Rebuttal Sturge and Glaser


Rebuttal to C. Sturge and D. Glaser’s Article:
"Contact and Domestic Violence—The Experts’ Court Report."
Family Law, September, 2000, pp. 615-629
(Rebuttal publication date: June 2002)

Richard A. Gardner, M.D.
Clinical Professor of Child Psychiatry Columbia University,
College of Physicians and Surgeons

The current case precedent with reference to Parental Alienation Syndrome in the practice of UK family law is that of Re L (Contact: Domestic Violence); Re V (Contact: Domestic Violence); Re M (Contact: Domestic Violence); Re H (Contact: Domestic Violence) . Prior to conclusion of this conjoined case, the UK’s Official Solicitor commissioned Drs Sturge and Glaser to prepare a report for the court giving a child and adolescent psychiatric opinion on, amongst other matters, the implications of domestic violence for contact. Their report (Sturge & Glaser, 2000) was accepted in its entirety by the Court of Appeal; the court reached its judgment informed by their report. This judgment is now legally binding on all subsequent decisions in UK Family Courts, unless it is at any time overruled by the UK Court of Appeal, the UK House of Lords or the relevant European Court.

Many friends and colleagues in the UK have subsequently brought my attention to the Sturge and Glaser report (2000). They have informed me of its widespread acceptance throughout the UK family law system, and that it has been especially embraced by those who wish to continue to deny the existence of the parental alienation syndrome (PAS). Indeed, such is the UK legal establishment’s view of the significance of the Sturge and Glaser report that it has also been accepted in its entirety at the highest level of the UK judiciary, by the Lord Chancellor. The Lord Chancellor holds an office of immense power and influence which uniquely combines judicial, executive and legislative functions. He heads the judicial system in England and Wales, appoints magistrates and administers the entire court system; it is his recommendations for higher judicial appointments that go before the Queen. He sits in Parliament as Speaker of the House of Lords, and is entitled to preside over the House of Lords when it sits as England & Wales' highest Court of Appeal. He is a cabinet minister at the heart of the Westminster government; he therefore oversees the process of law reform in England and Wales. However, the Lord Chancellor is not elected by the British populace, he is appointed by the Queen on the Prime Minister's specific recommendation.

The UK’s Lord Chancellor requested his Advisory Board on Family Law (Children Act Sub-committee), under the chairmanship of The Honourable Mr Justice Wall, to prepare for him "A Report to the Lord Chancellor on the facilitation of arrangements for contact between children and their non-residential parents and the enforcement of Court Orders for contact", which was duly published in 2002. The first Recommendation of this report (at p. 113) states, "We recommend that the Lord Chancellor’s Department either prepares or commissions a leaflet setting out the approach of the courts to issues of contact. This should summarise the Sturge/Glaser report. It should also contain references to the decision of the Court of Appeal in Re L, V, M and H (Contact: Domestic Violence) and the approach of the court to cases where domestic violence is an issue …"

The editor of Family Law recently expressed unreceptivity to publishing in the near future a further article on PAS and the Sturge-Glaser article, there having been two recent attempts at rebuttal by Hobbs (2002, a & b) already in Family Law. Because I did not consider it reasonable or judicious to submit my rebuttal to another journal, I have posted this rebuttal on my website.

The Alleged Nonexistence of the Parental Alienation Syndrome

The authors state (page 622):

"Parental Alienation Syndrome does not exist in the sense that it is:

To say that PAS does not exist because it is not in DSM-IV is like saying in 1980 that AIDS did not exist because it was not then listed in standard diagnostic medical textbooks. DSM-IV was published in 1994. From 1991 to 1993, when DSM committees were meeting to consider the inclusion of additional disorders, there were too few articles of requisite quality in the literature to warrant submission of the PAS for consideration. That is no longer the case. It is my understanding that committees will begin to meet for DSM-V in 2006. Considering the fact that there are even now at least 144 articles in peer-review journals on the PAS, plus several books addressing this syndrome, it is highly likely that by that time there will be many more. A listing of these articles, which is continually updated, is to be found at pas_peerreviewarticles. Furthermore, considering the fact that there are now at least 70 rulings in which courts have formally recognized the PAS, it is probable that there will be even more such rulings by the time the committees meet. This list is also being continually updated and can be found at: pas_legalcites

