You can’t get any more mainstream than Newsweek. (Does anybody even read Newsweek?)
Whether or not the DSM accepts that PA qualifies as a syndrome (they don’t), and whether or not other experts think it exists (many do), children and parents suffering from the effects of parental alienation live with a painful reality.
Women, Men, and Bias
Perhaps one of the reasons why PA wasn’t widely accepted originally, was that several of the cases brought to the courts’ attention were of women alienating children from their fathers. Today, we know that fathers too, engage in parental alienation and that those early cases that got attention were unfortunately only examples of women perpetrators.
I know some of you will find this controversial, but (as a woman) I firmly believe that if all the early perpetrators had been men, PA would today be probably be accepted by the DSM for inclusion! I think that so-called reverse sexism silenced those who were working to reveal a very real, very damaging, problem.
Women have made great strides in receiving equal treatment under the law and in our culture. The courts have been inclined, since at least the 1980s, to legislate more progressive attitudes from the bench, so to speak, in divorce and custody hearings, hearings where women had traditionally gotten the short shrift.
Social workers and others who work in the helping professions and the criminal justice system believe that women have been (and still are) more inclined to be victims of spousal abuse than men. This is likely true in the vast majority of cases.
However, along with major strides forward in equality has come the imperative to realize that women, too, have the ability to be both positive and negative players. If women want equality, and we do, we must realize that alienating moms cause just as much harms as alienating dads, and that they, like their male counterparts, are culpable.
We know, from the reports clogging our news outlets that sadly, female teachers, moms, and even employers can engage in abuse against children and other adults.
Today, the courts seem to realize they must take parental alienation, both maternal and paternal, as a factor in divorce and custody proceedings. Those who work in mental health, social work, law, and mediator positions related to divorce and custody battles are dealing with this new reality.
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Last reviewed: 21 Jul 2014