Alienation in Five Easy Steps

I have been asked recently about alienating strategies used by parents and how to manage these. This is a starter post in terms of this topic which is vast in terms of the how and why of alienation. To begin with we will break down the alienation process into steps and relate it to everyday adult relationships. Then we will look at the vulnerability of the child and putting it all together, we will see how easy it is for anyone who wants to, in a family separation setting, to alienate a child against the other parent.

Step by Step Alienation Strategies (How An Alienator, Alienates)

Step One: The alienator decides that they are the better person than the person they wish to do harm to (alienate). On the basis of this a self righteousness will begin to grow and the alienator will start to believe that they have the right to control the relationships that people have with this person.

Step Two: The alienator searches the life of the person they wish to alienate until they find a flaw. People who do this become obsessed with their sense of self righteousness and develop a strong (often delusional) belief that they are doing the right (righteous) thing. Alienators in this respect will often stalk and study their subject until they have found the flaw that they believe proves their belief. When they find it they will exploit it, finding ways of using it against the target to damage and discredit them in the eyes of others.

Step Three: Whilst exploiting the flaw of the target, the alienator will then present themselves to the outside world as being an exceedingly good egg, hard working and focused and absolutely innocent of all wrong doings against the target. The alienator will work hard to keep the focus upon the target, often using third parties as proxy alienators to do their work for them so that they can remain undetected in the shadows.

Step Four: If the target reacts to the trap that has been set via the exploitation of something which is being used to ‘prove ‘ to the outside world that they are the architect of their own downfall, the alienator increases their activity against the target to drive home their advantage. This is sometimes accompanied by gentle but forceful attempts to suggest to the world that there is ‘no smoke without fire’. After all, if the target is reacting, it must mean that they have hit a nerve.

Step Five: When this point has been reached the alienator has usually placed themselves in a strong outwardly positive position (the good person) and has achieved their goal of placing the other person in the strong outwardly negative position (the bad person). Should the target spend time trying to rectify this split in the eyes of the outside world the alienator will make use of this to drive home the split of good and bad and demonstrate that the target is what they have said they are all along.

There, easy to do and achieve. With enough information about the target and enough self righteous determination, anyone can alienate another and justify it to themselves.

The underlying drivers of this behaviour are jealousy, low self esteem, lack of self awareness and often rage. These behaviours are common in parents who separate but they can become apparent in anyone who is in a position where they are consciously or unconsciously competing with a target. The issue is that what the alienator cannot see is that their projections onto the target are distorted reflections of their own hidden issues, which is why many parents who become targets find themselves labelled with those behavioural traits which really belong to the alienator. Put simply, what the alienator cannot own in themselves, they see in the target and this enrages them to the point where they feel justified in doing harm. Discomfort with one’s own deficiencies is at the heart of many alienation scenarios. The target being an innocent recipient of the defences used by the alienator to avoid self awareness.

Many target parents will say that there is a grain of truth in what is being said about them but that the exaggeration of this is beyond anything which is reasonable or even recognisable. This is the use of the flaw which the alienator has searched for in order to use against the target. Sometimes this flaw is an event, sometimes it is part of who the target is. I myself have been the target of determined alienating strategies in my own working life, a search of my name on google demonstrating how these attempts to place me in a negative light and alienate people from me have been carried out. Whilst that search doesn’t tell the full sorry tale of someone who was determined to do me harm, the use of those five steps against me, has acted in my own life to warn me of the damage that hidden drivers of jealousy can do to people who lack self awareness. Fortunately for me, the alienating strategies used against me failed to achieve the intended harm, but the whole episode remains a strong reminder to me that these strategies are used in every aspect of life by people, it is not simply limited to separated parents.

Now that we are aware of how alienators do their worst, let’s add in the element of vulnerability which is the child. Readers will remember that parental alienation is a combination of the actions of the alienator, the responses of the target and the vulnerability of the child. When a skilled alienator is at work and the target is a naive recipient of that behaviour, the child is going to have to be strongly resilient in order to avoid the descent into alienation and many children living in separated family situations are not that. When an alienating parent sets out to portray the other parent as being deficient and when part of that strategy is to pick a flaw and exploit it, the child becomes confused and uncertain. If the child is then continually reminded of the flaw of the target parent they become unable to determine the truth of their own experience and are then, in turn, alienated against their own internal sense of the target parent. Add to that the fact that a child is dependent upon parents for everything under the sun –  food, clothing, warmth, safety, all those basic needs and so much more. It is simply not possible, when one contemplates life from the perspective of a child, for a child not to be vulnerable in this situation. If a parent sets out to alienate and that means consciously or otherwise and the target parent reacts, the child experiences the splitting of their internalised AND externalised world into one parent good and one parent bad. For after all, the target parent is behaving just how the alienating parent says they will. Should the child then be mostly dependent upon the parent using alienating strategies, then that is the parent the child is going to align with. To not do that is counter to biological survival as well as emotional and psychological safety. Some children are resilient and avoid being forced to use the coping mechanism of psychological splitting but these are usually younger children in a sibling group where one will be strongly alienated and carrying the psychological impact for the rest of the tribe. This elder child will often, over time however, set about being an alienator by proxy, driving behaviours in the other children to come into line with the prevailing mood.

