Mental Help Net
  •  
Parenting
Resources
Basic InformationMore InformationLatest NewsQuestions and AnswersBlog EntriesVideosLinksBook ReviewsSelf-Help Groups
Therapist Search
Find a Therapist:
 (USA/CAN only)

Use our Advanced Search to locate a therapist outside of North America.

Related Topics

Child & Adolescent Development: Overview
Childhood Mental Disorders and Illnesses
Family & Relationship Issues
Internet Addiction and Media Issues
Pregnancy
Child Development & Parenting: Infants (0-2)
Child Development & Parenting: Early (3-7)
Child Development & Parenting: Middle (8-11)
Child Development Theory: Middle Childhood (8-11)
Childhood Special Education
Child & Adolescent Development: Puberty
Child Development Theory: Adolescence (12-24)
Child Development & Parenting:Adolescence (12-24)

An Interview with Amy J. L. Baker, Ph.D. on Parental Alienation Syndrome

David Van Nuys, Ph.D. Updated: Nov 16th 2007

download this podcast read the transcript

Amy Baker, Ph.D.In this installment of the Wise Counsel Podcast, David interviews Dr. Amy J. L. Baker, a developmental psychologist and author of the recent book "Parental Alienation Syndrome: Breaking The Ties That Bind" which is based on interviews with 40 adults who were subject to parental alienation syndrome as children.

Parental Alienation occurs when one parent manipulates children into believing that the other parent has rejected them and is otherwise no good and should be themselves rejected. Parental Alienation Syndrome is what happens to the children who are subject to this treatment. PAS only applies when there is evidence of parental manipulation and there is no other good reason why a child might reject a parent (e.g., because that parent was abusive, etc.)

Parental Alienation Syndrome was first identified in the 1980s as something that occurred in the context of divorce and custody battles. Dr. Baker suggests that while this classic sort of PAS does occur (e.g., when a narcissistic or otherwise troubled mother in the midst of a divorce turns her children against her former husband), there are also other variants to how PAS may occur. PAS may occur in the midst of an intact but troubled marriage, for instance, and PAS may also be something initiated by fathers against mothers, contrary to the normal stereotype.

Alienating parents (who set up the conditions where PAS occurs may use cult-like tactics in order to recruit children to their cause. Such parents create dependency within their children upon them, and promote black and white thinking with regard to the badness of the alienated parent. Typically, alienating parents will repetitively badmouth the alienated parent and spin the things he or she has done until they appear truly monstrous to the children. The alienating parent may reveal information to the children that they are not developmentally ready to hear, or which should have been kept within the boundaries of the parental relationship. They may also punish children who persist in trying to have a relationship with the alienated parent.

The long term outcomes of PAS experienced by children can include: low self-esteem (brought on in part by growing up believing that they were abandoned/rejected/in danger from one of their parents), guilt feelings (when they realize what they've lost with regard to their relationship with the alienated parent), angry, ambivalent feelings towards the alienating parent, and excessive dependency upon the alienating parent persisting into adulthood. Children are not typically able to work on repairing damage until they have started to figure out how they were manipulated. The rise of this awareness can be very emotionally painful to experience.

As a targeted, alienated parent, it is not useful to try to rebut children's accusations directly. Instead, Dr. Baker's recommendation is to offer to explain your side of the story if children want to hear it, but otherwise to not take the bait and get into a fight but instead to just try to have a good time with the children. The worst thing that can happen is for visitations to become completely poisoned with fighting, which will only reinforce the picture of the targeted parent as bad in children's minds. Dr. Baker also recommends that targeted parents persist in reaching out to their children no matter how often those gestures are rejected or ignored. The kids may come around at some point. However, if the relationship is allowed to be completely lost; if the child doesn't get at least email or cards or something on a regular basis, they will tend to conclude that the targeted parent doesn't love them and feel worse.

Though Dr. Baker is not a clinical psychologist, she is willing to consult. Interested listeners may contact her at "amyjlbaker at aol dot com".

Links Relevant To This Podcast:

About Amy Baker, Ph.D.

Amy Baker, Ph.D.