It is important to note that the DSM revision committee does not lightly accept new proposals. Their requirements are quite stringent, and justifiably so. Gilles de la Tourette first described his syndrome in 1885. It was not until 1980, 95 years later, that the disorder found its way into the DSM. It is important to note that at that point, Tourette’s Syndrome became Tourette’s Disorder. Similarly, Asperger first described his syndrome in 1957. It was not until 1994 (37 years later) that it was accepted into DSM-IV and "Asperger’s Syndrome" became Asperger’s Disorder. I am sure that Sturge and Glaser would not argue that "Battered Woman Syndrome" does not exist because it is also not in DSM-IV (in fact, BWS was rejected for inclusion). Hobbs, in his rebuttal of Sturge and Glaser’s report, makes the point that in UK law BWS has been repeatedly accepted as a defense to no less a crime than murder (2002a at p 185; 2002b at p 387).

With regard to the statement that it is "not generally recognised in our or allied child mental health specialties" the aforementioned 144 peer-reviewed articles, several books and 70 Court rulings argue strongly against the validity of that statement. Moreover, there have now been two specific Frye Test hearings in which the court has concluded that PAS is generally accepted in the relevant scientific community: Kilgore v Boyd (2000) (Circuit Court of 13th Judicial Circuit of State of Florida, Hillsborough County, Family Law Division, Case No 94-7573, Div D); and Bates v Bates (2002) (18th Judicial Circuit, Dupaye County IL Case No 99D958, 17 January 2002). For those unfamiliar with US legal practice, the Frye Test is the accepted mechanism through which relatively recent scientific developments are subjected to professional scrutiny before acceptance as a legal entity. In Bates v Bates the appeals court refused to overturn the trial court’s decision. I personally testified in both of these hearings and the aforementioned list of peer-reviewed articles and legal citations were submitted and served as important factors in the court’s decision that PAS did enjoy general acceptance in the relevant scientific community.

The authors continue (page 622):

"We do not consider it to be a helpful concept and consider that the sort of problems that the title of this disorder is trying to address is better thought of as implacable hostility."

We see here, once again, the authors’ ignorance of what PAS is. The PAS is not simply implacable hostility on the part of the children and residential parent. The PAS is one highly specific source of children’s implacable hostility, namely hostility indoctrinated in them by a hostile alienating parent against a good, loving parent who does not deserve to be the target of the children’s ongoing campaign of denigration. Of course, other sources of implacable hostility include actual parental abuse (physical, sexual, and emotional) and neglect. But to view PAS as simply "implacable hostility" is inaccurate, misleading, and lessens the likelihood that a sharp and crucially important differentiation will ever be made between implacable hostility that results from parental abuse (hostility that may be justified) and implacable hostility that is indoctrinated by an alienating parent (abuse that is not justified).

The authors continue in the same paragraph:

"The essential and important difference is that the parental alienation syndrome assumes a cause (seen as misguided or malign on the part of the resident parent) which leads to a prescribed intervention whereas the concept (which no one claims to be a ‘syndrome’) is simply a statement aimed at the understanding of particular situations but for which a range of explanations is possible and for which there is no single and prescribed solution, this depending on the nature and individuality of each case."

