Parental Alienation

Southern England Psychological Services

“Real” justice for non custodial parents

Ludwig.F. Lowenstein Ph.D

Southern England Psychological Services


In the findings of the Court of Appeal by Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, Thorpe and Waller (June 19th 2000) I have been described in my one and only case before the committee as:

“at the one end of the broad spectrum of mental health practitioners and of the belief in the existence of PAS” (Parental Alienation Syndrome).

The judiciary were right in stating that PAS has not as yet been recognised by such bodies august as the American Psychological Association or the American Psychiatric Association or indeed the British Psychological Society etc. One must intrude here that it was equally not recognised that women should have the vote during the period of the suffragette movement!

Even if PAS in a legal sense can be negated, the existence of parental alienation or PA cannot be denied legally or realistically. It goes on as any rejected parent will verify. Until PAS (parental alienation syndrome) has been accepted, I will therefore reluctantly use only the term PA (parental alienation). It is unfortunate that my report at that time was rejected even though it was supported by a Court Welfare Officer. When the case went to appeal I was unfortunately not given the opportunity to argue in support of this report personally as I was never invited to do so. One might say I was sidelined much as rejected parents are sidelined.

This particular appeal related to several cases where the fathers wished for direct contact. In each case a father’s application for direct contact had been refused by the Judge, “against a background of domestic violence between the parents”. The court considered the report of the Children Act Sub-Committee of the Advisory Board on Family Law on parental contact in domestic violence cases, and a joint expert report prepared by two child psychiatrists for the Official Solicitor. In the case of real domestic violence, the decision for no direct contact is easy to uphold, but even here each case must be judged on its specific merits.

For example domestic violence often occurs following severe provocation and often with both parents acting violently, although one parent only is held responsible (Lowenstein, L. F., (2005). Children should naturally not be exposed to such events. Once of the parties have separated, there could be arguments for allowing the non resident parent having direct contact with the child even though there had been domestic violence since the two parents are no longer associated or together. It is of course important that the inimical parents be kept apart, especially when change over of contact is being considered. There is therefore the need for an independent intermediary to convey a child from one parent to the other.

Unless the absent parent has in any way or form been abusive to a child, there is no reason for that parent having close and regular contact with the child, especially if there has been a close and warm relationship with that child in the past. Later I will discuss the scenario of what should happen when the child no longer wishes to have direct, or any contact, with the previously much loved parent.

Suffice it to say, it is my view that the peremptory dismissing of the four appeals was wrong and should in time be reversed. The important or paramount factor at issue is “the likely risk of harm to the child” (page 2 of the report Court of Appeal Dame Elizabeth Butler- Sloss P, Thorpe and Waller, LJJ 19 June 2000) in this I agree totally with the Court of Appeal’s findings. Children should always feel and be safe. In that case, the Judiciary found in favour of the mother who did not wish her former spouse to have direct contact. Although there was a background of violence during the marriage and it remained a factor which, the Judge found, “had left its mark on the mother, unlike the other appeals before us, violence does not appear to me to be the main cause of the refusal of contact by the mother.” One could well ask what was the main cause for allowing the father contact when the child was the most likely beneficiary?

I was jointly instructed by the mother and the father and gave my opinion that therapy should be instituted as soon as possible with the purpose of improving the likelihood of good contact with the other parent as the result of such therapy. This, as with a number of my other cases was refused.

The Court Welfare Officer was also in favour of my recommendation. A complaint made by the mother against the Court Welfare Officer led to that officer not wishing to appear before the court despite being asked to do so. As already mentioned, I was not invited in the original court hearing to appear to give evidence of the vindictive parental alienation that occurred which influenced the child against having contact with the father. Had I been asked, I would have happily given evidence and been cross examined in support of my own report and the Court Welfare Officer’s views also. I was not aware at the time that the case had gone to appeal. I would likewise have been happy to support my position and the contents of the report written.
It is unfortunate that the parent who has custody will sometimes make unwarranted allegations against an expert whose views are contrary to their own. This happened in the case of the Court Welfare Officer. It could just as easily happen towards anyone including myself! This will, however, in no way dissuade me from giving evidence in the future which I believe to be both just and right.