And so there you have it, how to alienate, why people alienate and how children are vulnerable to alienating strategies. Sadly it is not difficult and it is all too regular a behaviour seen in separating families. But lest you think that alienation only happens in those circumstances, stop right there. Alienation strategies are used everywhere in the world, by competitors in business, by friends who fall out and by family members even when a family lives together. Alienation is a feature of human life and the range of behaviours which are seen are rarely confined to one group of people.

Becoming conscious of this is the first step to managing being a target of alienation, learning the antidote to alienating strategies when one is targeted is the next step, a step too many parents who find themselves in this situation are unaware of. And so next up in this series is how to act when one is targeted by an alienator, a super power everyone can and should learn.

 

78 comments

  1. Matt · 15 Days Ago

    As always ….spot on

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  2. Yvie · 15 Days Ago

    Exactly – steps 1 to 5 have fallen neatly into place.

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  3. Family Coalition · 15 Days Ago

    It’s interesting to see how Karen has stood back and applied the same model of abuse globally. For several years I have backed away from direct involvement in the Family Courts in an effort to get an holistic picture. Too many are so fixated then they can no longer see the wood for the trees. Having experienced bullying at work, the last time when my manager overheard my troubles in court and proceeded to target me, I realise there is much overlap between what individuals do in their family and work life. All three of my workplace bullies were women, which seems to concur with the late Dr Lowenstein telling me that 80% of alienators were mothers. It’s ironic, we expect ‘professionals’ to help our predicament when our child is being alienated, teachers for example, yet the same teachers of our child may well be alienating their own children from the other parent. When it comes to alienating practices then it has to be seen as endemic in our society. Perhaps the most obvious examples at present is the targeting of Russia in relation to Syria. Russia can do no right, not to say that it has done no wrong, but the war crime of bombing Syria by the US is projected onto Russia. Even charities that purport to be champions of targeted parents have behaved in the same manner as the alienating parent in order to achieve their outcomes. The culture of making the personal political has resulted in us all living inside an alienators head. Similar to the film ‘Being John Malkovic’.

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  4. Susang · 15 Days Ago

    Spot on indeed! I look forward to the next in this series.

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  5. The Devil's Advocate · 15 Days Ago

    Thanks for this Karen, you are empirically so accurate in your analysis. Have you read or researched Dr. Hannah Thomas’s work in on Covert Narcissism and her declarations of this on Public Radio in the USA. You both would make a world of difference if you could go on Victoria Derbyshire’s Programme or dare I remark on “Women’s Hour” together…!!

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    • karenwoodall · 15 Days Ago

      I will take a look at her work D.A – thank you for the recommendation. K

      Like

  6. lostdad · 15 Days Ago

    Reblogged this on LOST DAD and commented:
    Excellent Post again from Karen. Especially due to the fact that I saw my past as I was reading it.

    Please read this if you need to understand what parental alienation is without wading through lots of (pseudo-) scientifc texts on the internet.

    Like

  7. Jon · 15 Days Ago

    Hi Karen, I notice that you describe some of the characteristics of cluster B personality disorders, but stop short of mentioning them, why is that so?

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    • karenwoodall · 15 Days Ago

      This isn’t a blog about PD Jon, it’s just a rinse through in easy to digest form, plus I think if we always concentrate on PD we tend to forget that these behaviours are seen in a wider group of people than simply those with PD. K

      Like

      • Susang · 15 Days Ago

        If I may join Jon and perhaps Devil’s Advocate here, what I am driving at is that the alienator’s behaviours are certainly part of the way Personality Disordered people behave. If the alienator is actually PD but unrecognised as such, (as is usual) then no amount of counselling, mediation, etc will stop the alienator from abusing the children and their non-alienating parent, when contact is resumed after a reversal of residence. Cluster B people do not change, except temporarily, for effect. That’s why those of us who have experienced it keep coming back to the issue of PD. You might say “once a bully, always a bully”…

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      • karenwoodall · 15 Days Ago

        Hi Susang, one the core things we do at the Clinic is triage a case for the existence of a PD, when we know we have a PD parent we know what we have to do and it isn’t therapy. I will write more detailed articles about PD and alienation for my website and PA Direct in the future. K

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      • Susang · 15 Days Ago

        Thank you Karen. I look forward to reading those. I wish you could impart some of your wisdom to the whole family court, local authorities and cafcass child protection system! Happy Easter.

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      • karenwoodall · 14 Days Ago

        thank you Susang, we do train others, including CAFCASS and Local Authorities and family courts. We have delivered seminars in many different parts of the UK and the republic of Ireland. I am delivering in Northern Ireland on May 18th at the Law Society Conference, we do what we can wherever we can. In addition our training day is now full so there will ten more practitioners with our training working out there shortly. K

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      • Susang · 14 Days Ago

        That’s very good news!

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  8. Sally Haylock · 15 Days Ago

    This is exactly happened to me 😢

    Like

  9. Anonymous · 15 Days Ago

    Thank you, Karen. Thank you for putting it in simple terms and easy to digest. Yes, I can relate to those 5 steps. I reacted and the alienating parent knew that I was going to react that way which made so easy. I fell in the trap. The alienating parent was very vicious with his strategies using false abuse allegations. Looking back it just seems it didn’t matter how I reacted he had intent of destroying and eradicating me from the children’s life. My reaction certainly helped but it was not the sole seller of PA. It was the cohort people of the legal system and the alienating parent family support system and money resources i did not have of course.

