Click here to download

Parental alienation as a form of psychological maltreatment: Review of theory and research
Author/s: Amy J. L. Baker 
Year:  2014 Issue: Language: English 
Pages:  19 Pg. 37-55 FullText PDF:  92 KB
DOI:  10.3280/MAL2014-001003
(DOI is like a bar code for intellectual property: to have more infomation:  clicca qui   and here 

Parental alienation behaviors are defined as parental acts and attitudes that create pressure in the child to reject his or her other parent. Two strands of research are reviewed that support consideration of parental alienation (PA) as a form of psychological maltreatment (PM). The first is a set of studies on the negative effects of children’s involvement in their parents’ marital and divorce conflict and the second is a set of studies specifically examining associations between reports of parental use of 19 specific PA behaviors and parental engagement in PM. These first generation studies lay the groundwork for future research examining mediators of these relationships as well as highlight the importance of training for mental health professionals in recognizing and addressing children’s exposure to parental alienation.
Keywords: Parental alienation, psychological maltreatment, parental conflict, divorce.

  1. English, D. G., & LONGSCAN Investigators (1997). Modified maltreatment classification systemm (MMCS) (available online at
  2. Fabricius, W., & Luecken, L. (2007). Postdivorce living arrangements, parent conflict and long term physical health correlates for children of divorce. Journal of Family Psychology, 21, 2, 195-205,, DOI: 10.1037/0893-3200.21.2.195
  3. Forehand, R., Wierson, M., Thomas, A. M., Fauber, R., Armistead, L., Kempton, T., & Long, N. (1991). A short-term longitudinal examination of young adolescent functioning following divorce: The role of family factors. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 19, 1, 97-111.
  4. Garbarino, J. (1978). The elusive “crime” of emotional abuse. Child Abuse & Neglect, 2, 89-99,, DOI: 10.1016/0145-2134(78)90011-X
  5. Garbarino, J., Guttman, E., & Seeley, J. (1986). The psychologically battered child: Strategies for identification, assessment and interventions. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  6. Gardner, R. A. (1992). The parental alienation syndrome: A guide for mental health professionals. Cresskill, New Jersey: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.
  7. Gardner, R. A. (1998). The parental alienation syndrome: Second Edition. Cresskill, New Jersey: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.
  8. Gottlieb, L. J. (2013). The application of structural family therapy to the treatment of parental alienation syndrome. In A. J. L. Baker & R. S. Sauber (Eds.), Working with alienated children and families: A clinical guidebook (pp. 209-231). New York: Routledge.
  9. Grych, J. (2005). Interparental conflict as a risk factor for child maladjustment: Implications for the development of prevention programs. Family Court Review, 43, 1, 97-108,, DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-1617.2005.00010.x
  10. Grych, J. H., & Fincham, F. D. (2001). Interparental conflict and child development: Theory, research and applications. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
  11. Grych, J. H., Seid, M., & Fincham, F. D. (1992). Assessing marital conflict from the child’s perspective: The children’s perception of interparental conflict scale. Child Development, 63, 3, 558-572,, DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.1992.tb01646.x
  12. Hart, S. N., Binggeli, N. J., & Brassard, M. R. (1997). Evidence of the effects of psychological maltreatment. Journal of Emotional Abuse, 1, 27-58,, DOI: 10.1300/J135v01n01_03
  13. Hart, S. N., & Brassard, M. R. (1991). Psychological maltreatment: progress achieved. Development and Psychopathology, 3, 1, 61-70,, DOI: 10.1017/S0954579400005095
  14. Hart, S. N., & Brassard, M. R. (2001). Definition of psychological maltreatment. Indianapolis: Office for the Study of the Psychological Rights of the Child: Indiana University School of Education.
  15. Heatherington, E. M., & Stanley-Hagan, M. (1999). The adjustment of children with divorced parents: A risk and resiliency perspective. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 40, 1, 129-140,, DOI: 10.1111/1469-7610.00427
  16. Kairys, S. W., Johnson, C. F., and the Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect (2002). The psychological maltreatment of children – Technical report. Chicago: American Academy of Pediatrics 109 (available online at
  17. Kline, M., Johnston, J. R., & Tschann, J. M. (1991). The long shadow of marital conflict: A model of children’s post divorce adjustment. Journal of Marriage & the Family, 53, 2, 297-309.
