Support the inclusion of PAS in DSM-V
The work on updating the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders ("DSM") is to start soon. This is a compilation of the "scientifically accepted" psychiatric diagnoses complied by the American Psychiatric Association. Missing from this compilation is Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) (which on its acceptance would be called a "disorder" rather than a "syndrome").
As a result of our knowing that PAS is real, we do want to see recognition of this damaging condition listed in DSM-V so that there will be protection of, and treatment for, children suffering from PAS. It is important that you write, and that you get your lawyers, doctors, family members, etc. to write to describe the cases that have been experienced. Dr. Richard Gardner has provided a call for action on this topic, including the addresses, which we have included here and which you should read.
Because of the nature of the DSM, if you are not familiar with the book, I would suggest that you talk about the symptoms of PAS that you have seen in your children, patients or your client's children. This outlines the collection of symptoms that defined the syndrome (the "etiology"). You should talk about the impact on the children (problems at school, behaviour problems, psychological issues, ability to form relationships, depression, etc.). Don't emotionally berate your ex-spouse (as tempting as that is since most of us know the sources of the problem). Don't talk about how nasty, bigotted or irrational the lawyers and judges were. Do talk about how it is necessary that society and the courts be made aware of the problem of PAS to both treat the existing cases and to prevent new cases.
We believe that a written paper letters that can be included in a file is the best way to seek any change. Emails, unless you are known, just don't cut it. Send you letters to:
American Psychiatric Association
1400 K Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20005
e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org(Correction per Kevin and http://www.dsm5.org/)and ask for your letter to be "included in the Parental Alienation Syndrome file."
American Psychiatric Association
1000 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 1825
Arlington, Virginia 22209-3901
What are those symptoms you should identify? They are well documented in many of the articles in the FACT PAS section, but as a quick reminder:
- The Campaign of Denigration: the child has a campaign against the target parent
- Weak, Frivolous, or Absurd Rationalizations for the Depreciation: the problems the child quote are absurd or inappropriate for the reaction, eg. target parent chews too loudly, target parent is the devil's spawn
- Lack of Ambivalence: no half-way mark to the animosity -- it is simply full bore
- The "Independent-Thinker" Phenomenon: the child feels that all this thought and emotion is their own idea and that no-one else had anything to do with their thoughts
- Reflexive Support of the Alienating Parent in the Parental Conflict: the alienating parent can do no wrong, and there is never a need to question that
- Absence of Guilt Over Cruelty to and/or Exploitation of the Alienated Parent: no feeling that abusing the target parent has any sort of wrongness to it
- Presence of Borrowed Scenarios: use of what are obviously other people's memories in creating the hateful thoughts, e.g. quoting instances that before the child was born or was very young, that the child never saw, or that never happened
- Spread of the Animosity to the Extended Family and Friends of the Alienated Parent: involvement of all of the target parent's family.
If you have degrees and professional designations make sure that they are included in the letter. If you don't, still write. Designations help sometimes, solid letters always help.
We encourage you all to write, and to get as many others -- especially the professionals involved in family law who see a lot of cases -- to write in as well.
---Fathers Are Capable Too: Parenting Association