    Happy Easter Karen to you and your family. And to everyone here.

    Anonymous-mother of three

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    • karenwoodall · 14 Days Ago

      Thank you for your good wishes AMT and my very best wishes to you too. I think it is very important to raise that issue in your comment that your reaction was by no means that sole seller of PA it most certainly was not and all targeted parents must keep in mind that however they reacted they were in a trap which was set for them, it is NOT your fault, it never was and never will be. That disadvantaged position you were in is more common than you think for women. I send you my best wishes, I hope that you can stay strong and purposeful in the face of what you have suffered it is the only way to go forward and survive this. I hope that being here helps. K

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  10. Willow · 15 Days Ago

    Your five steps cover exactly all of the steps my husband of 46 years took to succeed in pushing me out and isolating me from our family unit. By following those five steps he managed to isolate me completely (to the extent that he and my daughter made it so miserable for me to go away on holiday with them that I withdrew and let them go away on their own together) while he set himself up with my/our daughter as his best friend, ally and confident. The steps could not have illustrated the problem more. When I look back, it was happening in small measures from the moment I married him and over the years escalated to reach great heights. His greatest achievement was managing to convert my/our daughter (from when she turned 15) so that she treated me exactly how he treated me.

    I always wondered HOW he’d managed it. I knew he saw me as ‘a threat’ and had to keep me in my place ( I knew he had low self esteem and huge shaky ego that needed massaging) but I always wondered how he’d been so clever in what he did. Now I know that he wasn’t clever. He just manipulated the whole situation to suit his wonky hang ups.

    Although it’s too late for me, I look forward to more articles in this series. I only wish I had known all this back then.
    Thank you Karen.

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    • karenwoodall · 14 Days Ago

      I think understanding how it is done at least means that there is no self blame Willow and that stops the corrosion of the soul, that horrible outcome when one has been targeted so badly. Manipulation of people is such a skill, it is learned in familial settings and absorbed and passed down the generations, I see children as young as six years old using manipulative skills to manage people in my work with children in recovery. Sending you my very best wishes and support, Karen

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  11. Anastasia · 14 Days Ago

    I truly appreciate how this article demonstrates how the processes of alienation is applicable to many other human interactions aside from parent alienation. Thank you for describing alienation in these simple steps and with further examples. Alienation, something that for most people is devastatingly traumatizing & complicated, – the process mostly occurring outside of our immediate awareness. Karen, I thank you deeply for shedding light and bringing more compassion, support, insight, validation, knowledge & more importantly awareness!

    I feel that I’m at the acceptance phase of grief now after being systematically and incrementally alienated from my dear son for close to 10 years now (he is 12). I’m wanting and needing to move forward in a harmonious way. Needing much support in learning how to compartmentalize this experience and be able to live my own life more fully and richly. Rather than further sinking, I’d like to continue to reemerge from the darkness of my souls journey by using this experience of parental alienation as a spiritual blesson (blessing/lesson) and be even more resourceful for myself, my son eventually, and others. Having read many of the articles on this site and infused with the anticipation of the book that is due to be released has given me more than hope! I can see the flowers again. Exhaling..

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    • karenwoodall · 14 Days Ago

      You are welcome here Anastasia and I think that the movement forward you are feeling is such a healthy place to reach after so much pain and heartache. Making sense of what has happened and then making it meaningful in the world by helping others is a real salvation in my experience, it brings peace to the heart and mind and a sense of purpose back into one’s life. I wish you well and welcome you K

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      • Anastasia · 13 Days Ago

        K

        What a blessing

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  12. Carl James Garnham · 14 Days Ago

    You Fill Up My Senses! Top of the League! You should be Chris Wilder’s top signing for the Championship! x

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    • karenwoodall · 14 Days Ago

      do you think we might go premier league CG??

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  13. Carl James Garnham · 14 Days Ago

    Excuse the enthusiastic expletive…he never swore, but the rest he did do….dad!! dad!!!! dad!!!! dad!!!!!

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    • karenwoodall · 14 Days Ago

      thank you Mr G for that slightly disturbing video tribute to your dad and your love of the Blades!!! Made me laugh – what a bonny lad you were x

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      • Carl James Garnham · 13 Days Ago

        Oh i was a bonny bugger alright! lol Karen this is Josh, or should i say its me impersonating josh….one of the enduring warm memories of him. Dad….dad…dad…dad…..dad….all the time from when he was 1 until he was 12 years old(and especially after he was 4 when i began spending time with him without his mum), dad….dad….dad…that is until the final 6 months, thats when i knew he was splitting, at the time i didnt know splitting was…..and because of everything we had been through and overcome, the hard times and obstruction, the joy, the laughter, the love, and because of everything we had achieved, especially josh despite their attempts to thwart and damage…i wouldnt have accepted i was alienated from him…..because of the love, the togertheness we had and how United we were…….our intentions were good, inclusive, we were captains, both of us(technically josh was Sgt Squiggle lol)….its soul destroying seeing your child being turned against you and knowing you are falling through the tripwires and aware everything you do at this stage makes things worse. Soul destroying. xx

        I hope the video makes josh chuckle, he used to laugh a hell of a lot…..even when he was skinning people(the best players around) after being told he wasnt good enough.

