|P.A.S. the word on
|A website for parents struggling with parental alienation syndrome
PAS causes dire long-term mental, psychological, and sometimes even physical (somatic) consequences. Even if we were not to concern ourselves with the developmental consequences for children involved, one obvious loss is the companionship, love and (social) security derived from an active relationship with the excluded parent and their extended family. Children who have been subjected to PAS no longer have this relationship. Not only is the child emotionally abused, but the victimized parent is as well. This relationship may possibly never be restored. Well-meaning people and even caregivers may suggest that the child will 'eventually realize the truth' and try to restore his relationship with the 'lost' parent. Unfortunately such a reunion will be difficult after years of absence. Seeing a lost parent after years of alienation will feel something like 'meeting a long-lost relative'.
Another developmental danger in such cases is the threat of imperative foster care, with added trauma, isolation and disgrace for the children involved. As I have mentioned in the 'History' chapter, a number of cases in the Netherlands have been reported in recent years in the press about parents committing suicide sometimes following the murder of their own child(ren) as a result of lost custody battles. Consequences for children and (both) parents in these cases are extreme.
Here is a list I have compiled of various symptoms linked to Parental Alienation Syndrome. Obviously there can be a difference between the reaction a younger child may have compared to an older child, and depending on which age the abuse began. Possible symptoms are:
- Anger is a common reaction of many children to the process of alienation. The anger however will be expressed towards the target parent as one sides with one of the parents in the relationship against the other. The fact the children are forced into this kind of situation causes considerable distress and frustration and the response often is to show aggressive behaviour towards the targeted parent in order to accommodate the programmer.
- Loss or a lack of impulse control in conduct. Children who suffer from PAS are not merely suffering from aggression but also often turn to delinquent behaviour. There is considerable evidence that fathers and their presence and influence can do much to prevent and alleviate the possibility of delinquency most especially in boys.
- Loss of self confidence and self esteem. Losing one of the parents through the programming procedure can produce a lack of self confidence and self esteem. In the case of boys identification with a male figure has been curtailed, especially if the alienated parent is the father.
- Clinging and separation anxiety. Children especially very young children who have been programmed to hate or disdain one of the parents will tend to cling to that parent who has carried out the programming. There is considerable anxiety induced by the programming parent against the target parent including threats that such a parent would carry out a great number of different negative actions against the child as well as the programming parent.
- Developing fears and phobias. Many children fear being abandoned or rejected now that they have been induced to feel that one of the partners in a relationship usually the father is less than desirable. Sometimes this results in the fear of attending school mainly due to fear of leaving the parent who claims to be the sole beneficial partner in the formal relationship. Some children tend to develop psychological symptoms and physical illnesses. Such children also fear what will happen in the future and most especially there is a fear that the programming parent or only parent who is allegedly the "good parent" may die and leave the child bereft of any support.
- Depression and suicidal tendencies. Some children who are so unhappy at the tragic break up of the relationship are further faced with animosity between the programming parent and the targeted parent. This leads to ambivalence and uncertainty and sometimes suicidal attempts occur due to the unhappiness which the child feels brought about by the two main adults in his or her life.
- Sleep disorders. Children frequently have nightmares and often find it difficult to sleep due to their worries about the danger of the alienated parent and the guilt they may feel as a result of participating in the process of alienation.
- Eating disorders. A variety of eating disorders have been noted in children who are surrounded by parental alienation. This includes anorexia nervosa, obesity and bulimia.
- Educational problems. Children who are surrounded by the pressure of having to reject one parent having been less brain washed frequently suffer from school dysfunctions. They may become disruptive as well as aggressive within that system.
- Bedwetting. A number of very young children due to the pressure and frustrations around them suffer from bed wetting and soiling. This is a response to the psychological disturbance of losing one parent and finding one parent inimical to the rejected parent.
- Drug abuse and self destructive behaviour frequently are present in children who have suffered from parental alienation. This tendency is due to a need to escape one's feelings of the abuse they have suffered through the experience and the desire to escape from it. In the extreme such self destructive behaviour can lead to suicidal tendencies.
- Obsessive compulsive behaviour. This psychological reaction is frequently present in PAS children. Such children will seek to find security in their environment by adopting a variety of obsessive compulsive behaviour patterns.
- Anxiety and panic attacks. This may be reflected through psycho-somatic disorders such as nightmares.
- Damaged sexual identity problems. Children often develop identity problems especially as they may have failed to identify with one member of the originally secure relationship.
- Poor peer relationships may follow the PAS situation due to the fact that such children often are either very withdrawn in their behaviour or are aggressive.
- Excessive feelings of guilt. This may be due to the knowledge deep down that the ostracized parent who has been vilified has done nothing wrong to deserve the kind of treatment received by the child or children. When this view occurs to the child especially as they become older they begin to suffer from guilt feelings."