to the wishes of another parent — and a court system designed to promote conflict between separated families.

What is parental alienation?

Parental alienation is a form of child abuse in which the toxic actions of one parent intentionally harm the relationship the child has with the other parent. In these cases, the child rejects the alienated parent based on flimsy reasoning.

What are signs of parental alienation?

There are nine signs of parental alienation, including: a campaign of denigration against the targeted parent, the child’s lack of guilty feelings for rejecting the target parent, and more.


My husband and I are still married. We have 5 children. Our middle daughter experienced a traumatic event when she was 15. She is now 20. She blames me completely although if was not my fault. Since the event, she has constantly criticized me. It has escalated over the years. When she is home from college, especially in the summer, she does not speak to me. If I try to speak to her, it quickly becomes hostile. She is quite loving and kind toward my husband and her siblings. She tells me she hates me and regularly curses at me in front of everyone. She recently told my children some very hurtful things in an effort to harm our relationship. My marriage is hanging on by a thread because my husband will do nothing more than tell her to be nice to me. I am completely ostracized in my own home. Is this similar to parental alienation? I would love any resources or advice you may have. I am on year 5 and feeling quite discouraged.

I was estranged from my parent and stopped by to read this article hoping for some advice about how to improve my situation, when to stop trying to get along with them, how to approach them about being back in our lives. I think the other commenters maybe been talking about estrangement and not alienation. But there’s a lot of common issues and quandaries here. My parent, and my children’s parent, have both been emotionally and sometimes physically abusive. I had to be the grown up and distance myself from my parent. I also had to be the grownup in my marriage and separate for my and my children’s sake.

In those cases, you’re in a real bind. You know your children are being manipulated and abused, but courts really don’t care unless the other parent is an imminent danger to the children. They don’t care whether a girlfriend is smoking (marijuana) in your ex’s house around your children. It’s your problem, and how do you handle it when your teen is furious with you for taking steps to make the other parent make the smoking stop? I can’t keep the other parent from acting out against the kids. I think it’s bad to lie to kids. And when the other parent refuses to go to your child’s graduation or doesn’t call on their birthday or shouts curses at them, is it enough in that interaction to say hey I’m sorry? Shouldn’t I be saying, like, that was wrong and you’re not a f-ing idiot and your dad should never say these things?

Is it right to keep my silence on the other parent’s transgressions? I can’t get full custody and I don’t want them to miss the good things with the other parent. I don’t want to add fuel to the pain. But does it really make sense to just let them slog through all that in their own, without support, comfort, someone to protect them from that abusiveness?

You are an inspiration to everyone, Emma Johnson. I support issues women care about and women that Emma Johnson writes about. Emma Johnson cares about that and more too, we can see. I respect Johnson’s effort to see various aspects of something even though most of her writing is about women and for women.

Ginger Gentile is an highly-talented director/producer inspiration too. Maria Shriver called Gentile an “architect of change”

My primary support group for parental alienation is 2/3 women. It affects approaching equally women and men, people may not realize.

The DSM recognizes this disease. Hundreds of peer-reviewed papers explain it. Get informed. Get help.

Read the book “Divorce Poison” by Richard Warshak to understand this better.

Amy Baker video:

6 Great Papers:

2015 Warshak. “Parental Alienation: Overview, Management, Intervention, and Practice Tips;” Journal of Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers

2018 Harman, Kruk, Hines. “Parental Alienation: A Form of Family Violence;” American Psychological Association Psychological Bulletin

2018 von Boch-Galhau. “Parental Alienation, a SERIOUS Form of Child Abuse;” Mental Health and Family Medicine

(2016) Templer, Matthewson, Haines, Cox. “Best Practice in Response to Parental Alienation.” Journal of Family Therapy

2018 Bernet. “Author’s Response;” Journal of Forensic Sciences

Amicus Briefs by Gottlieb at:

DSM codes:
V61.29 Child Affected by Parental Relationship Distress

V995.51 Child Psychological Abuse

ICD-11 uses the words “Parental alienation”

Child rejection of a parent is rare, even with abused children. That is a strong symptom.

The huge Vanderbilt database on parental alienation lists hundreds of published works:

We need mediation, co-parenting, and family treatment of this disease.

Courts should order clinical assessments and family dynamics parental alienation treatment involving both parents to create healthy relationships, untangle the child from the conflict, confront the pathology as it acts over time, and encourage parent-child relationships, with enforcement language.

Alienators can be both men and women. The alienator sees the target parent in a distorted, very bad, polarized way to be erased. Over time, a campaign of denigration, false accusations, distortions, blocked child contact, and other alienating tactics turn the child against the target. Splitting, polarized abuse, and/or personality disorders are present.

The pathology manipulates the external environment to express the alienation pathology. The child mirrors the pathogen like a puppet. And what a spokesperson!

Contact is the only cure. The pathology will do anything to block contact. Fight for contact. Refute false claims, for the record, but WITHOUT A TONE OF CONFLICT. Attacking just excites the alienation that sees you as bad.

All parents should have a nurturing parent-child relationship and never bash the other parent in front of the child, ever.

Get family dynamics PA treatment ordered if you can.

SYNDROME was rejected by the DSM. Instead, DSM codes were added for parental alienation as a family dynamic.

