Thursday, February 19, 2015

Psychiatric Abuse

Assuming that the report is true, this story tells us that psychiatry can be abused anywhere, even in enlightened Europe.

The victim: a thirteen-year-old girl in Belgium.

Her symptom: she refuses to speak to her father.

The court-ordered treatment: involuntary commitment to a psychiatric clinic.

Her parents have been divorced for some time and her mother and grandmother have apparently turned the girl against her father.

Her father appealed to the courts and they found the girl mentally ill. They confined her to a psychotherapy center, aka a psychiatric clinic for treatment.

They want to know why she won’t speak to her father and why she threw a tantrum when he showed up at her first communion.

One might also ask why they believe that the answer to these questions will cure her of her aversion. Perhaps she knows something that the experts do not know.

The Daily Mail has the story:

A Belgian juvenile court has sent a 13 year-old girl to live in a psychotherapy centre - so specialists can try to discover why she hates her divorced father and never talks to him.

The father from Veurne on the Belgian coast has rights to visit his daughter- an only child - who lives with her mother and her grandparents, the court was told.

But every time she is in the same room with her dad she turns her back on him and refuses to talk or communicate with him in any way.

Now the court has decided that the girl must be removed to a neutral refuge away from the influence of her mother and grandmother so the psychologists can try and diagnose the problem.

A lawyer for the father said his daughter appeared to be suffering from a psychological disorder known to specialists as PAS - Parental Alienation Syndrome-- as there was no other reason for the behaviour.

No other discernible reason, I would add.

Let’s imagine, as the story suggests, that there has been no sexual abuse.

And yet, what kind of man has his daughter committed to a psychiatric clinic because she seriously dislikes him?

Don’t this man’s actions in the legal case suggest something unsavory about his character? Isn’t it heartless, to say nothing of emotionally abusive, to remove a child from her mother’s home and to have her institutionalized?

Would you, knowing only what you know, shun him or welcome him into your circle of  friends?

Maybe the girl knows something and sees something that the Belgian courts are ignoring.


Sam L. said...

I wonder what her mother and grandparents have told her, how long they have had custody, and when was the divorce.

I claim the not-enough-information stance.

Ares Olympus said...

Wow, a "real" term, and used in the U.S. but unclear what response a court can or ought to make.

We don't know, but if one parent is demonizing the other parent, and the courts get involved, it makes sense to challenge custody, but if the child has fully taken the side of one parent, what should anyone do?

I agree some sort of intervention would be good. That is to say, the "silent treatment" is also considered a form of psychological abuse, so who did she learn this from? So perhaps psychologists can discuss better ways to get her needs met? It seems better to challenge her at 13 than when she's using it against her husband at 26 and still doesn't know why.

Anyway, I would wish the mother and the father should agree her behavior is unacceptable, and agree together on a strategy for intervention process, while the court approach is ugly and surely is making things worse.
Kids use the silent treatment as a way to freeze you out, to get you to leave them alone, and to push your buttons. What most parents don’t realize is that under the surface, something else is going on: the silent treatment is giving your child a feeling of power and control over you.
Parental alienation syndrome (abbreviated as PAS) is a term coined by Richard A. Gardner in the early 1980s to refer to what he describes as a disorder in which a child, on an ongoing basis, belittles and insults one parent without justification, due to a combination of factors, including indoctrination by the other parent (almost exclusively as part of a child custody dispute) and the child's own attempts to denigrate the target parent.


PAS has been criticized by for being sexist, being used by fathers to marginalize legitimate fears and concerns about abuse, and women's groups and others oppose the legitimacy of PAS as a danger to children. After his initial publications, Gardner revised his theory to make fathers and mothers equally likely to alienate or be indoctrinators and disagreed that recognition of PAS is sexist. Gardner later indicated he believed men were equally likely to be PAS indoctrinators. Studies of children and adults labelled as suffering from PAS have suggested that mothers were more likely than fathers to be the alienator.

Ares Olympus said...

There's a YouTube channel with the term, looks like in support of intervention. All It Takes for Evil to Occur in Parental Alienation
Published on Dec 16, 2013
Siblings and other family sometimes aide and abet parental alienation unwittingly - because they do not want to get involved in what they see as a conflict between the alienated child and the rejected parent. Education about parental alienation is needed so that people understand that parental alienation is a form of child abuse with parallels to the physical abuse of a child. Would family members and other not involve themselves if the child were being physically abused?

Ares Olympus said...

I found this interesting, empowering the child to reject yourself. Its certainly a martyr's position, and I'm not sure about it at all. (I retyped the quote from the video below.)

I understand the idea of "giving permission", that is to say it is accepting the validity of the daughter's choice, that meets some important need for her at present, and she doesn't know any other way to meet that need.

It is saying "You can not lose my love no matter what you do or don't do."

But the question for me is how much "conviction" this permission contains. But I see it would be tough to hold the position without some evidence that the child has accepted the bargain, or more clearly, what symbols of "love" will she accept and which will she reject?

Perhaps the father could say every time "Daughter, I would give you a hug right now, but I respect your right to decline."

But on the other side, there's "true parental authority" that a parent can't dare abdicate in a bribery process to regain affection. So some things are negotiable and some are not, and that line must be very hard for a hurting parent to bear. Giving permission to alienated children to reject
One father gave me permission to repeat what he told his children:
I find the only way to survive as your father. at least to get past that painful feeling of rejection, that stupid voice inside my head that tells me over and over again that I wasn't a good enough father, that I need to work on it a little bit more, that to believe I'm doing my children a favor.

The favor is to let you reject me. Without that permission, my children might feel that the only alternative to rejecting me is to reject their mother.

Or alternatively again, to feel they are bad children, for treating their father in such an undeserved and rejected manner.

So I put on a suit of armor and I offer my children permission to maintain their family as they conceive it to be, of a family with little or no need for a father."