Parental Alienation Syndrom (PAS) is a painful condition I’ve experienced in my own family, myself and my brother, in our different circumstances. Thankfully, it is an issue slowly making its way into public awareness. Parental alienation is considered a form of child abuse by many psychotherapists, and deeply disturbing to the emotional health of everyone affected by it. What exactly is Parental Alienation Syndrome? It’s a disorder proposed by American psychiatrist Dr. Richard A. Gardner, who writes that it is “a disturbance in which children are obsessively preoccupied with depreciation and/or criticism of a parent. In other words, denigration that is unjustified and/or exaggerated.” The effects of one parent’s psychological warfare with their ex-spouse is played out in the lives of their children who often “choose” to reject or marginalize the victimized parent. The damage that can be done in turning children against a parent is often permanent, inflicting trauma on both the children and the victimized father.
Dr. Gardner also writes, “Many of these children proudly state that their decision to reject their fathers is their own. They deny any contribution from their mothers. And, the mothers often support this vehemently. In fact, the mothers will often state that they want the child to visit with the father and recognize the importance of such involvement, yet such a mother’s every act indicates otherwise.”
If you are a child of a family separated by divorce, and you were raised to believe your father (or mother) was always bad or wrong, or even potentially abusive, then you may be a victim of parental alienation. If you chose to reject your alienated parent, and no longer have them in your life, you may be unknowingly suffering from this socially-denied form of child abuse. While there are a small number of fathers who are recognizably abusive, many of them of good and loving men, and are damaged by PAS as are their children. Worn down by years of active – and passive – aggression and rejection by their children the heart-breaking result is often emotional capitulation, the acceptance that some things can never be changed. Many alienated fathers are shell-shocked and traumatized by years of ex-spousal abuse, and only a few will seek psychotherapy, or healing. Many fathers simply limp away, stoically shouldering their loss, traumatized for life as an unacknowledged victim of a hidden crime.
In my work as a relational energy healer I’m always learning from my own experiences, as well as those of my family members, friends, and clients. My own personal healing journey informs and guides my work with others, leading me towards resources from which to draw from, and realities that I have learned to face. But this issue brings deep primal feelings to the surface, on all sides of the struggle.
When I work with clients also affected by an issue of parental alienation the biggest stumbling block to the process of healing are the infant mind loyalty chakra cords held by the client towards the mother, as well as the denial of the pain of separation from the father. The alienating mother is the most common example of this syndrome, although one can also have an alienating father.
Although I can work to clean and untangle the chakra cords of a client affected by this trauma it is only when the client can come to terms with the aggression of their mother that a substantial change can occur. Often we don’t want to see the mean-spirited woman operating; the same woman we may have supported and cared for over many years, or who we love as a mother, a sister, a friend. All of us have to work to uncover our hidden forms of aggression, but in this syndrome the infant mind unconsciously protects the mother from apparent wrong-doing, and at all costs. The black/white thinking of the infant mind within us struggles with the complexity of adult realities and with grown-up situations, and a shift may – or may not – occur. This kind of work is very individual, and there are no quick and easy paths to healing infant trauma.
It is the maternal loyalty chakra cords (especially in Swadhisthana chakra) connecting us to the mother that hold many associated issues in the client’s life in the same spider’s web of feelings that affect our eventual long-term connection to an actual (or potential) life partner. A client with PAS has their trust in men (or women) severely damaged due to the experience of parental alienation. Often a client will replace the healthy growing of trust towards a new partner with dysfunctional actions: increasing demands, testing, and other forms of controlling or abusive behavior. These behaviors, of course, produce the opposite effect intended by the client. Rather than force the other into compliance, the potential partner (unless co-dependent) usually leaves. Addictive problems may also be part of the mix of this syndrome, as the human psyche needs to maintain denial of psychological pain in some way, usually by dulling the feeling body with alcohol, nicotine, or drugs. The common result for many clients is a repetitive pattern of dysfunctional adult relationships, an attempted cording after cording to someone who will be eventually rejected, just as Daddy had to be rejected in order to be loyal to Momma. The original and early pattern of rejection (of the alienated parent) seeks to be energetically transplanted into the potential life partner. And, of course, this new relationship will fail.
For my clients affected by some form of parental alienation, the road to healing is unfortunately long and arduous. I always recommend (or even insist upon) professional psychological counseling in addition to relational energy healing work. Energy work alone is simply not enough, in these cases. My prayer is that as we grow in our social acceptance of this cruel syndrome we all become part of the healing process. I hope we can move it out of the shadows of denial, and into the light of common-day awareness where change, and support for the sufferers, can occur.
Speaking for all of the victims out there (myself included) I ask for your deep compassion for the loss of our children, and to please help where you can in awakening society to the reality of this crime against human connection. The Father does have value, does matter, as equally important as the mother, and the ongoing impact of alienated Fathers will deeply affect Western society.
For further information, head out to the internet, and do more research. There are many good web sites out there, including various wikipedia entries, as well as various books on the subject such as the late Dr Richard Gardner’s The Parental Alienation Syndrome (1992). Here is a good YouTube introduction to PAS.
© 2013 by Dean Ramsden. All rights reserved.