A Case for Parental Alienation

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The International Access and Visitation Centers conference was held in Toronto last month.
PAAO was there and spoke to most of the 200 or so practitioners. Of course all were familiar with alienation and it's results. Everyone was not only gratified to see PAAO at the event, they all also acknowledged that PA is either a form of Domestic violence or on the continuum of Domestic Violence behaviors.
DSM UPDATE - While the terms; Parental Alienation or Parental Alienation Syndrome did not make it into the DSM IV, not all is lost. Instead, what you will find is a discussion regarding the 'Child/Parent Relational Problem' where the discourse surrounds the cognitive issues of the problem that have the potential to include; "negative attributions of the other's intentions, hostility toward or scapegoating of the other, and unwarranted feelings of estrangement." According to Dr. William Bernet, one of the proponents for the PA language inclusion, "That's a pretty good description of a child's view of the alienated parent. “ At the very least, what has been acknowledged here is the conditions that must be present for alienation of one parent to occur. This is similar to what Dr. Craig Childress calls the 'parental alienation dynamic'. Same/same. All it really amounts to is the DSM IV acknowledging that these behaviors can lead a child to have cognitive problems of feeling 'unwarranted feelings of estrangement' towards what we call the 'target parent'.

Here are links to resources we hope you find helpful:


Are you an alienating parent? by Jeff OppermanClick to view
Four Myths that Surround Parental Alienation Syndrome by Jeff OppermanClick to view
Getting along for the kids by Jeff OppermanClick to view
Keys to understanding Parental Alienation by Mike JeffriesClick to View
Learning to live with Parental Alienation by Mike JeffriesClick to view
Parental Alienation and the need for love, respect and responsibility by Reset Parenting
Parental Alienation: Hope for Healing by Vicki Louk Balint for Raising Arizona KidsClick to view
Parental Alienation Syndrome: How to Detect It and What to Do About It by J. Michael Bone and Michael R. WalshClick to view
Parental Alienation Syndrome – The Problem by Dr. Reena SommerClick to view (.pdf)
Parental Alienation Syndrome: The secret killer of parent/child relationships by Jeff OppermanClick to view
Parental Alienation Syndrome: What do you do when your child stops seeing you as Mom or Dad? by Jeff OppermanClick to view
Parents Who Have Successfully Fought Parental Alienation Syndrome by Jayne A. Major, Ph.DClick to view
Repairing the child-parent relationship after traumatic separation, alienation by Jeff OppermanClick to view
Symptoms of Parental Alienation Syndrome by Douglas DarnellClick to view
A book review of A Family’s Heartbreak: A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation by Mark Roseman, Ph.D., Certified Family Court MediatorClick to view (pdf)
Parental Alienation Dynamics as Child Abuse & Negative Parental Influence and Spousal Conflict by Dr. Craig ChildressClick to view (pdf)

Audio and Video editor Rick Ortiz interviews Mike Jeffries about the dynamics of parental alienation, the impact parental alienation had on his family and how Jeffries came to write his book, A Family’s Heartbreak: A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation on the April 19, 2009 Podcast.Listen to the interview
Dads on the Air interviewAuthor Mike Jeffries talks about parental alienation and A Family’s Heartbreak: A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation on Dads on the Air, the most successful community radio program in Australia, April 21, 2009.Listen to the interview (.mp3)
Get Your Justice Live PodcastAuthor Mike Jeffries talks about parental alienation and his book, A Family’s Heartbreak: A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation on Get Your Justice Live with host Lary Holland on April 1, 2009.Click to listen
Parental Alienation Hurts/Get Your Justice LiveAuthor Mike Jeffries provides tips for non-custodial and alienated parents who will not see their children during the holiday season so they can not only survive the holidays but enjoy them. With hosts Chrissy Chrzanowski and Lary Holland on December 17, 2009.Listen to the discussion.
Split n Two
Mike Jeffries joins the
Split n Two founder Tawnya Maddox to talk about parental alienation and his recently published book, A Family’s Heartbreak: A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation on the Split n Two podcast on July 7, 2009.Listen to the podcast (.mp3)

