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1 A/PROF CAROLYN QUADRIO School of Psychiatry University of NSW SHARED PARENTING ORDERS ADELAIDE, UNIVERSITY OF SA APRIL 2008 SIX DEGREES OF ALIENATION:

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Presentation on theme: "1 A/PROF CAROLYN QUADRIO School of Psychiatry University of NSW SHARED PARENTING ORDERS ADELAIDE, UNIVERSITY OF SA APRIL 2008 SIX DEGREES OF ALIENATION:"— Presentation transcript:

1 1 A/PROF CAROLYN QUADRIO School of Psychiatry University of NSW SHARED PARENTING ORDERS ADELAIDE, UNIVERSITY OF SA APRIL 2008 SIX DEGREES OF ALIENATION: PARENTING & FAMILYCONFLICT SIX DEGREES OF ALIENATION: PARENTING & FAMILY CONFLICT

2 2 OVERVIEW OF PRESENTATION  Child trauma and abuse  The spectrum of alienation  Parenting patterns  Case examples  Breastfeeding  Joint parenting considerations

3 3 PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT & ATTACHMENT  Personality develops from infant interaction with carer  Critical interaction: infant’s needs/capacities and empathic responsiveness of carer (not time)  Long term mental health outcomes and early attachment/trauma

4 4 CHILDHOOD TRAUMA & ABUSE Is common Is common Mostly familial/carers Mostly familial/carers CSA: 15-30% CSA: 15-30% Severe CPA: 11% Severe CPA: 11% Witnessing DV: 14% Witnessing DV: 14% Psychological trauma? Psychological trauma? Family conflict/violence Family conflict/violence FLC cases: expect higher rates FLC cases: expect higher rates

5 5 CSA IS COMMON   Epidemiological data worldwide:   1 in 3 female:1 in 4 male children   36% Australian women (Mazza and Dennerstein, 2001)  Most CSA is unreported (80%)  Probably higher rates in FLC families: more dysfunctional group

6 6 Child Abuse& Neglect (CAN): Australian data 2004/5 Reports doubled last 5 years Reports doubled last 5 years 700 new reports per day 700 new reports per day One new case/2 minutes One new case/2 minutes Most abuse is intrafamilial Most abuse is intrafamilial Children in care  70% 10 yrs Children in care  70% 10 yrs

7 7 DV IS COMMON: UN DATA Most widespread and socially tolerated form of HR violation Most widespread and socially tolerated form of HR violation Often prelude to coercive sex Often prelude to coercive sex Kills + disables as many women as cancer; > MVA’s + malaria Kills + disables as many women as cancer; > MVA’s + malaria Single biggest health risk to Australian women of reproductive age ($6.3B pa) Single biggest health risk to Australian women of reproductive age ($6.3B pa) 20-30% of marriages 20-30% of marriages

8 8 NEW LEGISLATION: PRESUMPTION EQUAL PARENTING Burden of proof on victim? Burden of proof on victim? Reality of CAN Reality of CAN Prevalence of DV Prevalence of DV vs vs False allegations as strategy False allegations as strategy Breastfeeding as strategy Breastfeeding as strategy

9 9 children attach to primary care figures not related to time children in long day care children in kibbutzim ‘traditional’ families vs children attach in spite of abuse may even cling (traumatic attachment) ATTACHMENT & FAMILY PATTERNS

10 10 ALIENATION ‘SYNDROME’  90% allegations CSA in FLC are false  PAS: ‘syndrome’ explains this process  deliberate alienation (usually Mo) (usually Mo)  CSA common/false allegations not  no scientific validity  non-diagnostic  no probative value  dangerous assumption SYNDROME vs REALITY

11 11 ASSESSING CHILD ABUSE/NEGLECT  Only medical evidence conclusive – but rare  Most symptoms non-specific:  Anxiety, regression, sleep disturbance, nightmares, acting out, depression, hyperactivity, school problems  Equally reflective of disturbance of divorce and/or ongoing post separation conflict

12 12 INDICES OF SUSPICION:  Stereotyped statements  Same words as parent  Language > development  No contextual detail  Minor issues in same vein  Evoke sympathy – eg CSS  Privy to details of legal process

13 13 MENTAL STATUS of ACCUSING PARENT  Mental illness:  Children more exposed to abuse  Personality disorder:  More prone to project BUT:  More likely to be victim of abuse  Less able to protect children from abuse

14 14 MENTAL STATUS of ACCUSED PARENT  Limited if any assistance determining issue  Normal or no psychological disturbance  No perpetrator profile but some concerns:  Previous violence  D&A issues

15 15 ALIENATION AS PROCESS  Alienation: dynamic/process NOT syndrome  Common in all divorcing families, esp FLC  No specific association with CSA  Can only be assessed in context of family

16 16 SPECTRUM OF ALIENATION  Motivation:  altruism  self-interest  malice  Psychology:  normal  anxious  paranoid/deluded

17 17 FIRST DEGREE FIRST DEGREE  Altruism/protection:  CSA is actual and/or sincerely believed sincerely believed  Alienation = solely to protect child protect child

18 18 SECOND DEGREE  Hurt and/or depressed parent:  cannot conceal feelings  children exquisitely sensitive  alienation unintended

19 19 THIRD DEGREE  Immature/neurotic (> malicious):  message to children:  “take care of me” = immature/dependent or: or:  “don’t blame me” = guilt prone depressive or passive aggressive adjustment

20 20 FOURTH DEGREE  Hurt, depressed, angry parent:  personality disorder: more/less malicious  unable/unwilling adequately to conceal feelings to conceal feelings  poor affect regulation (trauma, often CSA) often CSA)  potential for projection

21 21 FIVE DEGREES  Hurt/angry parent:  declare feelings to children  recruit them as support  alienation is intentional to break bond with other parent break bond with other parent  vengeful behaviour or $  welfare of children disregarded  deluded (ie genuine belief)

22 22 SIX DEGREES  Wilful and intended alienation  every effort to block contact  malicious false allegations to gain advantage in FLC  self-interest/manipulative  sociopathic/malicious

23 23 NEW LEGISLATION Joint parenting Joint parenting Property in common? Property in common? Best interests of child paramount? Best interests of child paramount?