        Dad….dad….dad….dad………….dad. dad .dad……..dad dad dad dad dad …….there was a hell of a lot of love.

        He wouldnt have become the best footballer in europes biggest junior league or up at the academy in and out of the net if there hadnt been a hell of a lot of love, joy and desire in such difficult circumstances.

        Football was sanctuary. Football was a blessing. Footall was beautiful.

        Football generated time and space and gave us ground to stand and never say die and fill up their senses. You cant fill something though that is already full of shit unfortunately. xx

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      • karenwoodall · 13 Days Ago

        I’ve seen a picture of you when you were little looking exactly like this – astonishing likeness and I get it now completely and I hope he does too, how can he not chuckle at his dad xx

        Like

  14. daveyone1 · 14 Days Ago

    Reblogged this on World4Justice : NOW! Lobby Forum..

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  15. Linda Turner · 14 Days Ago

    Reblogged this on Parental Alienation.

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  16. Anonymous · 14 Days Ago

    Your succinct post says so much…..A painful reality almost too hard to bear. ….knowledge is DEFINITELY power. …..like others, too late for me to avoid this hell hole, though your next steps on how to modify my responses will be most welcome. …..at least maybe I can do something which might effect something positive, some time in the future. That such alienation tactics exist in all walks of life, not just in conflicted families, is an eye opener….and is starting to shed light on other areas of my life….This knowledge needs to be widely shared and earlier in life so that there is a chance, in future, to reduce the numbers of suffering targeted individuals. …parents and non parents alike.

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    • karenwoodall · 14 Days Ago

      I think people do not realise how much alienating behaviour is part of life in general, it was certainly shocking to me when I experienced it and then recognised what was being done and why. I watched a really good depiction on TV recently of alienation in action in The Replacement which I think was on BBC 1, you might catch it again on Iplayer. K

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      • Willow · 11 Days Ago

        Karen I watched The Replacement too and it was eerily familiar to me. The way in which the innocent party was seen as loopy and stalking when in fact it was the other way round. I could relate to it 100%.

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  17. sadsam · 14 Days Ago

    “Step Three: Whilst exploiting the flaw of the target, the alienator will then present themselves to the outside world as being an exceedingly good egg, hard working and focused and absolutely innocent of all wrong doings against the target. The alienator will work hard to keep the focus upon the target, often using third parties as proxy alienators to do their work for them so that they can remain undetected in the shadows.”

    Almost speechless over this post….as for Step 3….textbook! I’ve long felt I fell into some kind words of a trap, and how those “third parties” did the work for the alienator, not once, but time and time again, like puppets whose strings were pulled by the hidden alienator, who all the time must have been laughing their socks off at me.

    For me “professionals” need to get better, much better, at recognising that the target’s presentation may not be all it seems and be slow to jump to obvious conclusions. And to recognise their own vulnerability to the ‘puppet master’ in the shadows….rather than arrogantly believing they are beyond such manipulation. They DO get it wrong but seem unable to acknowledge/recognise their own gullibility and swallow their own pride…. recognise that they too have been made fools off. Or is that more than their professional ego status can bear?

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    • karenwoodall · 14 Days Ago

      we’ve just been discussing this very topic Sadsam and yes there is a powerful resistance to acknowledging their mistakes. I think you did fall into a trap and so did they and they became proxy alienators, I have seen it in many cases I have worked in, it is a big problem in my view. K

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      • sadsam · 14 Days Ago

        So any ideas on how to deal with this? I recognise I didn’t help myself by how I dealt with the attitudes of ‘professionals’ to me, but what gets me is how my ’emotional presentation’ was so quickly latched onto by them as indicating x,y,and z, blinding them it seemed to the bigger picture of the overall family dynamics. It seemed as if they went from 0-60 in seconds, leaving me feeling further trapped in a web and my struggles to free myself only seemed to make everything worse for me. I thought ‘professionals’ are trained to be aware of ‘confirmation bias’? In my experiences I found such awareness sorely missing.

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  18. Anonymous · 14 Days Ago

    Yes.
    And to be an “alienator” is a choice. A choice made by the person who intends to divide and conquer.
    It may be a behaviour typical of that side of the family, something passed down generations or it may be a behaviour that stems from more immediate environmental conditions and social/personal pressures.
    It may be a somewhat conscious and deliberate decision, or it may be a sub-conscious behaviour the alienator has little awareness nor foresight over the emotional and psychological damage it is doing.
    But, because it is a choice, it can be reversed. It can be modified, adapted to suit, changed, diminished.
    Sometimes it isn’t. A person who alienates may choose to continue to force their self-centred behaviours upon others in the belief that what they are doing is right.
    Fundamentally, when two people meet of different cultures and different belief systems, they can choose to accept and celebrate those differences or they can criticise and be fearful of them. These are conscious choices.
    As “target” parents, all we want is a healthy relationship with our children, we don’t care about the welfare of our former partner, or do we?
    Can we see our children having a normal parent/child relationship with our former partner. Can we separate this off from………………?

