|NOW Fires Back at Fathers & Families over Our Campaign to Ask DSM to Include Parental Alienation in Upcoming Edition
A group of 50 mental health experts from 10 countries are part of an effort to add Parental Alienation Disorder to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM V), the American Psychiatric Associations bible of diagnoses. This scientific coalition is led by psychiatrist William Bernet, who explains that adding PAD to DSM would spur insurance coverage, stimulate more systematic research, lend credence to a charge of parental alienation in court, and raise the odds that children would get timely treatment.
Fathers & Families wants to ensure that the DSM-5 Task Force is aware of the scope and severity of Parental Alienation. To this end, in December we asked our supporters to write the Task Force to urge them to consider including Parental Alienation Disorder in DSM-5. As usual, the response was overwhelming. It also helped lead to progresswhile as expected the newly-released draft version does not specifically include Parental Alienation Disorder, the DSM-5 Task Force has now listed Parental Alienation Disorder among the Conditions Proposed by Outside Sources
that are still under consideration by the work groups."
Gaining inclusion isnt easyDavid J. Kupfer, M.D., the chair of the DSM-V Task Force, recently told the media that with any disorder proposed for inclusion, The door to get in [the manual] is pretty hard.
The DSM must consider whether Parental Alienation Disorder fits their scientific criteria for inclusion. Experts will say that they do not want this process politicized, and we agree. We are not seeking to influence the Task Forces view of the scientific aspects of PAD, nor are we asking the Task Force to include Parental Alienation Disorder due to pressure politics or our campaign. Our purpose is simply to ensure that the DSM Task Force is aware that Parental Alienation is a common problem in divorce/child custody, and to take a serious look at whether PAD meets their scientific criteria. Our campaign page is here, those who would like to participate in our efforts can do so by clicking here.
The National Organization for Women has learned about our efforts and is concerned about them. They recently sent out an Action Alert to counter our campaign. According to NOWs Tracy Simmons:
I am writing you, the leaders of various groups that represent battered women, for your help in one of the most important matters we will address this year. The American Psychiatric Association is considering adding Parental Alienation to the Diagnosticians book, which would legitimize this legal tactic into a real disorder.
Parental Alienation Syndrome has now morphed into Parental Alienation Disorder thanks to the fathers rights organizations who are wildly pushing this through, and why wouldnt they? It benefits the abuser and discriminates against the victims of abuse, which are overwhelmingly women.
This gender specific, abuse excuse, junk science can not be allowed to enter into the scientific community as there is nothing scientific about a syndrome/disorder whose only symptoms are a uterus, divorce papers, and bruises. I ask that you all to take action against legitimizing this outrageous theory by e-mailing the APA and asking your groups to do the same.
While Simmons claims arent credible, there are legitimate questions to be asked about Parental Alienation Disorder, as there are with all mental health issues. We address many of these in Frequently Asked Questions about Parental Alienation and also summarize the scientific perspective in the Case for Including Parental Alienation Disorder in DSM V.
To participate in our campaign, click here.
Opponents of recognizing Parental Alienation in California have introduced AB 612, which would ban Parental Alienation from being mentioned in any way, shape or form in a California family court. Should such efforts succeed, they could easily spread to other states.
Last year Fathers & Families legislative representative Michael Robinson was instrumental in blocking the bills passage, but it will be heard in the Senate this spring. Robinson and I detailed the problems with AB 612 in our recent column Preventing courts from considering parental alienation will harm kids (Capitol Weekly, 2/25/10).
Fathers & Families crucial work on Parental Alienation costs moneyto make a tax-deductible contribution to support this effort, click here.
Glenn Sacks, MA
Executive Director, Fathers & Families
Bills to Protect Disabled Parents from Family Court Abuses Moving Through Arizona, Indiana Legislatures
Fathers & Families issued an Action Alert in January in support of Arizona HB 2348, a bill to protect disabled parents from child support and alimony abuses. The bill passed the Arizona House Military Affairs and Public Safety Committee unanimously.
