Enmeshment is a concept introduced by Salvador Minuchin to describe families where personal boundaries are diffuse, sub-systems undifferentiated, and over-concern for others leads to a loss of autonomous development.[1] Enmeshed in parental needs, trapped in a discrepant role function,[2] a child may lose his or her capacity for self-direction;[3] his/her own distinctiveness, under the weight of psychic incest;[4] and, if family pressures increase, may end up becoming the identified patient or family scapegoat.[5] Enmeshment was also used by John Bradshaw to describe a state of cross-generational bonding within a family, whereby a child (normally of the opposite sex) becomes a surrogate spouse for their mother or father.[6]

The term is sometimes applied to engulfing codependent relationships,[7] where an unhealthy symbiosis is in existence.[8]

For the toxically enmeshed child, the adult’s carried feelings may be the only ones they know, outweighing and eclipsing their own.[9]


Clarifying boundaries, putting the generations in separate compartments,[10] and finding a better balance between involvement and separation,[11] are all useful remedies.

At the same time, it is important that the therapist avoids becoming enmeshed in the family subsystems themselves[12] – the unconscious enmeshment of helping therapist/needy client.[13]


Loss of Attachment Seen as Rare for Children

The loss of attachment to the rejected parent is seen as rare[25][29][60][61] though it could happen as the result of sexual abuse, physical abuse, or parental substance abuse.[25] However in the latter cases, the other symptoms would not be present, for example, delusional beliefs about the rejected parent being abusive or inadequate.[27]


The success of restoring the child’s attachment to their parent hinges on first protecting the child from harmful parenting.[25][30] A study suggests that the child does not experience this protection as being traumatic.[30][62]

According to a report,[28] when these symptoms present, structured intervention is more effective than traditional counseling. Structured intervention involves:

  • developing critical thinking to overcome rejection and enmeshment dynamics
  • resetting the child’s place in the family hierarchy
  • addressing the family system
  • temporarily protecting the child from the bad parenting practices of the enmeshed parent.

Traditional counseling, based on the therapeutic alliance, is susceptible to:

  • delays from a lack of milestones and schedules
  • sabotage by a parent with an interest in making it fail
  • exclusive focus on a child’s feelings and complaints to the exclusion of addressing the family system
  • the ineffectiveness of a parent apologizing for fabricated, exaggerated, or distorted complaints.


This type of harmful parenting is different from Parental Alienation Syndrome, which is a proposed syndrome defined by a cluster of 8 indicators that are different than the symptoms listed above.[63]


If this theoretical formulation is correct, that if a child has this symptom set, it comes from harmful parenting practices, and if no other theoretical formulations for the symptom set are proposed, then for a child displaying these symptoms, it suggests there is a child protection issue and that a relevant DSM-5 diagnostic code is V995.51, Child Psychological Abuse, invoking a duty to protect.[24][25][26][27][30][31][64][65][66][67][68][69][70][71][72][73][74]


Brainwashing Techniques

In the late 1950s, psychologist Robert Jay Lifton studied former prisoners ofKorean War and Chinese war camps. He determined that they’d undergone a multistep process that began with attacks on the prisoner’s sense of self and ended with what appeared to be a change in beliefs. Lifton ultimately defined a set of steps involved in the brainwashing cases he studied:

  1. Assault on identity
  2. Guilt
  3. Self-betrayal
  4. Breaking point
  5. Leniency
  6. Compulsion to confess
  7. Channeling of guilt
  8. Releasing of guilt
  9. Progress and harmony
  10. Final confession and rebirth

Each of thes­e stages takes place in an environment of isolation, meaning all “normal” social reference points are unavailable, and mind-clouding techniques like sleep deprivation and malnutrition are typically part of the process. There is often the presence or constant threat of physical harm, which adds to the target’s difficulty in thinking critically and independently.

Alienated children Alienation Expert in USA EXPERTS Parental Alienation PA

An Interview with Amy J. L. Baker, Ph.D. on Parental Alienation

Dr. David Van Nuys: Welcome to Wise Counsel, a podcast interview series sponsored by CenterSite, LLC, covering topics in mental health, wellness, and psychotherapy.

My name is Dr. David Van Nuys. I’m a clinical psychologist and your host.

On today’s show we’ll be talking about parental alienation with my guest, Dr. Amy J.L. Baker. Amy J.L. Baker, Ph.D. is the Director of Research at the Vincent J. Fontana Center for Child Protection in New York City and she is author of the 2007 book, “Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome: Breaking The Ties That Bind”.

Dr. Baker earned her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology at the Teacher’s College, Columbia University in 1989. She is also the author or co-author of over 50 peer-reviewed scholarly publications in topics such as parental alienation, child welfare, parent-child attachment and parent involvement in their children’s education. She has appeared on TV, radio and in the New York Times. She has presented at numerous conferences.