    I discovered my ID, my passport if you like, when I became the subject of ever increasing negative rhetoric from my former partner. I was feeble, pathetic, weak, stupid a disappointment on all levels and given this view of me, which had evolved over a period of time it was easy to understand why I wanted out of this relationship asap. I could no longer see a way to fix it.
    It was inevitable that some of this bad press I had been getting would be the subject of children/alienator conversation. Or maybe it wasn’t, perhaps as you say, it was subtler than that. Perhaps I had become the subject of a “safeguarding” issue. After all, “safeguarding” is topical on many levels, political, social and personal.

    Safeguarding in the wrong hands is a kind of alienation, a splitting, it sorts the good guys from the bad guys. That simple! But who are the goodies and who are the baddies and who decides which are which?

    Moving out. It would have been easier had we not had children, but we did, so a big part of me was still there. Whilst becoming disentangled financially and practically I had at the same time the job of reassuring the children that our relationship was still as strong as ever and going forward parent/child relations on both sides of the family would be maintained.
    The personal profile, the ID, that had been given to me by my former partner wasn’t a good one. It still had weak, pathetic, feeble, stupid a disappointment on all levels highlighted on the inside cover. In addition, it had stains and ripped corners from the time it was thrown across the kitchen. Also, I noticed a government stamp, this meant that it had been approved by a powerful body; the law.
    There was no way I could change my passport. Perhaps in ten years’ time I could apply for a new one; change of address and all that. So, I decided to re-write my personal profile and promote that, this was not going to be easy for me.

    Kind regards

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  19. karenwoodall · 14 Days Ago

    Just to be clear about what Susang and others have been saying – cluster B personalities CANNOT choose to change their behaviours – which is why children have to be removed from them in order to treat the alienation. K

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    • Susang · 14 Days Ago

      Exactly, Karen. And if the Cluster B or disordered personality is not recognised, trying to change their behaviour by any means at all is a frustrating waste of time, and the suffering will continue. Such DPs are often very difficult to detect, as they must appear perfect to the outside world, and they deceive very convincingly, using supporters from everywhere to help them.

      Like

  20. sadsam · 14 Days Ago

    I have just finished reading a related post of Karen’s from June 2014, titled ” What alienated parents don’t know and what alienating parents don’t tell them “. I would recommend it.

    I am also reposting a section below from one of Karen’s replies in the comments attached to the above Post…

    “It is endlessley fascinating to me that the points that I make about understanding the self in relation to the other parent and the dynamic that your behaviour in relation to theirs creates – is just simply ignored. Woodman states that he is sure that there are some cases where the approach I am advocating is the right one, but leaps on Russell’s intellectual approach as being his preference, Russell gives us an intellectual discussion including assertions that these cases are BPD or NPD and continues the focus upon the behaviour of the other parent and the way in which the system supports that.

    All of which completely fails to recognise what I am saying, which is FORGET THE COURTS, FORGET THE SYSTEM, FORGET THE GRAVY TRAIN, FORGET YOUR RIGHTS, FORGET EVEN THE BEHAVIOUR OF THE OTHER PARENT.

    and take responsibility and time to look at your own behaviours, your own place in this first and then and only then, look outward for reasons.

    Ask yourself this question. What do you want – to be right and justified in your position, to claim your rights and uphold justice, or a relationship with your children?

    Because I would argue long and hard that for many of you who chose to have children with people who have ‘issues’ – you simply cannot have it all.

    what do you FEEL.

    Not – what do you THINK

    Based upon ten years of working directly with children who are alienated and alienating and alienated parents.”

    Many incorrectly interpreted Karen’s advice to “take responsibility and time to look at your own behaviours, your own place in this first and then and only then, look outward for reasons.” as asking the targeted parent to ‘take the blame’ and provoked some indignant responses. When you are raw with hurt and pain such an inability to recognise the difference is understandable. But unhelpful. And after all, what really matters surely, is taking a helpful approach, one that is within our sphere of personal control and by doing this become empowered again, rather than simply a ‘victim’ of ‘them’. I for one, like the sound off that.

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  21. Anonymous · 14 Days Ago

    Yes I.know but the stupid court , report writer s , and psychiatrist are all corrupt

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    • sadsam · 13 Days Ago

      Just wondering what you feel such thinking is usefully achieving for you? Does it make you feel any better? Does it bring achieving a good relationship with your children any closer? Unless you have a plan for exposing this apparent ‘corruption’ what good can it do you to keep focusing on it? After all the ‘talk’ what has changed? The stark brutal reality is nothing.

      As the serenity poem says, if you can change it ,change it, if you can’t, focus on what you can and be wise enough to distinguish which scenario you are dealing with. Tough but true.

      Like

  22. sadsam · 13 Days Ago

    Karen, are you able to confirm when your new book (with Nick) on ‘Understanding Alienation’ will be on sale?

    Like

    • karenwoodall · 13 Days Ago

      it is looking like June/July right now SS, Charles Thomas are in charge of publishing however so we are in their hands but the final edits are done and the galleys have been finished so it looks like a matter of weeks now. I will of course let everyone know as soon as we do. K

      Like

      • Family Coalition · 12 Days Ago

        Can I suggest Crowd Funding to get a copy in every library and university in the land…

        Like

      • karenwoodall · 12 Days Ago

        FC, if you could send me your email address I will explain why I cannot post your previous comment, you mention someone in there who I consider to be unskilled in the field and who tried to damage my work and as a result I am not able to post your comment. Kind Regards Karen

        Like

      • familycoalition · 12 Days Ago

        Hello Karen,

        No problem.

