UNDERSTANDING PAS. Ref.  ( www.dont-forget-about-daddy.co.uk )

Parental Alienation Syndrome manifests itself as a defence mechanism to various situations the Alienating Parent (AP) feels exposed to, and controls their reactions.  

For Example;

THE AP’S LOW SELF-ESTEEM – When the Target Parent (TP) appears to be getting on with their life, becoming more successful, having another relationship, jealousy and resentment come into play. In AP’s mind the situation is “How can you be doing so well without me?”

THE AP’S ANGER AND REVENGE– When the AP expresses outrage at the TP having a new partner, the real reason behind the outrage is anger at an “affair”, or at being so easily replaced in TP’s life. The affair might not have happened, but in AP’s rationale, the new partner would be used as the reason for the marriage breakdown.

The AP’s realisation that the TP will not return to the marriage and final acceptance that the marriage has failed, and they have to let go.

When these defence mechanisms come into play, the next stage of PAS is mood induction. This is a cycle of different moods used on the child/children.

GUILT – (I don’t know why your mother/father left us, everything seemed alright) This puts all of the guilt onto the TP.

INTIMIDATION –(Go to your Mums/Dad’s, but you’re not to hold (partners name) hand or cuddle him/her) This intimidates the child/children into thinking that there is something to fear from this person, and that a comfortable loving relationship with them is wrong.

FEAR – (I’ll be here the whole time your at your Mums/Dads, so if you need me, then ring me) This makes the child/children think that there might be a reason that they will have to phone home.

VICTIM – (Your Mum/Dad is taking me to court again! When is he going to leave us alone) This makes the AP the victim in need of sympathy from the offspring, and puts TP in a bad, victimising role.

SYMPATHY – (Look kids, you know I can’t afford to take you places, Mum/Dad has more money than me) This “poor little me” approach serves to make the child/children think that not only has TP gone, but left the family virtually destitute.

THREATS – (So you had a good time, maybe you would like to live there? If you do then you won’t see me again) AP feels threatened by the child/children returning with positive feelings, so makes it known that she might just go away. The child/children in this situation will not want to loose their parent, especially when one parent has left them already.

This cycle is repeated over and over until the child/children are programmed into giving the responses that the AP wants to hear. The AP will at this point stand back and let the child/children “run with the ball”. AP will periodically test the child/children to see how effective their programming is. One test is to tell the child/children “It’s your choice”. This is leaving the decision making to them. The child/children will be aware of what they are expected to say to gain AP praise, and this is what will be said, not their real true feelings.

Another test is that all experiences with TP will be negative, nothing positive. This is because all experiences with TP that have been reported as being happy and positive, will be met by the negative reaction of AP. These experiences will usually be recorded.

The child’s compliance is usually rewarded by AP. For example if the child/children report that “Daddy never gives me any attention”, then AP will respond with “special attention”. If a positive, happy experience is reported, then AP will withdraw their attention.

At this stage AP will be doing very little alienating. The situation will be being monitored for the child/children deviating. As the alienation is already in place, once a deviation has occurred, all that happens is the mood induction commences again. Alienation is very hard to detect, especially when the AP’s script is saying, “ I tried to encourage the relationship” and “ I can’t make them go, I have tried.

This information has been taken from “Understanding and Collaboratively Treating Parental Alienation Syndrome” written by Kenneth H. Waldron PhD and David E Joanis J.D, Madison Wisconsin.



  1. DENYING EXISTENCE OF TARGET PARENT (TP) – This is done in one of two ways. Either the AP will blatantly say to the child/children “I don’t ever want to hear his/her name in this house”, or subtly by refusing to acknowledge any positive, happy experiences and feelings in another household or family.
  2. PAIRING GOOD EXPERIENCES WITH BAD ONES – In this technique the AP does not respond to the child/children’s expressions of love or enthusiasm for TP, or pair’s good experiences or feelings with bad ones. For example “Oh you’ve had a good time today at Mum’s/Dad’s, I’ve had a terrible time here all day without you”.
  3. ATTACKING TP’S CHARACTER & LIFESTYLE – The AP constantly criticises and attacks TP’s extended family, career, living arrangements, religion, and friends, especially new partners.
  4. PUTTING THE CHILD IN THE MIDDLE – The AP use the child/children as “spies”. Asking them to watch out for certain things or by giving them the third degree on their return home from a visit.
  5. GENERALIZING ONE/TWO INSTANCES INTO A BIGGER MEANING – The AP will say to the child/children, “Remember when you were in Mummy Daddy’s car, and he was shouting at me on the doorstep?” AP will not tell the child/children that they have probably said an inflammatory remark to TP to achieve the result of getting them to shout, then to reason the reaction with the child/children by saying “That’s why I get worried about you when you go, Mummy/Daddy isn’t in control of their emotions.”
  6. MANIPULATING DIFFERENCES – A normal everyday circumstance is manipulated by the AP into an opportunity to denigrate the TP or place them in a bad light. This is done by subtly expressing puzzlement at TP’S actions. For example, “I don’t know what’s the matter with your Mum/Dad; he/she knows you have to be in bed by 8”.
  7. CREATING AN ALLIANCE IN THE PARENTAL BATTLE – A subtle approach to this technique is to ask the child/children “What would you do if you were a mother?” “Would you go to court to try to protect your children?” This technique can include a threat to the child/children of a withdrawal of love or abandonment if the child shows any kind of affection towards the TP. Another version of this is to convince the child/children that they only need one parent, to imply “I am the only one who really loves you”. The child/children then see TP as a threat, and about to take them away from AP.
  8. PORTRAYING CHILD/CHILDREN AS FRAGILE AND NEEDING PROTECTION– This is a very common technique in PAS. The child will portray their life as “About to fall apart” if they have any contact with TP. The AP will cement their relationship with the child/children by making them think that they are “At risk” out of their protection
  9. LYING – AP will make allegations to the child/children regarding apparent abuse, neglect or molestation by TP. This creates an illusion for the child/children that is extremely confusing for them, and also difficult for them to contradict.
  10. BRAINWASHING – The AP will totally rewrite the child/children’s past experiences. This creates confusion in their mind. They cannot differentiate between lies and reality. Also they trust the AP to be telling them the truth. This can include blatant lies “Your Mum/Dad never enjoyed spending time with you. He/she used to say that you were hard work. Why is he/she wanting to see you now?” This subtly rewrites the child/children’s memories. Brainwashing can include implanting memories “Remember when Mummy/Daddy used to hit me?” The only way for the child/children to resolve their confusion is to agree with AP.

What is the Parental Alienation Syndrome? A Definition.

The full description of PAS can be found in the works of Dr Richard Gardner MD, and on his website at www.rgardner.com and at also www.parentalalienation.com , but briefly:

It is the systematic denigration of the non-resident parent by the resident parent with the intent of alienating children against the non-resident parent. The pattern of PAS behaviour is common to some degree or other in all custody disputes.

Children who have been alienated will claim that it is their own decision to reject the non-resident parent. Once this happens, it could be several years before the non-resident parent will see their children again.

It is the child’s claim that they are not influenced in their decision by the resident parent, which makes it difficult to deal with, as the child’s ‘evidence’ is regarded as crucial to the courts decision.