"Know Thyself, Know thy Enemy- A Thousand Battles, a Thousand Victories" - Ancient Chinese Warrior Sun Tzu
Dr. Gardiner (who has written extensively about the subject of PAS; many articles can be found on the internet) has explained it in this way: "The preferred parent exacts as the cost of his/her love the destruction of the child's empathy and identification with the other parent, forcing the child into open but ambivalent conflict with that parent. The emotional relationship with one parent is totally ruptured and the child's developmental needs are ignored." (1992)
Further: "Its primary manifestation is the child's campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent's indoctrinations and the child's own contributions to the vilification of the target parent."
How can PAS be identified?
- The child believes lies and slander concerning the targeted parent
- The child uses rediculous, absurd arguments to justify treatment of targeted parent
- Complete lack of remorse about the rejection of his or her other parent
- The "independent-thinker" phenomenon (strong assertions that the decision to reject the parent is theirs alone)
- Reflexive support of the alienating parent in the parental conflict (the child may say things about the other parent that are definitely not child-like things to say, or do not reflect the child's own character).
- Absence of guilt over cruelty to and/or exploitation of the alienated parent
- The presence of borrowed scenarios (exaggerating the facts or even twisting reality)
- Spread of the animosity to the friends and/or extended family of the alienated parent
What is a 'syndrome'?
There are discussions about whether or not Parental Alienation Syndrome is really a syndrome or not? Medical definition states that a 'syndrome' can be identified by the fact that a series of simultaneous symptoms that can be linked because of their common origin. Parental Alienation Syndrome has a distinct pattern of common symptoms that are observed in a child who is exposed to such harmful circumstances.
What causes PAS?
Parental Alienation Syndrome is a direct result of structurally indoctrinating children in any possible way to induce aversion and rejection of the other parent. PAS can be caused or initiated by anyone; not necessarily being a phenomenon limited to the child's natural parents. One parent (or his/her family) may attempt to alienate the other; Children's Aid Societies may unconsciously induce (or sustain) alienation of the child from their natural parent(s). Hasty judgments leading to placements of children in foster care or barring one parent from contact with their child are examples of this. Even foster parents sometimes try to alienate their foster child (out of fear) against the natural parents. Unfortunately, PAS can take on many forms, from silent, subtle (nonverbal -body) communication that clearly shows the dislike of one parent (or his or her family) towards the other, to verbal degradation and/or even physical attacks. Making false reports about an ex-partner to the Children's Protection Agencies is also a popular method, misusing the authorities as a way to destroy contact with the children. The goal is to discredit, demean or degrade the other parent and annihilate his or her authority towards the children as much as possible. The consistent barrage of negative propaganda brainwashes the children so that they avoid, ignore, dislike, rebel against and, in some extreme cases, renounce or even hate their other parent for a lifetime.
What causes people to Alienate their children from their loving (grand-) parents?
It has been suggested (and can be read on many web-sites about PAS) that people who will use their own children as a weapon against someone else will in many cases suffer from a type of Personality Disorder, or be a drug or alcohol addict. While this may certainly account for a large percentage of all PAS cases, I do not believe that it would be an adequate explanation to say that all
cases are caused by a person who suffers from some sort of pervasive disorder. I believe that the ingredients are much more ready-at-hand: lack of self-esteem, jealousy, anger, resentment, inability to move on after a divorce, etc. Once the road is chosen to 'inform' one's child about the numerous shortcomings of one's ex-partner, one can only choose to continue down this road. It is, one may reason, not consistent and even somewhat "weak" to change your mind and decide to abort your attack. Even if a person may realize later on that some of the things that he or she has said were greatly exaggerated or even completely false, and are likely to cause psychological damage and isolation for their child in the long run, it is not likely that someone will stop their 'war', although reason dictates differently. It's all about Ego; the temptation is all too great to continue inflating our Ego by putting someone else 'in the dog house' and to keep doing it for consistency's sake. A (false) sense of self-esteem is striven for in their crusade.
Upon further reflection I realized that 'Parental Alienation' is actually a miniature of problematic society: the world's greatest problems are (whether speaking of individual, personal- level problems or on a grand, international scale) alienation, prejudice, division and hate; with loneliness, sadness, pain, regret, wars and ensuing death on a massive scale as a consequence.