The child’s intractable hostility towards an absent parent and even the parent’s extended family will often express the view that they do not wish contact with the father/mother. This must always be viewed always as individual cases. Children do not become hostile and wish no contact with a parent for no reason, especially if there has been a good relationship in the past. What one must seek to ascertain is what the real reasons are for avoiding contact ! Such in-depth analysis of the child’s motivation rarely occurs. It is therefore vital to examine the child’s rejection of a parent at greater depth via therapy. This again but rarely occurs. The child not wishing contact with a parent is accepted as sacrosanct. This is not being child centred. It is being duped by a child’s superficial response.

It is not enough to accept what the child claims are the reasons. We must look beneath their reasons and how they could have originated. The phrase “possession in nine tenths of ownership” has been used to claim justified ownership of objects. The custodial parent’s claim of a child is very much the same. The child is claimed as theirs and theirs alone. That cannot be right, and yet at present that is exactly the case. The child may be said to have changed his or her view toward the absent parent for a reason!

Having viewed recent cases in the High Court the expertise of two psychiatrists have been accepted as sacrosanct. Their view has been that the child, who does not wish direct or any contact with the parent, must be respected and acted upon. This conclusion is reached in the four cases that have appealed to the Court of Appeal for contact. I have waited long to respond to the decision of Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss and her colleagues. I have in some way responded indirectly by my articles on PA published and unpublished. The current response is more direct and is based on numerous cases where I have acted as an Expert Witness. My failures are not based on a parent having no justification for contact with a child but the precendent reached by Dame Butler-Sloss and her colleagues. These precendents must be altered and the right of the non custodial parent considered as equally important as that of the custodial parent. This is to the benefit of the child. This is a real illustration of being child centred. The child really prefers both parents to be involved with themselves once the alienation process has been overcome. Again, one must ask oneself why were such unfair decisions reached by the highly learned and respected Judges. It was reached not in the name of what is “right” and “just”. It was not reached in considering what is best for the child. It was reached for three main reasons:

  1. Because the child “wishes it” by reason of unjustified influences.
  2. Because of the difficulties involved in seeking to reverse what the child wants following the alienation, that the child has undergone.
  3. Because of failing to understand why the child is intractably hostile to one parent. It must be remembered this was not the case in the past, when the parental relationship was relatively intact.

Let us remember that the child who now refuses contact or wishes for only supervised or indirect contact had previously been extremely happy with the currently alienated parent who is now the rejected parent. That rejection is based on something that has occurred in the interim, while that caring non custodial and loved parent has been absent. The reasons have been well documented in the current writers previous published and unpublished papers currently on the website .

Many parents who love their child find it difficult and sometimes impossible to accept supervised or indirect contact. They are humiliated by such proposals. They feel, and rightly so, that they have done nothing to deserve this kind of limitation of contact. The fathers feel, and often experience, that it does not lead to direct contact.

The problem, however, remains for the judicial system how best to deal with the issue of a child refusing direct contact with a formerly loving parent and a formerly loved parent. My views are well known on how to make a custodial parent comply and insist that a child has contact with the absent parent. It is more often than not that the custodial parent has brought about the situation of a child’s unwillingness to be with a parent by direct or indirect statements and actions which led to the child’s antagonism towards the absent parent.

If the parent does not or will not reverse the alienation they have been instrumental in creating, then some justified action is required. This is both just and fair. Such parents will of course argue that they have done nothing to influence a child! As I have already said in courts on many occasions, the child is forced to wash, put on clean clothes, go to school, see a doctor or dentist (an especially unpleasant experience at times) but cannot be encouraged or made to see the other parent! Does this smack of reality or rational thinking? I think not.

