Archive for the ‘Advocacy’ Category

Parental Alienation: Dead or Alive in the DSM-5?

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Here’s what I love about the internet — shopping, booking vacations and connecting with people all over the world.

Here’s what I hate about the internet — bloggers who believe they’re channeling Edward R. Murrow, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in every post and their readers who faithfully repeat what’s written as fact.

I was recently reminded of the latter when I read a colleague’s rant about the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) “cowardly decision” not to include parental alienation in the DSM-5. When I pointed out that the APA hadn’t yet decided whether or not to include parental alienation in the upcoming edition of its bible, my colleague gave me the name of the blogger who reported the news and asked, “How could she write it if it weren’t true?”

As Elizabeth Barrett Browning once said, “Let me count the ways.”

While my contribution to the proposal, Parental Alienation, DSM-5 and ICD-11, was probably the least significant input from the 60-plus authors who collaborated on project, my effort does qualify me for regular, and accurate, updates as the proposal winds its way through the review process. So here’s the truth about the current status of parental alienation and the DSM-5:

In the next few months, members of the DSM-5 Task Force and the Childhood and Adolescent Disorders Work Group will make their final recommendations to the APA Board of Trustees. The Task Force has already signaled that it probably won’t recommend listing parental alienation under the Mental Disorder category. However, being classified as a mental disorder is not the only door into the DSM. The APA could list parental alienation as an example of a relational problem or a shared psychotic disorder. The APA could also list parental alienation as a subtype of another relational problem. The professional organization could even include parental alienation as an issue that needs further study. Bottom line — the fat lady not only isn’t singing, she hasn’t even started warming up.

So enjoy the internet. Go shopping, look for videos of kittens doing adorable things, even tell us what you’re cooking for dinner if you must. Just don’t believe everything you read. Murrow hasn’t filed a story in a long time.

Parental Alienation and the DSM-5

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

The DSM-5 Task Force will publish the next edition of the mental health profession’s Bible in 2013 and Task Force members are still considering whether or not to include parental alienation somewhere in the book.

One of the biggest arguments against including parental alienation in the DSM-5 is that academics and mental health professionals haven’t done enough research to demonstrate that parental alienation should be an actual diagnosis. Not true, says Mike Jeffries, author of A Family’s Heartbreak: A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation. “The proposal before the DSM Task Force includes more than 500 references from the professional literature of 30 different countries. Anyone who says ‘there isn’t enough research’ simply isn’t aware of work being done not only in the U.S. but in Brazil, Japan, Spain, Italy and South Africa.”

The DSM Review Board has once again opened up its website for comments. Please visit http://www.dsm5.org/ and tell Task Force members why parental alienation should be included in the DSM-5. Deadline for comments is June 15.

Support the PAAO this holiday season

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

In difficult economic times the non-profit organizations are hit the hardest. Big donors donate less, and the casual donors often can’t afford to donate anything at all.

The  Parental Alienation Awareness Organization (PAAO) helps alienated parents get through the holidays with empathy and support. The PAAO is also focused on the future, and is busy creating programs for 2011 and beyond that will raise awareness of parental alienation and help other families avoid the pain and heartbreak of this destructive family dynamic.

A Family’s Heartbreak LLC. is hoping you will include the PAAO in your holiday giving plans this year. A $20 donation will help the PAAO move forward with its advocacy initiatives. Can you please make a donation today? You can donate at https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=LMKVCH5MJQN5U.

Raising awareness of alienation at the AACAP

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

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.”

TV and parental alienation — past and present

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

In a week when The Dr. Phil Show features bad parenting by the anti-June and Ward Cleaver in its parental alienation-themed show today, it is worth mentioning that Barbara Billingsley, the actress who played the iconic television Mom June Cleaver on Leave it to Beaver, died recently in California. She was 94 years old.

According to Jill Egizii, President of the Parental Alienation Awareness Organization (PAAO) and a guest on The Dr. Phil Show, the parents in the family Dr. Phil selected for the program do not co-parent effectively and their poor co-parenting could ultimately result in parental alienation. While Dr. Phil spent most of the program urging the parents to improve their parenting and communication skills, Egizii said she highlighted the affects of parental alienation on children and the PAAO’s work at the end of the program.

Parents and extended family members, as well as legal and mental health professionals, should go to The Dr. Phil Show website at http://www.drphil.com after the episode airs and encourage Dr. Phil and his producers to do programs focused solely on parental alienation. Episodes that explain what drives an alienating parent to damage, and in some cases destroy, his or her child’s relationship with the child’s other parent, and episodes that explore how professionals can legally and therapeutically address alienation, will help families avoid this destructive family dynamic.

If the parents on The Dr. Phil Show are the anti-June and Ward Cleaver, than June and Ward should be the anti-parental alienation parents. In our latest blog post for Basil & Spice at http://www.basilandspice.com/love-and-relationships/category/jeffries-mike, we highlight what divorcing parents can learn from Wally and Beaver’s Mom and Dad — even if they are just fictional characters on a 50-year old television show.

Become a parental alienation advocate

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Targeted parents often write www.afamilysheartbreak.com and ask how they can transition from alienated parent to alienation advocate. These brave parents are typically powerless over their own situations, yet want to help other families avoid the heartbreak that they’ve experienced.

