“I didn’t become this way in one night” : How Alienation is a process not a single event with intergenerational effects

The following except came from this article- it’s a perspective that isn’t talked about enough. My comments will be in bold and italicised.

The conditions associated with parental alienation are such that being the child who is used as a aspawn in a dispute creates a toxic environment that the child feels forced to align with one person (usually a parent but it can be a number of other people such as extended family members, foster parents, etc) against one or both of his or her natural parent(s). The alienation tactics can be so extreme that it constitutes severe child abuse with life long consequences (and in extreme cases beyond the life of that child) .

it is often compared to being in a cult… with techniques of brainwashing similar to cult members being manipulated and brainwashed by the cult leader.

With 25.5 million parents in North America being alienated from their child (ren), this cannot be ignored! The first thing that must be understood is how they got there. Estrangement is not what we’re talking about, this is far different.

This is an intentional act of harm perpetuated against a child and one or both of the child’s parent(s). The Syndrome related to the Parental Alienation is the long term effects. It is the maliciously imposed end result of the child being the recipient of certain concurrent patterns of hate and the strategically chosen tactics which are used – over a period of time – to project and perpetuate that hate with the goal being to drive a wedge between the child and the parent, and the destruction of the relationship they once shared. It is a slow process of breaking the child down, brainwashing and the re-education of the childs views, opinions and affections for the targeted parent. In extreme cases the targeted parent is completely erased from the childs life.

it does not happen overnight and is not the result of one single event. This must be understood and examined in each specific case before any recommendations for intervention and healing can begin, as parental alienation cases can be complex.

The realization that Parental Alienation is a process not an event

It is usually a slow and painful process for the interviewees (the adult survivors of childhood parental alienation) to realize that they had been turned against a parent by the other parent (or someone else).

For most of the adult children of PAS, the realization that the alienation did not occur in a single transformative event. Therefore, the defense mechanisms constructed to support the alienation takes time to be broken through: they involve denying that the alienating parent is selfish and manipulative, then denying that the targeted parent has positive qualities, denying that the child wants a relationship with the targeted parent, denying that the child is afraid of losing the love of the alienating parent..(and ultimately coming to a place where they truly believe in these denials negatively reflecting on the targeted parent, as truth in fact, and not the result of any manipulating or tactics used by someone else in the child’s life).

Although all of the adult children had come to realize that they had been alienated from one parent by the other, the length of time they had been alienated and the age of awareness varied.

The length of time the interviewees were alienated ranged from 7 to 47 years, with an average of about 20 years.

The Impact of Parental Alienation is Life Long and Maybe Intergenerational

A significant number of survivors experienced depression, divorce, and substance-abuse problems as adults. They had difficulty trusting others as well as trusting themselves.

In addition, several reported becoming alienated from their own children.

If the actions of a person against a child are so extreme that its effect reaches not only that child, but also that child into his or her’s adulthood AND EVEN beyond that child/adult’s life and passed down to their children.. how can it not be classified in the DSM AS A SYNDROME OR DISORDER? Syndrome is defined is a set of concurrent things, such as emotions or actions, that form an identifiable pattern.

Parental alienation is strategically used tactics which amount to a form of severe extreme emotional and psychological child abuse with effects so severe its emotional and psychological harm reaches into the lives beyond the victim. Into the next generations! That is the syndrome. This must be recognized and stopped.

Three different patterns of the intergenerational transmission of PAS are presented.

The alienating tactics and strategies are used to give the child the following three-part message:

  1. The alienating parent is the only parent who cares.
  2. The alienating parent is needed in order for the child to feel safe and good about him- or herself.
  3. The targeted parent – who is dangerous and does not love the child anyway – must be disavowed. in order to maintain the love and approval of the alienating parent. Boldly stated this way, the message resembles the message cult leaders convey to cult members.

There appears to be a wide range of actions and behaviors that constitute parental alienation. No one behavior characterized the full sample and no alienating parent utilized just one strategy. Thus, Parental Alienation Syndrome can be effectuated through many possible combinations of strategies, and there is no one formula for doing so. This means that counteracting will be difficult because the targeted parent may not even know all the strategies that the alienating parent is using.

Most alienating parents probably participate in bad-mouthing, but bad-mouthing alone may not be sufficient to effectuate alienation and countering the bad-mouthing may not be enough to counter the alienation.

Thus, parents who believe that they are the targets of parental alienation should assume that the alienating parent is utilizing an array of strategies. In the absence of tested interventions for Parental Alienation Syndrome, it may be advisable for targeted parents (or parents who suspect they are being targeted) to address the underlying goal of the alienating parent rather than the specific behaviors (which may be unknown and/or may change over time).

Thus, rather than saying to a child, “I think your mother/father may be saying bad things about me to you.”

To which the child may accurately respond, “That is not true.” It may make sense to say, “I think that your mother/father wants to come between us or make you feel unsafe or uncomfortable with me or have you believe that you can only love one of us at a time.”

If there is any chance that alienation is occurring, such a statement is more likely to reflect reality than any statement about a specific strategy.

In order to avoid the appearance of badmouthing the alienating parent, which might backfire, a targeted parent might also want to consider saying to the child “I really want to be close with you and help you feel safe and good about yourself.” In this way, the targeted parent is aiming to fortify the attachment relationship without bringing the alienating parent into the picture at all.

It is also important to bear in mind that the list of strategies generated by the adult children is limited by what can be remembered by the adult children of PAS and by what they understand to be the actions that led to the alienation. It is quite possible that some of the strategies used by the alienating parents were so subtle that they remain outside the awareness of the adult children.

This line of thinking is supported by a study conducted by Baker and Darnall (2006) in which targeted parents were surveyed regarding the strategies that they believe the other parent was using in the service of parental alienation. While there was considerable overlap, there were also some strategies only known to the targeted parents.

The actions of the targeted parent may be more obvious to the alienation so this tactics can be altered to support the end goal. (“If the facts don’t match, change the facts”), the targeted parent may unknowingly be feeding into the negativeity that’s being drilled into the child while he or she kept away his targeted parent for long periods of time. Isolated, the alienation takes time to instill into the child a new normal, a changed past, altered memories and eventually an ambiguity towards it all and especially towards his parent. It is abuse akin. To torture, no different than the torture of the Chinese communists party in re-education camps. Only this “re-education occurs within the family dynamics.

How can you fix so much damage? How so you know when to start trying or stop trying?

How do you cope when the most love you can have for another human being becomes the most feared- when loving that child and being ripped away from them one little piece of time to the next over years and years right in front of your face, within your reach but you are helpless to do anything more than watch, wait and grieve.

QlpqWhat do you do?

You must find hope, all the while you must also remember that, from the child’s perspective, denying the truth allows one to avoid acknowledging a painful reality.

The child may not remember things with an understanding of what was truly happening. Think stockholme syndrome. It’s very much the same. The situation and it’s consequences didn’t become that way overnight, so you can expect to fix it overnight. For some, it can never be fixed. It passes down the generations. What do you do?

Read more. In the original article here.

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