The Genocide of Battered Mothers and their Children

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The Ever Expanding Parental Alienation Theory: Amy J. Baker’s Research Revisited

In domestic law on July 24, 2011 at 12:58 pm

If “in-depth interviews” of 40 people scientifically validated PAS,
Richard Gardner would be a…researcher-scientist. Amy baker is one of the ‘cult’ whores- who continues to ‘profit’ on the blood of children.

Amplify’d from www.randijames.com
Nothing wrong with this method. However, the wording could lead to a biased selection:

1. She introduces herself as a research psychologist, versus a researcher.
2. The word manipulated is loaded. How does she define it or how do her participants define it?
3. The word alienated is loaded. How does she define it or how do her participants define it?

And so what kind of people responded to her ads? Who was represented? Baker gives us some information in her research entitled, Patterns of Parental Alienation Syndrome: A
Qualitative Study of Adults Who were Alienated from a Parent as a Child
.

40 participants were utilized (a large sample size for a qualitative study)

The age range was from 19 to 67 years old (keep in mind that they are reflecting on their childhood.

37.24 was the average age for women and
42.73 for men
in rounding ages mode=40

just some maybe useless information!!)

15 men and 25 women (interesting gender distribution)

29 of the participants reported that their parents divorced during their childhood. (This ranged from from birth to age 13, with an average of 5.76 years and a mode of 2. What about the other 11 participants? )

34 cases in which the mother was the alienator
6 cases= father

**There is no information about the parents’/children’s economic status [pre-divorce, post-divorce] which may give us information on class issues. There is no racial or ethnic information which may give us some background on cultural issues.**

Baker’s goal #1:

to determine whether there were people who identified themselves as having been alienated from one parent due to the other parent’s actions and attitudes.

She notes:

Although these data do not provide any benchmark for determining the actual prevalence of the phenomenon in the general population, they do provide evidence that there are people who believe that they have had this experience.

There are also people who believe they were raped, impregnated, and abducted by aliens. There are people who believe Tupac Shakur and/or Elvis Presley are still alive. There were people who thought the world would end in 2000. All of their evidence says/said so. What mattered in this study was not there was something called parental alienation, but people’s beliefs about their recollections. This study did not involve proving anything. It was exploratory in nature.

Baker’s goal #2:

to determine whether there were different types of parental alienation experiences or whether they all followed the same general outline.

So she might be trying to expand on the previous literature. Innovative.

This is what Baker found:

PATTERN 1: NARCISSISTIC MOTHER IN DIVORCED FAMILY

all portrayed their mother as self-centered, demanding a high degree of attention and admiration, and not able to see them as separate individuals…a woman who was charming, dynamic, and preoccupied with having her own needs met rather than meeting the needs of her children.

Picture portrayed does not necessarily equal reality. A mother (or any parent) more concerned with her own needs against her children’s own best interest would essentially be neglecting her children. In what ways did the participants in Baker’s research describe the children being neglected–emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually? Each is very different.

it can be surmised that these narcissistic mothers cultivated an emotionally enmeshed relationship with the participants when they were young children that appeared to serve their own need for love and admiration rather than to promote the emotional health and growth of the participants.

Enmeshed is an overused word–heavily saturated in psychological literature–that tries to malign the relationship between mothers and their children. The opposite of enmeshment is detachment, which is also pathological according to psych theory (yes, these are theories, not laws). It is easy for strangers and those without a vested interest in the relationship to pathologize other people’s family dynamics. Perhaps it would serve psych researchers better if they were to perform ethnographic studies–become a part of the family and observe–in order to determine how what has been classified as maladjustment may serve to benefit the family in various situations.

Baker goes on to say:

Maternal narcissism appeared to fuel the alienation in at least three ways. First, despite the powerful personality presented to the world, narcissists tend to feel empty inside and easily become enraged at the first sign of humiliation or abandonment (Masterson, 1981). Therefore, it is quite likely that the end of the marriage triggered in these women feelings of shame and rage that became directed towards the husband.

