Withholding a child from a parent and other family members is a very cruel thing to do. Dr Craig Childress has developed a method for assessing pathogenic parenting and a system for diagnosing Child Psychological Abuse using constructs in psychology linked to the bible of mental disorders which is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders by the American Psychiatric Association affectionately known as the DSM. The DSM is currently in its 5th edition.

All too often we see children of separated parents outwardly reject a relationship or even contact with the other parent. From human relationships with people who are not so closely related we understand that if someone rejects another person who they previously had a good relationship with the rejected person must have done something to deserve it. With children and parent relationships this almost never happens unless someone psychologically invades the child's brain and invokes a complex psychological process to cause the child to reject a parent. Proof of this comes from social workers who tell us that even the most severely abused children do not want a social worker to remove them from their parents.

Videos on this site and many others provide evidence of children who were psychologically controlled to reject a parent as a child that managed to escape this abuse some time in adulthood.

A simple way of understanding how the problem occurs is that during an acrimonious divorce one parent shares their version of the truth about their marital dispute to the child. The other parent takes the higher ground and does not share their version of the dispute with the child. The child assumes that the parent who did not say anything must be guilty or otherwise they would have told the child.

In reality the situation is more complex than this. The divorce process inflicts enormous mental stress on both parents because if you lose you may end up loosing any relationship you had with your child, all your assets, all your income, imprisonment from breaching restraining orders and reputation among your family and friends via a gigantic smear campaign. Anybody who is exposed to this stress will be psychologically damaged and suffer much anxiety. A personality disordered person will be more adversely affected than others and their mental health could deteriorate to the point where they suffer a persecutory delusion.

The personality disorders most commonly affected include Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder however other disorders from the Cluster B grouping are also suspected to be vulnerable in this situation. These personality disordered parents may at some stage have a false or grossly exaggerated belief that the other parent is malevolent to them in some way. A narcissistic injury could be a triggering factor.

Anecdotally the most common persecutory delusions are that the Targeted Parent physically, financially or emotionally (eg Targeted Parent broke up the marriage or had an affair) damaged them. The parent suffering the delusions is so traumatised by these delusions they share them with most of the friends and family they come in contact with seeking sympathy. Because the parent suffering the delusions believes they are true and they sound traumatised, most people who hear the story will believe it. So when the child hears how stressed the delusional parent has become and everybody else believes it is true they accept the delusion as truthful and have an enormous amount of empathy for the delusional parent. The likelihood of this happening is greatly enhanced by the seemingly symptomatic practice of the Aligned Parent cutting the child off from as many dissenting voices as possible.

A child is born into their life with two life-rafts which are needed to protect them to survive. So they want to stay proximate to both parents and share love with both parents. They know that if one parent is damaged they are left with only one parent to protect them ie only one life-raft. They cannot accept this risk. This generates a state of cognitive dissonance where on one hand they want to be connected and share love to both parents yet on the other hand they need to protect one parent from the other one otherwise they could lose one parent.

These personality disordered parents have a much higher rate of suicide ideation than the general population which gets worse when they are under stress. They may tell the child of their suicide ideation or the child may just sense it further strengthening the control the Aligned Parent has over the child. Sam Vaknin speaks (at 28 minutes) of the threat of suicide as a means of control by personality disordered people.

To ease the psychological stress the child invokes what is known as psychological splitting where they condition their mind to accept the delusional parent as all wonderful and the rejected parent as all bad. The now Aligned Parent is seen as angelic and the rejected parent demonic. The child now feels a need to be extra close to the Aligned Parent to protect them and to outside people looks like very close loving bonding. It is not, it is pathological. The child and the Aligned Parent now have a very enmeshed relationship where the child and parent roles are reversed which is known as parentification. They have formed a cross-generational coalition to emotionally cut-off the Rejected Parent after the child has been triangulated into the spousal dispute. To the child the Rejected Parent is the most toxic person on the planet although deep down they have suppressed their attachment needs to bond with and be in close proximity of the rejected parent (pathological mourning). The Aligned Parent now will likely use the child as a confidant sharing much personal and adult information with them robbing the child of a psychological child-hood.

Dr Childress's AB:PA diagnostic system of Child Psychological Abuse has 3 indicators:

1 Attachment Suppression

It is un-natural for a child to reject a parent.