I agree with the authors here that the PAS assumes a particular cause (the indoctrinating parent) and prescribes a particular form of intervention (reduction of the child’s access to the indoctrinating parent). I am in agreement, also, that the allied concept of implacable hostility has a wide range of explanations, one of which is abuse and/or neglect by the despised parent. Sturge and Glaser would apparently argue here that we should dispense with PAS, a specific subtype of implacable hostility, and use only the more general term. An important hallmark of the advancement of knowledge is the appreciation and delineation of subdivisions. For example, one of the reasons why Hippocrates is remembered today as the father of medicine relates to his remarkable ability to make significant discriminations that were not previously understood. Previously, people knew about the phenomenon of seizures but did not recognize the various subtypes. Hippocrates recognized that there were different types of seizures, each of which required a different type of treatment. He differentiated between malaria, the seizure which he observed came from bad (mala) air (aria) and epilepsy, those seizures (lepsia) which seemed to come from above (epi). Similarly, for many centuries, doctors diagnosed people as having "heart disease." We now know that there are many different kinds of heart disease—each of which requires a specific treatment. Most people would not agree to be treated by a doctor who simply diagnosed them as having "heart disease." Rather, they would demand more information regarding the specific type of heart disease with which they were suffering. Accordingly, substituting for PAS the generic Sturge/Glaser term implacable hostility is dangerously regressive and would deprive patients of the more specific information and treatment procedures necessary for the treatment of the various subtypes (whether it be abuse, neglect, or PAS).

With regard to the statement that "no one" claims that the implacable hostility concept is a syndrome, there is clear criticism here of my and others’ recognition that PAS is a syndrome. Basically, the authors are saying here "No one is saying that implacable hostility is a syndrome, but there are some (misguided ones) who consider PAS a syndrome." A syndrome, by medical definition, is a cluster of symptoms, occurring together, that characterize a specific disease. The symptoms, although seemingly disparate, warrant being grouped together because of a common etiology or basic underlying cause. Furthermore, there is a consistency with regard to such a cluster in that most (if not all) of the symptoms appear together.

Accordingly, there is a kind of purity that a syndrome has that may not be seen in other diseases. For example, a person suffering with pneumococcal pneumonia may have chest pain, cough, purulent sputum, and fever. However, the individual may still have the disease without all these symptoms manifesting themselves. The syndrome is more often "pure" because most (if not all) of the symptoms in the cluster predictably manifest themselves. Another example would be Down’s Syndrome, which includes a host of seemingly disparate symptoms that do not appear to have a common link. These include mental retardation, Mongoloid-type facial expression, drooping lips, slanting eyes, short fifth finger, and atypical creases in the palms of the hands. There is a consistency here in that the people who suffer with Down’s Syndrome often look very much alike and most typically exhibit all these symptoms. The common etiology of these disparate symptoms relates to a specific chromosomal abnormality. It is this genetic factor that is responsible for linking together these seemingly disparate symptoms. There is then a primary, basic cause of Down’s Syndrome: a genetic abnormality.

An example from psychiatry would be the aforementioned Tourette's Syndrome (now Disorder), which consists of multiple motor and vocal tics (sometimes including helpless utterances of profanities). These symptoms are considered to be caused by an underlying specific neurological disorder.

Similarly, the PAS is characterized by a cluster of symptoms that usually appear together in the child, especially in the moderate and severe types (Gardner, 1998a). These include:

    1. A campaign of denigration
    2. Weak, absurd, or frivolous rationalizations for the deprecation
    3. Lack of ambivalence
    4. The "independent-thinker" phenomenon
    5. Reflexive support of the alienating parent in the parental conflict
    6. Absence of guilt over cruelty to and/or exploitation of the alienated parent
    7. The presence of borrowed scenarios
    8. Spread of the animosity to the friends and/or extended family of the alienated parent

Typically, children who suffer with PAS will exhibit most (if not all) of these symptoms. This is almost uniformly the case for the moderate and severe types. However, in the mild cases one might not see all eight symptoms. When mild cases progress to moderate or severe, it is highly likely that most (if not all) of the symptoms will be present. This consistency results in PAS children resembling one another. It is because of these considerations that the PAS is identifiable as a relatively "pure" diagnosis that can easily be made. Because of this purity the PAS lends itself well to research studies because the population to be studied can easily be identified. Furthermore, this purity can be verified by interrater reliability studies. As is true of other syndromes, there is an underlying cause: programming by an alienating parent in conjunction with additional contributions by the programmed child. It is for these reasons that PAS is indeed a syndrome, and it is a syndrome by the best medical definition of the term.

