Gransnet forums


Estrangement or alienation?

(61 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."

Norah Mon 23-Dec-19 14:11:32

Stockholm Syndrome is referenced, interesting bit.

Starlady Sat 21-Dec-19 16:16:24

So I take it that, according to these definitions, "alienation" occurs when someone deliberately tries to turn somebody against another person, often for nefarious purposes;"estrangement " occurs when they pull away (and perhaps pull their kids away) from a person they perceive to be harmful or "toxic" in some way. Have I got that right?

I'm no expert, but I think an alienated child can turn into an estranged adult if they choose to continue the lack of contact. Yes, no doubt, they are still impacted by the alienation techniques used on them as a child, but as an adult it is their decision.

And I may be wrong, but I seriously doubt a child can be fully alienated from a parent who has maintained a good relationship w/ them or been a definite presence in their life. Yes., the custodial parent may fill their mind w/ negatives, but if they have a good time whenever they see the non-custodial parent, etc. the alienation efforts won't take full effect, IMO. I know I could be wrong.

Mollymalone6 Fri 20-Dec-19 18:31:10

I agree FlyingFree. The most important ones were spoiled for me. And too late now as they are dead. But new ones are so special now too Xx

Mollymalone6 Fri 20-Dec-19 18:26:37

Thank you Smileless. Perfectly put tchsmile

FlyingFree Fri 20-Dec-19 18:26:00

@Mollymalone6 I have so many regrets too relationships I wish I could have saved! I didn't know how to do it in the middle of that nasty mess cos I didn't know I was in it. We can keep getting better for the future tho! Be patient and understanding with ourselves and each other x

Smileless2012 Fri 20-Dec-19 18:23:16

It's like throwing a stone into a pond Molly, the ripples expand further than we would expect.

Don't ever feel ashamed or that you were a coward; you were neitherflowers.

Mollymalone6 Fri 20-Dec-19 18:08:40

I spent so long discovering how my experience affected me that I couldn't see how it affected all those around me, all bad but not how all of them would see it.

Lately, after nearly 9 years I'm coming to terms of how it affected far more than me. How I wish I could go back and change things - not with the abusers, but their victims.

The only thing I'm ashamed of is that I let it go on so long. I feel like such a coward sometimes.

FlyingFree Fri 20-Dec-19 17:52:34

If we forever make other peoples experiences about ourselves and take them personally we will never heal! Just prove them wrong or feel sad for them or forever be victim because other people's experiences are so different! If we argue it to death we will never know each other well enough to know the truth because we will be too angry to listen ❤️

Smileless2012 Fri 20-Dec-19 17:40:43

It's not about not letting people feel how they feel, it's about expressing those feelings in the knowledge that people are posting about their experiences of estrangement which may not be the same as others.

"They say that opinion is the lowest form of knowledge and understanding and empathy is the highest"; exactly.

The section of HolyHannah's post highlighted by Madgran today at 12.57 today is a prime example of an opinion without proof, that is lacking in any understanding and empathy for EP's/GP's.

Madgran77 Fri 20-Dec-19 17:34:35

Flying Free I think we have to let people feel how they feel!

Smileless ...if you're hurting and want to share those feelings you should be able to do so. Those expressed feelings should be dealt with, with an open mind and acceptance that it may not have been your experience, but that doesn't mean it isn't an honest account of someone else's.


FlyingFree Fri 20-Dec-19 15:51:37

I think we have to let people feel how they feel! If somebody hasn't seen any evidence of something then either show them proof or emphasise that they haven't seen enough human love and kindness to know differently! They say that opinion is the lowest form of knowledge and understanding and empathy is the highest! ❤️

Smileless2012 Fri 20-Dec-19 15:23:10

Thank you for referring to that extract from HolyHannah's post Madgransmile.

TBH I find statements that make judgemental assumptions about EP's/GPs very upsetting, which is why I posted yesterday about the importance of sensitivity when discussing estrangement where both EP's/GPs and EAC are taking part.

I would not want to see posts of that nature here where EAC are sharing. For example it being said that had the AC of an EP not estranged their parent(s), their parent(s) would have estranged them.

Sweeping judgemental statements are at best thoughtless, and at worse very unkind.

