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Concerned About Unconventional Mental Health Interventions?
Alternative Psychotherapies: Evaluating Unconventional Mental Health Treatments

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

ICD-11 Rejects "Parental Alienation"

Readers who are aware of the fight against accusations of “parental alienation” (PA) probably know that some years ago PA advocates were bitterly disappointed when the notional Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) was not included in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-5). Although PA proponents already experience much success in family courts, where they argue that avoidance of one parent by children of divorced couples is likely to be due to “alienating” behavior by the preferred parent, and that the remedy is to force the children to live with the rejected parent and undergo proprietary treatments, the PA advocates would enjoy many advantages if PAS were listed in DSM. Such listing would provide the diagnostic code that is the magic word for access to health insurance coverage.

Exclusion from DSM-5 was not enough to convince PA advocates that they are far outside the mainstream of psychology with their claims about PA. They went on to attempt some level of inclusion in the forthcoming ICD-11, the World Health Organization’s International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, WHO’s list of diagnoses for both physical and mental disorders. Although PAS was known not to be included as an ICD-11 diagnosis, PA proponents were agitating to include PA as an “index term”—that is, it would be listed in the ICD-11 index but take the reader to another diagnostic term. As often as WHO said that inclusion of an index term was not an indication of acceptance of the diagnosis, nevertheless it was clear that PA advocates were claiming victory for their views even if PA appeared only as an index term.

An international group of concerned professionals has been fighting the PA index term inclusion, and has been successful. The link below will tell you the story—which has a good outcome not only because of the number of people who engaged in this fight but because of a few people who used personal contacts effectively and devoted much time to the endeavor:

PA websites that come up first on search engines still claim that ICD-11 is indexing PA. It is not! If you are engaged in a divorce and PA claims are being made, be sure your attorney knows this fact. Letting PA advocates get away with various claims is a sure way for innocent parents to find themselves separated from their children by court order, paying huge sums for “treatment”, and being embroiled in court-ordered "treatment” for themselves at the risk of being found in contempt and punished with fines or even a jail sentence.  

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