Pure speculation. (Then again, who ever said what was presented in research was fact?) If the marriage’s end was a result of the husband’s actions, is that shame and rage unwarranted? Could we also not apply the same humiliation or abandonment and/or shame and rage to the father because he now realizes the extent of his actions? Could the father be the narcissist?

This is certainly consistent with the fact that the participants recalled a steady stream of badmouthing about the absent father following the divorce. These men were referred to as cheaters, gamblers, rapists, alcoholics, and abusers in front of the participants.

This is almost laughable (not at the children’s pain though). Might we want to consider that these fathers were in fact the names that were used, or that the behaviors they exhibited matched these names? No. This research wasn’t supposed to verify or dispute this. The focus is on the mother’s actions, rendering the father’s potential behaviors as invisible. And who gets to decide what a mother should or should not tell her child or what is or is not age appropriate? Psychologists?

Thus, the alienation may have been partly motivated by revenge, as if the mothers were saying, “If you don’t want me you can’t have the children.”

Speculation. What if the mother was saying, “Your display of character has caused such a disturbance and is evidence of your utter disregard for the children.”

A second underlying motivation of the alienation fueled by the mothers’ narcissism appears to be anger towards the children that they wanted to have a relationship with the father even though he had rejected the mother. This is consistent with the fact that narcissists generally have a hard time understanding that others (including if not especially their children) have separate feelings and experiences of the world (Kernberg, 1976). For the narcissist, if she is angry with someone, the children should be as well.

Was the mother angry because the father rejected her or because the father abused her [or the children]? Big difference. How would we know, decades later? If a mother is not to speak of the father being a drunk or cheater, is she supposed to speak of him being physically or sexually abusive? And if so, when should that information be divulged? On the other hand, if the father is the narcissist, wouldn’t he have a hard time understanding that others (including his children and maybe his ex-wife) have separate feelings and experiences of the world? How might he display that narcissism? (hint: by claiming parental alienation)

Third, the narcissistic mothers might have felt especially alone and fragile following the divorce and might have relied more on their children for comfort, companionship, and reassurance than before. Seen in this light, the time the children spent with the father under these circumstances would have been experienced as a profound loss. Many narcissists do not know how to be alone, as they need an audience to make them feel real and to reassure them of their grandiosity (Golumb,1992).

Speculation with misogynistic undertones. This particularly pathologizes mothers who do not re-couple after divorce and choose to focus on [rebuilding] the relationship between her and her children (which is vital if they were previously subjected to abuse). And then, as I previously stated, would the same thing apply to the father if he is indeed the narcissist (doesn’t know how to be alone and thus re-partners quickly, garners support from his parents, then decides to take interest in kids now that he has an audience)?

Moving on,

PATTERN 2: NARCISSISTIC MOTHER IN NON DIVORCED FAMILY

There were 8 cases in which “parental alienation” was displayed in an intact family–no divorce, no custody battle–the parents and children lived in one household. I have asked this question repeatedly–Does parental alienation occur in intact families?— and I have stated that these so-called alienating behaviors occur in “regular” households (see Parental Alienation in “High Conflict” Divorce: Questions We Must Ask). According to Richard Gardner, founder of parental alienation theory, this isn’t parental alienation. According to Baker, it was like this:

The primary technique entailed confiding in the child about the inadequacies and failings of the father.

Confiding implies that it was some sort of secret between the mother and child. Was this the case?

Much of what was shared with the participants about the father was designed to make them feel anger or resentment toward him and protective of the mother, furthering the alienation.

Is this a fact or opinion and how can we know? How do we know that the child did not carry these feelings on his/her own and look to the mother for mutual support?

It is also possible that the mother was not able to maintain an adult relationship in which emotional honesty and compromise would be necessary. Perhaps these mothers turned to their children because having the unquestioning adoration of a child was more satisfying and less demanding than a mature relationship with another adult.

Horrible speculation. Furthermore, how does one carry out a mature relationship with an alcoholic or cheater? The emotionally dishonest person would be the one with the negative behaviors that are ruining the family, not the person who cannot communicate with him.