I agree Mollymalone whether you're and EAC or EP/EGP , if you're hurting and want to share those feelings you should be able to do so. Those expressed feelings should be dealt with, with an open mind and acceptance that it may not have been your experience, but that doesn't mean it isn't an honest account of someone else's.

Madgran77 Fri 20-Dec-19 15:14:41

MollyMalone I understood what you were saying. My comments were to explain why I asked Holy Hannah the question that I did.

FlyingFree I agree

FlyingFree Fri 20-Dec-19 14:40:17

I think some people can change and some people cant or won't! So some people get left behind because if they can't change they can't admit they are hurting somebody and people know they won't stop x

Mollymalone6 Fri 20-Dec-19 14:08:13

Madgran, just to explain, I wasn't telling EP/EGP's what to do. I was defending them for doing so.

Equally, I will defend EAC's. They have "let it go" by their very act of estrangement. It doesn't mean they don't still hurt or want to share those feelings. Same as EP/EGP's.

Madgran77 Fri 20-Dec-19 13:45:27

sometimes it is and sometimes not

Quite, Mollymalone6 exactly so and we are in agreement.

Which is why when statements are made, it is important whether talking about EACs, EGPs or EPs, to ensure that general statements that suggest that all members of one of those groups are an amorphous mass are not made. Each story is different, some will have common themes; that does not mean that those themes apply in every case. That was the reason why I asked HolyHannah the question.

Sometimes EP/EGP just have to let it go so they can have a better life.

As do some EACs. Something that some people whether EACs, EGPs, EPs struggle with, as is evidenced on this forum on occasions.

Mollymalone6 Fri 20-Dec-19 13:07:53

Hi Madgran, sometimes it is and sometimes not. Sometimes EP/EGP just have to let it go so they can have a better life. But, sometimes, as with my M, it's about saving face.

Madgran77 Fri 20-Dec-19 12:57:11

This is why children and grand-children go No Contact. And for those that are about to say, "I went No Contact with my child(ren)/grands because they were abusing Me." I say, "Give Me an honest and real time-line on that. I bet they walked away from You first. Your 'story' is the typical saving face of, 'They didn't leave ME. I left them.' and most of Us have heard that before." and I know all the variations like, 'When I cut off the money.' or 'When I stopped babysitting' or 'When I stopped doing...'

Holy Hannah seem to be saying that when an EP/EGP says that they estranged themselves from an AC/AGP they are kidding themselves that it was their choice?? In every case?? Really?

Mollymalone6 Fri 20-Dec-19 12:10:23

Gingster I sincerely hope you follow everyone's sensible advice and have a very happy Christmas as a result. Everyone deserves that tchsmile.

HolyHannah love your posts. My M said I'd need her before she needed me. Seems she was wrong 🤣

FlyingFree Fri 20-Dec-19 11:11:37

I think people forget that children can experience just as much stress as adults! Then they turn into adults too and we all have to let them go to make their own way in the world! If they don't need us too much then we did a good job of preparing them x

Smileless2012 Fri 20-Dec-19 10:57:57

'Happy Christmas' to you too Gingstertchsmile.

Gingster Fri 20-Dec-19 10:24:08

Wise words from all. Thankyou and a very happy xmas.

Smileless2012 Fri 20-Dec-19 09:29:23

bettysmile your GM sounds like a wise and lovely lady.

bettydl Fri 20-Dec-19 09:25:56

Gingster - try to think long term here.

I can imagine it feels terribly hurtful, but I do think it's fairly normal for teenagers to turn away from their family or to express stress in anti social ways. It will be temporary but I do suggest giving her space. My Grandma used to write to me every week but always said she didn't expect me to reply (as they knew I was busy at university and working) and just want me to know that they loved me, thought of me and were happy I was living my own life. Maybe let the relationship be one sided for a while?

Mollymalone6 Fri 20-Dec-19 08:13:33

Gingster my advice was 'Unless there are other "family" problems'.

As so often in cases like this it seems there are. She thinks you are "bossy and argumentative" with her grandad. Do you have any idea how upsetting that can be for an obviously intelligent young adult to witness? She's seeing someone she loves being bullied! Then, he is looking to her for the love he may not be getting from you and she just can't handle that pressure. So that relationship is spoiled too!

You really do need to take a step back, both of you, and sort your own problems out because that is not "Just a normal family really".