Amy J.L. Baker, Ph.D. is the Director of Research at the Vincent J Fontana Center for Child Protection in New York City and author of the 2007 book, Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome: Breaking The Ties That Bind. Dr. Baker earned her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology, Teachers College, Columbia University in 1989. She is also the author or co-author of over 50 peer-reviewed scholarly publications in topics such as parental alienation, child welfare, parent-child attachment, and parent involvement in their children's education. She has appeared on TV, radio, and in the New York Times. She has presented at numerous conferences.

    Reader Comments
    Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

    Alienating behavior is genderless - - Sep 26th 2011

    The abusive mentality that rules an alienating parent's mind has no gender.  Mothers & Fathers both alienate because it's how they think.  Both mothers & fathers are alienated parents, because the alienating parents can and do use any means necessary to destroy.

    The only reason it appears that mothers alienate more than fathers because the current court documents that highlight PAS is still only a small sample and does not accurately reflect those that do not recognize it for what it is.  Seems nay not is.

    Mentality is not gender. The two must never be confused as one. 

    PAS is a living hell that I would not wish on anyone.

    Get Over It - No One Cares - Robert (Jo-Ann's EX) - Sep 25th 2011

    Give It Up

    PAS is real. The MOMsters that do this have issues which no court will address. It is in their DNA. My ex-wife has kepth the crap up for 5 years of separation. That after 17 years of marriage & a 23 year relationship.

    Turns out the ex-wife is ADHD-pi, BiPolar, OCD, Borderline (for the sake of the psychologists who leave "nasty" out of BiPolar). She had been doing this PAS for 2 years before she made false DV charges to end our marriage. Her sister & mother are BiPolar. The false DV charges an attempt to have me stop seeking a Rx diagnostic for my son's school issues. My son was diagnosed ADHD-pi.

    Chromosome #4 - ADHD-pi

    Chromosome #5 - ADHD-c

    Chromosome #15 - OCD, BiPolar / Scizophrenia (they share 30,000 common allelle markers = BiPolar women ARE nutz)

    The sicko MIL now lives with my ex-wife who has custody due to her lies. Both of these women are forever trying to negatively impact the little time I have with my kids. The negative impacts can be seen in their school & everywhere else. Down the toilet with the help of two mentally ill women. I was a stay-at-home Dad because of the ex-wife's neglect. You can plot the kid's school from honors to 3 consecutive years of failure (& the EX wife is a TDSB teacher.. BTW the schools are loaded with affected women).

    So people, GET OVER IT. These women can & will do everything possible to destroy your relationship. They are narcissistic sociopaths by definition. The entire system is set up to support the "Goldren Uterus Syndrome" becasue the truth & facts are just too much for anyone (Police, Schools, Courts) to handle.

    I have kids who I love very much. They "died" 5 years ago & I see their corpses regularly. I have no further tollerance for "single mothers" & feminist BS because their underlying mental illness is obvious & genetic. No amound of court threats etc will ever alter their DNA.

    I am angry that I have wasted 27 years of my life dealing with this human garbage. There is nothing I can do to protect my children from their mother's influence. If they leave & never contact her again, well that is at least something positive.

    devastated - shelly - Mar 19th 2011

    I just can not believe how easy the truth can be overlooked. The court system is totally blind to PAS and I am a victim of there blindness or undereducated minds. This is so painful I have lost everything. It kills me to hear so many lies. I have lost my children because of uneducated people and an abusive exhusband.

    TO ISOTOPE - StarringU - Aug 31st 2010

    I cant do anything right - Isotope - May 9th 2009

     

    AUGUST 31 2010

     

    OMG ISOTOPE, You could almost be me, or i could be you. Twice over. I had TWO Xs like you. TWO. Both abusive. Both violent. Both cruel. Both Controlling . Both try to turn my children (two sets) 12 years apart against me.  The courts wont help. The attorneys always turn to the power of the courts and take the money awarded them, the bribes. It never fails. My 2nd husband i married into money and power unbeknownt to me...and i can get no help from the police, sheriff, judge, attorney after attorney, once i pay, they get paid off by the courts and again, im not helped. He keeps the kids or takes them , dont pay support, doesnt provide insurance, (I DO!) and he has the money and means !! How can a man who claims to love his kids not provide for them? or his parents for that matter? He is the biggest hypocrit i have ever seen!  His mom runs me in the ground and i have never said a word against them. EVER.  I think what you should do is take time for you

    Stop worrying about your kids because the great KARMA will one day come.  Karma is the greatest gift in all this. It came for my first set of kids and it will come for these preteens. I hate it . I hate this waite. I hate that i have to do this and have to go thru hell . I hate that he tries to make them hate me and everything i do for them (he does NOTHING!!!) is always wrong or bad and he is the hero.  BUT look at this way. When they hurt, who do they go to? Does he kiss their wounds? RIGHT! He wont even take them to the dr for stitches.....THing is : One day. One day. One day.  Your heart is hurting now but do NOT let them snuff away your life. YOU put them on this earth. Your grandchild is here because of you. THink of that!!!! IF it werent for YOU putting THEM here....your grandbaby wouldnt be here either, right????

