Psychotic Disorders in DSM-5

Major systems of classifying psychiatric disorders are revised to incorporate new knowledge and enhance clinical utility. With specific reference to revisions from DSM-IV to DSM-5, the changes in the section on schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders were made to address:

  1. Inadequate presentation of the heterogeneity of clinical syndromes

  2. Treatment of schizoaffective disorder as an episode diagnosis with unclear separation from schizophrenia

  3. Poor reliability and low diagnostic stability of schizoaffective disorder

  4. Variable definitions and discrepant treatment of catatonia across disorders in DSM-IV

  5. The limited role and validity of schizophrenia subtypes

  6. Inadequate classification for early detection of potential psychoses

Drug Abuse

Prenatal exposure to drugs: effects on brain development and implications for policy and education

Many legal drugs such as nicotine and alcohol can produce more severe deficits on brain development than some illicit drugs such as cocaine. However, erroneous and biased interpretations of the scientific literature often affect educational programs and even legal proceedings. For example, a pregnant woman whose emergency room toxicology screen revealed cocaine use was recently jailed and accused of using a deadly weapon against her unborn child in Tennessee, United States 1. Such policy decisions may have unintended adverse consequences: for example, they might harm the fetus due to pathophysiological activation of the maternal stress response system 2 and they might cause pregnant women addicted to drugs to avoid prenatal medical care (Box 2).

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Overhaul child custody laws

Divorce and custody battles can become a quagmire as the innocent child gets caught up in the legal and psychological warfare between the parents. While both parents have equal rights over a child, no child would like to be in a situation where he or she has to choose one parent or the other. 

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Why Parental Alienation Is Harmful To Children’s Psychological Health

Parental alienation is the manipulation of a child’s views geared against a targeted parent during the process of divorce or separation.

Source: Why Parental Alienation Is Harmful To Children’s Psychological Health



Forensic Psychologist, Deirdre Conway Rand, PhD


Psychologist Mary Lund examined factors in addition to parental programming which can contribute to estrangement between the child and a rejected parent (19). She wrote that the methods Gardner advocates, such as court orders for continued contact, fit many cases and may help prevent the child developing the kind of phobic-like reaction to the rejected parent which can occur when contact is discontinued during long, drawn out legal proceedings. Such legal interventions often form the cornerstone for treatment. In treating these families, Lund integrates Gardner’s work with that of Janet Johnston. She assesses the family in terms of developmental factors in the child which may be contributing, such as normal separation problems among preschoolers and oppositional behavior during preadolescence and adolescence. Deficits in the noncustodial parent’s parenting may also contribute to the problem. In her experience, the hated parent, usually the father, often has a distant, rigid, even authoritarian style which contrasts with the indulgent, clinging style of the loved parent, who may also need help with appropriate parenting. These are risky generalizations, however. In the experience of this author and others, alienating and target parents exhibit a wide variety of personality patterns which do not lend themselves to this type of generalization. In addition, where the father is the alienating parent, it is sometimes he who uses an overindulgent and materially lavish parenting style to overwhelm and override the children’s healthier psychological bond with the mother.

According to Lund, PAS may also develop when the stress for the child of ongoing high conflict divorce becomes too much and the child seeks to “escape” being caught in the middle by aligning with one parent. Therapists, especially individual child therapists, can unwittingly become part of the system maintaining the PAS, such that a court order is required to break up the therapist’s polarizing influence. Ultimately, a combination of strategic legal and therapeutic interventions are required to mitigate the PAS and keep the case manageable.

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When Death occurs before Alienation is Resolved

When Death occurs before Alienation is Resolved


Coping with Parental Alienation

Course Outline

Topics covered in this course will include:

  • How alienation begins
  • How children’s difficulties with transitions between parents can lead to psychological splitting and alienation
  • How our current system contributes to the problem of alienation in children
  • The signs of alienation and how to spot them
  • The psychological and emotional changes that create pressure on parents and children
  • The history of alienation and how social changes increase the likelihood of it happening to our children
  • High conflict separation and the risk of alienation for children
  • How alienating parents operate
  • How neuroscience is contributing to a deeper understanding of alienation and how to treat it
  • how to keep sane when your child is rejecting you
  • The importance of keeping fit and well
  • When to make strategic retreats
  • How to differentiate between the type of alienation your child is suffering
  • The importance of understanding your own parenting style
  • The impact that family history has upon the alienation
  • How to recognise and reverse an alienation reaction in your child
  • How to manage severe cases

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Parental alienation: ‘I was manipulated by my father’

“[He said my mum is] a liar, that everything that’s happened is her fault, that she doesn’t love us, that she’s been a bully towards us,” she tells the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme.


Absence of empathy

Research by Moor and Silvern (2006) on the long-term effects of child abuse and the mediating role of parental failure of empathy found that child abuse and parental failure of empathy are the same thing – they are flip sides of the same coin.

The absence of empathy is the cause of child abuse – and the absence of empathy is also the trauma.

The presence of empathy is the healing of trauma.

The absence of empathy is associated with the capacity for human cruelty.

The presence of empathy is our salvation.

The absence of empathy in the child’s symptom display is the most disturbing of all the child symptoms.

Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857


The Science of Evil

Borderline personality disorder, autism, narcissism, psychosis, Asperger’s: All of these syndromes have one thing in common–lack of empathy. In some cases, this absence can be dangerous, but in others it can simply mean a different way of seeing the world.

In The Science of Evil Simon Baron-Cohen, an award-winning British researcher who has investigated psychology and autism for decades, develops a new brain-based theory of human cruelty. A true psychologist, however, he examines social and environmental factors that can erode empathy, including neglect and abuse.

Based largely on Baron-Cohen’s own research, The Science of Evil will change the way we understand and treat human cruelty.