  18. Klosinski, G. (1993). Psychological maltreatment in the context of separation and divorce. Child Abuse & Neglect, 17, 4, 557-563,, DOI: 10.1016/0145-2134(93)90030-9
  19. Koerner, S. S., Wallace, S., Lehman, S. J., & Raymond, M. (2002). Mother to daughter disclosures after divorce? Are there costs and benefits? Journal of Child and Family Studies, 11, 4, 469-483,, DOI: 10.1023/A:1020987509405
  20. Krishnakumar, A., Buehler, C., & Barber, B. K. (2003). Youth perceptions of interparental conflict, ineffective parenting, and youth problem behaviors in European-American and African-American families. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 20, 2, 239-260,, DOI: 10.1177/02654075030202007
  21. Lewis, C. E., Siegel, J. M., & Lewis, M. A. (1984). Feeling bad: Exploring sources of distress among pre-adolescent children. American Journal of Public Health, 74, 2, 117-122,, DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.74.2.117
  22. McGee, R., & Wolfe, D. (1991). Psychological maltreatment: Toward an operational definition. Development and Psychopathology. Special Issue: Defining psychological maltreatment, 3, 1, 3-18,, DOI: 10.1017/S0954579400005034
  23. Minuchin, S. (1974). Families and family therapy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  24. Portwood, S. G. (1999). Coming to terms with a consensual definitional of psychological maltreatment. Child Maltreatment, 4, 1, 56-68,, DOI: 10.1177/1077559599004001006
  25. Pruett, M. K., Williams, T. Y., Isabella, G., & Little, T. D. (2003). Family and legal indicators of child adjustment to divorce among families with young children. Journal of Family Psychology, 17, 2, 169-180,, DOI: 10.1037/0893-3200.17.2.169
  26. Rand, D. C. (1997a). The spectrum of parental alienation syndrome, Part I. American Journal of Forensic Psychology, 15, 3, 23-52.
  27. Rand, D. C. (1997b). The spectrum of parental alienation syndrome, Part II. American Journal of Forensic Psychology, 15, 4, 39-92.
  28. Rohner, R. (1975). They love me, they love me not: A worldwide study of the effects of parental acceptance and rejection. New Haven, CT: HRAF Press. (reprinted 1999. Stoors, CT: Rohner Research Publications).
  29. Rohner, R. P., & Rohner, E. C. (1981). Parental acceptance-rejection and parental control: Cross cultural codes. Ethnology, 20, 245-260.
  30. Runyan, D. K., Dunne, M. P., Zolotor, A. J., Madrid, B., Jain, D., Gerbaka, B., Menick, D. M., Andreva-Miller, I., Kasim, M. S., Choo, W. Y., Isaeva, O., Macfarlane, B., Ramirez, C., Volkova, E., & Youssef, R. M. (2009). The development and piloting of the ISPCAN Child Abuse Screening Tool-Parent version (ICAST-P). Child Abuse & Neglect, 33, 11, 826-832,, DOI: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2009.09.006
  31. Amato, P. R. (1994). Life-span adjustment of children to their parents’ divorce. Future of Children, 4, 143-164.
  32. Amato, P. R., & Afifi, T. D. (2006). Feeling caught between parents: Adult children’s relations with parents and subjective well-being. Journal of Marriage and Family, 68, 222-235,, DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2006.00243.x
  33. Amato, P. R., & Keith, B. (1991). Parental divorce and the well-being of children: A meta analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 100, 26-46.
  34. Amato, P. R., & Sobolewsky, J. M. (2001). The effects of parental divorce and marital discord on adult children’s psychological well-being. American Sociological Review, 66, 900-921.
  35. Baker, A. J. L. (2007). Adult children of parental alienation syndrome: Breaking the ties that bind. New York: WW Norton.