     

    kudos, hugs and stay sweet

    I cant do anything right - Isotope - May 9th 2009

    I was the custodial parent, the children were raised by me, no child support at all, he quit his job so he wouldnt have to pay, I am also disabled. The alientation began when they were 8 and 9 with him telling them we were getting a divorce because I was having an affair. NOT TRUE.  He walked out after my work accident.

    He told the children I "went out with men in the evening to make money by dating them".  I was working as an Investment Consultant and Financial Planner after a year of Physcial Rehab, and yes some of my clients were male.  He made the children believe I was a whore.  

    He told the children they didnt have to listen to anything I had to say - he and his wife reported me to Social Services dozens of times when I was no longer able to work and told them Workers Comp had given me a $400,000.00 settlement and I was hiding the money. NOT TRUE

    Time and again my Social Services benefits were cut off and there was no food for the children, I had to phone people and suggest they have the children over for dinner.

    They didnt have winter boots because he refused to pay child support and I received $649 a month for the 3 of us.  I once went 3 days without eating because there was only enough for the children. But I love my children more than anything and never resented it, I would do it all over again just to have the chance to do things differently !

    I always told the children "daddy loves you" "daddy is just having a bad time right now, but trust me he loves you more than anything -"  I wish I had told them the truth, but they were too young and I protected them from hearing unsuitable things.  He on the other hand had no problem telling them lies and horrible disgusting ones

    When the children were 17 and 18 they went to live with him, which I agreed with, I was exhausted by the constant battles with them and in constant chronic pain, as a result of my work place accident, the roof fell on me when the children were 8 and 9. He walked out on us then and went to live with his mother so he wouldnt have to do housework or take care of the kids, and because I wasnt bringing in a pay cheque anymore.

    I havent seen my son for over 2 years now. My daughter and hser husband have a son I didnt see until he was 8 months old.  I was an unwelcome guest at her wedding, I saw the baby 5 times, fell head over hells in love with him and then they decided I wasnt allowed to see him again. Which was 2 months ago.

    I have been accused of being an alcoholic, and drug user, NOT TRUE, of abusing the children when they were growing up NOT TRUE, of never loving or caring about them or supporting them NOT TRUE I am accused of having bi-polar disorder, a borderline personality disorder, of being a sociopath, a psychopath and a danger to the grandchild NOT TRUE,  my Drs support me, my counsellor and a Psychologist I had to beg to see me because he said there was no need to.  I have letters from FOUR Psychologists all saying I have NO mental disease or disorder - it means nothing to the children, even as adults they believe every word their father says.

     Last weekend I was ambushed by my exe, his wife, my daughter and son in law, the exe was crying and saying how much it hurt him to see my daughter and I estranged and he would do anything in his power to heal that but it was clear I wasnt willing or interested in trying --

    At 2:30 AM he phoned me and told me "if you really love your children the best and kindest thing you can do for them is to kill yourself and get the hell out of their lives forever."  

    He has also enlisted people that were our friends in his campaign against me -- they wont talk to me anymore. They repeat his accusations. One of these "friends" said to me "when 6 people are all saying the same things about you, it must be true"

    My heart is in a thousand pieces, I dont know what to do anymore, I cant do anything right !!!  My daughter just screams at me "I hate you, you are nothing but a psychotic bitch, J -- (step mother) is ten times the mother you ever were or could ever be - I wish you were dead I hate you so much"

    My children are the only family I have.  I feel as if my children and grandchild have died and everyday I grieve the loss -- and there is nothing I can do !! 

