The American Psychiatric Association has a hot potato on its hands as it updates its catalog of mental disorders — whether to include parental alienation, a disputed term conveying how a child's relationship with one estranged parent can be poisoned by the other.This is a hot issue because some people argue that there is no such thing as Parental Alienation Syndrome because it is not defined in the DSM-IV. But it clearly exists, regardless:
There's broad agreement that this sometimes occurs, usually triggered by a divorce and child-custody dispute. But there's bitter debate over whether the phenomenon should be formally classified as a mental health syndrome — a question now before the psychiatric association as it prepares the first complete revision since 1994 of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. ...
His proposal defines parental alienation disorder as "a mental condition in which a child, usually one whose parents are engaged in a high conflict divorce, allies himself or herself strongly with one parent, and rejects a relationship with the other parent, without legitimate justification."
Texas Supreme Court Justice Debra Lerhmann, chair of the American Bar Association's family law section, said the issue of possible alienation can be raised in child custody proceedings whether or not any such phenomenon is classified as a disorder by health professionals.Either way, it is just another excuse for so-called experts to charge large fees:
"Anyone who's in this business knows there are situations where that in fact is happening — and sometimes it's alleged but is not happening," she said. "Even if it's not in the manual, relevant evidence can still be brought in."
She said the initial impetus for recognition of parental alienation syndrome came in large part from the fathers' rights movement, but suggested much of the momentum now comes from psychologists, consultants and others who could profit if the concept had a more formal status in family court disputes.There are a lot of other disorders in the DSM-IV with less empirical support.
"It's monetary," Kates said. "These psychologists and therapists make huge money doing the evaluations and therapies."
In my case, the psychologist Ken Perlmutter told me that my ex-wife told our a serious of false and malicious stories about me, and then took extraordinary measures to prevent them from learning the truth. But he said that the kids say that they love me, so he determined that there was no alienation and did not
mention it in his report.