Here we go again. I recall the stance taken in a joint conference of the American Bar Association Family Law Section and the American Psychological Association a couple of years ago. The well-stated argument was: There is no such thing as “parental alienation syndrome” (PAS).
Tell that to the American Psychiatric Association, highly interested obtaining inclusion of PAS in the new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
The DSM IV is to psychiatrists and psychologists what Michigan Family Law, Hon. Marilyn J. Kelly, Judith A. Curtis, and Richard A. Roane eds, ICLE 6th ed 2004 is to family lawyers in Michigan — referred to by the short title of “the Family Law Bible.”
According to an article published in Slate, the Washington Post’s online news magazine, the American Psychiatric Association is contemplating adding PAS to the new edition of the DSM, scheduled to be published in May 2013. This has resulted in a flurry of national lobbying and letter-writing campaign arguing for and against.
In the article, PAS is described as “a mental condition in which a child, usually one whose parents are engaged in a high conflict divorce, allies himself or herself strongly with one parent, and rejects a relationship with the other parent, without legitimate justification.”
Dahlia Lithwick, author of the article writes: “That angry letters and editorials might play any part in a debate about mental health and custody disputes probably tells you most of what you need to know about the validity of PAS.”
Read more about the PAS theory and the controversy here: Lithwick, Dahlia. Mommy Hates Daddy, and You Should Too: The extraordinary fight over “parental alienation syndrome” and what it means for divorce cases. Published by Slate, May 17, 2011.