Posts Tagged ‘Stockholm Syndrome’
Caught Between Parents/ Supporting children through the challenges of divorce-by Amy J.L. Baker, Ph.D
Mindfulness as a Tool
As PMA International has posted before, we prefer the term DV by Proxy to explain the manipulations an abuser parent uses to teach the child to reject the protective parent. We prefer this term because;
1. It more accurately depicts the actions taken by the abuser parent towards the child
2. There has been a lot of misinformation about parental alienation circulating the internet and beyond.
3. The term parental alienation and /or parental alienation syndrome has been use as a legal defense for abusive dads in family court. Most often this term has been used by the attorneys of dads who sexual abuse their children. This defense is used – most often- by attorneys in family court for the purpose of deflecting blame from the criminal actions of their client onto the protective mother.
4 The result of the above has frequently been, abusers winning custody due to this misuse of the term.
Because the term is so emotionally charge for protective mothers, and for all the reasons above, we feel DV by Proxy is a better choice. Please keep in mind others still use the term Parental Alienation. Since PMA International did not author the piece, the term parental alienation or alienation may be used.
Mindfulness is defined as a state of being present and open to the moment by moment experience of your life. It means engaging in your life as a fully awake and aware person and as much as much being attuned to the people with whom you interact.
Mindfulness can be particularly helpful for the targeted parent because it could:
…help you remain clear and calm in times of stress through awareness of and attunement to your own state of mind and body. You can also gain clarity and calmness through breathing and meditation practice.
… help you be present when interacting with your children rather than being consumed with and distracted by thoughts and feelings about the past or present which can take you away from appreciating and engaging with your child.
…help you accept the imperfections in yourself and the world so that you are not overwhelmed with feelings of shame in your own limitations or with feelings of frustration and anger at the injustice of your situation.
…help you forgive your children for betraying you and themselves so that you can keep your heart open to them despite their engagement in behaviors that hurt or sadden you.
…help you make more active and conscious choices in your parenting in order to avoid discipline that could entrench the alienation against you.
… help you engage in active listening of your child which can deepen and strengthen your relationship.
As a co-parent “under fire” you will need all the help you can get to remain calm in the face of attack and insult, to remain generous of spirit and true to your best self, and to cultivate compassion in your child and you. Consider mindfulness one source of that help.
In the aftermath of Mackenzie Phillip’s shocking revelations of long term incest with her father, “Papa” John Phillips of the sixties’ singing group, the Mamas and the Papas, some people are wondering why the actress allowed the incest to continue for ten years– into her twenties.
The assumption is that since she was a young adult, she could have stopped it. The reality is that she was not able to due what is known as the Stockholm Syndrome, in which people form what is called a “trauma bond” with their oppressors. Because survival depends upon the good will of the oppressor, the abused become infatuated with and bonded to them. The kidnapped heiress Patricia Hearst was a notable example of this. The trauma bond is common to victims of abuse, be they incested children or battered wives, as well as among prisoners of war, cult members, and victims of torture to name a few.
Traumatized people have traumatized brains which Phillips described on the Oprah show when she alluded to having “flashbacks,” unwanted, repeating inner images, which she attempted to compartmentalize and block out. A traumatized brain does not respond or bounce back so easily. Drug use, also part of her family’s behavior helped to annihilate awareness of the sexual episodes, the resulting emotional pain and the unwanted, intrusive memories– that occurred later.
In the book, Traumatic Experiende and the Brain, author David Ziegler, the director of a treatment program for abused children, writes that “I have often noticed that the degree of loyalty from a child to an abusive parent seems to be in direct proportion to the seriousness of the abuse the child received. In this counterintuitive way, the stronger or more life-threatening the treatment, the stronger the loyalty from the child.”
This is due to the way trauma imprints the brain. It’s a misunderstanding when people with normal development and limited experience of abuse, incest, or drugs assume that someone with a very different experience would be able to think, function, or act as they do. In addition, a child, who like Mackenzie Phillips is initiated into brain distorting drug use at an early age will have different brain development than a person whose brain has not been tainted by drugs early in life. Moreover, in the Phillips family it appears that drug use was a kind of family pastime. Craving the sense of belonging that most people, and certainly all children feel, a child like Mackenzie was inducted early on into a unique family culture, one that was inherently isolating and further increased the dependency on powerful parents since neither their values, lifestyle, nor behavior were shared by other people.
Further, Mackenzie Phillips reported that John Phillips’ philosophy was that he and his family were somehow special and beyond the normal rules of behavior to which others adhered. Until she began her long hard climb to independence and maturity, this was the only frame of reference, young Mackenzie had. Until she began that climb, the distorted, possibly sociopathic mindset she learned from her father was part of her entrapment.
Although I’m concerned that recounting her trauma on Oprah could potentially retraumatize Mackenzie and threaten her fragile discovery, I would hope that the rest of us can accord her the respect she deserves for her courage, and take to heart the implications of the morality tales she offers– that abuse should be acknowledged even when the abuser is powerful, charismatic, and famous.
Read this powerful story about DV by Proxy in a mom’s own words. Notice the progression and circumstances in which this hateful smear campaign against a loving mom thrives.. Twisting up a child’s mind and teaching them to hate a loving parent by using lies and manipulation is child abuse.
The Success of Love
BY ADRIENNE, ON JUNE 11TH, 2012
The success of love is in the loving. —Mother Teresa
A few days ago I read the first post I ever wrote about my two eldest children, Jacob and Abbie, and how they came to live full-time with their dad. I sat at my computer, eyes goggling half-out of my head, unable to believe I had accomplished the mental-gymnastics necessary to believe what I wrote.
Like hell it was better, but I definitely believed it at the time, at least at the top of my consciousness. I was mostly (sort of? who knows) convinced that Jacob and Abbie’s dad was a better parent than I; that I was, if not abusive, at least profoundly deficient.