    Tomorrow is Mothers day, the 12th is my daughters birthday. I havent spent one holiday with my children since 2002.  If I phone to wish them a Merry Christmas they wont talk to me

    Sometimes I feel the only way to stop the pain is to kill myself, there is nothing I can do to reach my children. They refuse to even consider counseling or therapy, they refuse to listen to me or anyone else.

    when the father is the alienator - roni - Nov 14th 2008

    My ex husband left before my son was born. I have done everything humanly possible to ensure that my son would have a relationship with his father.  My ex husband has made life miserable acting up during visitation pickups, making false allegations against me, being emotionaly, psychologically, financially and physically abusive.  He prevailed on 2 contempt of court order hearings against me because i could not prove he was lying and the male judge and lawyers all appeared to support his "father's rights" cause. He married someone who joins in with him.  She had my son call her "Mom" despite pediatrician recommending against it and she got a job at my son's school so that children would ask me if i was my son's real mother in front of my son. I have spent holidays alone so my son can spend them with his dad, have always allowed father access to son via phone and visitation, had a 50/50 custody arrangement doing exchanges at schools or sheriff's station.  Ex has had my phone blocked since before my son was born.  My son has been living with his father for the past 15 months and wants nothing to do with me.  Ex got custody via ex parte TRO based on perjury.  Judge sided with ex and did nothing to address parental alienation since most men think it is women who do it and actually partcipated in it ordering that i could have no information or contact with my son.  I have no money left for a lawyer(as if any would actually care anyway) pay a lot of child support and don't know what to do.  At first I did not want to put anymore stress on my son but have recently discovered though educating myself that being patient is the worse thing I can do.  Why does the court take anything my ex says at face value without proof?  Why do they allow this to continue?  Ex acts as though he is the injured party and tries to make me look like the scourned woman - by the way after seeing ex's behavior for the past 14.5 years I am thankful that he is not here.  I don't make anywhere near the money ex makes and sometimes wonder if he's not bribing someone or knows someone in the court.  Any helpful advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks so Much Amy Help Needed - Mike - Nov 4th 2008

    I too am suffering the loss of 3 of my four children due to PAS. I had custody originally for her abuse of the children.  Deciding to share them she then moved away and now wont send my 12 year old to visit. She says it is abuse if she puts her in the car when she doesn't want to come. The judge asked and if she doesn't want to go to school you send her right? I posted this to yahoo answers for some guidance. Thanks Amy and anyone else that can help me.  The court is awful they are now making me wait and hope for another six months not dealing with the contempt of court on visitation while allowing my ex to relitigate what we already did just 3 weeks prior.  How sad how awful and unhealthy for me and my children here in androscoggin county maine :( Sad Dad of Four alienated out.

    All we do is pay and we have no say :(

     http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=Apqy4LARr8l2Jyv4ctiyo9Lsy6IX;_ylv=3?qid=20081103234318AAzr7hA

    Can Summary Judgement be used in family court? Frivelous Motion?

    Can you request summary judgement in family court. I filed contempt for my ex not encouraging visitation and not allowing me to see my children once after the last motion to modify june 2008. My ex immediately filed right away for yet another motion to modify saying the children do not want to visit. Nothing has changed , I haven't seen them once since the order stating every other weekend and overnights during the week. I understand the 16 year old may not be forced to visit but what about my 12 year old I miss immensely as well? By allowing her to file this new frivelous motion, only postpones me seeing my children again for another six months for a frivelous hearing which they consolidated with hers. My contempt of court was filed first and they make me wait longer now to see my children. Something is wrong here with our system. How can I make them do something about this parental alienation. The attorney general of maine told me the court must hold her accountable and I feel they are not. The judge even asked my ex wife what if the 12 year old didn't want to go to school. She would send her I guarantee you, thus even at 12 if she's has alienated them against me sad as it may be I still want to see my daughter and its unhealthy for them all not seeing their dad. Please dont ask what I've done wrong , I have the decree stating very shared parenting and visitations overnight and every other weekend. Thanks in advance.

    I'm the alienate parent who was awarded primary custody... - Mark in North Carolina - Oct 17th 2008

    I got a call from social services today telling me that my 11yr old is thinking of harming or killing me or hurting herself. They couldn't tell me who made the call, but wanted to alert me to it. This is the same child, I'd lie in bed with and read bedtimes stories every night up until about two years ago...then it started.

     I'm really at my wit's end...and have considered giving up after four months. Maybe she is best left with her mother so they can grow old together???