PATTERN 3: COLD, REJECTING OR ABUSIVE ALIENATING PARENT

According to Richard Gardner, if there is bona fide abuse, there is no parental alienation (although with Gardner’s encouragement of sexual relations between fathers and their children, his categorizations are questionable). According to Baker, it was like this:

Rather than a “fabulously close” or “excellent” relationship, as the participants in pattern 1 and 2 described having with their mothers, the participants in pattern families were physically, verbally, and/or sexually abused by the alienating parent. Sixteen cases fit this pattern, three in intact families and 13 in divorced families.

That is 45% of the divorced family participants and 27% of the intact family participants fitting into this category. And these are people who elected to reveal this information.

In half the families the alienating parent was alcoholic in addition to being physically, emotionally, sexually, and/or verbally abusive and in five cases the father was the alienating parent.

That is out of 40 families, 20 of them had alcohol abuse issues on top of other abuses. And out of the total of 6 cases in which the father was considered the alienator, 5 were physically, emotionally, sexually, and/or verbally abusive (83%) (I’m unsure whether I am interpreting Baker’s statement correctly as it is rather unclear).

The alienation occurred not through the alienating parent winning the child over through charm and persuasion, but through a campaign of fear, pain, and denigration of the targeted parent.

This is what has been described as Domestic Violence by Proxy or Stockholm syndrome. Interesting, Baker didn’t offer these terms as possibilities however she chooses to repeatedly align mothers with cults throughout this research, and then, makes this statement:

Thus, parental alienation syndrome can take different forms.

because her (and others PAS theorists) ultimate goal is the expand the definition of what constitutes parental alienation syndrome/disorder. And she doesn’t try to hide her m.o.:

Narcissistic mothers as alienators may present different clinical opportunities than alcoholic physically abusive fathers. The first scenario is the one commonly envisioned and described when parental alienation syndrome is discussed (Gardner, 1992). However the field needs to recognize that there is more than one type of parental alienation syndrome

…it appears that it may be time to broaden our understanding of parental alienation syndrome..

She also notes:

…alcoholism, maltreatment, and personality disorders co-occurred
in most of the cases included in this study.

And yet it appears that the focus is still parental alienation; therefore, it is a mask, a distraction from dealing with the real problems inherent in the select families in which PAS is said to exist.

And here Baker gets down to the nitty gritty of this research where she fills in the gaps with the true motivations for PAS theorists:

Second, determination of personality disorders should be taken into account when devising methods for overseeing visitation schedules since such individuals are not likely to comply with court orders. People with narcissistic personality disorders tend to be arrogant and, therefore, are likely to devalue authority figures and emphasize their own ability to make judgments and decisions (e.g., Golumb, 1992; Hotchkiss, 2002). Without real teeth in a visitation or shared parenting order, it is not likely that such a person will comply. The legal system has developed measures for tracking and enforcing payment of child support; it is now time for methods of ensuring compliance with visitation to be developed as well.

Personality disorders, Visitation enforcement, and Shared parenting all thrown together on the backdrop of child support. No surprises here. Amy Baker appears to be advocating for punishment in suspected (or assumed) cases of parental alienation.

A second notable finding from this study is that parental alienation can occur in intact families. The majority of the attention to parental alienation syndrome has emerged from the legal system in response to problems dealing with high conflict divorces, custody disputes, and false and real allegations of parental alienation (Darnall, 1998; Warshak, 2001). To date, there has been minimal if any attention to the fact that parental alienation can occur outside of the legal system.

Third, alienation occurred in some of these families that were not involved in post-divorce litigation. Again, the typical parental alienation scenario discussed in the field is that of a family involved in intense and chronic legal conflicts around custody and visitation (Gardner, 1998). This was not always the case.

These findings are not notable. And it leaves a major question unanswered: If PAS occurs in intact and non-litigating households then what would be the likelihood that this occurs in a significant amount of other households? The greater the likelihood, the less pathological it would be. Maybe it is a natural phenomenon.

…one of the participants who did not fall into the three patterns reported that the alienating parent was the non-custodial father.