        Family Coalition

        promoting healthy family life.

        Check out our website: Family Coalition

        Like

  23. Anonymous · 13 Days Ago

    Susang encapsulates the essence of a recovery strategy. As he says, how we feel has nothing to do with anybody else; it is all a little closer to home. It may not ultimately bring you the reconciliation you crave but it will equip you for a re-union and it will drive you in a healthier direction.
    A ship on a rescue mission is no good without a rudder.

    Like

  24. Anonymous · 13 Days Ago

    Cyril, you have been working in mental health for a number of years now; how would you deal with this extreme kind of narcissism that splits the family and polarises the children?

    These days we find an emotionally intelligent approach is bringing in some good results. I have had to deal with a variety of mental illnesses and I find this is a useful tool.

    Oh?

    Yes. Take the dementia case I was telling you about. The conventional method in most “homes” is based around establishing a routine, a framework around which your patient is expected to comply. When you get down to the personal level, the emotional level, nothing upsets more than the carer who disrupts the reality perceived by the patient.
    The reality perceived by the patient is not the truth. They can’t assimilate new information and they often get people mixed up, they become frustrated and miss-trusting because they no longer know who you are. They are frightened and angry. Their world is different. To us it is a historically jumbled mess, but to them it is reality albeit an illogical one.
    On an emotional level, there is no point in trying to assert logic because a logical world that you understand is no longer the one that they understand. What is key here is what makes them feel better. It is your acceptance of their world; their reality that is a comfort to them.

    So, on your weekly visit your patient tells you they had a visit from Aunt Agatha this morning and you know that cannot possibly be the case because she died 20 years ago the appropriate reaction is to acknowledge that statement, even though it is incorrect. You might reply, “Oh, that’s nice you are fond of her”. You may then be told a story about an encounter with Aunt Agatha that has been selected from your patient’s memory bank as if it was something that had happened just recently.
    To contradict the patient’s perception is confusing for them and may lead to them getting angry and aggressive, at any rate it can be deeply upsetting, and of no benefit to them. Even if they could register in their mind that Aunt Agatha is long since dead; you must be aware that your patient may experience grief, because as far as they are concerned they are hearing this terrible news of their favourite Aunt’s demise for the very first time.

    Cyril, you seem to be jumping into the minds of your patients, what do you call this? Empathy.

    Do you think I can help my situation in a similar way?

    My God, cried Sean, my ex does think I am weak, stupid, violent, negligent and a child molester.
    ……………………………………………….
    I don’t think so said George, she is just using those derogatory remarks about you as a means to an end. She is quite aware that what she is saying isn’t true. She is manipulative and devious because she wants to hurt you. She hasn’t lost her mind; she has distorted reality because she wants rid of you. It’s personal, she is focusing on you and she is using the children against YOU. It is very personal. She has all her faculties, she is not insane, not even ill.

    Jane summarised by saying; there are those who genuinely are ill and are incapable of understanding the real world and there are those who distort reality and lie to get what they want.

    Kind regards

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  25. sadsam · 13 Days Ago

    I am struck sometimes, about how almost surprised people seem, (myself included), that people lie and manipulate and that we sometimes get caught out by those lies and manipulating actions. Is it because it is being done by someone close to us, someone we believed ‘had our backs’? It is after all a terrible betrayal of trust and intimacy. Is it partly because we chose this person? And therefore we have to admit to ourselves that we made a terrible mistake, even if that mistake was in some way unconsciously made?

    I remember the moment when it fully dawned on me the depths to which my ex would stoop…the moment when any vestiges of fantasy I still entertained that this person couldn’t be so bad, surely, faded away for ever. From that moment my guard was up permanently in relation to them, with some overspill into my wider relationships unfortunately. So yes people lie. Yes, people manipulate. That’s Life. All I can do now is become more adept at recognising the behaviours early on, act to protect myself, without shooting myself in the foot by lumping everyone into the same boat so I shut out genuine loving people as well. I was never ‘street wise’ and I’ve paid a heavy price for my naivety and trusting nature but that was then, this is now, I’m older and wiser and I won’t make the same mistakes again.

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  26. sadsam · 13 Days Ago

    “When a skilled alienator is at work and the target is a naive recipient of that behaviour, the child is going to have to be strongly resilient in order to avoid the descent into alienation and many children living in separated family situations are not that. When an alienating parent sets out to portray the other parent as being deficient and when part of that strategy is to pick a flaw and exploit it, the child becomes confused and uncertain. If the child is then continually reminded of the flaw of the target parent they become unable to determine the truth of their own experience and are then, in turn, alienated against their own internal sense of the target parent.”

    Karen, you talk about the alienator ‘picking out a “flaw” in the other parent and “exploiting” it with the children but couldn’t their actions go much further than this? Couldn’t they actively intimidate the child(ren), not just actively encouraging them to play up on the target parent,disregard them etc but actually threaten them with physical punishment if they don’t? If the child(ren) have already experienced such ‘punishment’ they will know it is not an empty threat so for their own safety would align with the alienator ? Would welcome your input.

