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What Is Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)?

I’m sure that the average person has heard of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) by now, with the current divorce rate at about 50 percent. Father’s Rights organizations (also disguised as “equal parenting” or “children’s rights” organizations) have used this syndrome increasingly to prove that women are preventing their access to their children.

Dr. Richard A. Gardner recognized this syndrome and breathed life into PAS in 1985 in an article titled, "Recent Trends in Divorce and Custody Litigation.” It consist of eight symptoms that can be observed in a child affected by PAS:

1. The Campaign of Denigration
2. Weak, Frivolous, or Absurd Rationalizations
3. Lack of Ambivalence
4. The “Independent-Thinker” Phenomenon
5. Reflexive Support of the Alienating Parent in the Parental Conflict
6. Absence of Guilt Over Cruelty to and/or Exploitation of the Alienated Parent
7. Presence of Borrowed Scenarios
8. Spread of the Animosity to the Extended Family and Friends of the Alienated Parent

The symptoms of PAS are attributable to the custodial parent, usually the mother, who initiates in engaging the child in denigrating the non-custodial parent; and subsequently, or rather simultaneously, the child makes his/her own contributions, thus amplifying the effects. The father is seen as the victim and the mother is the perpetrator, traditionally. This syndrome is observed only in the context of divorce.

At face value, there may not appear to be anything wrong with this. I will attempt to examine it, bit by bit, in the next few days.

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