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What’s The Difference Between “Parental Alienation” and Toxic Parenting?

“Parental alienation” is a buzzword associated with the denial of sexual abuse of children. Toxic parenting, a descriptive term, on the other hand, involves a range of behaviors that involve parent whose hatred of the co-parent extends to the insistence that the subject children share the same hatred of that parent. The degrees to which that parent is willing to go in order to cause children to conform to that parent’s wishes extends to a range of interactions.

Those behaviors can involve the imposition of legal interventions that involve treatments such as reunification services that employ techniques of extreme behavioral and psychological manipulation of children to the in-person physical and emotional punishment of children that creates the overt behavior that the toxic parent wishes to see the children enact.

In one particular situation that we were involved with as to assessment and intervention, the protective parent who was forced to hand over the children to her domestic violence abuser and abuser of the children, when she was able to see the children, in the presence of the father, their behavior towards her was verbally abusive, humiliating, taunting of her and replicated the behavior of the father toward the mother and the children when they lived together in the home.

When the mother was able to see the children without the father in her own home, the children’s behavior was completely different, and they acknowledged that if they did not behave as their father wished them to, that there were severe consequences to them as to deprivations of seeing their friends, having access to electronics, various punitive acts toward them as well as personal insults and degradation, so they felt they had no choice but to behave terribly towards her.

As she attempted to accommodate their behavior over some months, the accommodation normalized the split between the children being overtly insulting and degrading to her in the presence of the father but reasonably normally interactive when they were alone with her. But the children over time felt less and less remorse about their behavior and were able to slip into their functional roles of on the one hand being insulting and on the other hand having a normal discourse in the course of the day.

The toll on the mother was devastating and the nature of the contact supervised by the father with limited separate contact of the children with the mother was not sustainable.

The reunification services viewed the mother’s distress as her resistance to the treatment and her failure to adjust to the process. Further, the reunification interventionists considered this case a success, the children overcoming their animosity toward the father, and felt that the mother required further treatment with their staff.

Toxic parenting begins with a parent whose unbridled hatred of  the co-parent demands that the children display loyalty to the one parent and decimate the other parent. It is a cruel action, deranged and demented, from the parent who uses children as an instrument of destruction against their co-parent. Ranges of destructiveness occur within the relationship where one parent is engaged in “using” the children as a weapon against the other parent to express their rage at them.

However, where there is actual physical, emotional, palpably clear destructive behavior by one parent toward the child or children, and the other parent, designated as the protective parent, cannot stop that behavior and protect the child, there cannot be a denial of harm to the child when the sequelae of behavioral and emotional symptoms appear and are present. This failure to acknowledge the existence of interference in developmental tasks such as speech, toilet training, separation, and learning are acts of ignorance or incompetence on the part of evaluators, whether they be psychiatric, medical, or other types of providers.

The diagnostic term for this kind of behavior is not “parental alienation.” Rather, there are a range of diagnoses that describe the dynamic between an abuser who is seeking to cover crimes against children and by proxy the witnesses to this behavior. Those diagnoses include but are not limited to psychopathy, pseudopsychopathic schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, and narcissistic personality disorder.

These are diagnostic terms that apply to severely disturbed thinking. Those who suffer from personality and character disorders need to be addressed with the clinical diagnostic understanding that is appropriate to the behavior and clinical criteria that help to define, understand, and prescribe interventions for these disorders.

Those with personality disorders that involve criminal abuse of children require criminal intervention involving probation or prison.

In objecting to the term “parental alienation,” the experts of the Foundation do not deny that significant swaths of the parent population hate their co-parent and will use any means available to them to destroy the co-parent.

The experts of the Foundation for Child Victims of the Family Courts demand diagnostic, clinical clarity in assessments of toxic parenting, with evidence related to children’s behavior, not simply the destruction of their bodies.

All the criteria used by the court system eviscerate the ability of validly trained experts to present evidence with the quality and nature of physical, sexual, and emotional child abuse.

It cannot be restated often enough that it is the term “parental alienation” that is universally used as a buzzword to disqualify evidence of child abuse.

