On / Off: Split thinking in parental alienation

sliced lemons on black surface
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At the bottom of this thread is a link to another fabulous article from Karen Woodall who sheds light upon how splitting occurs in parental alienation and how it affects alienated parents in particular.

‘One of the biggest problems in coping with being rejected by your children is the manner in which you are forced into a mirroring of the good/bad splitting which is going on in your child’s mind.  The good/bad split is the belief that everyone is either good or bad and that the world and all experiences within it can be divided into good and bad or right and wrong.’


‘What people see from the outside is someone whose child no longer wishes to see them, shouting and blaming the other parent for having caused it.  They see an angry, dis-regulated parent labelling the other as being responsible for everything that is going on.  What the child sees is a justification for their rejection of you, an entrenchment of the feeling that they were right to make that ‘choice.’

To illustrate this more fully look at this clip of Dr Steven Miller::

Amongst the many additional problems we face as alienated parents is that split thinking is part of the DNA of Cafcass. It is so deeply ingrained that I question whether retraining can work when we should be talking in terms of de-programming. A good general example is the new framework which is literally packed with binary arguments or false dichotomies.

Typically, Cafcass propose that a subject consists of just two extremes which misses out the infinite number of possibilities between them. Our section 7 reports typically use the same logical fallacy. For instance it is common for Cafcass to claim that one cannot force’ an older child to do something. In this way they are attempting to steer the court and state the alternatives as being

1. Doing nothing or

2. Forcing.

They conveniently omit to mention that there are loads of alternative actions and behaviours between their two stated (cherry picked or pet) extremes.

At a corporate level the section on private law in the new Cafcass operating framework begins with the now very tired proposition that, on the one hand, the vast majority of parents are fair-minded and grown up enough to sort out their own contact arrangements. Whilst, on the other hand there is a group who lose contact with their kids and can’t agree anything!! It States:

‘5.1 Most separating or divorcing parents make their own arrangements for how they are to share care after they split up. Huge efforts are often put into making quite detailed agreements which stand the test of time, despite changing circumstances and even though communication is often difficult and painful. Another group of separating parents separate completely, with one of the parents either disappearing or losing touch with their child or children.’

Life is mostly many shades of grey. It is seldom, if ever, black or white but in the ground between. The reality is that there are so many situations between these extremes. The basic problem is masked and not understood. Therefore, the answer is unlikely to be correct.

Heroes and Villains: Avoiding the Split Narrative in the Experience of Being an Alienated Parent


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