The Single Parent ShowAuthor Mike Jeffries visited the “The Single Parent Show” on CFAO 94.7 FM, Alliston Ontario’s Best Variety, to talk about parental alienation and his book, A Family’s Heartbreak: A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation on January 7, 2010.Click to listen
Researching Reform
Mike Jeffries, author of A Family’s Heartbreak: A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation, discusses marriage, the legal system, and parental alienation with the U.K.’s Natasha Phillips on Researching Reform, a program highlighting developments in England’s legal system, on February 9, 2010.Podcast

Parents Rule!Author Mike Jeffries discusses Parental Alienation Awareness Day and the proposal to put parental alienation in the mental health profession’s DSM with Parents Rule! Host Pat Montgomery on Radio Sandy Springs and Americas Web Radio on April 15, 2010.Listen to the podcast (.mp3)
Divorce Source RadioMike Jeffries, author of A Family’s Heartbreak: A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation, joins Divorce Source Radio host Steve Peck for one of the most informative, enlightening discussions on parental alienation you’ll find anywhere. June 17, 2010.Listen to the podcast.
DC Rally Fest 2010 for Family RightsMike Jeffries, author of A Family’s Heartbreak: A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation, talked about surviving parental alienation at the 2010 Family Rights Festival in Washington D.C. on July 24, 2010.
Watch Mike’s speech,
Part I and Part II.

Family MattersMike Jeffries, Author of A Family’s Heartbreak: A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation, hosts Family Matters, an internet radio show dedicated to parental alienation. Jeffries’ guest is parental alienation consultant Dr. J. Michael Bone, and they discuss the do’s and don’ts of presenting a parental alienation case in court. November 17, 2010.Listen to the podcast.
Co-Parenting MattersMike Jeffries, author of A Family’s Heartbreak: A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation, talks about how alienated parents can fight for their children without sacrificing their emotional health and well-being on the internet radio show Co-Parenting Matters with hosts Deesha Philyaw and Talibah Mbonisi. January, 23, 2011.Listen to the podcast.

Information and Organizations

A Child’s Right is an organization dedicated to a child’s fundamental right to be loved, guided, nurtured and educated by both fit and willing parents.
A Family’s Heartbreak Facebook Page is a social networking page designed to connect people struggling with Parental Alienation.!/group.php?gid=61789494087&ref=ts
Amore de Pappa is a Chilean website with the dual objectives of protecting the rights of children in the family court system and preventing the development of parental alienation.
Associacion Nacional de Afectados del Sindrome de Alienacion (ANASAP) is an Argentian website devoted to Parental Alienation.
Association Child-Divorce is a Croatian site advocating children’s rights to parents and
Association Contre L’Alienation Parentale is a French website devoted to Parental Alienation.
Bienvenue sur le site SEPARATION is a Belgium website devoted to Parental Alienation.
Children Rights Council (CRC) works to assue a child frequent, meaningful and continuing contact with parents and extended family after divorce or separation.
Coalition for Equal Parenting is a gender-neutral, non-profit organization that promotes equality for all parties of divorce and advocates on behalf of parents who have been impacted by Parental Alienation. carries essential information and resources for fathers at any stage of divorce. provides information and advice about divorce law, divorce lawyers, family law, children and divorce, and other divorce-related issues. The site also carries excerpts of A Family’s Heartbreak: A Parent’s Introduction to Parental Alienation at:
Divorce Recovery Suite is a user-friendly family law site providing a chat room, information on state statutes, and a collection of links regarding divorce, law, forms, rights and healing.
Families Need Fathers seeks to obtain the best possible blend of both parents in the lives of children.
Jewish Unity for Multiple Parenting (JUMP) campaigns for improved relationships between divorced parents and their children in the Jewish community.
Keeping Families Connected offers resources to identify, battle and recover from Parental Alienation.
Komitet Przestrogi przed Oddzieleniem Rodzica is the website of the Parental Alienation Warning Committee in Poland. The committee focuses on international social events to raise awareness of parental alienation and other problems of children in single custody
Lee PAS Foundation is dedicated to bringing awareness and education of Parental Alienation and parental kidnap to the public. keeps readers apprised of up-to-date news and information in order to promote the health and well being of men, boys and their families.
Parental Alienation Help provides support and resources to alienated parents, family members and professionals. The site also features upcoming parental alienation events, presentations and research opportunities to participants who meet the study
Parental Alienation Awareness Organization (PAAO) Pennsylvania State Chapter is a local affiliate of the national organization. The Pennsylvania group’s goal is to provide local support to Moms and Dads dealing with parental alienation.
Parental Alienation Shop on Cafe Press provides a cohesive group of strong and immediately recognizable images. There are wearable, as well as professional and office items for personal and group/conventional use, including “targeted parent” items.
PAS-Eltern e.V is a German website dedicated to Parental Alienation.
Partners in Prevention offers educational and healing resources for both male and female survivors of family violence and legal domestic abuse.
Pertubuhan Memupuk Asas Ikatan Keluarga is a Malaysian website dedicated to Parental Alienation and fostering family ties.
Prevent Parental Kidnap is a non-profit organization led by an adult survivor of parental abduction who believes that education is the key to stopping the abuse.
Public Lies is a layman’s blog on parental alienation and includes articles, resources and support materials others may find
The Rachel Foundation for Family Integration provides reintegration services for parents and children whose bonds of love and affection have been damaged or destroyed by abduction and/or alienation.
Schutzraum eSK is a German website dedicated to Parental Alienation.
Sindrome da Alienacao Parental is a Brazilian website devoted to Parental Alienation.

