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November 27, 2010

Richard Warshak Dances Around Parental Alienation - Part Two

[Part one of this article is here.]

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A father's abusive behavior towards the mother is most definitely a problem with the label of parental alienation because these same abusive men are using parental alienation (with their lawyer's and psych's blessings) as a weapon in court to get child custody away from protective mothers! Ms lc pointed out all that below. Also, see my quote from Silverberg in my previous post. Warshak continues to ignore that parental alienation is used as a weapon by abusive, controlling, and hostile men!

Warshak makes it sound like parental alienation is a problem of epic proportions - an epidemic in contested custody and divorce cases. How common is alienation, after all? Meier reported in "Parental Alienation Syndrome and Parental Alienation: Research Reviews" that "no more than 10% of all children were alienated in a way that fits the alienation paradigm, for example, alienating conduct by an otherwise non-abusive aligned parent. In short, alienation theorists’ own research demonstrates that wrongful “child alienation” (that which is not simply part of a pattern of abuse) is remarkably rare in divorcing and separating families." Johnson, one of alienation's primary researchers, found that (per Meier) "even where the vast majority of both parents used alienating behaviors, only 6% of children were "extremely rejecting" and only 20% "showed indication of being consistently negative." Those percentages included mothers who were victims of domestic violence who were counted as victims of alienation. Those children are more accurately described as victims of abuse rather than victims of alienation.

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Ms lc's responses to Warshak's comment below never went live, presumably because he doesn't want to bring any attention to that Canadian case where a judge ruled against forcing a teenaged Canadian boy into deprogramming from alienation at Warshak's Bridges treatment program in California - at a cost of $40,000 for four days worth of "treatment". Another activist had commented about the case earlier this month, and her comment never saw the light of day.

"I appreciate your passion..."??? So he demeans ms lc by saying she's too emotional? Slick way to insult your critics.

Note Warshak's vague and circular statements about the nature of "alienation" below. Then read more from Meier:

Johnston and others have acknowledged that "there is very little empirical data to back up . . . [their] clinical observations" that alienated children are significantly undermined in their emotional and psychological development (Johnston & Kelly, 2004b, p. 84). In fact, Johnston and Kelly (2004b) forthrightly state that "there are no systematic long term data on the adjustment and well-being of alienated compared to non-alienated children so that long-term prognostications are merely speculative" (p. 84). Evaluators and alienation theorists commonly assert that alienation is a devastating form of emotional abuse of children. To the contrary, Judith Wallerstein, the groundbreaking researcher of divorce who first pointed out the problem of children’s sometimes pathological alignment with the custodial parent after divorce or separation, found in her follow-up study that children's hostility toward the other parent after divorce was temporary, and resolved of its own accord, mostly within one or two years (Bruch, 2001; Wallerstein et al., 2000).

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Notice how vague he is in describing alienation? No wonder everyone commenting "sees" alienation. That kind of behavior is common in all kinds of families, even married ones, as ms lc wrote. Alienation doesn't take into account normal behavior children and teens exhibit as a reaction to their parent's divorce. It also doesn't take into account normal and expected belligerent and surly behavior from children and teens that they exhibit as their way of distancing themselves from their parents - as a normal part of of the stages of childhood development. Since parental alienation isn't concerned with the causes of behavior it won't detect any of this. Keep in mind that Wallerstein found that typically children grow out of difficult divorce-related behavior in about two years.

In addition, in his paper "Current Controversies Regarding Parental Alienation Syndrome" (2001), Warshak admitted that "To date, no study has directly measured the extent to which different examiners, with the same data, can agree on the presence or absence of PAS (or, for that matter, alienation in a child). Until a sufficiently high rate of agreement on the presence or absence of PAS is established through systematic research, the diagnosis will not attain the empirical support which is probably necessary to achieve acceptance on a par with the disorders recognized in the American Psychiatric Association’s official description of diagnoses. And, until such data exist, the reliability of PAS cannot be supported by reference to scientific literature."