Arizona House Member Frank Antenori sponsored the bill and Mark Beres of the American Retirees Association and the ULSG lobbied for it. Fathers & Families legislative representative Michael Robinson, who was instrumental in the passage of a similar bill (SB 285) in California last year, worked with Beres.
Beres now informs us that the bill has made it out of the Rules Committee and is on the consent calendar, meaning it is out of committee and is being fast-tracked to the Arizona House floor for a full vote.
A similar Indiana bill is moving rapidly through the Indiana legislature and is expected to be signed by Governor Mitch Daniels within the next few weeks. The force behind Indiana HB 1165 is activist Lisa Wilken, who modeled her legislation on our SB 285.
F & F is also working with advocates and legislators on similar legislation in numerous other states. The abuses being committed in family court concerning disabled parents VA benefits remind many F & F supporters of their own experiences in family courta lack of respect for the law, violations of due process, fathers (and sometimes mothers) being financially plundered and shook down for money they dont owe, and similar abuses.
Fathers & Families in the News
|F & F Quoted on Lesbian Custody Battle: The relationship between children and their parents needs to be protected
"Hobbs case has attracted the attention of Glenn Sacks, executive director of Fathers and Families, a national organization that advocates for fathers who have lost custody of their children. Hobbs situation involves some of the same family court issues that his group is fighting to reform, Sacks says.
'I see it as a parenting issue, not a gay issue,' he says. 'The relationship between children and their parents needs to be protected.'
"Children who are denied access to one of their parents can blame themselves, Sacks says, creating deep emotional and psychological problems. 'These children are greatly harmed when they lose one of their parents, be it a father or a mother,' he adds
Cincinnati City Beats Jacob Baynham has written a front page story on a high-profile Mullen-Hobbs lesbian custody battle in Ohio. In that case, lesbian biological mom (Kelly Mullen) and sperm donor (Scott Liming) are pitted against social mom Michele Hobbs. The child, 4-year-old Lucy Mullen, has resided with Kelly since the breakup of the Mullen/Hobbs relationship.
Liming was originally intended to be simply a sperm donor. However, after the girls birth, to his credit, he fell for the little girl and decided he wanted to have an active role in the childs life. The girl spends every Monday with Liming. Hobbs hasnt been allowed to see the girl since Christmas.
As weve explained, while Fathers & Families takes no position on gay marriage, we do defend the right of all fit parents to play a meaningful role in their childrens lives, and Hobbs clearly has a parent-child relationship with Lucy.
Fathers & Families views these cases as analogous to cases of married heterosexual couples where the man is infertile and the couple uses a sperm donor. Such children are considered to be the children of the marriage, and are raised by both the mother and father.
If the couple divorces, the woman can't decide that because she's the only biological parent, she can drive her ex out of their child's life. She agreed to have children with her then-husband, and the former husband has a parent-child relationship with their child. The husband is the child's father and the child's right to a relationship with him must be protected, regardless of the mother's recalcitrance.
The lesbian custody cases Fathers & Families has gotten involved in are no different--the couple agreed to have a child together, had one via a sperm donor, and raised the child together. The loving bond the non-biological/social mother has with the child doesn't dissolve upon breakup, nor can it be tossed aside because the biological mom no longer finds it convenient--the bond must be protected.
Read the full Cincinnati City Beat article here.
Fathers & Families' Melissa Hodgdon discussed the Hobbs-Mullen same-sex custody battle on City Talk on AM 55 KRC in Cincinnati, OH. on March 7. To listen to the audio of her appearance, click here.
Fathers & Families' Dr. Ned Holstein Quoted
Increased Involvement of Dads
(Parents and Kids Magazine, March 2010)
Fathers & Families Glenn Sacks discusses Parental Alienation & DSM-5 on the Kathryn Zox Show on 1160 WMET AM in Washington DC (2/28/10)