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Parental Alienation

Parental Alienation: Five Errors in Thinking

Alienators think like criminals.

Behavior is a product of thinking. The following five “errors” characterize the cognitive processes of mothers and fathers who alienate a child from a parent. These same errors are inherent in the thought processes of murderers, arsonists, rapists, and other offenders. (People who do not have a criminal personality also make these errors in thinking, but not to the same degree.)

The following applies to both mothers and fathers. It is not gender specific. The pronoun "he" is used to avoid awkwardness in writing.

1. Control

The alienating parent deploys a variety of tactics to gain control over the child. Consequently, the child experiences distress from being in the middle of his parents’ warfare. A tug of loyalties ensues when a parent becomes intent upon winning the heart and soul of the child. While declaring that he is acting in the child’s best interest, the alienator endeavors to establish complete control over his child’s emotions and behavior vis-a-vis the other parent.

The alienating parent despises the other parent so intensely that he considers this individual toxic to the child and of little value overall. The alienating parent may coach his son or daughter so that the child feels disloyal even to have a positive thought about the other parent.

2. Lying

The alienating parent has little regard for the truth. He launches an uncompromising and unending campaign to destroy the other parent. In doing so, he shades the truth, conceals information, and knowingly makes false statements.

3. Shutting off Conscience

The alienator eliminates from consideration whatever awareness he has of harming the child or anyone else who is affected. He represents to others and comes to believe himself that he is benefiting the child by whatever action he is taking.

4. Lack of a Concept of Injury

The alienator is indifferent to or lacks awareness not only of the damage done to the child, but also of the harm done to relatives and others who suffer a loss that is experienced much like a death. The alienating parent cares little about what happens to his former spouse or partner. Losing a child through alienation has driven parents to the brink of suicide. One mother stated, “I no longer feel like living. I have no purpose in my life and nowhere to turn.”

5. View of the Self as Virtuous: Thinking Makes It So

A parent who alienates his child from the other parent would likely be horrified if he learned about another parent behaving in the very same manner. In his own case, however, he is convinced that he is “rescuing” the child. Facts do not matter. What the alienating parent believes is all that counts.

The truth is that by performing this “rescue,” the alienator eliminates a critically important part of his child’s life. The damage inflicted on the child and others may be permanent.

More from Stanton E. Samenow Ph.D.
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