Fairness and Accuracy?

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.

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5 Responses to “Fairness and Accuracy?”

  1. Faun says:

    I am female and I am a member of the Father’s Rights because I wish that my father had had the right to be a father in my life. I have lived a damaged life because I was encouraged to side with my mother. Parental Alienation destroyed my family. Faun

  2. Jaqui Clark says:

    I am a female supporter of the inclusion of PAS in the DSM as I have been fortunate to have a healthy relationship with my father and appreciate the benefits he brings to my life. At the same time I have witnessed a loving father (my partner) be denied access to his growing daughters due to a vengeful ex wife who has a personality disorder and unresolved emotional issues regarding her own abusive father. Accepting PAS into the DSM would be the first step in trying to find a way forward to ‘help’ both the children AND their ‘disordered’ parent. Not recognising PAS doesn’t mean it’s not happening! RECOGNISE PAS NOW and help us all create a future where all parents are helped to learn what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour.

  3. Kelly says:

    I am a female and I think it is “sick” that they say father’s want to continue to abuse their children. I did not abuse my son and I’m a women so where exactly do we fit in? I have learned through my reading material that the FATHER in this case is a psycopath. He now has skipped town with his wife and my son. Called the local PD and they said it was a “civil” matter. Obviously, not telling the other parent that you have moved is a “criminal” matter. Bottom line is that Women are not always the Alienators, men are too but I don’t agree that fathers want this in the DSM so they can continue to abuse their children, they want their equal rights just as a mother in the same situation would want.

  4. I also wonder ” if anyone at the publication even reviews content prior to publication. ” My answer is no.

    I am guessing they also overlook that women can also be the alienated parent.

    It is very frustrating the on-going slader of Gardner. When some refer to him as self published, they must overlook the volumes of his peer reviewed articles. I can not believe that some professionals are so brainwashed by bad media.


    Monika Logan, LBSW

  5. In my case, I am a “second wife” of a man completely alienated from his children by his ex-wife’s second husband, the primary alienator, an individual so toxic and sociopathic that he or another family member continues to harass and stalk via the internet to this day. I noticed some time ago that the internet attacks on Dr. Gardner were very similar to this man’s cyber-harassment. I’m pretty shocked that a professional publication would join in, many years later. Research no longer rests on Dr. Gardner at all and the author must now, I suppose, look for ways to tarnish the names of the dozens of therapists now conducting clinical research and writing results. After last year’s conference in Canada, I saw at least one web page making threats against named attendees. Why is this behavior, so obviously unprofessional and threatening, not covered as well?

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