Truth? Yes, I’ll tell the truth: in some ways, in the very beginning, it was a relief to have them gone. I missed them terribly, but at the same time, Carter was so sick that I was living far beyond the limits of my emotional and physical resources and I was stretched much too thin.
More truth? In spite of all that I believe now, and all that I am about to say, I was at my low point as a parent when Jacob and Abbie left. The things other people did and said can’t absolve me of my responsibility, and I am responsible. I did the best I could under terrible circumstances, but that isn’t the same as being innocent.
When they moved out, I never imagined for one minute that they would go away and stay away. I assumed that, given the freedom to choose, they would spend most nights at their dad’s house and just one or two (as opposed to four, as it had always been) per week at mine. I thought they would come around a few days a week after school, or hang out with us sometimes on Saturdays.
When I didn’t see them for a few weeks, I thought they needed some breathing room, a chance to decompress from the difficulties of life at chez Jones, and so I gave it to them. This was not a decision I made lightly. I prayed and pondered and agonized, staying up late at night writing and crying. Ultimately, though, I decided to live by the credo, “This is a family. We take volunteers, not hostages.”
So while I continued to invite my kids to dinner and other family events, and kept calling them several times a week, and texted them every night to say goodnight and tell them I loved them, I didn’t push or force. I stepped back, focused my energy on Carter and helping him get stable, and I waited.
As carefully as I made that decision, it was absolutely the wrong one. What I didn’t see, the giant piece of the puzzle that I didn’t even know I was missing, was this: my kids’ dad and other members of my family were actively working to keep my kids away from me. That, combined with their anger at my genuine shortcomings, stewed in a broth of early-adolescence, created a case of parental alienation syndrome (PAS) that I didn’t recognize until it was two years entrenched.
The kids’ resentments against me grew and deepened both because adults they love and care about encouraged (in overt and covert ways) those resentments, and because they saw me so rarely (we didn’t see each other for months at a stretch sometimes), I didn’t have enough time to show them that I wasn’t the person they had created in their minds.
Starting in the summer of 2011, when I began to push hard in any way I could to have more time with my kids, I watched it happen: when they were with me more, they started to soften. Their defenses began to relax as they let the reality-mom impact idea-mom. Then, something would happen (something always happened), I would see the kids less, and the fierce, hateful, horrible words would come from the kids’ mouths to my heart again. The same words that their dad and other people spoke to them about me.
Never, ever, ever underestimate the power of a good story.
My family’s experience of parental alienation syndrome is unusual in that the alienation began long after the divorce itself. In fact, Robert and I co-parented fairly peacefully for quite a few years. Or so I believed; I know now that he wanted our kids all to himself long before he got them, and when the opportunity presented itself, he took it. If my kids’ PAS had been more typical (that is, happening during the immediate post-divorce months or years), someone probably would have identified it sooner. As it was, I flew blind for a long, long time before I knew what was happening.
My 18-year-old son and I remain fairly alienated (though I see signs of progress), but my daughter has been home with me now for several months and, while PAS will always be one of the most painful experiences of my life, I’m healing.
Having my beautiful, brilliant daughter, with her heart wide open and her mind searching for her truth, doesn’t hurt one tiny bit.
PMA International’s Mothers/Advocates are working heart-to-heart and hand-to-hand with PMA INTL’s Network Hear Us Now!! ( H.U.N) to educate and communicate the deep love a mother has for her child. Our intention is to help the moms express their deep devoted love for their children, and help strengthen the mother/child bond, moving their relationship forward in a loving and positive way. This page is for protective mothers to express their love for their children.
Look at our beautiful Face Book event wall filled with love! ( link below)
Our collective mother hearts shout out to the heavens and aim straight towards our children’s hearts with beautiful words filled with tenderness, devotion and deep, powerful love.
Create an original letter or poem for your child. If you are not part of this important PMA International event, please join us.
Our blog reaches around the world, all over the internet and has over 50 thousand hits and is growing every day. Your words of love to your child will pass the test of time and remain on the internet, for all to see.
How powerful and sweet is a mothers love! A bond that no person or court can deny. Keep posting moms, keep touching hearts with your powerful words of love. You are all beautiful heroes and PMA INTL loves and supports you and your precious children, always.
Here is an example of a beautiful, and touching letter and poem from one of our protective moms to her precious child;
© J. L. D
No parent who loves their child, who wants to be with their child, who isn’t a threat to their child, who never abused their child, nor intentionally harmed them, should have their child ripped from them senselessly, unjustly, and to be then alienated from their child, in some cases, so severely, as though they have died, and to be left with having to beg for any knowledge or glimpse of their child, hoping and waiting on any scraps that *might* be tossed their way.
I am one mother who is exhausted from trying to cope with the knowledge that there are people so evil who carry out such cruel, evil injustice, and from having to implore the takers, the hostage holders, and their cohorts and other connected persons, of my own child, for something, anything, because something, anything, no matter how minuscule, is better than nothing at all. Facing more often than not, the abject rejection, of denial, so often given, with utter silence.
I Knew You First – © J. L. D
Before you were born, I knew you
As you grew inside me, my womb held you
You heard my voice, you heard my heart beat
I felt the flutter as you moved, and kicked with your tiny feet
Before you were born, I knew you
I had dreams, hopes, and plans for you
I sang to you, prayed for you, longed for us to meet
You my son, I your mother, forever yours to keep
I knew you first, since before you were born,
And I have loved you, and will, always, forever more.
Please Visit our Love Letters To Our Children Word Press Blog;
Please Visit our Love Letters To Our Children page;
Please also join our “Love Letters To Our Children ongoing Facebook event ( link below)
Leave a legacy of love for your child.