Even Warshak admitted that parental alienation is hooey.

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And now the Canadian alienation case. For more on this case, go to this web site: Deprogramming Treatment Blocked In Child Custody Case (2009):

Pertinent sections about Warshak:

An Ontario judge yesterday blocked an attempt to forcibly send a Toronto child for deprogramming treatment in a controversial parental-alienation program in California.

[...]

Treatment at the clinic – founded by Richard Warshak – involves isolating a child from the parent who is identified as having poisoned his or her emotions toward the other parent. Therapists then attempt to undo the child’s hostile feelings.

[...]

In her ruling, Judge Herman concluded that the arbitrator placed too much stock in an opinion that Dr. Warshak offered to the effect that the children would benefit from his program.

She said that the independent assessment should focus, in particular, on whether the 14-year-old boy, who has Klinefelter’s Syndrome, would undergo psychiatric suffering if his older brother opts out of treatment and he is sent alone.

Mr. Weir said in the interview that he was shocked when the arbitrator ordered treatment since he had little more than Dr. Warshak’s say-so that the program is effective.

“Warshak saw only the mother - but not the father or the boys,” Mr. Weir added. “He said that he wasn’t giving a definitive opinion, but he actually did.”

Mr. Weir said that, at a cost of $40,000 for four days of treatment, the program is expensive as well as unproven.

“Warshak came up a year and a half ago and did his first seminar,” he said. “My impression at the time was, I think he has failed to establish himself with the psychologists or psychiatrists in the U.S., and now he’s coming to Canada.

Earlier this week, Dr. Warshak rebuffed a request to discuss his program. “I have been very generous with my time speaking to journalists at your newspaper and other Canadian media outlets, but now I must turn my attention to other tasks,” he said in an e-mail to The Globe and Mail.

Ms lc didn't bring up the case of Bianca H. (Texas) so I will. It's another case where Warshak recommended his "treatment" for parental alienation and the court put a stop to it. As in the Canadian case, Warshak never met with the child. He viewed a tape of the child interacting with the plaintiff.

Warshak testified that when conflict between “parents” causes a child distress, a court should order counseling and sanction the parent that instigated the conflict. Warshak believed any harm Bianca suffered because of the conflict would be less than the harm she would suffer if she lost Alfano. Indeed, Warshak testified the best way to remedy the conflict would be to increase Alfano's access to the child.

After the testimony, the trial court stated that Alfano had been put in the position of an uncle since the child was twenty months old. The trial court noted that it had attempted to resolve the situation for four years with no progress. The trial court considered limited visitation, but determined that it would only put off the inevitable. Accordingly, the trial court terminated Alfano's visitation rights.

In its findings of fact, the trial court found that (1) Alfano is not legally or biologically related to the child, (2) a great deal of conflict exists between Mother and Alfano, (3) the conflict was unlikely to abate in the future, (4) the conflict was injurious to the child's best interest, (5) the circumstances of the child have materially and substantially changed since the date of the order sought to be modified, (6) the order has become unworkable and inappropriate under existing circumstances, and (7) modification would produce a positive improvement for and be in the best interest of the child. The trial court modified its prior order eliminating Alfano's right to possession of and access to the child.

The appeals court affirmed the ruling.

In conclusion, Richard Warshak's own statements show how specious and vague parental alienation really is. It is a layman's description of an opinion about observed behavior. There are better ways to deal with problems in divorce and custody cases than pretending they can be solved by smacking them with a parental alienation label. And abused mothers and children are not alienated. That label undermines the seriousness and importance of what they experience. They are victims of child abuse and domestic violence, intimate terrorism, control, and hostility. Parental alienation belongs in neither a court of law or in a psychiatrists or therapists office. It's a money-maker for greedy people taking advantage of the new cottage industries springing up around family law cases.


Posted on November 27, 2010 at 02:04 PM | Permalink

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