I have always emphasised the value of therapy and/or mediation when this occurs. My preference is for cognitive behaviour therapy. This is also often opposed by the court and the custodial parent. They consider this unnecessary and even damaging to the child’s emotional state! The opposition by a parent is seen, at present, as the right of that parent to refuse mediation and treatment to identify and reverse the process of alienation. What about the right of the non custodial parent? What about the right of the child to have contact with both parents which deep down without the alienation would have been the case? Unfortunately, at present, the right of the non custodial parent, as well as the child’s deeper needs, are ignored.
Sometimes, it occurs, that a parent “plays along” with the therapy and mediation recommended. When the report by the expert and therapist is written and rational decisions are reached that go against the custodial parent, the report is often thrown out. Sometimes the expert is even viewed as prejudiced and being in favour of the non custodial parent. He is even disgraced or discredited for having suggested that a parent must co-operate or that a parent should lose custody of her child if he/she fails to encourage the child to be in contact with the previously loved parent. The basis of such action is again in the best interests of the child. It should be remembered when a child rejects a good parent it is not the child speaking. The child is in fact repeating and expressing the views of the alienator.

Two well regarded psychiatrist used the child’s right not to have direct contact with a parent as sacrosanct. This is despite the Judiciary making the following statement:

“I would however like to express some sympathy for the father, whose attempt to revive contact were found by the Judge to be genuine and well motivated. It may be that, if he perseveres in keeping in touch with G by interesting letters, postcards, cards and presents, when G is a little older he may express a wish to be in touch with his father…..” .

Unfortunately by that time the important role of that parent has been destroyed.

In the interim, much harm is likely to occur due to the restrictions based on a loving parent not having positive contact with a child. Lack of contact by a good parent with a child goes against the views of Lord Woolf MR and many others in the case of (Contact: Stepfather’s Opposition) [1997] 2LFR 579 where it is stated “…the general policy of this court that contact between a child and its natural parent is to be maintained wherever possible”. Lord Woolf has failed to understand that the phrase ‘wherever possible’ relies so much at present on the child’s own unsubstantiated wishes or superficial wishes based on the alienation.

Of paramount importance is the welfare of the child. One cannot help but agree with this, rather than the rights of either of parents for contact. The two issues are however linked, that is good, positive, caring parenting leads to safety and security for the child. This view is also contained in S1(1) of 1989 Act:

“The welfare of the child is the paramount consideration of any court concerned to make an Order relating to the upbringing of a child. It cannot be emphasised too strongly, that the court is concerned with the interests of the mother and the father only in so far as they bear on the welfare of the child.”

How can this view be stated so clearly by Lord Woolf and others including the House of Lords in S v M (Access Order) [1997] 1FLR980 and in reality the reverse often occurs when parents separate in an acrimonious manner? The answer is that when a child does not wish contact, this is taken very seriously and acted upon by the Judiciary. No effort, or very limited effort is made to unearth the real basis for the child’s stance and frequent implacable hostility to one parent, usually the absent father, although it could be the good mother also. Even when Expert Witnesses discover that the process of alienation has taken place, the Judiciary believe they are acting in the best interests of the child by refusing to insist on the child being made to have contact, or making a Contact Order which could force the custodial parent to change the view of the child regarding contact. This is often sufficient if there is pressure on the custodial parent that if they fail to do so they will lose the child in their care. Courts however, are very reluctant to make such statements and even more to enforce such decisions. They consider it will be worse for the child if this occurs. I do not agree. The damage, long and short term created by a child’s opportunity to have contact with two parents is a much worse scenario.

It should be remembered that the child in many instances has had a close and positive relationship with the non custodial parent and it could be resurrected providing the child has contact with that parent on a regular basis without the interference or alienation of the custodial parent. Something has undoubtedly happened, to change the views and feelings of the child towards the absent parent. Should whatever that is not be targeted for remediation? The reason for such change of attitude and behaviour in not wishing contact with a good but absent parent is almost certainly a process of programming, by the alienator.

