If you hang around courtrooms or like to read about the latest in mental health and parenting, you may have heard the term ‘pathogenic parenting’. But what does it mean? You’ve likely heard the term ‘parental alienation’ which refers to the situation where one parent alienates (or negatively influences) the child towards the other parent.
To put it simply, pathogenic parenting is the psychiatric term for parental alienation. I am completely simplifying my description and experts in pathogenic parenting would likely object to me using the terms pathogenic parenting and parental alienation synonymously. In more clinical terms, pathogenic parenting involves diagnosable pathologies in a parent (the alienating parent) which they project onto their children. Eventually, an alliance with the child may be formed and the child can be influenced to share the parent’s delusions about the other parent.
The term parental alienation has long been referred to in the courts and can be a horrible and complicated beast to prove and address. The concept of pathogenic parenting is relatively new (if not completely unknown) to most judges and lawyers. The biggest advantage to the concept of pathogenic parenting versus the older concept of parental alienation syndrome is that pathogenic parenting can be diagnosed by a psychiatrist based on factors and behaviours exhibited by the child. It is not necessary or the pathological parent to be seen or diagnosed. This is an advantage because it may provide a parent with strong evidence that alienation (or triangulation) is occurring. Judges can only make decisions based on the evidence before them, so the ability to diagnose and provide medical records could have a huge impact on the legal landscape and how courts deal with this issue. If a judge accepts the diagnosis, they may make parenting orders designed to address and repair the issue.
The above information is a very simplified discussion about pathogenic parenting. To learn more. See some of the websites below: