A political hot potato rests in the hands of the American Psychiatric Association as it updates its catalog of mental disorders. They must decide whether to include parental alienation on that list, a disputed term conveying how a child’s relationship with one estranged parent can be poisoned by the other.
This is most often is triggered by a divorce and child-custody dispute. There’s bitter debate over whether this plague of society should be formally classified as a mental health syndrome. That question now is before the psychiatric association as it prepares the first complete revision of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders since 1994.
“We’re gotten an enormous amount of mail — more than any other issue,” said Dr. Darrel Regier, vice chair of the task force drafting the manual. “The passions on both sides of this are exceptional.”
On one side of the debate, which has raged since the 1980s, are feminists, advocates for battered women and others who consider “parental alienation syndrome” to be an unproven and potentially dangerous concept useful to men trying to deflect attention from their abusive behavior.
On the other side are legions of firm believers in the existence of a syndrome that is likely grounded in bipolar and sociopathic behavior. Recognition of parental alienation in the psychiatrists’ manual would lead to fairer outcomes in family courts while enabling more children of divorce to receive appropriate treatment so they could reconcile with an estranged parent in their poisoned relationship.
This family blight not only cripples families, but relationships across the board in an ongoing manner. It is a plague of this modern society and needs to be regarded as a mental disorder.
Associated Press Article – source material removed