But Baker would prefers to explain it like this:

Despite the fact that the targeted parent lived in the same household, the participants rejected them, avoided them, denigrated them (in their hearts and mind) and essentially lost out on the experience of having a healthy rewarding relationship with that other parent.

See Parental Alienation and Loving Relationships: Questions We Must Ask

And Baker would like to get everyone involved:

Likewise, teachers, social workers and other mental health professionals who come into contact with parents and children should become versed in the patterns of parental alienation syndrome and the strategies parents use so that they can identify them when they are present.

Will they be mandated to report it just like other child abuse suspicion? Will Social Services or Child Protective Services get involved? Will this lead all other families into court and into protracted litigation? Will every family get a third person embedded into their family life..aka Parent Coordinator or other Court Whores? And at whose expense–the parents or the government?

Fourth, the parents who were the target of the alienation appeared to play a role in their own alienation. In some cases these parents were passive and uninvolved (even when living in the same household) and did not work particularly diligently to establish and or maintain a positive and meaningful relationship with their own children. Many did not write letters or make phone calls to their children during periods of non-visitation, they did not attend school events and sporting competitions, they did not follow through on planned visitations, and in some respects appeared to be casual about their relationships with their children.

So, is this considered parental alienation, too? Who is the alienator?

Baker adds:

it must be noted that these reports were made by the adult children, and because they were children at the time of the alienation, they may not know everything that the targeted parents did or tried to do for them…

without mentioning that this same disclaimer (delimitation?) can be applied to the knowledge the children/adults may NOT have about why the mother behaved as she did.

The final finding that emerged from a review of these cases is that the alienation was not always completely internalized.

And so, by according to Richard Gardner, this would NOT be parental alienation either.

This marks the end of Amy J. Baker’s research. In this study, she never defined what parental alienation meant. She interviewed the participants herself and didn’t specify whether she personally analyzed the data for content/themes, or not. These things matter.

Baker tries parallel the concept with cultism, and explains that PAS isn’t in the DSM, similar to other syndromes that took time to get it in. A similarly appropriate parallel would be to the former catchall diagnosis of female hysteria…which then went to be called somatization disorder and then conversion disorder. The field of psychology operates in this wish-washy manner because it is based on “theory” (opinion).

Another important thing to keep in mind is the demographic data provided at the beginning of Baker’s study. Go back and re-read it above………..

In the study, Baker states:

Section two focused on memories of the marriage, the participant’s relationship to each parent until the time of the separation/divorce, how the participant was told about the separation, who moved out of the house and a description of the custody/visitation schedule through age 18.

I have provided you with enough information and emphases throughout this post to let you put this together on your own.

****

In performing a study in this manner, Amy Baker tried to expand the definition of parental alienation syndrome by using people’s beliefs so that the the people could define parental alienation as it meant to them:

the interview aimed to understand in a focused way the subject’s every day life world as it related to parental alienation and the meaning of the alienation for them

This is a magnificent selling point to society at large. PAS theorists have struggled with trying to separate from Richard Gardner not only because his definition was limited (to “high conflict” divorce with mothers as the main alienators), but because of his pro adult-child sexual beliefs. ie:

Special care should be taken not alienate the child from the molesting parent. The removal of a pedophilic parent from the home “should only be seriously considered after all attempts at treatment of the pedophilia and rapprochement with the family have proven futile.”
Gardner, R.A. (1992). True and False Accusations of Child Sex Abuse . Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics.(p. 537)

The child should be told that there is no such thing as a perfect parent. “The sexual exploitation has to be put on the negative list, but positives as well must be appreciated”
Gardner, R.A. (1992). True and False Accusations of Child Sex Abuse . Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics.(p. 572)

Older children may be helped to appreciate that sexual encounters between an adult and a child are not universally considered to be reprehensible acts. The child might be told about other societies in which such behavior was and is considered normal. The child might be helped to appreciate the wisdom of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, who said, “Nothing’s either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
Gardner, R.A. (1992). True and False Accusations of Child Sex Abuse . Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics.(p. 59)

However, the broader the scope of parental alienation, the more watered down it’s definition becomes. If any child (and parent) can suffer from parental alienation in any circumstance, what makes it abnormal? How is it a mental illness?

