Categorizing and Classifying Alienators

Experts often grade alienation along two distinct dimensions. On the “X” axis, we could graph the intensity of the alienation, which might range from mild to severe. On the “Y” axis, we could graph the intentionality of the alienation. Does the alienating parent have control of his or her behavior or not?


In 1998, scholar Douglas Darnall came up with another useful categorization; he labeled and defined three classes of alienators.


  1. Naïve alienators


These alienators will say or do things to convince a child of the other parent’s wrongdoing, but their behavior is often unconscious. Naïve alienators typically engage in only mild alienation, simply because they lack the drive to engage in more consistent campaigns.


  1. Active alienators


Active alienators, on the other hand, do engage in systematic campaigns. The brainwashing often “flairs” when the parent feels particularly vulnerable and anxious, such as when something doesn’t go his or her way during a divorce hearing or at work.


These alienators may have impulse control problems, and they can flout court directives because they don’t trust the process or because they lack mental or emotional stability.


  1. Obsessed alienators


These parents (or sometimes others, like grandparents or stepparents) belong to a very different class of alienator. The obsessed parent acts as if she’s on a crusade to save her child from a malevolent demon, and she may engage in relentless tactics designed to sever the child’s relationship with the targeted parent… and possibly with the targeted parent’s whole family and circle of friends.


Obsessed alienators often disobey court rules, and they are not amenable to the idea of therapy. They may hold paranoid delusions and/or believe that the court process is unfair or biased. The mantra of the obsessed alienator is: I will do whatever it takes to protect my child against this monster, and nothing will stop me.


It’s very hard to negotiate with or rationally discuss the situation with someone with this set of beliefs and perspectives.


For skillful, experienced assistance handling your Parental Alienation case, call the Williams Law Group, LLC immediately at (908) 810-1083.



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