Now, here is the interview…

Dr. Amy Baker, welcome to the Wise Counsel Podcast.

Dr. Amy J.L. Baker: Thanks for having me on the show, David.

David: Well, I’m very glad to have you here and we’re going to be discussing your book, the title of which is “Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome”. So I guess the logical place to start is what’s meant by the term “Parental Alienation Syndrome”?

Amy: That’s a good place to start because there is some confusion, some people use the term “parental alienation”, some use the term “Parental Alienation Syndrome”. The working definition that I use is that parental alienation is a set of strategies that a parent uses to try to effectuate a child’s rejection of the other parent who I refer to as the “targeted parent”.

Parental Alienation Syndrome is the resulting behavior and attitudes within the child who come to believe that the targeted parent is someone unworthy of having a relationship with.

Now, it’s important to know that not all cases of the child rejecting a parent qualify as Parental Alienation Syndrome.

David: Interesting.

to read or download the full interview click here:-

Parental Alienation PA

How Brainwashing Works

In psychology, the study of brainwashing, often referred to as thought reform, falls into the sphere of ‘social influence.’ Is brainwashing a system that produces similar results across cultures and personality types?

Source: How Brainwashing Works

Parental Alienation PA

What is child abduction?

Child abduction happens “when a parent or a relative or someone acting on their behalf removes, retains, or conceals a child, under the age of 16, in breach of the other parent’s custody rights whether joint or sole”. In the UK, it is a criminal offence for anyone ‘connected with a child’ under 16 to take or send that child out of the UK without ‘appropriate consent’ of any other person who has ‘parental responsibility’ for the child.


This is set out in the Child Abduction Act 1984 as follows:-

  • The people ‘connected with a child’ are the child’s parents, guardians and people with a residence order or who have parental responsibility.
  • ‘Appropriate consent’ is the consent of the mother, the father (if he has parental responsibility), the guardian or anyone with a residence order or parental responsibility, or the leave (permission) of the court.
  • ‘Parental responsibility’ is defined as “all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has”.

read more:-

Parental Alienation PA

Documentary on parental alienation

To campaign more effectively against the growing incidence of parental child abduction across frontiers, it is vital to put a human face on both victims and perpetrators.

A preview of our next documentary on parental alienation, examining a case of abduction from the viewpoint of both estranged parents and the child, now an adult.  Due for release in 2015

to see more click here:-

EXPERTS Nick Child Parental Alienation PA

New thoughts on high conflict in families – by Nick Childs

The quickest version of that recruitment is Parental Child Abduction. Abduction requires subsequent Alienation of the children to keep them on-side. Serious Parental Child Alienation achieves exactly the same child-recruit outcome as Abduction, but the Alienation may be a longer process – though often it can get going quite quickly.

go to the website to read more here:-

Parental Alienation PA

The Law in the UK on Controlling or Coercive Behaviour

Types of behaviour

The types of behaviour associated with coercion or control may or may not constitute a criminal offence in their own right. It is important to remember that the presence of controlling or coercive behaviour does not mean that no other offence has been committed or cannot be charged. However, the perpetrator may limit space for action and exhibit a story of ownership and entitlement over the victim.

Such behaviours might include:

 isolating a person from their friends and family;

 depriving them of their basic needs;

 monitoring their time;

 monitoring a person via online communication tools or using spyware;

 taking control over aspects of their everyday life, such as where they can go, who they can see, what to wear and when they can sleep;

 depriving them of access to support services, such as specialist support or medical services;

 repeatedly putting them down such as telling them they are worthless;

 enforcing rules and activity which humiliate, degrade or dehumanise the victim;

 forcing the victim to take part in criminal activity such as shoplifting, neglect or abuse of children to encourage self-blame and prevent disclosure to authorities;

 financial abuse including control of finances, such as only allowing a person a punitive allowance;

 threats to hurt or kill;

 threats to a child;

 threats to reveal or publish private information (e.g. threatening to ‘out’ someone).

 assault;

 criminal damage (such as destruction of household goods);

 rape;

 preventing a person from having access to transport or from working.

Parental Alienation PA

Undue influence: New thoughts on high conflict in families

the alienation experience

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 16.05.45 The Open Minds Foundation – click image for the OMF website

The recent focus on undue influence here on the alienation experience blog was inspired by local and global events. There’ve been three new government initiatives in the UK and the global launch of the Open Minds Foundation.

This new framework creates a new way to approach high family conflict – even about how to prevent it. It helps common purpose to bind together the opposing armies of the endless gender-based war.

The three UK initiatives that tackle aspects of undue influence or coercive persuasion or control are :

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