The American Psychiatric Association Now Recognising Parental Association

The American Psychiatric Association has published early draft of its proposed changes for DSM-5 (also known as DSM-V), an upcoming version of its mental health manual scheduled for 2013, at its website APA DSM-5 Development. While the draft version does not yet contain a definition of parental alienation syndrome or disorder, the APA has indicated that a group of mental health professionals including William Bernet, Wilfrid von Boch-Galhau, Amy J. L. Baker, and Stephen L. Morrison has submitted a document discussing how to include parental alienation in DSM-5 and ICD-11 (International Classification of Diseases, 11th Edition).

An abstract of their work is as well as complete versions are available at Parental Alienation, DSM-V, and ICD-11:

Parental alienation is an important phenomenon that mental health professionals should know about and thoroughly understand, especially those who work with children, adolescents, divorced adults, and adults whose parents divorced when they were children. We define parental alienation as a mental condition in which a child—usually one whose parents are engaged in a high-conflict divorce—allies himself or herself strongly with one parent (the preferred parent) and rejects a relationship with the other parent (the alienated parent) without legitimate justification. This process leads to a tragic outcome when the child and the alienated parent, who previously had a loving and mutually satisfying relationship, lose the nurture and joy of that relationship for many years and perhaps for their lifetimes. The authors of this article believe that parental alienation is not a minor aberration in the life of a family, but a serious mental condition. The child’s maladaptive behavior—refusal to see one of the parents—is driven by the false belief that the alienated parent is a dangerous or unworthy person. We estimate that 1% of children and adolescents in the U.S. experience parental alienation. When the phenomenon is properly recognized, this condition is preventable and treatable in many instances. There have been scores of research studies and hundreds of scholarly articles, chapters, and books regarding parental alienation. Although we have located professional publications from 27 countries on six continents, we agree that research should continue regarding this important mental condition that affects hundreds of thousands of children and their families. The time has come for the concept of parental alienation to be included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V), and the International Classification of Diseases, Eleventh Edition (ICD-11).

Having personally seen multiple cases of moderate to severe parental alienation in children and adult children as well as alienation in progress of developing both in children in married families and those going through divorces, I’m convinced this is a serious problem for children of all ages from conflicted families. Including parental alienation as a mental health disorder in DSM-5 and ICD-11 would go a long way towards finally putting a stop to the political and social support for emotional child abuse via attempts to force parental alienation, a form of emotional abuse, to be ignored by way of abusive legislation.

Such ill-considered efforts to cover up this form of emotional abuse have been pursued by the National Organization of Women (NOW) and other organizations because significant numbers of their members are actively preventing their children from having good relationships with both of their parents. Recognizing parental alienation for what it is means acknowledging that these people are child abusers, something they obviously don’t want as they would prefer to continue abusing their children without accountability as they have been doing.

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