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Estrangement or alienation?

(60 Posts)
Noregrets Thu 19-Dec-19 11:30:23

Just wanted to share some info with you all. Karen Woodall is a therapist who specialises in parental alienation. The comments under her blog posts are very interesting too, some of them from grandparents too. Here are a couple of them, including one from Karen, where she defines the difference between estrangement and third party deliberate alienation.

"Linda Turner
27 Jun 2016 at 10:31 am
New Subject – Parental Alienation or Estrangement

Great to see the new discussion group Karen, still waiting for my article to be published but will certainly mention your site and discussion group.

Just wondering what your thoughts are!
I have come under some ear bashing recently regarding the difference between estrangement and Parental Alienation. I see myself as alienated for over 25 years even though I have had contact with my children and grandchild for a short period of time.

Karen could you please clarify for many people who seem to think that for an adult over the age of 18 who can make their own choices, PA suddenly changes to Estrangement. Taking into consideration all the circumstances in my case I certainly do not think mine is a case of estrangement. Very interested to hear everyone’s comments. Many thanks Linda


27 Jun 2016 at 5:59 pm
well I can reply as an alienated adult child who believed I was an estranged adult child for many years and struggled with it immensely. It wasn’t until I understood that the estrangement was caused by alienation that I really began to tackle the issue personally and as a result of course that led me into professionally being able to see the difference much more clearly.

As far as I am concerned once an alienated child always at risk of being alienated again and once an alienated child, always left with the legacy of alienation. Psychological splitting, which is the underlying pathology in alienation causes immense struggles with perspective, sense of self, lack of esteem ability to hold ambivalence and more.

Therefore, a child who is alienated remains alienated beyond the age of 18 and until the alienation is tackled as alienation and that part is properly recognised and acknowledged, alienation reaction remains a risk.

An alienated adult child has a lifetime of recovery to undergo. As the once targeted parent if you are back in relationshiop with your adult child keep that in mind at all times. Alienated adult children find it very very hard to stay focused and balanced, their perspective is poor and they are at risk of alignments and rejection all the time and have to work very very hard not to react in an alienated manner.

Estrangement is when someone does something hurtful and is rigid in their blame of other people, alienation is when a third party acts to encourage or make estrangement happen (which is sometimes expedited by the reactions of the targeted parent who acts unconsciously).

PA certainly does not change to estrangement at the age of 18 and alienated young people often remain that way because of the conditioning of their mind. It is entirely possible for example for a 25 year old to continue to remain alienated because of the way they have been brought up to think and feel."

Noregrets Thu 19-Dec-19 11:32:52

OutsideDave Thu 19-Dec-19 12:07:59

I don’t really agree with the entire premise of Parental Alienation but this sort of distinction applies to a seemingly small number of EAC whose parents divorced in childhood, yes? Or are you trying to say that EAC can be alienated by others (spouses) and Grandchildren can be alienated from EGP by their parents?

rosecarmel Thu 19-Dec-19 14:11:30

Perhaps alienation has more to do with shirking responsibility where estrangement has more to do with acting responsibly-

FlyingFree Thu 19-Dec-19 15:56:31

This explains so much for me! Why everyone took mums side against me! I'm the one who took myself and my babies away from that nasty mess by estranging but I was alienated all my life from everyone by my mum x

HolyHannah Thu 19-Dec-19 16:06:20

In my experiences with EAC very few say that parental alienation is a factor.

Parental alienation is real but tends to happen under very specific circumstances. Often if the parents are never a couple or split when the child is very young the alienating parent will want the other parent out of the picture.

That said, parents that apply alienation tactics with their child's other parent is an abuser and probably still be abusive in some form, even if they are still with the other parent.

I see PA often used as an excuse by EP/EGP as to their estrangement situation. It is a convenient way to avoid that pesky self-reflection and how their actions/lack of action cause problems in their relationships.

FlyingFree Thu 19-Dec-19 16:18:28

Alienating is when you tell lies about people! Estranging is telling the truth x

Smileless2012 Thu 19-Dec-19 17:54:57

Very interesting Noregrets thank you for sharing.

I can assure you as an EP that estranging isn't always about telling the truth FlyingFree.

Madgran77 Thu 19-Dec-19 17:57:39

Estrangement is when someone does something hurtful and is rigid in their blame of other people, alienation is when a third party acts to encourage or make estrangement happen (which is sometimes expedited by the reactions of the targeted parent who acts unconsciously).

Alienation then might be applied to cases where an estranged parents is adamant that they had a close relationship with their AC until that AC was with a partner who has in various ways, deliberately alienated them from their parents? Or am I reading that wrong?