Several peer-reviewed papers by researchers say parental alienation is in the DSM or that experts say it is in the DSM including:

2018 von Boch-Galhau. “Parental Alienation (syndrome), a SERIOUS Form of Child Abuse;” Mental Health and Family Medicine

2015 Warshak. “Parental Alienation: Overview, Management, Intervention, and Practice Tips;” Journal of Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers

2017 Bernet, Gregory, Reay, and Rohner. “An Objective Measure of Splitting in Parental Alienation: The Parental Acceptance-Rejection Questionnaire;” Journal of Forensic Sciences
2018 Edward Kruk. “Parental Alienation as a Form of Emotional Child Abuse: Current State of Knowledge and Future Directions for Research.” Family Science Review

2018 Blagg and Godfrey. “Exploring Parent-Child Relationships is Alienated Versus Neglected/Emotionally Abused Children Using the Bene-Anthony Family Relations Test

2018 Harman, Kruk, and Hines. “Parental Alienation: A Form of Family Violence;” American Psychological Association Psychological Bulletin

2016 Bernet, W, Wamboldt, MZ, Narrow, WE. Child Affected by Parental Relationship Distress. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 55(7), 571-579

2018 Bensussan, Paul. (Mardi 6 Fevrier 2018 – No 5). Aliénation parentale, abus psychologique de l’enfant et DSM-5 Parental Alienation, Child Psychological Abuse and DSM-5. [French]. Gazette Du Palais (5), 9-12

2018 Bernet. “Author’s Response” [Response to Critics]. Journal of Forensic Sciences

2018 Wilfrid Von Boch-Galhau, Christiane Förster, Jorge Guerra González “Review of Demosthenes Lorandos, William Bernet, and SR Sauber 2013 Parental Alienation: Handbook for Mental Health and Legal Professionals.” EC Pediatrics 7(8), 820-822.

2018 William Bernet, Jozef Tinka. “SCIENTIFIC BASIS OF PARENTAL ALIENATION. VEDECKÉ ZÁKLADY ZAVRHNUTIA RODIČA [Czech]. Psychológia a patopsychológia dieťaťa 52(2), 173-182.

2014 Camerini, GB, Magro, T, Sabatello, U, Volpini, L. La parental alienation: considerazioni cliniche, nosografiche e psicologico-giuridiche alla luce del DSM-5 [Parental alienation: clinical, nosographic, psychological and legal considerations after DSM-5 presentation]. [Italian]. Gior Neuropsich Età Evol 3439-48

Also, several clinician therapists who are experts in parental alienation have expressed professional opinions that parental alienation (or whatever you want to call it) is in the DSM, including

–Linda Gotlieb:

–Dr Craig Childress:

Several forensic psychologists who are experts in parental alienation say that on their websites.

SYNDROME was rejected. However, DSM codes were added for parental alienation as a dynamic.


@Todd – this is a long shot you will see this after all these years but your reply is spot on! I JUST discovered the PA “debunkers” and accusing targeted parents who claim PA are committing “domestic abuse by proxy”…erm, WHAT THE!?? have you had any dealing with debunking the debunkers?? They must be stopped.

Usually you do your research, but this guest got one by you big time. You said “Restraining orders and domestic violence charges spike around the time of marital separation.” And your tone was incredulous as you repeated that statement. Then instead of properly unpacking that statistic, the discussion that immediately followed suddenly went into tangents about cases in Argentina, and the filmmaker’s personal belief that faking abuse claims are rampant in order to get more money, and “people making silly accusations” — and missed the real point. It seemed your guest had very little understanding of actual abuse dynamics, and you didn’t check her on that. Your guest was too into the fakers vs the real victims if abuse and it was a false dichotomy that glossed over the many degrees and forms of abuse. The reality is family court does not care about any type of emotional or financial abuse, but only sometimes cares about provable physical abuse, and even then the abuser still gets joint custody more often than not.

In a great many cases, physical abuse starts once the conflict is out in the open and a separation is declared. People are at greatest risk of harm when leaving relationships– that’s such a well documented fact of abuse that it’s not even a debatable point.

Please do some research into separation violence.

I believe we addressed that domestic violence is real and under-reported. It is also abused by fake victims, which only hurts real victims. It is complicated and we did not even attempt to suss out all the nuance in a 40-min discussion which was focused on another topic. Thank you for listening and chiming in.

Fake victims? The Bala study shows mothers intentionally make false reports less than 2% of the time, while fathers were found to make intentional false allegations about 15% of the time. Do men lie more than women? No. The study shows that fathers are 7x more likely than mothers to interfere with custody by making false allegations. They are willing to hurt their children with these allegations. That does not include the vast # of abusive fathers who allege Parental Alienation Syndrome to get a leg up in court. This works like a charm when abusive fathers use it; more often than not the judge just believes the nonsensical arguments and reverses custody (Meier, 2019). When mothers allege PA, it makes no statistical difference to the outcome of the case.

Parental Alienation *Syndrome* is a dangerous myth which encompasses this false belief that mothers make intentional false allegations. Separating custodial interference (usually committed by abusive fathers) from the long-debunked theory of Parental Alienation Syndrome (creates by an admitted pedophile) is a critical distinction.

Oh yes, you are correct! In fact, the research finds that it is about 50-50 men/women.

This article and podcast was the slap of reality I needed! It made me realize how I was putting my dislike for my kids’ dads ahead of the importance of them having relationships and quality time with their fathers. I no longer make it about my emotions but the needs of my kids. Thanks Emma!

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