Even if the child unfortunately, has witnessed a scenario of domestic violence between the parents, and this is not always the case, when they lived together, this has been resolved by the absence of one of the parents from the home. Sometimes the allegations of domestic violence have been exaggerated or have been mutual, or have indeed been unsubstantiated by independent and honest witnesses.

Lord McCluskey (S v M (Access Order) [1997} 1 FLR 980 stated the importance to the child of both parents having contact. In his view the link between the child and each of his natural parents is so important in itself, that, unless there are very strong reasons to the contrary, it should be preserved.

The Tavisock Clinic has a similar view: “….There is no doubt where parents have separated…….that for most children their mental health their emotional, psychological and social development are enhanced by regular contact with their parents and extended family.” (Working with Children and Parents through Separation and Divorce (1999) Dowling & Gorrell-Barnes: Macmillan Press. Hence virtually everyone agrees on the importance of contact for the absent parent with the child under positive circumstances. The area of uncertainty and disagreement is however how to interpret a child’s statement of unwillingness to have contact with the absent parent despite a history of good relationship. My own view here is that it is vital to establish the real reasons for a child feeling this way and to assess and study it. Frequently it is due to the absent parent having done nothing wrong although this has been interpreted differently by the alienating parent to the child. It is more likely therefore, that an attitude of this kind is formed due to the influence of the custodial parent. This is sometime termed “programming” or even “brainwashing”.

This result is that a good parent has been alienated, often permanently. Here something must be done to reverse this process. Sturge & Glaser would accept the right of the child to refuse contact with a parent and they consider it best to act upon it. I would strongly disagree. It is here not the child giving the opinion but the alienator! It must be remembered that the child is under the total control of the custodial parent (Lowenstein, 2005). It must be necessary to look beneath what the child claims is a decision for not wishing contact with a parent.

Sturge & Glaser prefer a slow, gradual process, sometimes commencing with indirect contact, to supervised contact leading by slow steps to direct contact. This approach is unlikely to be effective since during all this time, the alienation process continues unabated. Using the Sturge and Glaser method the child’s views are not altered and cannot be altered. The child’s attitude and behaviour often becomes worse. This is exemplified by having witnessed how non custodial parents suffer when thrown together in a supervised situation. Such parents are humiliated, called names and worse during such contact meetings. This is especially the case if the custodial parent is present and the child has an audience and ally. Here the child is showing the custodial parent how falsely he/she feels about the non custodial parent. Emails and ordinary letters and telephone calls are equally unsatisfactory, and frequently do not bring the child closer to the non custodial parent. It must be remembered that the alienator still has total control of the child physically and psychologically. If anything the unwarranted animosity of the child towards the non custodial parent gets worse! Such behaviour is encouraged directly or subtly against the now hated former partner.

If there is more than one child, then the older child will often influence the younger ones to reject the father or mother. They will even influence the very young who have had little or no contact with the alienated parent before the acrimonious parting of the ways by the parents. The only answer can be to influence the alienator through strong sanctions to reverse that process and to sincerely and directly influence and encourage the child to seek good contact with the absent parent. Such behaviour must be sincere and not pretence. This can lead very often however, to lip-service and the parent claiming that he/she can do nothing to “change the views” of the child!? As has already been stated children are made to do many things i.e. going to the dentist, than meeting a loving parent.

It must be made clear to such a parent that if they are unable to alter the child’s views then someone else must do so via therapy or mediation. This must always be with the backing of the court. If this fails change of residence could be determined as a last resort. Often the threat of this likely to follow is sufficient for the custodial parent to do all they can to resolve the matter and to make certain that the child has contact with the absent parent. I would hasten to add that this is not primarily for the benefit of the sidelined parent, but for the child. The child has and will suffer as a result of being deprived of one parent in the short and even more in the long term (Lowenstein, 2005, article 20). The author is therefore equally child-centred since contact with two loving parents is of the greatest benefit to the child.

