Archive for March, 2010

Fairness and Accuracy?

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

The March edition of Clinical Psychiatry News carried an opinion piece about the ongoing revisions to the upcoming edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The piece was not about parental alienation. However, the author used a few paragraphs to present such an inaccurate, unsubstantiated and biased account of parental alienation and the people who support its inclusion in the DSM that it makes you wonder if anyone at the publication even reviews content prior to publication. 

In the column the author stated that Dr. Richard Gardner was nothing more than a self-published protector of child sex abusers who was abusive to mothers in court. The author presented no evidence to support his claims, and chose to ignore that Gardner was published in many professsional publications; including The American Journal of Family Therapy, The American Journal of Forensic Psychology, and the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law. The author also ignored, or didn’t bother to find out, that family court is a place where judges, legal and mental health professionals are routinely rude and disrespectful to mothers and fathers. If a rude professional’s behavior was enough to keep a diagnosis out of the DSM, this bible of the mental health field would be reduced to a one page flyer.
 
The author further implied that any member of a Father’s Rights group is nothing more than a sexually abusive father who wants parental alienation in the DSM so he can keep abusing the kids. This statement would be laughable if it were not so damaging on two fronts: first, implying that any father who believes the other parent is trying to damage or destroy his relationship with their child must be abusive; and two, insulting the many loving fathers who have normal, healthy relationships with their children but believe in the broader goals of these organizations — goals that have nothing to do with parental alienation. Further, the author ignored the many loving mothers who have been alienated from their children by fathers. As we’ve said many times, neither mothers or fathers have cornered the market on the unhealthy emotional issues that lead one parent to alienate a child from another parent.   

The author appeared to resent the political nature of updating the DSM and on that point we agree. Yet his inflammatory, unsubstantiated words about parental alienation, fathers and father’s rights groups was better suited to a special interest group’s marketing brochure than a professional mental health publication. While the author is entitled to his opinion, and Clinical Psychiatry News did label the column an “Opinion” piece, the fair and balanced thing for this publication to do would be to allow another professional to refute the biased and unsubstantiated claims about parental alienation in its next issue. No one expects an organization publication to match the journalistic standards of the New York Times or Washington Post, but even an organization publication should have minimum standards for fairness, balance and accuracy.

A Family’s Heartbreak message to the DSM Review Board

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

The American Counseling Association (ACA) recently asked its members for comments on the proposed DSM-5. The ACA collected member comments and presented a consolidated document to the DSM-5 Review Board to consider before the Board moved forward with revisions to the next edition of the DSM.

A Family’s Heartbreak, LLC includes an ACA member so we had the opportunity to submit a statement arguing for the inclusion of parental alienation in the DSM-5. Here is an edited version of our submission:

“It is both critical and appropriate for parental alienation to be included in the next edition of the DSM as an adjustment disorder.

The DSM is full of adjustment disorders. We consider a parent, dealing with the stress, emotions and long-term uncertainty of divorce or separation, as having an adjustment issue if the parent takes the emotionally damaging and unhealthy steps of not only allowing a child into the adult conflict but making the child responsible for his or her emotional well-being at the expense of the other parent, and the child’s long-term, normal, emotional growth and development. In addition, it is illogical that the DSM already includes descriptions of unhealthy attachment disorders, but has so far omitted the proverbial flip side of the same coin. If an unhealthy attachment to a parent constitutes a valid diagnosis in the DSM, how can an unhealthy aversion to a parent also not be considered worthy of inclusion in the mental health profession’s definitive guide?

The reasons for omitting parental alienation from the DSM should not be political. Parental alienation is not a legal issue, and therefore the DSM Review Board should turn a deaf ear to parental alienation critics and special interest groups who include parental alienation into broader shared parenting, child support or domestic violence agendas. Parental alienation is a mental health issue — plain and simple. Countless parents, children and extended family members will continue to suffer the long-term mental and emotional consequences of parental alienation until professionals are able to diagnose alienation and help others address its harmful effects.”

Justice Jeffries style

Monday, March 15th, 2010

Mike Jeffries, author of A Family’s Heartbreak: A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation, will be a guest on the internet talk show America’s Injustice, Tuesday night, March 16 at 8:00 p.m. EST.