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    • karenwoodall · 12 Days Ago

      HI SS oh yes they can certainly do this, in this regard the alienator is usually a father, the issue about alienating strategies is that men and women use different strategies – so the flaw that I speak of could also be a weakness = the alienator knows where the weak spot of the other parent is and uses the child through coercive control to exploit that. Many alienating fathers terrorise their children into believing that their mother is dangerous or deficient and cause them to play up. Some fathers will say that the mother of their child is mentally ill or not a good parent, picking on things about women which are valued such as them being good carers or loving and kind and then persuading the child and other people that the mother is not those things. The issue about alienating strategies is that whilst those five steps are commonly used, the strategies are tailored to suit the target, finessed until they are perfected and no-one can possibly tell that the target is other than what the alienator says they are. And yes indeed, some fathers say they are being alienated by the mother of their child as a weapon against the mother – I call this the double bluff, it is something I have never seen in action in a situation where a child is alienated against a mother, so I have never seen a mother say they are being alienated as a tool to control the other parent – that isn’t to say it doesn’t happen but if it does I have never come across it but I have come across fathers who say they are being alienated in order to attempt to get the child into their primary care. Fathers appear to alienate through coercive control which we recognise as being domestic violence by proxy whereas mothers appear to alienate through emotional manipulation either conscious or unconscious. I will write some more pieces about this as part of this series as it is something I am thinking about a lot at the moment. In fact I have just been reading Richard Gardner’s original text about PAS in which he states clearly that some fathers will shout alienation when in fact they are attempting to control the mother through the children. This is a very interesting area for me and it is why the whole issue of alienation needs to be taken right out of the parental rights arena in my view – as an expert I have had fathers tell me they are alienated when in fact they are not – when I say they are not they are outraged and have used their rights based arguments with me – which do not wash I am afraid. I work with approximately 52% fathers and 48% mothers so I work in a fairly balanced way with both groups so I know both groups well and I know what alienation looks like too, I use sophisticated assessments and I am skilled at knowing when something which is being dressed up as alienation is not and I am not afraid to say so. Anyway the point of all of this is that the behaviours of each parent have to be fully understood and analysed before a conclusion about it being parental alienation can be drawn. Too many people fall for the charmer father or the smooth talking perfect father just as too many people fall for the innocent manipulative mother who can do no wrong. Some people say that alienation is not gendered by which I think they mean that it affects mothers AND fathers, that doesn’t mean it is not gendered though because how mothers and fathers are alienated IS different according to gendered behaviours. Hope that all makes sense. More soon. K

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      • sadsam · 12 Days Ago

        “Anyway the point of all of this is that the behaviours of each parent have to be fully understood and analysed before a conclusion about it being parental alienation can be drawn.”

        It’s good to know that there is someone out there taking such a balanced approach…… my own experience tells me that social workers etc lack skills in this area, the consequences being random untold damage to parents and children. Thank you for such a detailed answer and your gender neutral approach. Both fathers and mothers are hit by PA, and I fail to see why one gender or the other seeks the moral high ground over ‘who is most affected’….it could be a mother, it could be a father, both are deserving of recognition and compassion.

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      • sadsam · 12 Days Ago

        “Fathers appear to alienate through coercive control which we recognise as being domestic violence by proxy whereas mothers appear to alienate through emotional manipulation either conscious or unconscious.”

        One further query on this Karen…… what, if any, relevance then does who has residency have in this happening? I’m thinking in situations where fear by the child(ren) of one parent exists.

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      • karenwoodall · 12 Days Ago

        In my experience SS, non resident fathers have succeeded in alienating children from their mothers through influencing them using coercive controlling behaviours when the children are in their care. Children most vulnerable to this are boys aged 8-14 who are vulnerable to being controlled by their father and a father who is determined to ‘get back at’ the mother via the child.

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      • Susang · 11 Days Ago

        So, in your definition of parental alienation, a child, or children, can be alienated from the parent they are actually living with? I had thought that to be alienated from a parent meant being unable to have any contact with the parent they don’t see, usually because the children must, for security and safety, “side” with the parent they live with, or else they would suffer “punishment” of one sort or another from the resident parent determined to cut out the non-resident parent. Historically, this is usually the mother, because courts usually assume that the mother should have primary care and custody of the children. If the children can be alienated by the father from the mother they live with, then reversing residence presumably will not help? I think I must have misunderstood what you are meaning, here?

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      • karenwoodall · 11 Days Ago

        depends on who in the two holds the most power and how the child is able to cope with pressure Susang – a resident parent can have less power than a nrp if the nrp is capable of terrorising the child enough to get them into the behaviour pattern needed to get the resident parent to react badly which will trigger the alienation reaction in the child who will then align with the parent they are least scared of – remember its not about resident or non resident its about alienating and targeted parent and the impact on the child. nr fathers can and do alienate children from resident mothers and in that respect residence reversal doesn’t help, instead one has to constrain the contact the nrp has with the child. Which is why assessment is so important and understanding alienation is so essential. K

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      • sadsam · 11 Days Ago

        Yet in your March Post “Separation from source protocol” you wrote “The resident parent is the alienting parent in 99.9% of cases in my experience and the NRP is not.”. I can’t help feeling that such statements feed the gendered argument, ( on basis apparently that majority of residency is with mums) and so the issue of “coercive control” by the NRP is sidelined to the point where it is ignored/overlooked by professionals. With disastrous results for those in that scenario, and potentially life long harm to the kids.