    Symposium On Parental Alienation Syndrome - TT - Sep 18th 2008

    The Canadian Symposium For Parental Alienation Syndrome
    I would like to announce the date for our conference MARCH 27th - through MARCH 29th, 2009 at the Metro Toronto Convention Center. I would like to know if you could keep a regular post on your website to let your visitors know about this event.

    Please visit our website at www.CSPAS.ca

     

    Mom who lost - - Sep 17th 2008

    I lost my daughter and it feels like death. My ex is a nacassitic abusive ass who "brainwashed" my beautiful daughter. I believe that what comes around goes around.

    I was physically and verbally abused for many, many years until i filed for divorce and could not take it anymore. After that the abusive ex took my precious daughter from me (12 yrs old at the time now she is 17) ever since she refuses contact and will not speak to me. I have been through the terrible court system (NYS) who knows nothing about PAS. When you mention the term that look at you like you are an alien. Please someone out there help! This is a living death.

    Alienating a parent ---- for money - Debbie G - Aug 13th 2008

    In my case, parental alienation was fueled by desires of a non-custodial parent to reduce child support. It began with my 16 yr old son being subtly coerced to request living with Dad after 8 yrs with his siblings/myself. I allowed it because I thought it was the right thing for my child. I did not want my son to grow up regretting me not allowing him that opportunity. At this point, my ex had already taken me to court 3 times requesting child support reduction. After only a month of "exclusive" time with Dad, his behavior was abyssmal! He avoided most visits with me, rules such as curfew were very lax there, was allowed to hang out with kids heading for trouble that I wouldn't allow.  The Ex tells me my son no longer wants to see me!  At one talk with my son, he could not tell me why he "hated" me.  The Ex heads to court (#4) for custody.  I become informed about PAS.  I see all the symptons including me representing myself (I won & regained my custody rights). I could not understand why he was coerced and not the other children.  This son has ADHD --- more immature than other 2 kids and more psychologically vunerable. Beware! It happens! I am not the only one! I cry for my son in the ways this has effected him and will effect him in the future ------ his own Dad abused him for money!

    The Corrupt Court System - Shirley Crawford - Jun 9th 2008

    I am the victim of Domestic Violence and Abuse.  I lived with it for years, before our divorce and after.

    It took me a long time to get the guts and the courage to go to the courts and fight for what is in my son's best interest.

    He is ADHD, and a victim of PAS.  I have had a horrible experience trying to express to the courts what my son and I have gone through over the past 6 years.  The do not care and quite frankly have only punished me for the abuse I suffered.  I feel as though it weren't enough that I suffered at my Ex-husbands hands, but now the courts are making me pay all over again.  In the meantime, my son and his best interest seem to mean very little at all.

    It is a joke how our system is set up.  It is a joke that there is virtually no recourse when the Courts feel they are right, or whether they even care about right or wrong, or the meeting they have after court is adjourned and I'm just wasting their time.

    A Mothers Hope to reunite with Daughter - Cindy Tompkins - Apr 19th 2008

    For the parents who are going through PAS, never give up HOPE to be reunited with our kids.  We have to hang on to it because it's the only thing that will get us through this living death and nightmare of the the other parent trying to sever our ties with our kids.  They are ONLY  hurting our kids and it is only to get revenge on the non-custodial parent who only wants to just love and be a part of their life.  Just remember, what goes around comes around.  Certainly, we, as their parent need to fight for them since the court system is too corrupt and doesn't really care what happens to our next generation.  We must try and protect them as best as possible.

    Thank you,

    Cindy Tompkins 

     

     

     

    A really enlightening podcast! - Susan - Nov 19th 2007


    This interview resonated with my own childhood experiences, though I was surprised to learn that the term "PAS" has been around since 1980.  Its inclusion in the DSM will prove to be a helpful development for therapist and client alike, as  PAS can set the stage for long-term personal difficulties. That it took Tourette's Syndrome approximately 100 years to show up in the DSM, according to Dr. Baker, shocked me!

    I wonder if, within an intact family, both parents might alienate their child from each other...?

    Spellcheck - JD - Nov 18th 2007

    A good article on an important topic, but please spellcheck!

    Editor's Note: Dashed it off quickly yesterday and sure enough, a spell check would have helped.  Have corrected that now.  

    Follow us on Twitter!

    Find us on Facebook!



    This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify.This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
    verify here.

    Powered by CenterSite.Net