In making their misleading statement that "no-one" claims PAS to be a syndrome, Sturge and Glaser both demonstrate the lamentable inadequacy of their research and manage to overlook the 175-plus authors who wrote 144 articles on the subject. They all believe it is a syndrome. In addition, the peer reviewers in each of these journals (individuals different from the authors) must also believe that {x1, notx2!!} PAS is a syndrome. It is important to note also that these peer-reviewed articles were written by people in Australia, Canada, UK, Germany, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Sweden, and Israel. Furthermore, the judges, in 70 legal rulings in Australia, Canada (7 provinces), the United States (21 states), Germany ", and more recently in the UK " have also recognized the syndrome.

Accordingly, the authors reveal their very significant ignorance of the PAS literature—especially when one considers the fact that their only reference in the PAS section is Kathleen Faller (1998), whose article is best viewed as a recycling of misinformation floating around on the internet. Sturge and Glaser refer to Kathleen Faller as "highly reputable" and state they "fully agree with her arguments" (both at p. 622). They were probably not aware, therefore, that Faller wrote this article soon after I testified in support of a man who was suing Faller for malpractice for tenaciously extracting false sex-abuse accusations from his daughter—even after the local child protection service and a court of law had concluded that there was no reasonable evidence for sex abuse. Most people in the field are in agreement that there is a cause and effect relationship between my testimony and Faller’s article. More important, the authors did not see fit to even mention my own rebuttal to Faller’s fallacious article that subsequently appeared in the same journal (1998b).

The authors then proffer arguments justifying courts not forcing children to visit with the noncustodial parent. Because these arguments are placed just after the Faller reference, the reader is likely to believe that they are derived from the Faller article. They are not. They are actually a restatement of Sturge and Glaser’s position on this issue, as presented throughout the rest of the article. It is a position which also reflects the most peculiar and counter-productive practice of UK family courts NOT to insist on their own Orders for contact being obeyed. One of the restatements they provide is why a resident parent will take a position of implacable hostility and describe (page 623, at (e):

"Wholly biased hostility which is not based on real events or experience. This may be conscious and malign or perceived to be true. The latter encompass the full continuum from misperceptions and misunderstandings through overvalued ideas to delusional states. The former may result from a simple wish to wipe the slate clean and start again and can be seen after relationships that were initially highly romantic or idealised and for the breakdown of which the woman can only account for by vilifying the partner in order to avoid facing the possibility that the breakdown in the relationship was her failure and amounts to rejection."

The authors, in the same section devoted to a denial of the existence of a PAS are actually describing a PAS indoctrinator. It is a classical description. They state that such hostility is "wholly biased" and is "not based on real events or experience." They describe the hostility as encompassing "misperceptions and misunderstandings through overvalued ideas to delusional states". Such women can only account for the breakdown of the relationship "by vilifying the partner in order to avoid facing the possibility that the breakdown in the relationship was her failure and amounts to rejection." I couldn’t have used better terms myself to describe the PAS indoctrinator. It is important to note in this section that the parent being described here is a woman, not a man. The authors yet again reveal here the prejudice that pervades this article, namely, that the nonresidential parent is likely to be a man, and that the residential parent is likely to be a woman. What the authors don’t realize is that their denying the existence of the PAS will harm women because, with ever-increasing frequency, men are becoming PAS indoctrinators and women the victims of the children’s campaign of denigration. Elsewhere (Gardner, 2002a), I have discussed this subject in depth.

