Gardner’s 8 symptoms of Parental Alienation
Richard A. Gardner M.D. Clinical Professor of Child Psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeon says that these are the 8 symptoms of Parental Alienation
- The campaign of denigration
- Weak, frivolous and absurd rationalisations for the denigration.
- Lack of ambivalence.
- The “independent thinker phenomenon.”
- Reflexive support of the alienating parent in the parental conflict.
- Actions of guilt over cruelty to, and or exploitation of the alienated parent.
- The presence of borrowed scenarios.
- The spread of animosity to the extended family and alienated parent.
Symptoms that the alienated child might exhibit:
The child has a campaign of denigration against the alienated parent. The child has absurd or unrealistic complaints or accusations against the target parent. In essence, the child is looking for any negative to grasp onto and elevates each negative to the level of abuse.
The child shows no ambivalence in their animosity toward the target parent.
The child feels and believes that all of the emotion that is directed against the target parent is their own and that no one else had any influence on their feelings in this regard.
Reflexive support of the alienating parent; in any situation the alienating parent can do no wrong and any attempt or perceived attempt to refute or deny this is evidence that the target parent is victimizing the alienating parent.
The presence of borrowed scenarios; the use of what are obviously not the child’s own experiences to bolster the negative image of the target parent, such as quoting experiences that the child was too young to remember or was not present for or that did not even occur. The extended family can also exhibit many of these symptoms as they become programmed by the alienating parent as well.
Symptoms that the alienating parent can exhibit include the following:
Giving the child choices involving visitation when there are no real choices; the alienating parent may let the child believe that they have an active choice in whether or when they may visit the other parent when in fact the parent or courts have already decided on the visitation situation. The result is usually that the child blames the non-residential parent and that parent ends up victimized no matter what the outcome.
Telling the child ‘everything’ about the divorce and custody situation under the guise of “being honest” with the child. This is destructive and painful for the child and the ‘honest’ representation of the proceedings invariably favor the alienator and show the target parent as the aggressor.
Refusing to allow the child to transport belongings to the other parent’s residence or keep gifts from the absent parent.
Refusing or resisting allowing the target parent access to the child’s school or medical records or schedules of extra-curricular activities
Blaming the target parent for the divorce, the alienating parent’s financial position, changes in lifestyle or lack of romantic life.
Refusing to be flexible with visitation rights of both the child and the absent parent
Forcing the child to choose between one parent and the other; essentially asking the child to abandon the target parent.
Questioning whether or not to change the child’s name or suggesting that a step-parent adopt the child.
Having secret or special signs with the child; secret words or words with special meanings are very destructive and reinforce alienation.
Setting up temptations that interfere with the target parent’s visitation
Reacting with hurt or sadness at the child’s having a good time with the target parent, as though the child has betrayed the alienating parent.
Asking the child about their other parent’s personal life; this can cause considerable tension and conflict within the child physically or psychologically “rescuing” the child when there is no threat to their safety, thereby reinforcing the alienation by portraying the other parent as a danger.