As Mike Jeffries, author of A Family’s Heartbreak: A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation said at D.C. Rally Fest 2010 last month (Part I and Part II), we can all apply our unique skills to parental alienation advocacy. “If you can write, write about parental alienation. If you can sell, sell the idea that parental alienation is a problem that needs fixing. If you design buildings or corporate strategies, apply the same problem solving skills you use at work to parental alienation,” Jeffries said. “The key to becoming an effective advocate is to move past your personal pain and approach parental alienation advocacy work objectively,” he added.

Even if you are not a writer, salesperson, engineer or corporate strategist, you can help raise awareness of parental alienation by sharing A Family’s Heartbreak: A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation, or any parental alienation book, with others. For example, you can:

Give a book to a friend, even a stranger, as a gift.

Ask your local library to order a book.

If you have a web site or blog, consider writing something about a book you’ve read, and how the book helped you.

Write a book review for your local paper or favorite web site. Ask your favorite radio show to book the author as a guest.

If you own a shop or business, consider putting a display of books on your counter to resell to customers.

Buy books and donate them to homeless shelters, prisons, rehabilitation and group homes.

If you are a pursuing a degree in psychology, counseling, social work or any mental health field, ask your professors to incorporate parental alienation into their course overviews and put parental alienation books on their reading lists.

Sometimes, the best idea is so obvious you have to laugh. A targeted parent once called us desperate to educate the public about parental alienation. He was very passionate about doing something, but he rejected each idea we suggested. Finally, out of ideas, we changed the subject. 

“What do you do for a living,” we asked?

“I’m a movie producer,” he responded.

Jeffries survives parental alienation and D.C. heat

Friday, July 30th, 2010

Every family has its own jokes that get repeated year after year whenever the family gathers. My family is no different.

One of the jokes in our family revolves around my Dad and his encyclopedia-like knowledge of roads, highways and mileage. No matter where I’ve traveled, Dad asks about the route. More often than not, he tells me I could have taken a shorter, faster, safer, more scenic route– complete with a list of the fast food restaurants and tourist attractions I would have passed along the way. The fact that Dad may have never been within 500 miles of my destination doesn’t matter.

It isn’t often a son gets to stand where presidents have addressed millions and deliver a speech, but I recently did just that at the 2010 Family Preservation Festival in Washington D.C. On the day I spoke about surviving parental alienation the temperature was approximately 115 degrees. Festival participants were more interested in surviving the heat so attendance was sparse. That’s okay. I had the U.S. Capital behind me and the Washington Monument in front of me. I started my speech with an inside joke to Dad and the rest of the family. Only about one dozen people in the world would have understood it, until now.

To hear my little family joke and how I’ve survived parental alienation please click on the links below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fc9XTQw582g
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YfGmE_o2EFo

Parental alienation awareness has its own day

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

There are all sorts of official days on the calendar.

Every January 19th we’re asked to celebrate National Popcorn Day. April 16th is set aside for Stress Awareness Day. Mother Goose has her own day on May 1st. Even catfish, thanks to a proclamation signed by catfish-loving President Ronald Reagan in 1987, get June 25th to call their own.

At A Family’s Heartbreak we love popcorn, we’re opposed to stress of any kind, and we would never say a bad word about Mother Goose. We don’t even mind catfish having their own day, even though we’re more partial to salmon. I’m sure if we would have budgeted more than five minutes for research we would have discovered that there is a National Salmon Day too.

However there is one day that deserves to stand apart from days acknowledging snack foods, nursery rhymes and fresh water fish. Parental Alienation Awareness Day is April 25. This is the fifth consecutive year that parents, friends and family members will gather on April 25 and bring attention to parental alienation — a destructive family dynamic that is destroying countless loving, parent/child relationships all over the world.  On April 25 from Boston to Brazil, London to Los Angeles, and Singapore to Sydney, people will light candles, blow bubbles and share their heartbreaking stories — all to educate elected officials, legal and mental health professionals about a mental health issue that should not be ignored or mischaracterized any longer.

Contrary to what many damaged people and zealous advocates on the web would have you believe, parental alienation is not another name for pedophilia. Parental alienation is also not a legal strategy designed to allow an abusive parent to continue beating up on the kids. Finally, parental alienation is not the latest get-rich-quick-scheme from consultants and authors who are often accused of trying make money off the backs of people who are at their most financially vulnerable. 

Parental alienation is the unhealthy byproduct of one parent’s fear of abandonment. These fears often date back to childhood. When a parent with these fears faces divorce or separation they need a child to take over for the exiting spouse or partner and keep those abandonment fears away. The parent pulls the child into the adult conflict and makes his or her fears the child’s fears. It doesn’t take long for a child, looking for security in a world where his or her parents are no longer working together to take care of the child’s needs, to form a very unhealthy, co-dependent relationship with the alienating parent. There is little room for the previously-loved other parent in the child’s new world. 

At its core, parental alienation is about the alienating parent and child’s fears, and the child’s loyalty to the alienating parent. That reminds me, Loyalty Day is also May 1st.

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.”

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.

Home
What is Parental Alienation?
Parental Alienation Blog
FAQs
Resources
About the Book
Purchase the Book
Media
Contact Us
Purchase Hugs to Heartbreak
Hugs 
to Heartbreak Book 
Cover The true story of one parent's struggle to maintain a normal, loving relationship with his young son in the face of overwhelming odds.
Purchase now »
Copyright © 2009 A Family's Heartbreak. All Rights Reserved.