Support Groups

Alienated Grandparents Anonymous (AGA) is a Naples, Florida-based support group that provides information and support to grandparents who feel alienated or estranged from their grandchildren.

Bristol Grandparents Support Group is a U.K.-based group for grandparents denied contact with their grandchildren due to a family
Child-Centered Divorce is a support network for parents that provides a free weekly newsletter, articles, coaching, advice and valuable resources designed to promote positive co-parenting before, during and after divorce.
Greater Boston Parental Alienation Support Meetup is for parents who have suffered, or are suffering, some degree of parental alienation, Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS), or Hostile Aggressive Parenting (HAP) in high conflict divorce.
The Joshua Rose Foundation is a faith-based support network for non-custodial parents, alienated family members and survivors of parental alienation.
Mothers Apart From Their Children (MATCH) supports mothers after their children have been abducted abroad or alienated from them after high conflict divorce.
Parental Alienation Awareness Austin, Texas is dedicated to providing educating and support to parents and children who are victims of parental alienation.
Parental Alienation Support and Advocacy Group NJ is a New Jersey-based Meetup group dedicated to helping parents and loved ones affected by parental alienation.
Parental Alienation Support New Jersey supports targeted parents in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.

Parental Alienation Support and Resource Group is a Rochester, New York-based support group that meets monthly in various locations around Rochester. (website pending). Contact
Parents Against Parental Alienation (PAPA) is an online Yahoo support group where alienated parents share support, suggestions and advocacy opportunities.
Parental Alienation Risks Kids (PARK) is a Canadian-based group that helps families and individuals recognize the warning signs, and learn how to reduce the risks, of alienation.

Parental Alienation Support is a Stamford, Connecticut-based online support group for parents trying to sort through the pain and confusion of parental alienation and looking for others who will share experiences, resources, hope and support.
PASParents is the Rachel Foundation’s free, online support group providing empathy and support for alienated parents.
Southern California Parents of Alienated Children (PAC) is a support group of targeted parents who meet monthly in person, through Skype and by phone. Members share experiences, resources, information, support and hope. The group’s mission to to prepare members for healthy reunifications with their

