Ideology and Rhetoric Replace Science and Reason in Some Parental Alienation Literature and Advocacy: A Critique (In: Special Issue: Parent-Child Contact Problems: Concepts. Controversies, and Conundrums).
Milchman, Madelyn S. Geffner, Robert. Meier, Joan S.
Published: April 2020
Family Court Review
Vol. 58, No. 2 , p. 340-361
John Wiley & Sons
111 River Street
Hoboken, NJ 07030-5774
This article analyzes rhetorical strategies that are often used to legitimize classifying children's parent rejection as “alienation,” conceived as a mental disorder or diagnosis. Use of evaluative labels or diagnoses instead of descriptions of behavioral functioning is problematic in child custody evaluations. We address Distorted Claims of consensus, Alienation Labeling, Renaming, Proof by Assertion, Misrepresenting Endorsement by Authorities, Reduction Ad Absurdum, and Ad Personam Attacks. Rhetoric distracts from the evidence and observable behaviors required to accurately classify mistreated/alienated children and protective/alienating parents. It creates an ideology that obfuscates the absence of and need for scientific validity studies; reliable prevalence data; non‐conclusory assessment of parent–child relationship quality; empirical evidence testing the coaching hypothesis; and valid, objective evaluations of treatment programs. The article concludes with suggestions to improve dialogue between scholars in order to advance research and custody evaluations. (Author abstract)
family courts; parental alienation syndrome; divorce; separation; child custody; custody disputes; childs attitudes; parent child relationships; VISITATION; advocacy; diagnoses; evidence based practice