"Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is not just a word or phrase for a tragic event; it is literally about the signs and symptoms caused by the reaction to this traumatic event. So how does this relate to Parental Alienation? Parental alienation is a severe trauma to an important relationship between a parent and their child. It is pervasive and goes on and on, day in and day out until finally the victims either concedes to the stress of the emotional abuse or fights back with all their might."
~ Joan T. Kloth-Zanard - PAS Intervention
Dr. Bill Bernet, lead a group of interested professionals in encouraging the DSM 5 editing group to include Parental Alienation Disorder. The new DSM % was published on May 18, 2013 and is the reference book for psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health providers Here is Dr. Bernet's unedited analysis of the result.
Finally, DSM-5 was published today. The DSM-5 Task Force told us 2 or 3 years ago that they did not want parental alienation to be a separate diagnosis in DSM-5, but they thought that parental alienation could be considered an example of other diagnoses that are in DSM-5.
The actual words "parental alienation" are not in DSM-5, but there are several diagnoses that can be used in these cases. I would say the "spirit" of parental alienation is in DSM-5, even if the words are not.
Parent-child relational problem now has a discussion in DSM-5, not just a label. The discussion explains that cognitive problems in parent-child relational problem "may include negative attributions of the other's intentions, hostility toward or scapegoating of the other, and unwarranted feelings of estrangement." That is a pretty good description of a child's view of the alienated parent, although it is an unfortunate use of the word "estrangement."
Child psychological abuse is a new diagnosis in DSM-5. It is defined as "nonaccidental verbal or symbolic acts by a child's parent or caregiver that result, or have reasonable potential to result, in significant psychological harm to the child." In many instances, the behavior of the alienating parent constitutes child psychological abuse.
Child affected by parental relationship distress is another new diagnosis in DSM-5. It should be used "when the focus of clinical attention if the negative effects of parental relationship discord (e.g., high levels of conflict, distress, or disparagement) on a child in the family, including effects on the child's mental or other physical disorders." That is also a good description of how parental alienation comes about.
Factitious disorder imposed on another is the DSM-5 terminology for factitious disorder by proxy or Munchausen disorder by proxy. Its definition is "falsification of physical or psychological signs or symptoms, or induction of injury or disease, in another, associated with identified deception." In some cases, that would describe the behavior of the alienating parent.
Delusional symptoms in partner of individual with delusional disorder is the DSM-5 terminology for shared psychotic disorder or folie a deux. The definition is: "In the context of a relationship, the delusional material from the dominant partner provides content for delusional belief by the individual who may not otherwise entirely meet criteria for delusional disorder."
In discussing this topic, I would say that the concept of parental alienation is clearly in DSM-5, although the actual words are not. This is a great improvement over DSM-IV-TR, especially with the addition of the new diagnoses, child psychological abuse and child affected by parental relationship distress.
Dr. Bernet is currently working with PAAO to present a webinar on this subject in the next 2 - 3 weeks. We will notify you of the details shortly.
The next mental health manual to be revised is the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems or the IDC-11. Watch for ways to have your say about Parental Alienation in time for inclusion there as well.
We only support organizations who show an understanding that children need both parents, and that either parent is equally capable of the choice to perpetrate hate or declare peace.
The International Access and Visitation Centers conference was held in Toronto in April of 2013 The 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.