Professional Services

Dr. Michael Bone has a website dedicated to addressing issues related to Parental Alienation.
A Center for Human Potential is Dr. Robert Evans’ site and provides a continuum of comprehensive divorce-related services.
Covenant Counselors in central Colorado offers a wide range of domestic relations services and has experience addressing Parental Alienation issues.
Dabbagh & Associates provides cross-border family mediation, case support and expert testimony. The firm also specializes in international child abduction
The Divorce Center is a website maintained by Florida divorce attorney Howard Iken. The site contains extensive resources on family law issues — including Parental Alienation.
Kloth Consulting is a life coach and counselor specializing in Parental Alienation Syndrome.
Leadership Career Solutions is the career coaching practice of Glenn J. Kaufman. He specializes in career and life coaching for business leaders and professionals at all
Dr. Kathleen Reay, author of Toxic Divorce, A Workbook for Alienated Parents, is an experienced licensed psychotherapist, child custody evaluator, litigation-related consultant and expert on parental alienation.
Stop Parent Alienation is Dr. Jayne Major’s site and features numerous articles on parental alienation and a revolutionary new way of completing family law that is fast, efficient, and cost saving. This method arrives at solutions for high-conflict families where disturbed people are identified early so that children and targeted parents do not have to undergo the misery of parental alienation.
Dr. Richard Warshak, author of Divorce Poison: Protecting the Parent-Child Bond from a Vindictive Ex, provides a variety of resources for alienated parents on his site.
Should men become husbands and fathers—and many men today are choosing not to—they don’t stand a chance in a court of law if and when they get divorced. Family court judges are hopelessly biased against fathers. Of the two million restraining orders issued each year—85 percent against men—half don’t include any evidence of violence but rely on vague complaints made without proof or evidence. And once an order is issued, it becomes nearly impossible for a father to retain or regain custody or even get to see his own children. “Right under our noses, massive systemic injustice is being visited upon fathers, threatening the very fundamentals of family, society, and democracy,” writes Todd M. Aglialoro.

Preponderance of Evidence Standard.