At the present time, the plight of the good and caring absent parent is being rejected by an alienated child and often by an alienated court which fails to see the reason for the lack of desire for contact that is the true reason. The softly, softly approach advocated by Sturge and Glaser and accepted by the Judiciary at present does not work. Absent parents without contact with their children continues unabated. Absence does not make the “heart grow fonder” towards the alienated parent. It is just the reverse. The absence of contact widens the gulf until it can no longer be bridged. Most alienated parents after years of struggling against the legal odds as well as the deluded expert witnesses, ‘throw in the towel’. They seek no further contact. This is a tragedy for the present and for the future of the child.

In the current situation, it is important to gather evidence via a survey of professional experts as well as from non custodial parents. It is important to obtain real evidence as to the percentage of success or failure of current acceptable methods to bring about direct contact. Are current procedures successful in leading to contact in the first instance? The answer is likely to be, no. The aim for direct contact between the absent parent and the child/children fails under the current conditions.

The survey (questionnaire) which is at the end of this article seeks to obtain for the first time, objective evidence as to whether the current recommendations of Dr J. G. Sturge, Consultant Child Psychiatrist, and Dr D. Glaser, Consultant Child Psychiatrist, are valid. By valid, is meant, whether it leads to direct positive contact between the absent parent and the child following indirect and supervised contact as stepping stones to full contact. The hypothesis is that this does not work, due to the continuing parental alienation practised by the custodial parent. This leads the child to adopt the intractable hostility and view that no direct contact with the non custodial parent is desired. This is viewed by current experts Sturge & Glaser as child centred approach. Decisions therefore are likely to be made on the basis of what the child wishes “superficially”. This then is wrongly linked to “what is in the best interests of the child”.

In relation to the refusal of a child to see a parent Sturge & Glaser (2000) state in Family Law, 615- 621:

(i) “the child must be listened to and taken seriously;
(ii) the age and understanding of the child are highly relevant;
(iii) the child, and the younger and the more dependent, either for developmental or emotional reasons, if in a positive relationship with the resident parent will inevitable be influence by:
• “that parent’s views;
• their wish to maintain her or his sense of security and stability within that household.
(iv) Going against the child’s wishes must involve the following.

Indications that there are prospects of the child changing his or her view as a result of preparation work or the contact itself, for example, there is a history of meaningful attachment and a good relationship; the non-resident parent has child-centred plans as to how to help the child to overcome his or her resistance; there are some indications of ambivalence such as an adamant statement of not wanting to see that parent accompanied by lots of positive memories and affect when talking of that parent.”

The validity of their view and it being acted upon by the court has never been proven as valid, and yet it has been recognised in the UK by Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss P, Thorpe and Waller LJJ (19 June 2000) as the way matters should be dealt with. It is time this approach should be verified by objective evidence.

As an expert witness attending courts, dealing with numerous child contact and custody disputes, I have been witness to considerable and unwarranted injustice to one or both parents. This is most especially the case over parental contact with one parent who is no longer in the relationship with the other but has done nothing wrong in relation to the child. This occurs when there has been an acrimonious parting between the previously close parents. The child/children are frequently brought into the hostility. They take sides. The side they take is based on that parent who has total control over their mind-set.

The custodial parent who does not wish for the child to have good contact with the absent parent directly or indirectly (subtly) does everything possible to discourage contact of a favourable kind between the now absent parent and the child. The absent parent tends to be the father more often than the mother. I have always striven for real justice for both fathers and mothers. At present neither, what is “right” or “just” is being done. I believe strongly that our legal system, and its code of laws or rules prevent either justice or right winning the day. It is time, high time, that there is a change of thinking and judicial action needs to be taken in this respect. Laws need to be changed so that both parents have access to justice. The chief casualty is always the child.