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      • karenwoodall · 11 Days Ago

        but the statement is true SS so I am not going to not state it. In 99.9 percent of cases it is true that the alienator is the resident parent, a tiny group of resident parents do become alienated by nrp’s usually fathers against mothers. The issue of coercive control IS sidelined both in resident and non resident fathers who alienate mothers, this is part of the gendered assumptions made by SW’s and others. But the statement is correct. When we train we look at all of these elements along with how to recognise the different types of alienation and alienators. One cannot make any assumptions in this work but many do. 90% of resident parents are mothers and 10% are fathers. Of those 10% of fathers who are resident parents a tiny fraction will be coercively controlling fathers who have forced the mother out of the picture whereas in the 90% of mothers who are resident, we think around 18% will use alienating strategies which force fathers out of their children’s lives. So you will see that the larger group of alienators are mothers and resident parents, which is just simply the reality. There are many more reasons why these stats are in place, not much time to unpack this today but I will do soon. K

        Like

      • Susang · 11 Days Ago

        Thank you for clearing that up, Karen. Thank you, too, Sadsam. I find your contributions and thoughtful questioning very helpful in what are very complicated and deep issues.

        Like

      • sadsam · 11 Days Ago

        “The issue of coercive control IS sidelined both in resident and non resident fathers who alienate mothers, this is part of the gendered assumptions made by SW’s and others.”

        “One cannot make any assumptions in this work but many do”

        And therein lies a huge problem…. how many SWs etc will seize on the statistic, blinding them to the exceptions to the statistic, making them lazy in their analysis, giving resident mothers cause to very afraid of the bias of professionals towards believing the father, especially if he is NR. Classically when pendulums swing they do so from one extreme to another. Balance is forgotten.

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      • karenwoodall · 11 Days Ago

        I think that this issue is a complex one and equally, one could say that opening this box to look at it is thorny because organisations like the protective mother movement would equally exploit the discussion and accuse all fathers who seek involvement in their children’s lives to be exploiting the evidence and the statistics. The issue is that this is about people and each person who does this and has it done to them is different so stats are not always helpful. SW’s in my experience don’t seize on stats they look at the surface story and go with it, especially with what the child is saying, it makes their job easier. Many simply don’t have the time or interest to do more than that sadly. K

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      • sadsam · 11 Days Ago

        Susan, thank you for your kind comments.

        Like

      • sadsam · 11 Days Ago

        “The issue is that this is about people and each person who does this and has it done to them is different so stats are not always helpful.”

        If only ALL professionals involved would remember this….

        Like

      • sadsam · 11 Days Ago

        Perhaps single gender organisations could take note, recognise that PA affects BOTH genders, and act in their human interests….. it’s time to move forward, to recognise where we are at today, rather than stay fossilised in an unequal past…..whatever our gender, we are all humans together and pain does not differentiate between the genders.

        Like

    • sadsam · 11 Days Ago

      Sorry typing mistake… should read “Susang, thank you for your kind comments”

      Like

  27. lizarcher66 · 13 Days Ago

    A wonderful global overview linking alienation behaviours to global patterns

    Like

  28. Pingback: Alienation in Five Easy Steps | AdVader's Blog
  29. Pip · 12 Days Ago

    Last night, a dear friend of mine asked me if I could have the wish grated as to I would like to meet and talk to, people who have been of great value in my life, who would it be? My answer is firstly Nelson Mandela because he mastered the art of forgiveness. Secondly Karen, it would be you. Your insight and beautiful prose have made me accept my painful situation wherein I am the “target parent”. My ex has completely destroyed his credibility and moved country taking my (now) adult sons with him. Sadly, ex and his “new” accomplice continue to exploit the special needs of one of my sons and try to portray themselves as “good” for helping him and his peers with a career option and thus completely shift the spotlight of the shame they should bear for separating a family to portraying themselves as “good” and “caring”.

    Like

  30. Carl James Garnham · 9 Days Ago

    Karen, there has been a change to your webpage thingymajig….the list of recent blogs has now got a yellow background and white font for the wrting….which makes it quite difficult to read unless you stick your nose on the screen!….having such a big nose my eyes are still too far away!!!!! Im going to try sunglasses tomorrow! x

    Like

    • karenwoodall · 9 Days Ago

      lol – yes I changed the background out of curiosity because I found the button to do it – I will find it again and change it back again as I realise it doesn’t work well for reading! x

      Like

    • Willow · 9 Days Ago

      Carl it’s the same for me, a kind of yellowy lime green. Not at all easy to read. My nose is a tad big too ………

      Like

      • karenwoodall · 8 Days Ago

        Lol – it’s me I was mucking about the other day now I can’t find the button to change it back, but I will x

        Like

      • Willow · 8 Days Ago

        Karen it’s changed to light grey but I can only see the white writing ‘recent posts’ at the top. The whole of the webpage then appears blank although, if I hover line by line each link appears while I’m hovering on it ………… as someone who has my own website, I sympathise!

        Like

      • karenwoodall · 8 Days Ago

        Lol! I will get it right I will have a look in a bit x

        Like

  31. Pingback: Article: Alienation in Five Easy Steps – The Toxic Divorce

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