Quotes from Richard Warshak's book are in black
Comments and observations by Cheryl Metellus are in green                    
(below, liz's opinion)

The URL for this webpage is

page 37
American Prosecutors Research Institute - against parental alienation theoryAge Appropriate Alignment, 9-12 year olds
"On the other hand, research by Dr. Judith Wallerstein and Dr. Joan Kelly found that children between the ages of nine and twelve years are most likely to join forces with one parent against the other. This is clearly an area in which more research is needed before drawing any firm conclusions."

Despite Warshak's efforts to waffle, many psychologists have observed that tweens will align with one parent and blame the other parent for the divorce and it is NOT brainwashing by the more innocent parent. It generally resolves on it own without draconian measures like yanking the kid away from the primary caretaker. It is interesting that he not only dismisses the research of two women but fails to even provide a citation

page 38
Teenage Disrespect
"In some ways, the difficulties alienated children present are similar, though more intense and unexpected, than the difficulties teenagers present when they begin to devalue their parents."

And if the child in question is a teenager, maybe they are just acting like a teenager -- intensity and predictability of mouthing-off could be nothing more than individual variability and not PAS.

page 39
Abuser's Relatives
"Within two months of his parents' separation, Jeremy insisted that he hated his father and never wanted to see him again. His hatred spread like a virus to encompass everyone associated with his father. He didn't want to play with his cousins, and he rejected the grandmother who had been his favorite person in the world."

pages 53-57
"Hatred by Association"

Warshak emphasizes the spreading of hatred as diagnostic of alienation. If it is safe, perhaps clients could be counseled that playing with cousins or keeping in touch with grandma should serve as a presumption against the existence of PAS. What if the father's relatives agree that Dad is an abusive pig and the child deserves protection from too much contact with the manipulative monster? -- Unfortunately, the opposite situation, from the one woman I asked -- it is not PAS when the father keeps the child away from the maternal relatives.

page 63-65
Child-Driven Alienation

custody evaluator bullshit bingo Page 63
"Some cases of alienation have less to do with the behavior of parents than with mistakes children make themselves. Rejecting a parent may be a child's misguided way of coping with difficult feelings."

Why is rejecting an abusive parent and avoiding constant physical and emotional abuse misguided?

"Consider the case of a woman who endured years of suffering in an unhappy, conflict-ridden marriage. Following her divorce she fell in love with a man who lived in another state. He was unable to relocate his work and did not want to move away from his two young children, so when they married, the woman moved in with him. In what was the most difficult decision of her life, she agreed that her two teenage children could remain with their father so that they would not have to make all the adjustments required by the move; changing schools, giving up friends, living apart from extended family, joining new athletic leagues, finding new music teachers, and so on. She made arrangements to see the children during all school holidays, three-day weekends, and most of the summer."

Warshak must have searched long and far to find the woman who married the man with the young children. He could have easily found dozens of examples where a middle-age man abandoned his wife and teen-aged children for a woman with young kids and did not bother to wait for the divorce.

More importantly, can we say that Warshak does not approve of ripping school-aged children especially teenagers, away from their life and activities because Dad thinks 50/50 physical custody is more important than independent research with a university professor, varsity football, the music scholarship at Juilliard, or that best friend from kindergarten?

Page 64
(Warshak goes on to describe how psychotherapy helped the rejecting son, Jeff, to recover his love for his mother.)

When a mother talks, it is brainwashing. When a therapist talks, it is the truth.

Page 65
"Exclusively child-driven alienation involve older children-those in which neither parent contributes significantly to the problem -- is the least frequent path to parental alienation. In my experience, when it occurs, the most common triggers are a parent's relocation, remarriage, extramarital affair, or religious conversion of the parent or child."

Aren't one of these factors involved in most divorces? At least those that do not involve domestic or substance abuse and/or incarceration? Therefore, isn't most alienation child-driven?

"Most instances of exclusive child-driven alienation involve older children. Younger children are more susceptible to their parents' influence. But teens often assume that their parents are stupid dolts whose opinion is worth less than that of a perfect stranger. Like Jeff, they will defend their mistaken beliefs rigidly and self-righteously while stonewalling their parents' attempts at persuasion. Also, children who are themselves adults at the time of their parents' divorce sometimes take sides in the dispute and refuse to have any further contact with the parent they blame for the divorce."

Page 143
"Parents intent on alienating their children from their ex-partner also engage in a stripping process. They do so by purging their home of any reminders of the other parent. They remove all photographs of the absent parent. Some even go as far as cutting their ex-spouse out of family photos. They avoid mentioning the other parent at times when this would be natural. And they discourage their children from speaking positively about the other parent. This is usually done in a subtle manner. A child begins talking about his father, and the mother withdraws her attention or changes the subject... When I am evaluating a parent suspected of brainwashing, say a father, I ask, 'What do the children tell you about their mother?' If he answers, 'They never talk about her,' this alerts me to the possibility that such talk is discouraged.

It should be easy enough to put out a couple of photos of Dad every time there is a home evaluation and having a few things to say or know about the ex should be easy enough. It might be a problem when the abuse was so severe that seeing or hearing about the ex triggers an anxiety or fear attack.

