Parental alienation syndrome (PAS)
is an abnormal psychological condition most often observed in
children affected by high conflict divorce and/or separation. It is one of the most damaging outcomes
affecting children as a result of exposure to Hostile-Aggressive Parenting. The most common
symptom of children affected by PAS is their severe opposition to contact with one parent and/or
overt hatred toward such parent when there is little and often, no logical reason to explain the
child’s behaviour. The effects of PAS can last well into adulthood and may last for a lifetime with
Parental Alienation can be defined as follows:
Parental Alienation Syndrome is an abnormal psychological condition in a child
which adversely impacts the child’s relationship with a (target) parent in a number
of clearly identifiable and dysfunctional ways and the causes of the disorder can
be reasonably traced back to the actions, behaviours and decision-making of a
person or persons who are interfering with the child’s relationship with the
Although in the vast majority of cases, it is one of a child’s parents who is the victim of the child’s
PAS, other persons such as siblings, step parents grandparents and friends of the child may also be
adversely victimized in a similar manner. For the purposes of determining the presence of PAS, the
word “parent” may also be used to refer to any other person whose relationship with the child may
be adversely affected in a similar manner as described for a parent.
Those who conduct assessments into Hostile-Aggressive Parenting (HAP) must understand PAS
and know how to identify its presence as some information being gathered for an evaluation of
HAP could be tainted due to a child being affected by PAS providing untruthful information.
Up until the development of the “Risk assessment protocol to evaluate the risk of harm to children
caused by Hostile-Aggressive Parenting (HAP)”, identifying the presence of Parental Alienation
Syndrome (PAS) was usually shrouded in clinical terms that were vague and open to interpretation
and, therefore, susceptible to endless argument by opposing lawyers and their experts within the
adversarial court system. Often the term PAS was grouped together to include the negative
behaviour of one or both of the parents, rather than being identified as a mental health condition of
the child. PAS clearly refers to a mental health condition of the child. PAS clearly is a disorder in a
child which can be easily identified by referencing a simple list of identifying criteria and qualifiers.
The actions, behaviours and decision-making of persons (usually called HAP parents) influencing
the child are the causes of PAS and should not be confused with the condition of PAS.
Click here to see how you can help determine the presence of PAS.