Is Malicious Mother Syndrome a Real Thing?

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Is Malicious Mother Syndrome a Real Thing?

If you are at all embarrassed to ask your doctor for help with … er … bedroom issues, imagine strapping on Pulvermacher’s Galvano-Electric Chain Belt1. Weighing in at 2.2 pounds, it was a collection of needlessly complex nonsense once used to treat ED, promote digestion, and relieve rheumatism. The chain belt was hardly a discrete item for manly men of the 19th century to wrap around their … well, bodies, let’s say. As with any field rooted in science, medicine evolves and changes with new discoveries and amazing innovations. Out goes the frippery, in comes better science. So what to make of “malicious mother syndrome,” which has also been called (more recently) parental alienation syndrome?

That Was Then: Malicious Mother Syndrome

In 1995 Ira Daniel Turkat, Ph.D, published a research paper in the Journal of Family Violence (yep; it exists) citing divorce-induced malicious mother syndrome. He described it with this four-part definition:

1. A mother who unjustifiably punishes her divorcing or divorced husband by:

  • Attempting to alienate mutual child(ren) from the father
  • Involving others in malicious actions against the father
  • Engaging in excessive litigation

2. The mother specifically attempts to deny her child(ren):

  • Regular uninterrupted visitation with the father
  • Uninhibited telephone access to the father
  • paternal participation in the child(ren)’s school life and extra-curricular activities

3. The pattern is pervasive and includes malicious acts towards the husband including:

  • Lying to the children
  • Lying to others
  • Violations of law

4. The disorder is not specifically due to another mental disorder although a separate mental disorder may co-exist.

Turkat helpfully offered specific examples of an ex-wife deliberately destroying the relationship between father and children. Here we will just look at the first aspect of the definition:

  1. A mother lied to her children, telling them their father had spent their money on women in topless bars so nothing was left for buying food for the children;
  2. A mother, after losing legal custody of her child, manipulated a school secretary into assisting in kidnapping the child;
  3. A mother told a judge that her daughter was not fathered by her divorcing husband

This is Now: Parental Alienation Syndrome

Since Turkat’s 1995 recommendation for further exploration of this disorder, most psychologists and psychiatrists consider a more appropriate name to be parental alienation syndrome. The net effect is the same: your ex-wife deliberately, persistently and viciously turns your children against you.

Psychology Today describes it as “an emotional act of violence.” A key indicator of parental alienation syndrome (or malicious mother syndrome if you want to remain old-school) is that the child joins your ex-wife in displaying anger toward you. Your ex-wife has groomed your children to turn against you, and no matter the name, it is a horror.

Not One For the Books

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is on its fifth edition, but has not yet included either Malicious Mother Syndrome or Parental Alienation as a disorder. The DSM-V is the standard reference for health care professionals to use in discussing and diagnosing mental health problems. Parental alienation is, more or less, included in “child psychological abuse,” which is just as serious.

As such, whether you call it “child psychological abuse,” malicious mother syndrome, or parental alienation, it is a form of child abuse and can be fought, legally and medically.

Fight Parental Alienation in Court

Establishing a pattern of a malicious mother alienating you from your own children is actually fairly straightforward: keep records of things your children say and do, anecdotal notes on contacts with your ex-wife, and any evidence from unbiased, outside parties dealing with both your children and your ex-wife:

  • School personnel — Guidance counselors, classroom teachers, Special Education teachers, school nurses and secretaries
  • Medical doctors
  • Religious figures
  • Extracurricular community members — Scout leaders, dance instructors, drama directors, sports team coaches, and the like

When your attorney lays out the many instances of your ex-wife deliberately placing an emotional wedge between you and your own children, the usual recourse is to decrease parenting time with her and increase it with you. Research cited in Parental Alienation: The Handbook for Mental Health and Legal Professionals (Behavioral Science and Law) indicates a 90 percent success rate in generating positive change in the alienated parent-child relationship.

Fight Parental Alienation Medically

Enlist help from medical professionals, beginning with your children’s pediatrician or family doctor. Share your concerns, and accept referrals to qualified counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists who can help you and your child realize what your ex-wife is doing.

Getting your wife to stop treating her children as pawns against you is less likely (and less important) than defanging her by helping your children to see through her lies, manipulation, and wrong intentions.

Call The Attorneys for Fathers

With your call to The Firm For Men at 757-383-9184 or online contact, you can reach experienced father’s rights attorneys who know truth from fiction, myth from malady. Over the many years we have offered excellent services to Virginia men, protecting their rights and preserving their dignity, we have seen just about every ailment, excuse and justification for bad parenting. Please let us help you if you face malicious mother syndrome, parental alienation, or something that Pulvermacher’s Galvano-Electric Chain Belt won’t fix.

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