Alienation symposium benefitted professionals and parents

“Approximately one percent of all children in the United States experience some form of parental alienation.”

That statement from Dr. William Bernet, a professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, was one of the many eye-opening insights from the recent Canadian Symposium on Parental Alienation in New York City. Bernet was the symposium’s keynote speaker.

Approximately 2oo parents, legal and mental health professionals attended the conference to learn more about parental alienation and how to address the family dynamic both legally and therapeutically.

“I really wish parental alienation critics would have attended the conference,” said Mike Jeffries, author of A Family’s Heartbreak: A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation and a conference attendee. “There is no way anyone could have listened to the legal and mental health professionals at the conference and not concluded that parental alienation is a legitimate mental health issue that deserves to be included in the next edition of the DSM. In addition, the alienated mothers and fathers at the conference would have dispelled any myths about parental alienation being nothing more than an abusive parent’s legal strategy,” Jeffries added.

In his remarks Bernet explained that DSM editors can select one of three ways to include parental alienation in the upcoming 2013 edition — as a mental disorder, relational problem or as part of the appendix for further study. “Inclusion as a relational problem or as part of the appendix has not been discussed yet,” he said.

Bernet is the primary author of Parental Alienation, DSM-5 and ICD-11 — the published version of the proposal Bernet and 70 other contributing professionals submitted to the DSM Review Committee.

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3 Responses to “Alienation symposium benefitted professionals and parents”

  1. Stephanie says:

    The next Diagnositic and Statiscial Manual(DSM) is scheduled to be released in 2013. You can to the American Psychological Association DSM Task Force to ask them to include Parental Alienation in the next manual.

    The more people that write asking to include it, and tell their story, the more likely they are to include it. This link gives contact information for the DSM Task Force.

  2. Mary Lineberry says:

    I am 59 years old. My mother divorced my father when I was four and poisoned my mind against him by telling me he had abandoned me. He spent years trying to contact me only to have his mail intercepted. Finally he succeeded, when I was 16!
    I’ve have friends who have gone through the same ordeal. One thing in common, our mothers all went on to display other symptoms of mental problems. My mother probably was bi-polar, but didn’t believe in counseling or “airing” one’s problems.
    I forgave her for what she did, but I never trusted her again.
    She did the same to two of my half-siblings, alienating them from their father. She was controlling, yet needy. We were either for her or against her. Woe to you if you questioned her motives.

  3. mike says:


    Thanks so much for sharing your story. As alienated parents we often wonder if our children “get it” — even if they refuse to have anything to do with us. I guess on some level knowing that they do not believe we are the horrible people they say we are dulls the ache a little bit. It’s not very often a formerly alienated child speaks out about the alienation, and your words have brought great comfort to a great many people today.

    I would also like to applaud you for forgiving your mother. An ability to forgive and not dwell on the past is a big factor in the child and targeted parent’s ability to rebuild their previously normal relationship. It is just as important for the targeted parent to forgive the alienating parent and child for their roles in the rift as it is for the child to forgive his or her parents.

    Thanks again and please keep sharing your story.

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