Parental Alienation will NOT be included in DSM-V


Despite aggressive advocacy to accomplish the feat, the American Psychiatric Association has declined to identify Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) as a separate, diagnosable mental health disorder.

“The bottom line – it is not a disorder within one individual,” said Dr. Darrel Regier, vice chair of the task force drafting the manual. “It’s a relationship problem – parent-child or parent-parent. Relationship problems per se are not mental disorders.” Opponents to including PAS in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders-Fifth Edition (DSM-V) also say that including the diagnosis would increased the cost and litigiousness of some high conflict litigants, as it would have provided another opportunity to debate whether one does or does not suffer from this very specific diagnosis, and if so, what degree of culpability can be assigned to the individual and what treatment modalities should be employed beyond those assigned to other diagnosable mental health ailments which the parent faces.

For a review of the varying opinions regarding this issue, check out this article discussing the recent news:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/21/parental-alienation-is-no_n_1904310.html

Neglect Findings by DYFS/DCPP must be made on Science – not Assumption


On Monday, September 10, 2012, the New Jersey Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral argument in a case of significance to all involved in the child welfare system. In DYFS (n/k/a/ DCPP) v. A.L., the trial Court, and subsequently, the Appellate Division, made a finding of neglect against a mother who ingested cocaine during her pregnancy. The finding has wide-ranging implications.

Certainly, no one disputes that ingestion of cocaine may have serious consequences for an unborn fetus – but no less serious than ingestion of cigarette smoke, failure to wear seatbelts, and other less than laudable conduct during pregnancy. The difference with cocaine, however, is that its very mention suggests a moral culpability, which does not attend to other conduct of mothers-to-be.

What may surprise many who do not dwell in the land of child protection is that there is little science to support the conclusion that in utero ingestion of cocaine, per se, is harmful to a fetus. Opponents of the trial court’s conclusion argue that attaching the severe consequence of a substantiation and loss of a child to the unfortunate conduct attendant to addiction will, in all likelihood, deter pregnant addicts from seeking treatment.

And, by thwarting treatment, the child protection community is, once again, creating a “cure” that is worse than the “ailment”. Better alternatives to treatment of addiction must be pursued by our society. It will be interesting to see how our Supreme Court views this critical issue.

To watch the Supreme Court argument, check out the live webcast at 10:00 a.m.:

http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/webcast/index.htm