"countless lawyers and mental
health professionals continue to deny that such a syndrome exists,
their primary reason being that it is not found in the DSM-IV."
Apparently oblivious to critical
expositions of the error, detractors continue to argue that parental
alienation syndrome is a "myth" because the data did
not support the creation of a new diagnosis in the fourth revision
of the DSM. This is the rationale behind the "junk science"
claims bandied about in popular media:
Parental alienation did not meet the criteria for a "syndrome,"
i.e. a stand-alone, diagnosable mental illness. This appears to
be the purport of the following passage from the 1996 APA paper:
Although there are no data to support the phenomenon called
parental alienation syndrome, in which mothers are blamed
for interfering with their children's attachment to their fathers,
the term is still used by some evalua-tors and courts to discount
children's fears in hostile and psychologically abusive situations.
(APA, 1996, p. 40)
Apart from mischaracterizing PAS as a mother-blaming phenomenon,
(Gardeners' definition is gender-neutral),
precise interpretation of this passage depends on whether the
word "phenomenon" means a diagnosable syndrome or the
concept of one parent alienating a child from the other parent.
However, allegations that the APA has denounced PAS as "junk
science" appear reckless in light of an APA conference advanced
training workshop featuring assessment of when PAS "does
and does not occur."
Further, scholarly interest in parental alienation has not diminished
since the concept was allegedly exposed as a fraud in 1996. By
February, 2001, ten of Gardener's publications were "published
in peer review journals" (list),
and by 2002 this "junk science" seems to have been established
as a phenomenon worthy of scientific inquiry:
Recognition of the Parental Alienation Syndrome has come slowly.
Although the problem was identified less than two decades ago,
there are now 133 peer reviewed articles, and 66 legal citations
from courts of law which have recognized the disorder, "including
a Frye Test hearing in which the court ruled that the PAS has
gained enough recognition in the scientific community to warrant
recognition in courts of law." ...Despite this, countless
lawyers and mental health professionals continue to deny that
such a syndrome exists, their primary reason being that it
is not found in the DSM-IV. (Cartwright,
There are a variety of egregious behaviors that
also do not meet the criteria for a DSM diagnosis. If we must argue
that a thing is a myth because the DSM does not recognize it as
a clinical syndrome, wake me when it's time to discuss "battered