Restricting Contact with Nonresidential Abusive Parents

I now turn to other segments of the article, sections not specifically focusing on the PAS. The authors present many justifiable arguments for children’s not being required to visit with genuinely abusing parents and certainly not being required to live with such parents. The general thrust of the article is that it is the nonresidential parent who is likely to be abusive. Similarly, there is little recognition of the fact that the victim parents in the PAS are not the abusers. In fact, by the very definition of PAS, if they were abusive the children’s alienation would be justifiable and the PAS diagnosis would not be applicable. Furthermore, they are blind to the fact that a parent who induces a PAS in a child is, per se, an abusive parent—specifically, an emotionally abusive parent. The indoctrination of a PAS into a child is a form of emotional abuse because it can bring about the attenuation, and even destruction, of the bond between the child and a good, loving parent. PAS indoctrination is also a form of abuse of the alienated spouse because that parent, although a good and loving parent, has become the focus of the child’s campaign of denigration, aided and abetted by the alienating parent. In essence, a PAS indoctrinator is both an abusing parent and an abusing ex-partner. The authors’ denial of the PAS is consistent with their denial of the existence of this form of abuser.

In the section on the risks of direct and indirect contact with the nonresidential parent (pages 617-619), many of the characteristics of the nonresidential parent that would place a child at risk if transferred to that parent are basically the kinds of behaviors one sees in the PAS indoctrinating parent. The authors list numerous risks. Specifically, on page 618 (ii)(b) the authors state:

"Emotional abuse through the denigration of the child directly or the child’s resident carer, through using the contact as a means of continuing or escalating the ‘war’ with the resident parent, for example, seeking derogatory information, engendering secrets, making derogatory remarks in an attempt to undermine the resident parent.

This can also be seen as increasing distortions in the child’s perceptions and understanding of reality."

Sturge and Glaser are describing here, quite precisely and accurately, exactly what PAS indoctrinators do. And this is especially the case when the PAS indoctrinator is the residential parent. If one were to believe these two, there is no such thing as a residential parent who would be a PAS indoctrinator. They only attribute such behaviors to a nonresidential parent, and just label them as a form of emotional abuse of the child and the resident caretaker. However, if one follows Sturge and Glaser’s own guidelines here, then one should reduce the child’s access to such a parent—and even transfer custody away from the parent—who engages in this activity. This is exactly what I myself recommend regarding the alienating parent (which the authors here describe as the abusing parent).

Another risk the authors describe follows, page 618 (ii)(c):

"Continuation of unhealthy relationships, for example, inappropriately dominant or bullying relationships, controlling relationships through subtly or blatantly maintaining (or initiating) fear or through other means (for example bribes, emotional blackmail)."

Of course, there are abusive parents who are not PAS indoctrinators who behave this way. However, this is also exactly what PAS indoctrinators do. They have an unhealthy relationship with the child because they are controlling, bribing, and they use emotional blackmail in order to get the child to profess antagonism toward the good, loving target parent. Once again, I am in agreement with the authors that the child’s access to such bullies should be reduced if not cut off entirely. I am in agreement also with the authors that such parents are also justifiably referred to as emotional abusers. The only difference I have with the authors here—and it is a formidable one—is that they have not selected out from this group of abusers the subgroup of abusers properly recognized as PAS indoctrinators. Rather, because of their failure to have researched PAS competently prior to dismissing it outright, they let them blend in—unidentified—with the rest of the bullies of the world. There are different categories of bullies, and each category must be dealt with differently.

Yet another argument for reduction of access to the nonresidential parent follows (at page 618, ii[d]):

"Undermining the child’s sense of stability and continuity by deliberately or inadvertently setting different moral standards or standards of behaviour. Rules for the child may be very different with the contact parent and the child may be allowed to do quite different things which are normally forbidden. This can affect his or her understanding of right and wrong and/or give him or her the means to then challenge or defy the resident parent."

Of course, there are parents whose immorality is such that one must protect children from them. Here, however Sturge and Glaser ignore a specific subcategory of immoral parents: PAS indoctrinators. Again, the authors are describing here exactly what PAS indoctrinators do. They encourage the child to show guiltless disregard for the feelings of the target parent. The rules and regulations of society regarding treating people well are undermined when one parent encourages disrespect and denigration of the other, the target parent.

Another risk to the child having contact with the nonresidential parent is described at page 618, ii[e]:

"Experiences lacking in endorsement of the child as a valued and individual person, for example, where little or no interest is shown in the child himself or herself."

Of course, there are bona fide abusers who view the child in just this way. However, the authors are also describing here the PAS programmer, whose primary interest in the child is to use him (her) as a weapon against the target parent in the attempt to gain leverage in a court of law in the custody dispute, or subsequently to maintain the ‘blockade’ against the target parent after the custody has been so inappropriately ‘won’. Indeed, Hobbs (2002b, at pp 383-5) describes how the dynamics of the PAS programmer specifically target the adversarial practice of family in the UK family courts.

The authors continue describing other at-risk factors such as unreliability with regard to showing up for visitation, breaking promises, and actually missing visits. These are certainly qualities that are bona fide risk qualities in bona fide abusers. Crucially, however, they are not describing here the usual qualities of parents who fit the criteria for being PAS victim parents. Such parents are usually quite punctual and reliable with regard to showing up for the visits and live under the fear that their visitation will be cut off for frivolous reasons (which it often is). Again, denying the existence of the PAS leaves unidentified the important group of spouse victims of the PAS indoctrinator’s abuse.

Sturge and Glaser then describe the risks for even indirect contact with the nonresidential parent and recommend cutting off telephone contact and even letters in order to protect the child from abuses by that parent. Again, this is certainly valid when the nonresidential parent is a bona fide abuser. But it has no validity whatsoever in the PAS situation, where the nonresidential parent is actually a good, loving parent. It is well known that a typical PAS-indoctrinating maneuver is to cut off telephone contact and even letters with the nonresidential victim parent. Furthermore, maintenance of exactly these kinds of contacts in PAS families are often necessary if one is to stand any chance of protecting the child from the indoctrinations of the alienating parent. Again, we see the problems that result from Sturge and Glaser’s ‘Expert’s Court Report’ when the PAS is ignored as a clinical entity.

Another risk factor described is the parent who would use the child as "ammunition in legal proceedings." This is at the very core of the PAS indoctrinator’s motivation for programming the child. This is one of the reasons why I recommend that there be a reduction of access to such a parent and, in severe cases, transfer of custody to the allegedly "hated," nonresidential parent. Again, we see the phenomenon by which the authors are, at the same time, denying the existence of the PAS and then describing the behaviors of just such families.

What the authors are doing in this section is basically giving support to my PAS contributions. They believe they are describing reasons why the child’s access to the abusing parent should be reduced, or even cut off entirely. At the same time, they are giving very good reasons for treating the PAS indoctrinator the same way that one treats other categories of abusive parents. However, all one needs to do is recognize that the PAS programming parent is the abusing parent, and the authors’ criteria for restriction and even removal are well satisfied.

Dealing with the Child Who Resists and/or Refuses Visits with the Nonresidential Parent

The authors deal with the question of what should be done with the child who is adamant that he (she) does not wish to see a parent (pages 620-621). They emphasize (page 621):

"Consideration of the effects on the child of making a decision that appears to disregard their feelings/wishes. It is damaging to a child to feel he or she is forced to do something against his or her will and against his or her judgment if the child cannot see the sense of it."

We are living in a world in which children are very much empowered—often pathologically so. Mental health professionals commonly pride themselves—often sanctimoniously—on how they as opposed to others—really listen to children. There are times when children must be forced to do things that are good for them, even though they may refuse. Many children need to be forced to go to school and to the pediatrician. No healthy, competent parent would "respect" a child’s wishes not to go to school or have medical care. Recently in the UK a mother has been jailed for failing to send her children to school; and since the day of her incarceration the children have willingly attended school without fail. Yet the same professionals who would recommend force in these situations often genuflect to PAS children who insist that they "hate" the target parent and will have nothing to do with him (her). What these mental health professionals fail to realize is that PAS children are inwardly begging to be with the alienated parent, but cannot overtly say so. They need to be forced. They need the excuse that will enable them to say to the alienating parent: "I really hate him (her), but that stupid doctor (judge, lawyer) says that I have to go because if I don’t you’ll be in trouble or I’ll be in trouble." Basically, the professed hatred of the alienated parent is not actually hate, but fear of the loss of the alienating parent’s love if the child were to overtly profess affection for the target parent. Elsewhere, I have discussed this point in detail (Gardner, 2002b).