Linda Gottlieb Kase


If You Seek a Bio-chemical Cause for Mental Health Disorders, You will become the “Little Train that Couldn’t”
By Linda J. Gottlieb, LMFT, LCSW-r
My opinion on the origin of mental illness is controversial to many in my profession. I maintain that emotional disturbances are situationally and not bio-chemically caused. But this position did not originate with me. It originated with my mentor, Salvador Minuchin, the world-renowned, highly respected child psychiatrist. Dr. Minuchin (as with his contemporaneous psychiatrists who founded the family therapy movement, such as Murray Bowen, Don Jackson, Jay Haley, Carl Whitaker, Nathan Ackerman, John Weakland, et al.) does not accept an intra-psychic or biochemical cause of mental disorders. Resulting from 65 years of practice, Dr. Minuchin affirms that traumatic situations; unhealthy relationships; and dysfunctional family dynamics, such as the PAS, cause mental health disorders. Diagnosis of mental health is not a science! There is no empirical evidence for any mental health disorder. You cannot inject the brain, withdraw serum, and have it analyzed. Any psychiatrist or mental health diagnostician worth his/her salt (and even those who are not worth their salt) must acknowledge that diagnosis of emotional disorders is based merely upon “impressions.”
Mental health patients are guinea pigs when they are prescribed an array of psychotropic medications and subjected to a host of invasive procedures, such as ECT. At least Dr. Minuchin’s assessment for the cause of mental disorders offers optimism while remedy is benign and unintrusive: if you discard unhealthy relationships and situations, you will be symptom-free. A symptom free life is therefore possible without being subjected to invasive medications and procedures. Dr. Minuchin has recognized that he is a salmon swimming upstream when he articulates this; but think about it: if his analysis was to become the norm, then 90% of the psychiatric community would need to become educated about relationship therapy. And it would also be more costly for the health insurance industry, which would then have to incur the expenses of reimbursing for more protracted relationship therapy instead of for the quick fixes of drug therapy. No wonder there is such resistance to accepting this not so novel assessment of mental health diagnosis—-in spite of 60+ years of empirical evidence and scientific support for this perspective.
Although this may come as a shock to many readers, our current state of psychiatric diagnosis is NOT science. If it were, then psychotropic medications would not need to be persistently adjusted up or down in dosage, completely changed, and/or supplemented with other medications. The simple explanation for why medications so frequently fail to achieve a reduction in symptoms is because symptoms do not result from a chemical imbalance. Just compare the administration of medications for medical disorders: when, for example, an antibiotic is given for an infection, it is highly probable to be effective in resolving the symptoms. And if Dr. Minuchin was to be asked, he would likely explain that it is a patient’s history of having taken psychotropic medications that subsequently caused her/his chemical imbalance: in essence, such medications had upset a NORMAL chemical balance. Do not take my word for it: read the many books by Dr. Minuchin and the previously referred- to psychiatrists—-all of whose writings are listed in the reference at the conclusion of this article.
Dr. Minuchin’s opinion is supported by the recent research of Dr. Irving Kirsch, psychologist at Harvard University, who discovered that a placebo was equally as effective as were antidepressants in treating mild to moderately depressed patients. It was only the small percentage of highly depressed patients who responded better to antidepressants.
I have found that Dr. Minuchin’s wisdom applies to the patients whom I treated for more than 40 years. I would be happy to debate this not so novel perspective with any therapist who perceives things differently. Indeed, a 5/12 article in Scientific American exposed the inconsistency and inaccuracy that occurs in mental health diagnosis, especially when it relates to depression and anxiety. This article pointed out that depression and anxiety only reached the threshold of the “could be accepted” standard for a diagnosis to be accepted into the DSM—-this being the bare minimum for acceptance. Think about that: we are medicating half the world with medications with serious side effects on the minimally accepted standard of “could be accepted.” Would anyone consider having an operation if the doctor stated that the diagnosis upon which the operation was based reached only a reliability level of “could be accepted?”
If the diagnosis of anxiety and depression is so imprecise, why should one believe that any other diagnosis in the DSM is reliable—such as that of ADD and ADHD? There is unequivocally no reason to believe this.
In my 2012 book, The Parental Alienation Syndrome: A Family Therapy and Collaborative Systems Approach to Amelioration, I documented a number of children who were placed on psychotropic medications for alleged ADHD and/or for bipolar disorder but whose symptoms completely mitigated when the PAS was reversed and eliminated. Amazing! There is—all too frequently—a rush to judgment when diagnosing children. Who can dispute the immense influence of parents on children and the depth that parental conflict adversely affects children? The unforgiveable failure of the psychiatric community is that input from both parents is generally not sought, thus resulting in that dysfunctional family dynamics cannot be ruled out as being the cause of the child’s symptoms. When, for example, parents are pulling in opposite directions or when one parent requests the child’s allegiance in that parent’s battle with the other parent, the child will undoubtedly exhibit irritability, anxiety, depression, impulsivity, inattention, and a myriad of other symptoms. The child is like a rope and a tug war between her/his parents, and just like the rope, the child will unravel.