  36. Baker, A. J. L. (2010). Adult recall of parental alienation in a community sample: Prevalence and associations with psychological maltreatment. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 51, 1-20,, DOI: 10.1080/10502550903423206
  37. Baker, A. J. L., & Ben Ami, N. (2011). To Turn a Child Against a Parent Is To Turn a Child Against Himself: The Direct and Indirect Effects of Exposure to Parental Alienation Strategies on Self-Esteem and Well-Being. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 52, 7, 472-489,, DOI: 10.1080/10502556.2011.609424
  38. Baker, A. J. L., & Brassard, M. R. (2013). Adolescents caught in parental loyalty conflicts. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 54, 5, 393-413,, DOI: 10.1080/10502556.2013.800398
  39. Baker, A. J. L., & Chambers, J. (2011). Adult recall of childhood exposure to parental conflict: Unpacking the black box of parental alienation. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 52, 1, 55-76,
  40. Baker, A. J. L., & Darnall, D. (2006). Behaviors and strategies of parental alienation: A survey of parental experiences. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 45, 1/2, 97-124,, DOI: 10.1300/J087v45n01_06
  41. Baker, A. J. L., & Eichler, A. (in press). College student childhood exposure to parental loyalty conflicts. Families in Society.
  42. Baker, A. J. L., & Festinger, T. (2011). Adult recall of childhood psychological maltreatment: A comparison of five scales. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment, and Trauma, 20, 70-89,, DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2011.07.018
  43. Baker, A. J. L., & Fine, P. R. (2013). Educating divorcing parents: Taking them beyond the high road. In A. Baker & S. R. Sauber (Eds.), Working with alienated children and families: A clinical guidebook (pp. 90-107). New York: Routledge.
  44. Baker, A. J. L., & Fine, P. (in press). Co-parenting with a toxic ex: Protecting your child from parental alienation and loyalty conflicts. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.
  45. Baker, A. J. L., & Verrocchio, M. C. (2013). Italian college student-reported exposure to parental alienation: Correlates with well-being. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 54, 8, 609-628,, DOI: 10.1080/10502556.2013.837714
  46. Barnett, D., Manley, J. T., & Cicchetti, D. (1993). Defining child maltreatment: The interface between policy and research. In D. Cicchetti & S. L. Toth (Eds.), Child abuse, child development, and social policy (pp. 7-73). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.
  47. Bernstein, D. P., Stein, J. A., Newcomb, M. D, Walker, E., Pogge, D., Ahluvalia, T., Stokes, J., Handelsman, L., Medrano, M., Desmond, D., & Zule, W. (2003). Development and validation of a brief screening version of the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire. Child Abuse & Neglect, 27, 2, 169-190,, DOI: 10.1016/S0145-2134(02)00541-0
  48. Binggeli, N. J., Hart, S. N., & Brassard, M. R. (2001). Psychological maltreatment of children. The APSAC Study Guides 4. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  49. Bolgar, R., Zweig-Frank, H., & Paris, J. (1995). Childhood antecedents of interpersonal problems in young adult children of divorce. Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 34, 2, 143-150,, DOI: 10.1097/00004583-199502000-00009
  50. Brassard, M. R., & Donovan, K. L. (2006). Defining psychological maltreatment. In M. M. Freerick, J. F. Knutson, P. K. Trickett, & S. M. Flanzer (Eds.), Child abuse and neglect: Definitions, classifications, and a framework for research (pp. 151-197). Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co., Inc.
  51. Brassard, M. R., Hart, S. N., Diaz, V., & Rivelis, E. (2011). The comprehensive measure of psychological maltreatment-adolescent version (CAPM-AV). Unpublished manuscript available from the first author at
  52. Brassard, M. R., Hart, S. N., Diaz-Thompson, V., Greene, P., & Rivelis, E. (2006). The development of comprehensive measures of psychological maltreatment. Poster presented at the bi-annual meeting of the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. York, UK.