The program will focus on parental alienation and the progress parents, legal and mental health professionals have made raising awareness of this destructive family dynamic in the public’s consciousness. The DSM Review Board is currently considering a proposal to put parental alienation in the next edition of the Diagnositc and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — making this week’s America’s Injustice program particularly relevant.

Listeners can access the program at www.talkshoe.com or call in at 724-444-7444, program ID 52056.

Follow Mike Jeffries on Basil & Spice

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Can’t get enough of Mike Jeffries, author of A Family’s Heartbreak: A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation?

Basil & Spice (http://www.basilandspice.com), a blog founded in 2006, has added Jeffries as a regular contributor on parental alienation. Jeffries will write a monthly column and focus on separating parental alienation fact from fiction. You can find his first column in the Love and Relationship section at http://www.basilandspice.com/love-and-relationships/

Basil & Spice features more than 300 professional contributors blogging about topics such as finance, wellness, health care, fitness and living green. “We’re all about keeping Basil & Spice current, fresh and real,” says founder Kelly Jad’on.

“I’m delighted to join such a professional blog and help bring the issue of parental alienation to a much broader audience,” Jeffries says. “The more we educate the public about parental alienation the more we can help families avoid it.”

You talkin to me?

Monday, March 8th, 2010

Here at the A Family’s Heartbreak blog we direct most of our words to the parents, legal and mental health professionals who deal with the disruptive and unhealthy actions of the alienating parent. However today’s post is directed at alienating parents. You know who you are. You believe that you are acting in the children’s best interests when you involve them in your battles with the other parent.

The American Psychological Association (APA) reports in its latest Stress in America research that parents typically misjudge the amount of stress on their children. Twenty percent of children ages 8 to 17 reported that they worry a great deal, while only 3 percent of parents rated their children’s stress levels as extreme. Further, while only 13 percent of parents thought their children suffered from stress headaches, 36 percent of the kids reported stress headaches. Thirteen percent of parents thought their children have difficulty sleeping, while 45 percent of children reported trouble sleeping. While 18 percent of parents thought their children worry about the family’s financial situation, the kids reported that 30 percent of them are worried about the family finances.

Some alienating parents believe their children have the right to know what the other parent “is really like.” Other alienating parents believe that their children are “mature enough” to make decisions that force them to choose sides in their parents’ conflict. Adult conflicts are stressful enough for adults. Now the research shows that all parents underestimate the amount of stress children feel on a day-to-day basis. There is no good reason to further stress out your children by pulling them into conflicts that make them choose between Mom and Dad.

Calling all Counselors

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

The American Counseling Association (ACA) recently asked its members to provide feedback on a draft of the DSM-V– which the ACA will consolidate and forward to the DSM-V Task Force. As many of you know, the DSM is the mental health profession’s bible — the final authority on symptoms and syndromes and the definitive diagnosis on legitimate mental health conditions. The newest edition of the DSM will be released in 2013.

More than 60 international experts — academics, authors and mental health professionals — recently submitted a proposal to include parental alienation in the DSM-V. Many groups and individuals are working diligently to make the DSM Task Force aware of the huge number of parents and children currently struggling with the emotional heartbreak of parental alienation. It is also vitally important that all ACA members lobby their organization to include parental alienation in the next edition of the DSM.

Including any new diagnosis in the DSM is a long, complex, and some say, political, process. However including parental alienation in the DSM as an Adjustment Disorder should not be difficult. While special interest groups with their own agendas are fighting to keep parental alienation out of the DSM, mental health professionals see Adjustment Disorders related to depression and anxiety all the time. Why is it so hard to believe that a parent with unresolved emotional issues, going through the strain and emotional upheaval of a divorce or separation (the adjustment issue), could put his or her unhealthy emotional needs above the needs of his or her child? Further, why is it so hard to believe that these unhealthy needs might somehow damage, and in some cases destroy, the child’s relationship with the child’s other parent? And finally, why is it so hard to believe that the targeted parent might actually object to these events and turn to mental health professionals to help address an issue that has its roots in mental and emotional health?  

The deadline for ACA members to provide feedback is March 22, 2010. The member’s ACA ID number is required with the submission. ID numbers can be found on the back of the Journal of Counseling and Development, or on the ACA website after logging in or contacting member services. To contribute, go to http://www.counseling.org/dsm/comments.html.

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