Smileless2012 Thu 19-Dec-19 18:01:50

No, I think you've read that correctly Madgran. So maybe we're not estranged parents, we're alienatedhmm. Doesn't affect the outcome though, we've still lost our S and only GCsad.

HolyHannah Thu 19-Dec-19 18:07:21

Parental alienation describes a process through which a child becomes estranged from a parent as the result of the psychological manipulation of another parent. The child's estrangement may manifest itself as fear, disrespect or hostility toward the parent, and may extend to additional relatives or parties.

A spouse/SO can cause alienation in general but it would not be 'Parental Alienation' by definition.

Madgran77 Thu 19-Dec-19 18:12:30

A spouse/SO can cause alienation in general but it would not be 'Parental Alienation' by definition.

Ofcourse you are right Holy Hannah The bit of the article I referred to just said alienation in the text and that is what made me think about the possible wider perspective of alienation. As you say, a spouse/SO can cause alienation.

Smileless2012 Thu 19-Dec-19 18:19:01

Perhaps then we haven't been estranged for the last 7 years, we have been alienated.

That said the result is the same, the loss of a dear son and our only GC so I suppose it doesn't really matter what we call it, it doesn't change the outcome.

FlyingFree Thu 19-Dec-19 18:33:29

I think it's much better! If there is a big difference between being alienated by a third party in a relationship and one person finally seeing the truth and estranging! It makes much more sense x

Madgran77 Thu 19-Dec-19 18:48:28

Flying Free Yes....I do think that an acceptance that a third party can actually create the problem in a previously close relationship is positive, in the overall debate/discussion/research/support on estrangement/alienation in any relationship. It can only extend the opportunities available to people who are in pain, to get appropriate support and understanding of their situation, their own or others part in that situation and ways to move forward.

It has struck me as well that the same situation might apply when ACs find themselves alienated from a parent who has a new partner.

Smileless2012 Thu 19-Dec-19 19:23:43

The problem is it isn't just the third party in a relationship that does the alienating. They can and do influence their partner for example, into alienating too.

For some their alienation of their parents' in law isn't enough, they want their husband/wife to alienate their parents too. They want their parents' in law to be alienated from their GC.

I don't know very much at all about parental alienation but having experienced estrangement, I do know that it isn't always about someone finally seeing the truth. If it were the truth that was being seen, some estrangements wouldn't happen.

Mollymalone6 Thu 19-Dec-19 19:33:22

And sometimes it's parents who "alienate" children from their GP's or other family members by implanting false and downright horrible accusations or lies. And often the accusations and lies are projection.

Smileless2012 Thu 19-Dec-19 19:39:35

Yes that 's a very good point Mollymalone. I think our GC are still too young for that to be happening and try not to imagine what may be said to them in the future, if the children ever want an explanation for our absence.

It seems at the moment that the subject gets changed. That has happened when our DS has been with them but of course may not be the case when he isn't, and questions are asked.

FlyingFree Thu 19-Dec-19 19:41:14

I haven't alienated my children! I have estranged them from a nasty abusive mess x

Smileless2012 Thu 19-Dec-19 19:47:08

I don't doubt that FlyingFree but your reasons for estranging aren't the same for everyone.

Mollymalone6 Thu 19-Dec-19 19:54:17

Damn! Lost my post - here we go again.

FlyingFree and Smileless there are so many different situations. (FF) you did absolutely the right thing in protecting your children - and yourself. I have deep respect for that. (SL), unfortunately you didn't get a chance to bond with your GC but that may have been spoiled anyway! hmm. flowers to both of you xx.

FlyingFree Thu 19-Dec-19 19:54:38

That's okay @Smileless2012! I'm very comfortable with my decision and we can both use words in whatever ways express things better for us x

Smileless2012 Thu 19-Dec-19 20:01:41

Yes of course we can FlyingFree and do so with a degree of sensitivity for one another.

You're right Mollymalonesmile I'm sure than any relationship we have been able to build with our GC would have been "spoiled anyway", so never having had the chance is something to the thankful for.

We will only ever miss what we'd hoped for, and not what we had that was taken away.

FlyingFree Thu 19-Dec-19 20:04:41

I don't get what I've said thats insensitive? ☹️

Smileless2012 Thu 19-Dec-19 20:11:03

I didn't say that you had. While I agree we can all "use words in whatever ways express things better for us" I also think we should do so with sensitivity.

Our experience of estrangement is different so something I might say from the perspective of an EP/GP for example, may make an EAC feel uncomfortable if they think my post is 'tarring all EAC with the same brush' so to speak.