It is universally recognized in a system of law that language must be clear and convincing stating the basis on which one is presenting an argument. In the language of “parental alienation,” the team that the protective parent never knew they hired everyone assumes that they know exactly what everyone else is speaking of and does not need to go into descriptive detail other than the cut and paste language that we see used in evaluation after evaluation to pronounce the prefix diagnosis and cut and paste orders that sentence a child to the custody of an abuser and given the amount of money available for services to be provided by the so-called “camps” that the child will be ordered into the custody of an abuser and completely isolated from the protection of anyone who can rescue the child.

As observers to children being seized by the thug transporters permitted to transport children from the custody of the protective parent to the placement in a hotel room staffed by strangers, the protests and screams of children cannot be interfered with in any way, and the public spectators cannot begin to believe what they’re seeing.

The secrecy, the hallmarks of reunification services include nondisclosure of suicides of children, psychiatric hospitalizations, plummeting academic performance, developing histories of drug abuse, and various forms of sexual acting out.

These figures are not included in the 96% success rate that describe the broken functional behavior of children who in a state of defeat have given up any hope for their lives.

The Foundation will be publishing not only information about the damages/malpractices lawsuits on each and every one of our cases that involve the abuse of reunification services, but also the treatment content and life statements of children who have been subject to what the United Nations has described as torture while in the possession of so-called reunification therapists.

The content and the meaning of toxic parenting, as per the behavior of a malevolent or psychiatrically deranged parent, whether in the form of sexual abuse or emotional abuse, torture, Munchhausen by Proxy,  deprivation, neglect—all of these behaviors are all critical elements of toxic parenting and must never be neglected or overlooked. But that is exactly what is happening  in the cases that underlie the terrible tragedy of massive numbers of custody transfers into the hands of abusers.

This trend of custody transfers that deny abuse has been growing since the 1980s. One reason it goes unchecked is the so-called experts who, without transparency, have been able to establish their own cottage industries of parsing terms of what is or is not “parental alienation” and what is or is not toxic parenting. The literature on outcomes related to children who have been subject to custody transfers because of an espoused diagnosis of parental alienation is well known and well established in the courts, yet credible literature is ignored in favor of sham research that is based on a controlled population such as that of foster care children.

The work of such psychologists as Steven Cece is much disputed by the experts of the FCVFC despite his esteemed position, and not enough attention has been given to critiquing his work and the harm that it has caused.

The esteemed experts whose work is much quoted and much ignored in family courts across the country who write books that all too many parents suffering with children forced into reunification services have neither time nor money to read, these experts should be plying their

trade in damages lawsuits against providers of illegitimate clinical services that they have no right to engage in.

The pseudo-clinical support by licensing boards, departments of health, who place their imprimatur of approval, have forfeited their intellectual and academic credibility in allowing the swell of their license population to serve the court and prey on vulnerable subjects.

Licensing boards across the country are permitting practice of predatory providers who not only are paid off to transfer children into the custody of depraved abusers but we are also seeing the growth of providers who themselves are predators, not only as to their financial remuneration for their fraudulent evaluations, but for their predatory behavior in so-called sessions in their personal indefensible behavior with child clients.

We have documented evidence of the lawyers who lie on the record in licensing board hearings as they provide fraudulent statements to defend the indefensible behaviors of the clients whose licensing they are preserving.

The growth in the population of predator providers is outstripping the ability of litigants to locate and acquire the services of legitimate providers who most often did not want to enter the disgusting unprofessional fray that now constitutes family court custody litigation across the country.

The cottage industry of parental alienation has destroyed the clinical and psychiatric forensic practice of court litigation by pandering to a false narrative that has no basis in science or medicine or the sacred tenets of psychotherapeutic practice that involves confidentiality and respect for the integrity and independence of one’s client.

The ability of therapists to protect their clients and to protect the integrity of psychotherapeutic analytic and psychological evaluation practices is at this point nearly nonexistent and rapidly being extinguished.

There is too much money exchanging hands as children are dying—virtually as per slow agonizing exhaustion from loss of faith in the possibility in their own futures and what is to become of them as well as through self-destructive acts and actual suicides.

The intellectual arguments over what is and what is not “parental alienation” exist in some netherworld that ignores the factual existence of suffering children and egregiously damaged others who helplessly suffer, attempting to exert pyrrhic arguments, where sound and fury evaporate into nothingness.

We at the Foundation are issuing a clarion call to the public to become aware of a galloping trend of anti-intellectual, anti-science, anti-medical dogma that will impact the foundations of a democratic society by destroying families that educate and socialize children.


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