2 Personality Disorder Traits

No-where in all of psychology do children exhibit diagnostic traits of a personality disorder. In this case it is Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

1)  grandiosity, 2) absence of empathy

3) entitlement, 4) haughty arrogance,

  and 5) splitting

3 Folie à deux Delusion

The child and the aligned parent share a delusional belief about some persecutory action by the rejected parent.

Dr Childress has 12 Associated Clinical Signs of Pathogenic Parenting however this author has identified the following Associated Community Signs that family, community members and others may identify. These are indicators something is not right for a child that has little or no contact with another parent and needs to be clinically assessed:

-The child has suicide ideation.

-The child assertively or aggressively rejects a parent.

-The child rejects grandparents and other close relatives.

-The child calls the Rejected Parent by their own name or some non parent respectful name.

-The child calls a step parent 'mum' or 'dad'.

-The child opposes the Rejected Parent attending events where they show an interest in the child such as school sports and parents days.

-The child seems extremely tightly bonded to the Aligned Parent (sign of an enmeshed unhealthy relationship).

-Years spent in the family court over child custody and access issues.

-The child does not send mothers or fathers day cards to the Rejected Parent.

-The Aligned Parent will empower the child to decide on visitation with the other parent.

-The Aligned Parent will claim they cannot 'force' the child to go on visitation.

-The child acts as a counsellor for the Aligned Parent (sign of a 'parentified' child ).

Frequently children of separated parents are treated as if something is wrong with them however the first thing any professional should do before treating these children is to look at the parents relationship. Major red flags about the child include:

-Thoughts of self harm.



-Diagnosis with ADHD.

-Frequent stomach or head aches.


-The child is disruptive at school.

-Poor academic performance at school.

-Eating disorders.

-Substance misuse problems.

-Involvement in gangs and crime.

-Munchausens' By Proxy (where the Aligned Parent inflicts many unnecessary medical procedures on the child to impress others around them that they are a caring parent).

If you see any signs of the above for a child who has little or no contact with a parent let someone know who can do something about it.

Given the poor family and village social structures in modern society children are extremely vulnerable to Child Psychological Abuse. We all need to demand every professional dealing with children is trained and accredited in dealing with psychologically abused children.

In order to win the child custody case in the Family Court the Aligned Parent is aware that evidence is needed of the Rejected Parent's poor parenting practices. This is especially so in the case of younger children where the court places little weight on who the child says they want to be with. Given that most normal range rejected parents have little in the way of significant things that they have done wrong to the child so the Aligned Parent coaches the child about false or embellished things for the child to say to custody evaluator.

During the interview with the custody evaluator the child may have forgotten some of the alleged wrong doings so they make up their own. To overcome this problem some Aligned Parents give the child 'hate sheets' with wrong-doings of the Rejected Parent listed on them to take into the interview with the custody evaluator. Due to the child not really being bothered by things the rejected parent has done, when questioned by the custody evaluator the child's answers frequently come across as absurd, weak or frivolous reasons to reject a parent.

The stress from the family court proceedings may be so damaging to the Aligned Parent that it leads them to want to self harm. When this happens there is a very high risk that they will not only kill themselves, they may also kill the child as happened in the Glendinning case (see para 225). If the stress from family court is too extreme for the Rejected Parent they may react very badly to the rejection of them by the child interpreting that rejection as by the child not as an extension of the Aligned Parent leading them to murder the child before taking their own life.

The Family Court process has incentivised the Aligned parent to not only psychologically and developmentally damage the child but to use the child as a weapon of Intimate Partner Violence against the Rejected Parent. This 'Pathogenic Parenting' frequently meets the diagnostic criteria for Child Psychological Abuse according to the AB:PA system of diagnosis Dr Craig Childress'.

If splitting has not taken place, coercion by the Aligned Parent by various means may be enough to discourage the child from wanting to go on visitation with the rejected parent or from being reluctant to act normally during visitation. Without splitting taking place it is unlikely due to the child's attachment system the child would aggressively reject a parent.

Ancillary to the model it appears that some Aligned Parents are overly enthusiastic for doctors visits and medical interventions for their children. This is in this author's opinion for attention seeking purposes which could in itself create delusional beliefs of medical illness's of the child that need treating. The disorder was previously known as Munchausens By Proxy however it is referred to in DSM5 as Factitious Disorder Imposed On Another.