Medicine and Mental Health professionals in the face of the Legal and Psychological Phenomenon known as parental alienation syndrome (PAS)
Concerning the outbreak within the justice system of alleged syndromes which misguide legal proceedings towards harmful consequences and risk for minors, and after studying in depth the scientific and legal information of PAS supported by the writings of Richard A. Gardner, we, the undersigned Mental health professionals have reached the following conclusions:
1. PAS IS A PSEUDOSCIENTIFIC AND DISTORTED DESCRIPTION OF A REAL PHENOMENON THAT OCCURS IN LEGAL COURT PROCEEDINGS, INTERPRETED INCORRECTLY UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF PATRIARCHAL IDEOLOGY.
In cases of custody litigation, sometimes it is observed that the minor child rejects the parent who does not have custody (generally the father). Research suggests this reaction is caused in the first place by the same behavior (violent, abusive or neglect of the parent rejected), in the second place, due to an adaptive reaction to divorce, and thirdly due to a tantrum or rebellious behavior which is a characteristic of normal child development.
Without evaluating the possible causes through a precise differential diagnosis, Gardner confuses the description of certain phenomenon of infantile rejection to one parent with a medical syndrome. Disregarding any research as far as the cause is concerned or justification of rejection, PAS diagnostic criteria concludes that rejection is pathological and unjustified. Focusing the attention on rejection is focusing the attention on a supposed maternal planning and pathology, thus making the father invisible. Gardner openly assumes that the child's rejection towards his/her father is caused by his/her mother’s brainwashing without further investigation of the possible contribution of the father to his difficulties with the children.
As PAS appears itself like the phenomenon initially described, many honest professionals accept its existence without perceiving that PAS is a bad interpretation of the phenomenon.
2. THE DIAGNOSTIC CRITERIA ARE LOGICALLY AND SCIENTIFICALLY NULLIFIED BECAUSE THEY DO NOT CORRELATE WITH ANY IDENTIFIABLE PATHOLOGY
PAS has no experimental support. Diagnostic criteria are not correlated with any specific pathology that makes reliability tests very difficult to apply. Such criteria are indeterminate and ambiguous and do not allow any professional to actually make a precise diagnosis. Adaptive child’s behaviors and the seeking of a mother’s legal rights are diagnosed as pathological and unjustified. Rejection is confused with psychosis. The mother is diagnosed through third parties. Diagnostic criteria never evaluate the father.
The most rigorous attempts to validate PAS have resulted in the highest diagnostic error rate. Investigators deny its existence as medical syndrome: nor is it recognized by the appropriate experts. Nor is it included in the DSM. PAS does not have the support of the scientific community. Articles used as reference by Gardner are only the display of his personal beliefs and his unproven speculations, in a failing attempt to have the support of experts who could validate and grant reliability to PAS. Gardner published his own books and also eluded that his writings were subjected to criticism of scientific peer reviews.
3. THE THERAPEUTIC INTERVENTION THAT PAS RECOMMENDS IS LEGAL COERCION THAT LEAVES THE MINOR CHILD IN A SITUATION OF EXTREME RISK
The so-called treatment (fines, losing permanent custody, prison, youth detention centers) is an exclusively useless counter-productive legal action that aggravates situations, leaving children with scars and in some documented cases, serious consequences.
Interventions suggested by PAS includes as common practice the eradication of children’s rights, and the removal of the children from the maternal home in which they are happily living in order to go to live with a father whom they fear which causes a traumatic scar lasting many years. While purportedly promoting justice, this tactic leaves in many cases the minor child in a situation of extreme risk.
Given these violations of medical and legal ethics, the promulgation of PAS constitutes in itself medical malpractice.
4. THE IDEOLOGY SUPPORTING PAS IS OPENLY PRO PEDOPHILIC AND SEXIST.
Sexualizing children can have procreative purposes, because a sexualized child is more likely to reproduce at an earlier age. "The younger the survival machine at the time sexual urges appear, the longer will be the span of procreative capacity, and the greater the likelihood the individual will create more survival machines in the next generation." pp.24-25
"There is a whole continuum that must be considered here, from those children who were coerced and who gained no pleasure (and might even be considered to have been raped) to those who enjoyed immensely (with orgiastic responses) the sexual activities." p.548
"Older children may be helped to appreciate that sexual encounters between an adult and a child are not universally considered to be reprehensible act. The child might be told about other societies in which such behavior was and is considered normal. The child might be helped to appreciate the wisdom of Shakespeare's Hamlet, who said, 'Nothing's either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.' In such discussions the child has to be helped to appreciate that we have in our society an exaggeratedly punitive and moralistic attitude about adult-child sexual encounters." p.549
One has to do everything possible to help her put the 'crime' in proper perspective. She has to be helped to appreciate that in most societies in the history of the world, such behavior was ubiquitous, and this is still the case." p.584-585
"Of relevance here is the belief by many of these therapists that a sexual encounter between an adult and a child -- no matter how short, no matter how tender, loving, and non-painful -- automatically and predictably _must_ be psychologically traumatic to the child... The determinant as to whether the experience will be traumatic is the social attitude toward these encounters."
