Saturday, July 23, 2011

Q & A: Origins of the Child's Anger

This is a question asked of me in a radio interview with the Parental Alienation Awareness Organization:

Where does the anger that these kids express really come from as they are in the process of alienation?  What creates such hatred and disrespect?

The alienation dynamic is a shared delusional disorder in which the authentic child is no longer present. 

Consider a ventriloquist and a puppet.  The puppet is not a real person.  The puppet is merely an inanimate piece of wood carved to look like a person.  The ventriloquist simply makes the puppet move while the ventriloquist actually speaks, and the ventriloquist cleverly masks his or her speaking from public perception so that it appears to everyone around as if the puppet were actually alive and speaking.

So complete is the ventriloquist’s creation of the illusion that the puppet is talking, that people on stage and in the audience will actually look at the puppet when the puppet appears to be talking, and bystanders will talk to the puppet as if the puppet was actually real.  But there is only the ventriloquist, throwing his or her voice and making the puppet appear to speak and interact.

In the alienation process, the authentic child is not present.  The targeted-Delta parent is simply interacting with the alienating-Beta parent (the ventriloquist) through the child’s words and actions (the puppet).  The anger and hatred do not belong to the child anymore than the words of the ventriloquist belong to the puppet.

So where is the authentic child?  Lost and buried, needing to be re-discovered.

The authentic child is not angry and does not hate the targeted-Delta parent, and in fact the authentic child actually loves the targeted-Delta parent very much.  It’s just that the authentic child is not present.  Who is present in the body of the child is the ventriloquist, the alienating-Beta parent.  The anger, hatred, and disrespect is coming from the alienating-Beta parent THROUGH the ventriloquist’s puppet; the child.  The targeted-Delta parent isn’t talking to the child, even when the child’s body is present; the targeted-Delta parent is actually talking to the alienating-Beta parent’s psychopathology.


  1. Hi Dr. Childress,
    What are we to do when our alienated children (mine are teenage girls) are refusing to cooperate and come during scheduled access time?
    Do we give them space, plead and begg or try and some how force the access? I really do not want to call the police for the sake of the kids.

  2. My primary suggestion is to document the child's ongoing rejection. My secondary suggestion would be to remain calm and pleasantly supportive of the children's coming to their scheduled time with you. Assert that your time with them is valuable and important to you and that it is the agreed upon arrangement. "Everyone's agreed to this, sweetie. I'm sorry that you feel that way, but it's our time together now and I want to spend time with you, so you need to come along now." We cannot "force" people to do things without incurring bad side effects. Force is seldom a good thing. Calling the police is one way to force someone to do something. It's an option in these types of situations (and one typically recommended within the legal system), and I also understand your concerns about calling the police. What I would be doing from a legal perspective would be to continually frame the legal issue that, until the psychopathology in the family is effectively treated and resolved, Court orders for joint custody will essentially become de facto orders for sole custody to the alienating parent. I would then use incidents of child refusal to cooperate with Court orders as both evidence of the degree of psychopathology involved (i.e., the child is so over-empowered as to be able to effectively defy the Court) and as evidence that the Court's orders for joint custody are becoming de facto orders for sole custody to the alienating parent because of the Court's reluctance to establish the conditions necessary for effective treatment and resolution of the child's psychopathology. The follow-up argument is that effective treatment of an induced delusional disorder requires the child's separation from the source-origin of the delusional belief system during the period of treatment and until the induced delusional disorder is resolved.