24 24 PARENTING PRACTICES Intact families: women do most of the childcare even if employed Intact families: women do most of the childcare even if employed Rationale for altered pattern post separation? Rationale for altered pattern post separation? Most divorced families negotiate – those in FLC the most acrimonious = my data Most divorced families negotiate – those in FLC the most acrimonious = my data Joint parenting requires high degree of cooperation Joint parenting requires high degree of cooperation

25 25 CHANGING PATTERNS   Old style ‘access’: Dad as Santa Claus

26 26 CHANGING PATTERNS New style joint parenting: Mr Mom New style joint parenting: Mr Mom

27 27 CHANGED PATTERN: CASE EXAMPLE Fa: big business; no psychiatric Dx Fa: big business; no psychiatric Dx Financial control & domination Financial control & domination Mo: 9 years exclusive childcare; anxious Mo: 9 years exclusive childcare; anxious 3 children: 9, 5, 18 mos (breastfed) 3 children: 9, 5, 18 mos (breastfed) Attachments: equally strong and secure Attachments: equally strong and secure Fa now home based business Fa now home based business Joint parenting? One plan for 3? Joint parenting? One plan for 3? Is change for the children or parent or $? Is change for the children or parent or $?

28 28 Breastfeeding & Parenting Orders best form of infant nutrition best form of infant nutrition exclusive breastfeeding for first six months and continue first two years: exclusive breastfeeding for first six months and continue first two years: WHO & UNICEF WHO & UNICEF Australia: Dietary Guidelines; Federal Health; AMA; Dieticians Association; Colleges: Paediatrics & Midwives Australia: Dietary Guidelines; Federal Health; AMA; Dieticians Association; Colleges: Paediatrics & Midwives

29 29 Breastfeeding Benefits maternal recovery from pregnancy and childbirth contraception maternal recovery from pregnancy and childbirth contraception bonding and attachment bonding and attachment improved vision improved vision psychomotor development psychomotor development prevention of chronic disease later in life: breast and ovarian cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity prevention of chronic disease later in life: breast and ovarian cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity

30 30 Risks of not breastfeeding gastrointestinal disease gastrointestinal disease respiratory illnesses including asthma respiratory illnesses including asthma chronic otitis media chronic otitis media sudden infant death syndrome. sudden infant death syndrome.

31 31 Shared Parenting Orders & Breastfeeding separation affects breastfeeding separation affects breastfeeding contested cases unlikely to improve relationships contested cases unlikely to improve relationships not common pattern pre separation not common pattern pre separation paramountcy of best interests of child? paramountcy of best interests of child? court orders for mothers to wean court orders for mothers to wean (Sweet & Power, 2008) (Sweet & Power, 2008)

32 32 CASE EXAMPLE: DELUSION? Mo: anxious – fears seem exaggerated Mo: anxious – fears seem exaggerated Overvalued idea? Deluded? Folie a deux? Overvalued idea? Deluded? Folie a deux? Fa: no psychiatric Dx Fa: no psychiatric Dx Mo reports: child has range of symptoms Mo reports: child has range of symptoms Child’s disclosures to Mo+GMo (no one else) Child’s disclosures to Mo+GMo (no one else) Court ordered supervision Court ordered supervision Mo continues to report abuse Mo continues to report abuse Supervisor alleged to be conspiring Supervisor alleged to be conspiring

33 33 Examples: Domestic Violence NESB NESB Fa: no psychiatric Dx Fa: no psychiatric Dx Mo: isolated and abused – depression, PTSD Mo: isolated and abused – depression, PTSD Finally leaves w children Finally leaves w children Agreed contact; Fa refuses to return Agreed contact; Fa refuses to return Allegations to FLC: Mo depressed, suicidal Allegations to FLC: Mo depressed, suicidal Orders: limited contact w Mo; 50/50; split Orders: limited contact w Mo; 50/50; split

34 34 QUALITY vs QUANTITY Quality of contact more important than time Quality of contact more important than time Joint custody negated by parental conflict, esp if children caught in ongoing conflict Joint custody negated by parental conflict, esp if children caught in ongoing conflict There is no one size fits all arrangement There is no one size fits all arrangement Risk of exposure to continuing conflict, DV, or abuse: contact needs to be limited Risk of exposure to continuing conflict, DV, or abuse: contact needs to be limited

35 35 50/50 SHARED CARE Logistically complex, parents need to be: Logistically complex, parents need to be: organised, structured, plan ahead organised, structured, plan ahead cooperative amicable r’ship, keep children out of cooperative amicable r’ship, keep children out of child focused arrangements child focused arrangements commitment by all to make it work commitment by all to make it work family friendly work practices family friendly work practices degree of financial independence, especially Mo’s degree of financial independence, especially Mo’s a degree of paternal confidence a degree of paternal confidence Geography Geography (B Smyth, 2005)


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