DSM-5 Task Force Rules Out “Parental Alienation” Disorder


Saying that “the bottom line – it is not a disorder within an individual,” the vice chair of the DSM-5 task force ruled out “Parental Alienation” as a disorder. “It’s a relationship problem – parent-child or parent-parent. Relationship problems per se are not mental disorders.”

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Of further interest:
Parental Alienation Not A Mental Disorder, American Psychiatric Association Says(Huffington Post)

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. And what “scientific” facts support this quackery? At least the people on the DSM committee showed some good sense, for once. I can’t believe that anyone would be so stupid as to stand up and call what happens with children in a divorce a mental disorder in the child. Psychiatry equals quackery.

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  2. “Bernet’s proposal to the DSM-5 task force defines parental alienation disorder as ‘‘a mental condition in which a child, usually one whose parents are engaged in a high conflict divorce, allies himself or herself strongly with one parent, and rejects a relationship with the other parent, without legitimate justification.’’”

    Just in case anyone was wondering how nonsense get’s spun as “science”

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  3. What amazes me is that they blame everything a parent does on the child. IF the child is like this, they should be asking WHAT the parents are doing to cause this? But it is much easier to blame the child. And then they claim to be able to “treat” the child?? How do you treat the child, when the parents are the ones who need the help.

    A case that has recently been in my local paper. A child is 4 years old. The parents split two years ago, but still cannot even say hell to each other. They supposedly have shared custody. They each have her 3.5 days per week. They have both taken the other parent to court claiming the clothes they send the child to child care in are inappropriate!! They both take the child straight to the doctor to be weighted immediatley after they pick her up from child care, to ensure the other parent is feeding the child properly. Both parents have caused so many problems with staff at the child care centre, that they are now no longer allowed to pick her up from her room and are to wait in the office with the manager. They have been expelled from 3 child care centre’s already. The child has NEVER been a problem, well except that she barely talks or interacts with anyone. The parents are both blaming the other saying the child is mentally ill because of the other parent!! The court is considering terminating the parental rights of one parent, just to try and give the child a chance at life. They have no real way of assessing one parent over the other, but clearly the child cannot live with the parents doing what they are to her. Will be interesting to see what decisions the court makes. At least the judges have shown some common sense and are blaming each parent equally and keeps telling them to grow up. They have been ordered to mediation a thousand times.

    Yet in the US the parents would have no such problem and instead the child would be labelled and put into treatment. One only fears where Australia is going to head, given that we keep copying the US. But who can blame the child, when the parents act as they are. The children are showing more maturity than the parents. Mind you if the child was acting out because of what the parents were doing, they would already have been labelled and medicated. If the court does not do something soon, she will also be labelled and medicated once she gets to school.

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  4. This is a welcome droplet of good news. “Parental Alienation Syndrome” as a supposed psychiatric disorder is just a way of giving angry parents a “nuclear option” to pull on each other in divorce court — to the child’s detriment. Instead of merely saying “you’re poisoning little Madison’s mind against me”, the parent gets to say that their ex has inflicted a mental illness on the child. And if poor Madison is over age 12 and might otherwise be listened to by the judge when she expresses her feelings about visitations, living arrangements etc. — she’s out of luck, because she has an “illness” and her opinions are now just “symptoms.”

    The only reason this didn’t make it into the DSM-5, I’m afraid, is that no one could come up with a drug treatment for it — with a straight face, anyway.

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  5. I don’t need a doctor or a diagnostic code in a book to tell me that I’m the special chosen, ritualistic scapegoat for a family that I do not belong to. But putting it to task, I’m interested – how DOES psychiatry diagnose the family scapegoat? LOL.

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    • Well, they DON’T. They join the cycle of vicious, barbaric, ignorant, destructive, useless, meaningless, waste-of-life abuse. I did find a term, actually: “Identified Patient”. I wonder if there’s a collection of people who identify as a scapegoat. Is it a phenomenon yet? Is it an epidemic? Is it rare?

      I wonder what sort of valuable information a collective of scapegoats could produce. And then I wonder who will get the best of it, who will eat the cake and pie, and who will be driving the Corvettes. I wonder what new programs could be devised – what models – to intervene in new generations to prevent the creation of more god-damned scapegoats and “psychiatric survivors”

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