DSM stands for “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” and is published by the American Psychiatric Association, the professional organization representing United States psychiatrists. The DSM contains a listing of psychiatric disorders and their corresponding diagnostic codes. Each disorder included in the manual is accompanied by a set of diagnostic criteria and text containing information about the disorder, such as associated features, prevalence, familial patterns, age-, culture- and gender-specific features, and differential diagnosis. No information about treatment is included.

Please stay tuned for part 2.

See Also: Amy Baker and Parental Alienation Syndrome: Is This What Scientific Research Looks Like?

Psychology and Parental Alienation: Closer to Science?

Read more at www.randijames.com

 

The New Battleground of Child Custody Reform: Shared Parenting

In domestic law on July 20, 2011 at 2:34 pm

This article comes 99% of the way toward directly admitting that men want
“shared parenting” to eliminate child support!

Amplify’d from rightwingnews.com

Child custody and support laws have become more onerous over the last 50 years due to fewer parents staying together and women becoming equally as capable as men at earning a living outside the home. Instead of reflecting these changes, the laws have lagged behind, continuing to favor mothers over fathers. The laws generally award primary custody to the parent who spent more time at home with the children and less time working, even if the difference was miniscule. The other parent is then ordered to pay a crushing amount of child support, sometimes on top of alimony. In a small percentage of situations, usually where the father was the primary caregiver, this situation is reversed and the laws punish the mother.

Fathers have reacted over the years in different ways. Some fathers’ rights activists in Britain dress up as super heroes and scale public buildings to draw attention to the inequity. The founder of Fathers 4 Justice, Matt O’Connor, started a hunger strike for equal parenting earlier this month outside the home of British Prime Minister David Cameron. Some fatherstragically commit suicide. Last month, a distraught father immolated himself on the steps of a courthouse in New Hampshire, after mailing a 15-page “last statement” to the local newspaper detailing his final frustrations with the child custody legal system. The most high-profile victim of the child custody system, actor Alec Baldwin, helped bring exposure to the unfairness by writing a book about his experience.

Although a few small changes have been made to the laws within the last few years, due to exposure and the efforts of advocacy organizations, there has not been significant progress. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 84 percent of custodial parents are mothers, a figure that has not changed since 1983. This is unfortunate, because Canadian economist Paul Miller analyzed data on families and foundthat “parental gender is not a…predictor at all of any of the child outcomes examined, that is behavioral, educational or health outcomes.” The children often end up with “Parental Alienation Syndrome,” developing a dislike for the noncustodial parent bought on by the custodial parent. Long term studies of children in the U.S. and New Zealand have found there is a direct correlation between a father’s absence and teen pregnancy.

The latest effort to change the system calls for “shared parenting.” Although advocacy groups differ on how shared parenting would be implemented, it generally consists of making the default custody arrangement 50/50 joint physical and legal custody when parents split up, absent egregious circumstances. This would replace the current system which leaves it up to a judge’s whim to decide what constitutes “the best interests of the child.” Shared parenting bills are being introduced in state legislatures around the country, and several states now have some version of shared parenting. In those states, studies are finding that divorce rates are lower and the children are better adjusted.

In addition to passing shared parenting laws, there must be tougher requirements for issuing restraining orders and reform of child support laws. 50/50 shared custody should not include child support unless there are egregious circumstances. Child support creates an incentive to continue fighting. Neither parent wants to get stuck paying it, and some parents greedily want it as a source of income to use as they please, since there is little monitoring of how it is spent. Eliminate child support in all but the most egregious situations, and most of the fighting clogging our family courts will cease.

The “deadbeat dad” roundups by law enforcement of fathers who are behind in child support needs to stop. Many of them are fathers who were not lucky enough to be awarded custody, and are now working two jobs just to try and keep up with expenses and child support. Figures from the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement solution lies in renewing the importance of marriage. He proposes eliminating no-fault divorce laws and requiring couples where only one spouse wants a divorce to work out the divorce agreement themselves. This would disincentivize divorce, since couples could no longer simply run to court to end the marriage, but would be forced to work with each other to come up with a custody situation they both agree to. Currently, marriage is about the only kind of contract where one party can unilaterally end the contract. The Center for Marriage Policy recommends shared parenting that would place a child primarily with one parent for the first half of their childhood, then with the second parent for their later years.