Ibid. pp. 670-71
"I believe it is reasonable to say that at this time there are millions of people in the United States who are either directly accusing or supporting false sex-abuse accusations and/or are reacting in an extremely exaggerated fashion to situations in which _bona fide_ sex abuse has occurred." p.688
5. A VERY STRONG AND DETERMINED MOVEMENT HAS BEGUN IN THE UNITED STATES IN ORDER TO PREVENT ITS ADMISSION IN COURT
“PAS is an unproven theory that can threaten the integrity of the criminal justice system and the safety of abused children. Prosecutors should educate themselves about PAS and be prepared to argue against its admission in court. In cases where PAS testimony is admitted, it is a prosecutor’s responsibility to educate the judge and jury about the shortfalls of this theory. As more criminal courts refuse to admit PAS evidence, more protection will be afforded to victims of sexual abuse in our court system.” 
“… Any testimony that a party to a custody case suffers from the syndrome or “parental alienation” should therefore be ruled inadmissible and/or stricken from the evaluation report under both the standard established in Daubert and the earlier Frye standard.
Many American courts of law have rejected PAS testimony for the following reasons:
“Because the role of the expert is to provide material outside the fact-finder’s ken to assist the fact-finder in reliably assessing the evidence, matters of common knowledge are not the proper province of expert testimony. One of the two precedent-bearing decisions that hold PAS inadmissible stated that it is inappropriate expert testimony because it concerns the common knowledge that some children are alienated and that some parents place their children in the midst of marital conflicts.”
“It is allowed the qualification of an expert by virtue of “knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education,” and admits scientific testimony that relies on sufficient facts and a reliable underlying principle, Gardner’s volunteer position at Columbia and PAS’ lack of empirical support would be insufficient for both expert certification and admissibility.”
“It is limited experts’ testimony to their field of knowledge. Because PAS’ etiology and treatment are legal, not medical, PAS is not a permissible subject for medical expert testimony.”
“An expert is not allowed to testify on the final issue to be decided. While medical professionals may form personal opinions about the cause of and treatment outcomes for their patient’s injuries, they may not attribute legal fault, weigh evidence under evidentiary standards, or mandate legal actions because such testimony usurps the roles of jury and judge. The PAS impermissibly diagnose the falsity of child abuse allegations, ascribe legal fault, and mandate legal sanctions.”
Because of the reasons previously listed, we conclude that PAS and the ideology that sustains it are a dangerous pseudoscientific fraud that is generating risk situations for the minor children and causing an involution in the human rights of children and women.
As it has happened in other countries for over a decade, the irruption of this kind of ideology is inscribed en the framework of what sociology calls backlash, countermovement or counter reaction phenomenon, as a result of the advances that have been achieved over the last years in the rights of women, boys and girls.
We therefore demand an urgent and more than necessary answer from the Spanish Health System and the medical and psychological associations:
- Providing obligatory and authentic information about the pretended syndrome PAS and proper training on how to tackle the family conflicts it describes to all the medical and mental health professionals that in one way or another (assistence needs, expert opinion, justice related, etc.) take part with minor children and families in civil court proceedings related to custody and access and/or proceedings relating to sexual abuse or domestic violence.
- Analyzing thoroughly the scientific basis of those medical and mental health arguments that are used as diagnostic proof in a court of law.
- Developing regulations, rules and proper parameters in order to evaluate such proof.
 Everything sustained in this document is well documented in the following scientific literature:
· “The Evidentiary Admissibility of Parental Alienation Syndrome: Science, Law, and Policy” Jennifer Hoult, J.D. Science, Law, and Policy, American Bar Association, Child. Legal Rts J. Spring 2006 ·
· “The Parental Alienation Syndrome: Is It Scientific?” Stephanie J. Dallam, “The failure of family courts to protect children from abuse in custody disputes“ St. Charles & L. Crook (Eds.), 1999
· “Parental Alienation Syndrome and Alienated Children – getting it wrong in child custody cases” Family Law Quarterly, 35, 527 Carol S. Bruch (2001)
· “Parental Alienation Syndrome: What Professionals Need to Know” NATIONAL DISTRICT ATTORNEYS ASSOCIATION, American Prosecutors Research Institute (APRI)
· “Navigating Custody & Visitation Evaluations in Cases with Domestic Violence: A Judge’s Guide” NATIONAL COUNCIL OF JUVENILE AND FAMILY COURT JUDGES
· “A Critical Analysis of Parental Alienation Syndrome and Its Admissibility in the Family Court”, Lenore E. A. Walker , Kristi L. Brantley, Justin A. Rigsbee, JOURNAL OF CHILD CUSTODY, 2004, The Haworth Press
 Gardner, Richard A., “True and False Accusations of Child Sex Abuse”, Creative Therapeutics, october 1992
 American Prosecutors Research Institute (APRI)
 “Navigating Custody and Visitation Evaluations in Cases with Domestic Violence: A Judge's Guide”
 “The Evidentiary Admissibility of Parental Alienation Syndrome: Science, Law, and Policy” Jennifer Hoult, J.D. Science, Law, and Policy, American Bar Association, Child. Legal Rts J. Spring 2006
 Documents that prove it: is the US, France and Argentina