  53. Brassard, M., Hart, S., & Hardy, D. (1993). The psychological maltreatment rating scales. Child Abuse & Neglect, 17, 4, 715-729,, DOI: 10.1016/S0145-2134(08)80003-8
  54. Briere, J., & Runtz, M. (1988). Multivariate correlates of childhood psychological and physical maltreatment among university women. Child Abuse & Neglect, 12, 331-341,, DOI: 10.1016/0145-2134(88)90046-4
  55. Sanders, B., & Becker-Lausen, E. (1995). The measurement of psychological maltreatment: Early data on the child abuse and trauma scale. Child Abuse & Neglect, 19, 3, 315-323,, DOI: 10.1016/S0145-2134(94)00131-6
  56. Schick, A. (2002). Behavioral and emotional differences between children of divorce and children from intact families: Clinical significance and mediating processes. Swiss Journal of Psychology, 61, 1, 5-14,, DOI: 10.1024//1421-0185.61.1.5
  57. Swartzman-Schatman, B., & Schinke, S. P. (1993). The effect of mid life divorce on late adolescent and young adult children. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 19, 1/2, 209-218,, DOI: 10.1300/J087v19n01_12
  58. Straus, M. A., (1999). Child report and adult recall versions of the revised conflict tactics scales. Durham, NH: Family Research Laboratory, University of New Hampshire.
  59. Trickett, P., Mennen, F. E., Kim, K., & Sang, J. (2009). Emotional abuse in a sample of multiply maltreated, urban young adolescents: Issues of definition and identification. Child Abuse & Neglect, 33, 1, 27-35,, DOI: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2008.12.003
  60. Verrocchio, M. C., & Baker, A. J. L. (2013). Italian adults’ recall of childhood exposure to parental loyalty conflicts. Journal of Child and Family Studies,1-11,, DOI: 10.1007/s10826-013-9816-0
  61. Wolchick, C. A., Tein, J., Sandler, I. N., & Doyle, K. (2002). Fear of abandonment as a mediator of the relations between divorce stressors and mother-child relationship quality and children’s adjustment problems. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 30, 4, 401-418,, DOI: 10.1023/A:1015722109114
  62. Wright, M. O. (2007). The long-term impact of emotional abuse in childhood: Identifying mediating and moderating processes. Journal of Emotional Abuse, 7, 2, 1-8,, DOI: 10.1300/J135v07n02_01
  63. Buchanan, C. M., Maccoby, E. E., & Dornbusch, S. (1991). Caught between parents: Adolescents’ experience in divorced homes. Child Development, 62, 1008-1029,, DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.1991.tb01586.x
  64. Buehler, C., Krishnakumar, A., Stone, G., Pemberton, S., Gerard, J., & Barber, B. K. (1998). Interparental conflict styles and youth problem behaviors: A two-sample replication study. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 60, 119-132.
  65. Buehler, C., & Welsh, D. P. (2009) A process model of adolescents’ triangulation into parents’ marital conflict: The role of emotional reactivity. Journal of Family Psychology, 23, 167-180,, DOI: 10.1037/a0014976
  66. Cummings, E. M., & Davies, P. T. (1994). Children and Marital Conflict: The impact of family dispute and resolution. New York, NY: Guilford Press.
  67. Davies, P. T., & Cummings, E. M. (1994). Marital conflict and child adjustment: An emotional security hypothesis. Psychological Bulletin, 116, 387-411,, DOI: 10.1037/0033-2909.116.3.387
  68. Dunne, M. P., Zolotor, A., Runyan, D., Andreva-Miller, I., Choo, W., Dunne, S., Gerbaka, B., Isaeva, O., Jain, D., Kasim, M., Macfarlane, B., Mamyrova, N., Ramirez, C., Volkova, E., & Youssef, R. (2009). ISPCAN child abuse screening tools retrospective version (ICAST-R): Delphi study and field testing in seven countries. Child Abuse & Neglect, 33, 11, 815-25,, DOI: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2009.09.005
  69. Ellis, E. (2005). Help for the alienated parent. American Journal of Family Therapy, 33, 5, 415-426,, DOI: 10.1080/01926180500274518
  70. Emery, R. E. (1982). Interparental conflict and the children of discord and divorce. Psychological Bulletin, 92, 2, 310-330,, DOI: 10.1037/0033-2909.92.2.310
  71. Emery, R. A. (2006). The truth about children and divorce. New York, NY: Plume.

Amy J. L. Baker, in "MALTRATTAMENTO E ABUSO ALL’INFANZIA" 1/2014, pp. 37-55, DOI:10.3280/MAL2014-001003


FrancoAngeli is a member of Publishers International Linking Association a not for profit orgasnization wich runs the CrossRef service, enabing links to and from online scholarly content