The authors state that when there is little, if any, bond between the child and the nonresidential parent, then visitation should not be forced. I am in full agreement with them on this point. If there is no love in the first place, then no love is lost by such restrictions. However, this has nothing to do with the PAS. In PAS, the parent has been a good, loving parent, there is a strong bond, and to not enforce visitation deprives the child of the benefits of such visits. Not forcing such visitation can result in the attenuation and destruction of this vital bond.

My follow-up study of 99 PAS children provides compelling evidence for this conclusion. In those cases in which the courts forced PAS children to visit/reside with the alienating parent there was a reduction, if not complete obliteration, of PAS symptomatology in 100 percent of the children. In contrast, when the court did not force visitation (77 cases) there was ultimate destruction of the bonding in 91 percent (70 cases) of these PAS children (Gardner, 2001).

Concluding Comments

This article provides compelling evidence for Sturge and Glaser’s remarkably unprofessional ignorance of the PAS, based on their surprising, total reliance on just one, demonstrably fallacious, article on the PAS and on their own subsequent failure to attempt any further research of their own into this syndrome. They deny the existence of the PAS and do not make any differentiation between bona fide abusers and PAS indoctrinators. Consequently, they weave in and out between PAS and domestic violence. Their comments about protecting children from abusive parents are, however, for the most part valid. Although they attempt to discredit and ultimately to deny the existence of PAS, they instead unwittingly provide strong support for its existence by delineating the measures that must be taken to protect children from abusing parents. Similarly, they also unwittingly provide confirmation for my own recommendations regarding the measures that should be utilized for protecting children from PAS indoctrinators.

Those who follow Sturge and Glaser’s recommendations, and who as a result do not properly differentiate between PAS indoctrinators and other forms of emotional abusers, will fail to discriminate between these two groups and they will consequently fail to be able to deal effectively with them. Elsewhere, I have described the criteria that can be utilized for making this important differentiation (Gardner, 1992, 1998a, 1999). Furthermore, Sturge and Glaser do not differentiate properly between genuinely abused children who justifiably resist contact with the alienated parent and PAS children who must be forced, by Courts if necessary, to visit in order to provide them with an excuse for doing so. Also totally ignored by Sturge and Glaser, and viewed as nonexistent, is the PAS victim spouse. Those who follow this ‘Expert’s’ report, and consequently fail to make these vital differentiations, will contribute to the entrenchment of the PAS in these children and the ongoing grief of PAS victim spouses—both male and female.


Gardner, R. A. (1992), The Parental Alienation Syndrome: A Guide for Mental Health and Legal Professionals. Cresskill, New Jersey: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.

_______ (1998a), The Parental Alienation Syndrome: Second Edition. Cresskill, New Jersey: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.

_______ (1998b), Letter responding to K. Faller article on the parental alienation syndrome. Child Maltreatment, 3(4):309-312.

_______ (1999), Differentiating between the parental alienation syndrome and bona fide abuse/neglect. The American Journal of Family Therapy 27(2):97-107. ar1

_______ (2001), Should courts order PAS children to visit/reside with the alienated parent? A follow-up study. The American Journal of Forensic Psychology, 19(3):61-106. ar8

_______ (2002a), Denial of the PAS also harms women. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 30(2), 191-203.

_______ (2002b), The empowerment of children in the development of the parental alienation syndrome. The American Journal of Forensic Psychology, 20(2): 5-26. and ar14

Faller, K. (1998), The parental alienation syndrome: what is it and what data support it? Child Maltreatment, 3(2):100-115.

Hobbs, T. (2002a), Parental alienation syndrome and UK family courts. Part 1. Family Law, (March) 32:182-189

_______ (2002b), Parental alienation syndrome and UK family courts – The dilemma. Family Law, (May) 32:381-387.

Sturge, C. and Glaser, D. (2000), Contact and domestic violence—the experts’ court report. Family Law, September:615-628.