How difficult are the lives of adult victims of parental alienation? Research reveals the depth and extent of cruelty inflicted on children by the alienator parent. In their psychotic campaign to degrade and denigrate the targeted parent the alienator inflicts damage from which the child may never recover. It seems so ironic that the parent who was so intent on being perceived as the "good parent" actually is guilty of criminal child abuse as damaging as the physical or sexual abuse so often handled by family courts. It is just less visible. Parental alienation is like a mythical creature that consumes children's souls.
In 2012 Dr. Naomi Ben-Ami of Yeshiva University in New York conducted a research study on 118 adult victims of parental alienation. She compared results between the victims of parental alienation with those unaffected by this dynamic. The results were published in The American Journal of Family Therapy. Dr. Ben-Ami assessed the participants' social and psychological health and their ability to live relatively happy and productive lives. She investigated marital status, achievement, depression, trust, guilt, anger, self perception, and their overall "sense of self."
Dr. Ben-Ami concluded that the alienated participants demonstrated substantially lower levels of achievement. They had statistically relevant lower numbers of college degrees, less college enrollment, higher levels of unemployment, and lower income. They suffered from difficulties with personal relationships, lower self-esteem, and attachment disorders. They demonstrated higher levels of anger, guilt, and depression.
Because alienator parents are driven by an overwhelming pathological narcissism they probably would be in different to Ben-Ami's research. However, if the data were more available to psychological and legal experts perhaps there would be more concern among professionals when alienation issues arise during toxic divorces. As Ben-Ami wrote "Ideally, the trajectory can be interrupted successfully to allow children to maintain healthy relationships with both parents, to be loved by them and loving with them.”
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