Parental Alienation Syndrome

Today’s (Saturday, 10/2/2010) Honolulu Star-Bulletin (p. A5) announces a major conference on parental alienation syndrome (PAS), being held this weekend in NYC ( As you may be aware there is an effort underway to place PAS into the DSM-V.  There are no cases that a forensic psychologist is likely to encounter, even grisly homicides, that are uglier and more difficult than PAS cases. The debate is incredibly political. The cases pose serious risk of liability to mental health professionals who are paticipants. The Family Court has a hard enough time managing ordinary high conflict cases, but PAS typically overwhelms the system’s capacity. BTW, the best update on PAS can be found in  the  January 2010, Family Court Review, a special volume dedicated to alienated children.  After a decade in which Richard Gardner’s PAS conceptualization has been derided and lampooned, his work is clearly being rehabilitated, though conceptualizations have become more subtle. The work of Janet Johnston remains peerless. Of great interest is emerging long-term followup of data on alienated children (Outcomes of Family Counseling Intervention with Children Who Resist Visitation: An Addendum to Friedlander and Walters (2010)).


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