Page 159
Lack of ambivalence is a hallmark in alienation
"Lack of ambivalence is a hallmark of alienation. I often wonder how parents engaged in bashing explain the fact that the fell in love with, married and had children with people who are so utterly lacking in redeeming qualities."

Maybe the ex- was not a wife-beating alcoholic who fondles ten year olds when they got married -- More to the point, it is important that the kids have something good to say about the ex, no matter how monstrous. Maybe he helped them with their homework or took them fishing once, Then, maybe when the kid tells the court he does not want to go over to his father's house to be thrown against the wall and watch his little brother get molested, maybe the court will believe the boy.

Page 186-89
The Fifth Commandment

"Honor thy father and thy mother" trumps Commandment 7-10, 7. You shall not commit adultery. 8. You shall not steal. 9. You shall not bear false witness. 10. You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor. Warshak suggests having the religious counselor speak to the child and emphasize for the Fifth Commandment on the sanctity of the parent-child relationship if the child or the co-parent objects to any of the alienated parent's behaviors.

However, the Fifth Commandment only requires respect; it does not require the child to condone or celebrate the choices made by their parent. For example, page 128-29 of To Be a Jew, by Rabbi Hayim Halevy Donin, Basic Books, Inc. , Publishers, New York, 1972: Some general principles regarding children and parents are: If there is a conflict between what a father or mother says and what the Torah teaches, it is the wishes of the Father in Heaven that must take precedence, since the parents too are bidden to revere Him. But even where parents disregard the Torah, never must a son or daughter speak arrogantly or angrily to a parent; never may they be insulting or abusive. There is never any justification for such behavior no matter how objectionable or vile the behavior of a parent might be.

Page 244
Addictions and Mental Illness
"A personal problem, such as alcoholism, substance abuse, depression or impulsivity may have contributed to the failure of the marriage and your children's discomfort around you. Even if your ex exploits the situation to turn the children against you, provide the level of reassurance that your ex and the children have the right to expect regarding your state of recovery. Let them know that you recognize that you have a problem and that you are getting help for it. This will set a good example for your children about how to handle a difficult personal problem with honesty and dignity. Devise an explicit relapse prevention program and share this with your ex and with your children if appropriate. Because your communication may someday have legal ramifications, you may want to have your attorney review them before delivering them."

He makes an explosive addict sound like someone who bites his nails. People take this guy seriously? What about the mentally ill and addicted fathers who are not in recovery? Would Warshak agree they should not have custody? How about no treatment, no recovery, then no unsupervised visitation or "parenting" time?

-- Cheryl

Cheryl Metellus is the pseudonym of a client of the lawyer who passed these comments on to liz. Cheryl is a lawyer herself (not a family lawyer), a married woman with a small child. Although she regularly is subjected to the most despicable and sadistic torture, rape and threats, she is unable to file for a divorce. The way she is abused, you see, does not leave blood and broken bones. To go public with the situation, would, under optimal circumstances, subject her to humiliation, damage her credibility, and put her career and life into upheaval. The divorce and assured custody litigation and attendant claims would cast doubt on her mental stability and likely would damage her reputation in her field, one which requires sound judgement and high mental functioning. But it's worse than that: she and her child have been threatened with death if files for divorce -- a threat she believes to be credible. Chances are, any attempt she made to leave would be an exercise in futility anyway. In the current political climate, which simply does not respect mothers' claims, or the right of a mother to take her children and go live in peace, and exalts fathers' "rights to be involved" there is no way for Cheryl to obtain a divorce without prolonged and intrusive custody litigation. There is no way for her to obtain sole custody of her child without the abuser getting visitation rights, notwithstanding that he has never been interested in caring for or spending time with the child at all. There is no way for her to leave with her child, protect both of them, and keep her life otherwise intact. Unlike women who know nothing about the law and find out the reality only after losing custody to sadistic men who have sought it to punish their ex-wives, Cheryl is a lawyer who researched her options. And so she stays. She knows that it's likely that she would not be believed in a divorce case, and that her having hid her private torment for years out of shame and in fear of her and her child's safety, would work against her. She also knows that if she tells her story for the first time in connection with a custody case, she likely would be diagnosed as an "alienator," "vindictive," and a liar. And so, in the 21st Century in the United States of America, Cheryl is a prisoner.

Cheryls' comments are not copyrighted.
Warshak's book is. Behave accordingly.

And now a gentle word from liz:

Every single child custody evaluator, therapist, lawyer, and judge who ever has advocated wrenching a frightened and resistant child from his or her home (PAS "cure" recommendations from Rachel Foundation, Richard Gardner, Richard Warshak, et al. custody evaluators) in order to "separate that child from the alienator" in the interests of "doing therapy" for "counter conditioning" or some such, should be forcibly yanked, preferably suddenly and without warning, against his own will, right the hell out of his own home and life, placed into a house with complete strangers in the employ of liz, and be required to remain there under the rules of liz, isolated from contact with friends and family, for as long as it takes for liz to "counter the conditioning" and get this deeply disturbed and delusional individual to express an appropriate change of attitude and admit that what he has been advocating is egregious child abuse.


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