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Symptoms of PAS
PAS is the systematic denigration of one parent by the other with the intent of alienating the child against the other parent. The purpose of the alienation is usually to gain or retain custody without the involvement of the other parent.
Essentially the child is being or has been programmed to view the other parent, usually the father, as both an aggressor against the child’s mother in that he is “trying to take” the child from their mother and as an abusive father, sometimes convincing the child of abuse or neglect that simply did not or is not occurring. There are some symptoms that a child exhibits when they are the victim, or unwitting accomplice to a parent’s attempts at alienation.
Symptoms that the child exhibits include:
- The child has a campaign of denigration against the alienated parent.
- The child has absurd or unrealistic complaints or accusations against the target parent. In essence, the child is looking for any negative to grasp onto and elevates each negative to the level of abuse.
- The child shows no ambivalence in their animosity toward the target parent.
- The child feels and believes that all of the emotion that is directed against the target parent is their own and that no one else had any influence on their feelings in this regard.
- Reflexive support of the alienating parent. In any situation the alienating parent can do no wrong and any attempt or perceived attempt to refute or deny this is evidence that the target parent is victimizing the alienating parent.
- The presence of borrowed scenarios. The use of what are obviously not the child’s own experiences to bolster the negative image of the target parent, such as quoting experiences that the child was too young to remember or was not present for or that did not even occur.
The extended family can also exhibit many of these symptoms as they become programmed by the alienating parent as well.
Symptoms that the alienating parent can exhibit include the following:
- Giving the child choices involving visitation when there are no real choices. The alienating parent may let the child believe that they have an active choice in whether or when they may visit the other parent when in fact the parent or courts have already decided on the visitation situation. The result is usually that the child blames the non-residential parent and that parent ends up victimized no matter what the outcome.
- Telling the child ‘everything’ about the divorce and custody situation under the guise of “being honest” with the child. This is destructive and painful for the child and the ‘honest’ representation of the proceedings invariably favor the alienator and show the target parent as the aggressor.
- Refusing to allow the child to transport belongings to the other parent’s residence.
- Refusing or resisting allowing the target parent access to the child’s school or medical records or schedules of extra-curricular activities.
- Blaming the target parent for the divorce, the alienating parent’s financial position, changes in lifestyle or lack of romantic life.
- Refusing to be flexible with visitation.
- Forcing the child to choose between one parent and the other. Essentially asking the child to abandon the target parent.
- Questioning whether or not to change the child’s name or suggesting that a step-parent adopt the child.
- Having secret or special signs with the child. Secret words or words with special meanings are very destructive and reinforce alienation.
- Using the child to spy or keep secrets from the alienated parent.
- Setting up temptations that interfere with the target parent’s visitation.
- Reacting with hurt or sadness at the child’s having a good time with the target parent, as though the child has betrayed the alienating parent.
- Asking the child about their other parent’s personal life. This can cause considerable tension and conflict within the child.
- Physically or psychologically “rescuing” the child when there is no threat to their safety, thereby reinforcing the alienation by portraying the other parent as a danger.