The small changes that have been made in recent years are encouraging. Thanks to organizations likeFathers and Families, last year Massachusetts, which has some of the most punishing child support laws in the country, reduced the interest on overdue child support by 50%. Legislation has been passed in several states around the country within the past year protecting disabled and military parents from child custody abuses. As families continue to modernize, and more women also suffer the effects of outdated child custody laws, the laws will be finally forced to keep up. It may just not be in our lifetime. This is a new kind of civil rights struggle, and one day our great-grandchildren will look back and remember their forefathers who fought so hard for their right to have meaningful time with both parents.

Read more at rightwingnews.com

 

‘It Should Not Hurt to Be a Child’ But Family Courts make sure that it does.

In domestic law on May 27, 2011 at 4:26 pm

The soul-destroying, long-term consequences of child physical/sexual abuse and neglect obviously merit a year-round focus, but media attention to such awareness campaigns helps encourage parents, especially mothers, to seek help if they suspect child abuse.

Amplify’d from www.thecrimereport.org

At the same time, however, the long and exhausting journey that parents must take to secure protection for endangered children, often involving legal battles costing many thousands of dollars, is rarely mentioned.

Who wants to hear that no amount of money can assure justice in systems that disbelieve children and distrust protective parents?

In the worst cases, custody is reversed and the protective parent may be denied any contact with his or her child.  The message: failure to be a “friendly parent” is worse than child physical or sexual abuse.

Rarely prosecuted by the State, intra-familial abuse allegations are relegated to a domestic relations court of equity where a serious crime against a child is reduced to a civil law question of property. Such courts, in  contrast to the traditional adversarial nature of a courtroom, allow judges to apply injunctions or writs instead of monetary damages, according to the principle of “fairness. ”

Family courts in most (if not all) jurisdictions are considered “courts of equity.”  A recent New York case in which the Court of Appeals was asked to decide whether a teacher imprisoned for molesting boys can see his own child illustrates the limits of an approach that considers a child just a piece of property to be divided.

The systemic failures and practices that place abused or at-risk children in the care or custody of a dangerous parent are well known, but it has taken over 15 years for these agonizing and sometimes tragic cases to be officially recognized as serious problems in our judicial and CPS systems.  

The Catch 22 nature of a parent’s duty to report, and penalties for failure to protect, sinks protective parents in the quicksand of family court litigation. Very little help is available from public agencies or non-profits.  Abusers know they have unparalleled opportunities to abuse and control their children and ex-partners with few consequences. 

Last month, the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) held a Roundtable at George Washington University Law School, sponsored by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence with help from the Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project.  Judge Susan Carbon, OVW director, , and participants from other federal agencies listened to a panel of mothers and a courageous 13-year-old share their experiences in family court. 

In the experts’ panel, we shared our extensive knowledge of how CPS and family courts can fail abused children and their protective parents.  A report on the roundtable will be posted soon on the OVW website.

Policies forcing children to reunite with their sexual assault perpetrators need immediate re-evaluation.  These are just of few of the many changes recommended by advocates and legal/mental health professionals.

The worst betrayal a child can endure is sexual/physical abuse or neglect by a parent.  Assuring a child that if they tell they will be protected, but then failing to protect heaps betrayal upon betrayal. 

We need to carry through on our promises to children.   This is the next  level of child abuse awareness our society needs!

From Madness to Mutiny: Why Mothers Are Running From the Family Courts and What to Do About It, by Amy Neustein, Ph.D. and Michael Lesher, J.D., Northeastern University Press, 2005. www.upne.com/1-58465-462-7.html

Domestic Violence, Abuse and Child Custody edited by Mo Therese Hannah, Ph.D and Barry Goldstein, J.D., The Civic Research Institute, 2010. http://www.civicresearchinstitute.com/dvac.html

Read more at www.thecrimereport.org

 

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