Parental alienation syndrome. Junk science or real schience. The debate has raged on for years, with the majority vote supporting the idea that the syndromw is junk science. However, that view may be changing. Slate.com recently ran an article citing some new opinions on PAS. The competition to get your favorite disease recognized in the bible of mental health, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, can be as fierce as the talent contest in the Little Miss St. Paul Contest. The American Psychiatric Association is contemplating adding something called "parental alienation syndrome" (PAS) to the new edition of the DSM, scheduled to be published in May 2013, and the question has launched a national lobbying and letter-writing campaign on both sides. That angry letters and editorials might play any part in a debate about mental health and custody disputes probably tells you most of what you need to know about the validity of PAS. What does new recognition of PAS mean? The most worrisome aspect of the legal fight over parental alienation syndrome may be that it divides supporters and opponents along strict gender lines: As a rule, this is classed as a women's sickness alleged by men. Fathers' rights groups are not solely to blame for the fact that an entire "disease" is predicated on the notion that women are lying liars; the inventor of the syndrome can take responsibility for that. But no hypothesis so rooted in gender bias should be credited by medical science. And because evidence of PAS is so frequently offered to counter maternal allegations of abuse, the experts testifying about PAS can be aiding and abetting a system that takes children from abused mothers and hands them right back to abusive fathers. Once again, this doesn't mean that some parents don't alienate their children in a divorce. It means that PAS is now used to discredit women whenever they claim abuse. Does any of this really matter? The science just doesn't matter now. Even though no appellate court has found evidence of PAS to meet the scientific standards for legal admissibility, courts admit evidence of precisely the same phenomenon all the time, and by calling it "parental alienation," they achieve the same effect: overlooking allegations of abuse by one parent in order to blame the other for "alienating" the child. In other words, whether science supports them or the DSM-5 ultimately validates them, the supporters of Richard Gardner and parental alienation may have already won. While nobody was looking, a mythical legal argument known as parental alienation may have already taken over family courts. Please click here to read the original article. Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.
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