Raising awareness of alienation at the AACAP

Parental alienation professionals and advocates attended the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) annual meeting in New York City this week to discuss alienation with many of the 4,700 psychiatrists and physicians in attendence and explain why parental alienation belongs in the next edition of the profession’s DSM.

Dr.William Bernet, a professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and the primary author of Parental Alienation DSM-5 and ICD-11, presented at the meeting and the Parental Alienation Awareness Organization (PAAO) raised awareness of alienation in an exhibit hall booth. The PAAO exhibit featured books, DVDs and volunteers to discuss parental alienation with conference attendees. PAAO President Jill Egizii, PAAO Vice President Robert Samery, Dr. Amy Baker, and Mike Jeffries, author of A Family’s Heartbreak: A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation, were all on hand to pass out literature and talk about alienation with mental health professionals from around the world.

Also attending the conference were members of the DSM Review Board — the professionals who will decide whether or not parental alienation is included in the next edition of the DSM. Bernet indicated that the Review Board is still considering alienation for inclusion in the updated diagnostic manual. The DSM-5 is scheduled for release in 2013.

Jeffries observed that while some professionals had never heard of alienation, many others were familiar with the family dynamic. Still other professionals saw alienation in their practices without realizing the behaviors had a name. “The conversations were all over the map,” Jeffries said. “Some attendees wanted to talk about their cases. Other professionals wanted to discuss under what category the DSM-5 could potentially list parental alienation. One psychiatrist was even looking for guidance on who should receive the diagnostic code — the alienating parent, the targeted parent, or the child.”

Not every person who stopped by the PAAO booth wanted to see parental alienation in the DSM-5. “There was one psychiatrist who made it clear he didn’t believe in parental alieantion but he never actually completed a sentence or allowed me to complete one,” Jeffries said. “He said ‘parental alienation is a diagnosis in search of a…’ and then his voice trailed off. When I tried to say something positive, he cut me off with another incomplete, negative comment. Then he did it a third time. I finally told him to enjoy the rest of the conference. With 4,700 open-minded, articulate professionals to talk to there was no need to waste time on him.”

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8 Responses to “Raising awareness of alienation at the AACAP”

  1. Robert Gartner says:

    Those who would contest and protest the credibility of Parental Alienation are most likely those who were abused as chidren themselves and made to follow a ‘company line’, e.g. that of their abusing parent. This is but an example of buried pain and rage at not being listened to and heard at a very young age.

  2. Mike: thank you for your efforts and this update. I was glad to read that parental alienation can be discussed without unnecessary discord. It appears that alienating parents should receive the diagnosis. However, studies indicate that parents who intentionally turn his or her child against the other will not voluntarily seek help. In the event that alienating parents are court ordered to counseling, they will not follow through. Consequently, any treatment plan may be futile.

    If the alienating parent will not follow court orders, that leaves the target parent to enforce the orders. Some women and men do not have the funding to perpetually hire attorneys to enforce decrees. Alienating parents, according to the literature, defies court orders. Plainly stated, they really do not care. They desire revenge and do so at the expense of an innocent child. Studies show and this is only a small sample, that orders are not followed through (Baker & Darnall, 2006; Baker, 2010; Warshak 2010; Kelly 2010 & Jaffe et al. 2010).

    I think Jafee summed up what Dr. Bernet described, estimated at 1% of the population, “a minority of parents who suffer from personality and mental disorders may ignore the court and spend their waking hours finding ways to exhaust the other parent emotionally and financially” (Jaffee et al., 2010). The option left? To help children and parents that desires assistance. Most know if someone does not want to change, forcing them to change and to care, simply will not work. I hope one day, parents that want help for their children will not have to hear, “well it is not in the DSM” or the obvious… “have you tried talking with your ex-spouse?” or, the absurd.. “ that is Gardner’s theory. Thanks again for the update and your efforts!


  3. Terri says:

    Interesting post….

    I find it hard to believe that any mental health professional has not, at a minimum, heard of parental alienation in this day and age. Especially a member of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. Very odd…Of course, whether a psychiatrist agrees that it should be a Dx or part of the DSM is another story.

    It’s been my experience that some professionals tend to be a bit guarded when they have to take a firm stance on something controversial, or when they feel ‘confronted’ by someone they suspect may have an agenda that would require them to take a position.

  4. Cindy says:

    Mental health professionals are people too and one never knows what goes on in their personal lives. The fellow described in an earlier post may even be a parent alienator, who knows….Mental health professioanls get divorced. With that said, that is one area he should stay away from because he will do more damage to our children and targeted parents. Need to know our boundaries.

  5. grace Rmp says:

    I would like to get together with anyone who is interested in Parental Alienation. Please write to me so we can abolish parental alienation.

  6. grace Rmp says:

    Grace Rmp What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal!

    Parental alienation deprives children of their right to a loving relationship with both parents!

  7. grace Rmp says:

    Your signatures will help innocent children from their pain and despair of being kept away from the other parent that they love..

  8. grace Rmp says:

    This petition has been viewed 1251 times but only has 192 signatures. This is so sad for the parents and the children who are waiting for us to abolish parental alienation and reunite them with the rest of their family.

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