Psychiatrists consider whether 'parental alienation' is a disorder

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Associated Press

Posted on October 1, 2010 at 2:00 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — There's little disagreement among experts that one parent can sometimes poison a child's relationship with the other parent after the parents are divorced or estranged.

The question before the American Psychiatric Association is whether to include that situation -- known as parental alienation -- on its list of mental disorders.

On one side of the debate are feminists, advocates for battered women and others who say "parental alienation syndrome" is an unproven concept. They say it could be used by men to try to deflect attention from their abusive behavior.

But those who believe in the syndrome say including it in the psychiatrists' manual would bring fairer outcomes in family courts. And they say it could allow more children of divorce to get treatment so they can reconcile with an estranged parent.

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