My contact with the courts leave me in despair! I have had to witness both mothers and fathers as well as their children losing contact with a loving parent. I have had to witness a parent seeking good contact with their child over months and years and not being able to achieve this. The courts have hardly been helpful. The custodial parent, usually programmes, or brainwashes the child/children to reject the now absent parent. The absence of the parent is through no fault of his/her own. The term parental alienation falls on deaf ears in Courts of Law. The term parental alienation syndrome or PAS fares even worse because it has not yet been recognised by the American Psychiatric or Psychological Association and the British Psychiatric or Psychological Association. Hence it cannot be used as an argument in the courts.

PAS or parental alienation syndrome are merely symptoms that occur together that lead a child to reject, and even despise a worthy parent. There are eight symptoms to be considered which will be discussed later. Everyone knows that programming against the parent exists and leads to the rejection of that worthy parent and yet the courts do not accept that this occurs.

They merely believe and act upon a child’s rejecting one parent. It is my view, and others including Tony Coe from the organisation called Equal Parenting Council (EPC), that the practice of turning a child against a non residential parent is an act of hostility, not only to the absent parent but to the child in the short and long term. Everyone knows that a child is likely to identify more often than not with the views of the custodial parent in showing the same animosity towards the now absent father/mother as the non custodial parent. Everyone knows that there are other symptoms of this act of programming of the child such as exaggerating or creating frivolous criticisms of the absent parent. Everyone knows that this is wrong and the child’s comments about the faults of the absent parent should not be accepted or taken seriously. The child has in such cases been used by a vindictive parent to carry on the hostility which existed between the adults.

Despite this, the courts will act and make decisions based on what the child wants, or what he/she “says” they want. This superficial and wrong decision of Judges needs to be reversed. Such decisions are based on superficial face value thinking. It needs to be reversed by looking beneath what the child says and wants and why the child says what he/she says. This is more so now that so many relationships increasingly end in a hostile manner. Are we prepared for a child/children growing up with one parent in an inimical environment and the other parent being viewed as bad or worse? Are we not depriving the child/children thereby of an absent but caring parent? One should remember this is in a background of no domestic violence or the physical, sexual or emotional abuse of a child.

In time many parents, usually the father, after years of seeking rightful contact with a child gives up the battle against an unjust legal response. Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss P is known for upholding the law when she states that PAS cannot be used as an argument against a brainwashing parent on the one side, and the rejection of the worthy parent on the other side.

Sometimes the child will wish to have no contact whatsoever with a parent with whom that child had previously enjoyed a close and warm relationship. Sometimes, for no good reason, based on the child’s alleged wishes, the court allows only supervised contact, often with the parent present who has done the alienating!. This is unlikely to be the right way forward. It is likely to be a humiliating experience for the loving, yet rejected parent, who has done nothing to deserve such treatment. Despite this, the court orders that this be done because of the child’s alleged wishes. Let us look at what has formed these wishes.

  1. 1. The family of the child/children has already been broken up once.
  2. The child/children have already possibly witnessed and felt the animosity between their two parents.
  3. The sympathy of the child/children already lies possibly with one parent, often the mother, whom the child/children have seen in a state of distress because they are the resident parent, due to the alienation felt between the two parents.
  4. The child/children therefore often blames the absent parent for all the distress caused at the time of the break up of the parent’s relationship, and continues to blame the absent parent for the continuous effort they make whilst trying to gain access to the child/children.
  5. All this happens before the custodial parent has had a chance to alienate the child/children against the non resident parent.
  6. Often the child/children are forced to take sides. Who do you think they will side with? Yes, it is obvious that they will choose the custodial parent who is trying to provide for them and their needs.
  7. This is a good ground for the alienator in which to sow the seeds of animosity. This is where the innuendos and emotional blackmail can be scattered subtly or directly. The child may observe pent up anger of the alienator against the absent parent, poverty is claimed by the alienator because the absent parent is not contributing to the upkeep of the child/children, visual emotion is expressed about contact visits with the absent parent or over telephone calls etc, and the child may be used as an ally, friend of confessor by the alienator.
  8. If there is a great deal of animosity and anger from the custodial parent toward the absent parent then the child/children are often pawns in the game with the custodial parent using the child/children as ammunition against the absent parent.
  9. What therefore is the child to think? Of course they choose to remain and side with the custodial parent. Of course they want the security of staying with the one parent of the marriage on whom they now totally depend. Who is counselling them about the situation and what they are possibly doing to the other parent? No-one. So the situation continues unabated. Therefore when they are interviewed by the CAFCASS officer what is the outcome?
  10. Yes, they wish to remain with the custodial parent and to get rid of, often totally, the other parent who they see as making a nuisance of himself/herself against the custodial parent and causing them stress or anger.