I wrote about a sibling group of 3 children ranging in age from 10-15, all of whom were diagnosed with ADHD and bi-polar disorder. They were living with their narcissistic mother who repeatedly cursed them and deprecated their father. Without seeking any input from the father or assessing the dysfunctional family dynamics, the psychiatrist placed each child on a strong regime of the most potent psychotropic medications. I was no surprise to me that there was no mitigation of any of the symptoms. The children were subsequently transferred to the custody of their father, and he took them off all the medications. All three children were soon functioning within normal limits emotionally, cognitively and behaviorally.
In the case of a 6-year-old boy living with his grandmother, he became hysterical in school and ran out of the front door after his hamster had died earlier that day. There were no prior emotional or behavioral disturbances in the boy. Nevertheless, the school insisted that the grandmother take the boy for an immediate psychiatric evaluation lest a report to CPS would be filed. The psychiatrist who evaluated the boy failed to become curious about why he was living with grandma. Had the psychiatrist been curious, he would have discovered that the boy had previously witnessed his stepfather physically abusing his mother on a regular basis. Diagnosed by this psychiatrist with bi-polar disorder at the tender age of 6, the boy was clearly transitionally and not bio-chemically depressed. It was apparent to this family therapist that the root of the boy’s depression arose out of the combined losses of a protected home life with his mother prior to her marriage to the step-father and then having been removed from her altogether and that these loses were stimulated by the death of his hamster.
In a case of an 8 year old boy, the school requested that he obtain a psychiatric evaluation for depression, and the psychiatrist predictably recommended anti-depressants upon only a 15 minute discussion (I will not even call it an evaluation.) Fortunately, the parents rejected the “prescription,” and sought out family therapy with me. I was so promptly struck by the father’s affect, which unmistakably conveyed his depression, that I intuitively asked him, “When was the last time your wife made you smile?” His young, allegedly chemically depressed son summarily bellowed, “Never!” The parents glared at the boy in amazement, and the mother then exclaimed, “I knew that we were the problem. My husband and I should have been in this office a long time ago.” It could not be more evident how the boy’s depression did not originate in a bio-chemical disorder but was, instead, symbolic of his father’s situational depression resulting from an fulfilling and emotionally detached marriage.
I can cite multiple more, horrific misdiagnoses of young children for ADD/ADHD and for the more serious bi-polar disorder—all because the family situation was not assessed for its impact on the child. It is no accident that ADD/ADHD is the most misdiagnosed disorder of childhood. And it is rapidly and incredibly being replaced by the diagnosis du jour—that of bi-polar disorder. Given that mental health disorders are merely impressions, it is incumbent upon the diagnostician to properly assess for family dysfunction and influence on the child before rushing to prescribe psychotropic medications, which all have serious long-term side effects.
Ackerman, N. W. (1958). The psychodynamics of family life. New York, NY: Basic
Ackerman, N. W. (1961). The emergence of family psychotherapy on the present scene.
In M. I. Stein, (Ed.), Contemporary psychotherapies. Glencoe, IL: Free Press.
Ackerman, N. W., & Franklin, P. (1965). Family dynamics and the reversibility of
delusional formation: A case study in family therapy. In I. Boszormenyi-Nagy & J.
Famo (Eds.), Intensive family therapy (Ch. 6.), New York, NY: Harper and Row.
Ackerman, N. W. (1966). Treating the troubled family. New York, NY: Basic Books.
Bowen, M. (1978). Family therapy in clinical practice. New York, NY: Jason Aronson.
Haley, J. (1963). Strategies of psychotherapy. (1st ed.) New York, NY: Grune & Stratton.
Haley, J., & Hoffman, L. (Eds.). (1968). Techniques of family therapy. New York, NY:
Basic Books.
Haley, J. (1971). Changing families. New York, New York: Grune & Stratton.
Haley, J. (1973). Uncommon therapy. New York, NY: Norton.
Haley, J. (1977). Toward a theory of pathological systems. In P. Watzlawick & J.
Weakland (Eds.), The interactional view (pp. 37-44). New York, NY: Basic Books.
Haley, J. (1990). Strategies of Psychotherapy, Rockville, MD: The Triangle Press.
Minuchin, S. (1974). Families and family therapy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University
Minuchin, S., with Baker, L., & Rosman, B. (1978). Psychosomatic families: Anorexia
nervosa in context. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Minuchin, S., with Fishman, C. (1981). Family therapy techniques. Cambridge, MA:
Harvard University Press.
Minuchin, S., with Nichols, M. (1993). Family healing. New York, NY: The Free Press.
Minuchin, S., with Lee, W., & Simon, G. (1996). Mastering family therapy. New York,
NY: John Wiley & Sons.
Minuchin, S., Nichols, M., & Lee, W. (2007). Assessing families and couples: From
symptom to system. New York, NY: Pearson.
Napier, A., & Whitaker, C. (1978). The family crucible: The intense experience of family
therapy. New York, NY: Harper Perennial.
Whitaker, C. (1983). In M. Andolfi, C. Angelo, P. Menghi, & A. Nicolo-Corigliano.
Behind the family mask (p. vi). New York, NY: Brunner/Mazel.
Whitaker, C., & Bumberry, W. (1988). Dancing with the family: A symbolic-experiential
approach. New York, NY: Brunner/Mazel.
Should men become husbands and fathersand many men today are choosing not to—they don’t stand a chance in a court of law if and when they get divorced. Family court judges are hopelessly biased against fathers. Of the two million restraining orders issued each year—85 percent against men—half don’t include any evidence of violence but rely on vague complaints made without proof or evidence. And once an order is issued, it becomes nearly impossible for a father to retain or regain custody or even get to see his own children. “Right under our noses, massive systemic injustice is being visited upon fathers, threatening the very fundamentals of family, society, and democracy,” writes Todd M. Aglialoro.

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We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.

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“Changing a child last name (away from the father’s) is an act of venom”

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