There has to be another way of measuring or determining what is best in the child’s interest despite what they say. As a court expert and clinical expert of many years I am abhorred by many of court’s decision based on a false impression gained from a child that has been brainwashed. Frequently psychologists, psychiatrists and others feel they are helpless and therefore they do not even consider changing the view of the child and they go along with a system and the law. These professionals readily, though sometimes reluctantly, make decisions which further sideline one parent. In my view this is but short-term thinking. It is likely to have short and long-term unfortunate consequences for the child and obviously for the rejected parent. Sometimes in later years the alienating parent also pays the price for his/her nefarious activities, when the child, now an adult, has been used.

What is required is to re-establish the relationship between the alienated parent and the child. This is unlikely to be achieved by further separation or by limited contact between the child and the absent parent. It must be remembered, that while PAS does not as yet have legal status, it is nevertheless real. It exists in the form of a cruel rejection of a caring parent for unfounded reasons who wishes for nothing more than to help care and guide his/her child, as was the case before the separation or divorce. The child/children’s brainwashing must not be accepted but be reversed.

Richard Gardner cites the following as signs of alienation:

  1. The child is aligned with the alienating parent in a campaign of denigration against the target parent with the child making active contribution.
  2. Rationalisations for the deprecating of the target parent are often weak, frivolous or absurd.
  3. Animosity towards the rejected parent lacks the ambivalence normal to human relationships.
  4. The child asserts that the decision to reject the target parent is his or her own, also referred to as the “independent thinker phenomenon”.
  5. The child reflexively supports the parent with whom he or she is aligned.
  6. The child expresses guiltless disregard for the feelings of the target or hated parent.
  7. Borrowed scenarios are present i.e. the children’s statements reflect the themes and terminology of the alienating parent.
  8. Animosity is spread over the extended family and others associated with the hated parent.

Children who have thus been used by an alienator must have contact with that parent or must be treated sensitively but firmly until this is achieved. Absence from the alienated parent does not solve the problem. Only prolonged contact can achieve the re-establishment of the former caring and loving relationship.

It is my view that the law concerning the alienation of one parent and his/her being sidelined by the programmer, must and will change. This is because it is both unjust and unfair. It is also extremely harmful to the child. Those in power must accept the injustice of the current situation and not allow it to continue. It is not unlike the plight of the suffragettes many years ago, who were deprived of the vote because they were of the female gender. The law stated at that time that they should not have the vote. That law was changed. Equally slavery and the employment of young children in factories and mines was done away with. The same must be the case for those parents who have been alienated. Both political and judicial changes are necessary.

In the meantime I will continue to do what I can, despite the current laws, without accepting the ‘status quo’ which is currently the case. The programmer will not be victorious for long but at the moment one must sadly accept that this is the


The survey is not included in the text of the internet version of this article but can be taken by clicking this link.


Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss P, Thorpe & Waller, Court of Appeal LJJ 19 June 2000 (

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Lowenstein, L. F. (2005). Signs of Parental Alienation Syndrome and How to Counteract its Effects (AAR13) being considered for publication. Posted on internet.

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