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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 59 (2017) 8, 482 - 488

Essay

Parental alienation and the controversy surrounding psychiatric diagnostics

C. Migchels, D. De Wachter

background The phenomenon of parental alienation can arise when a child allies with one parent and refuses to have contact with the other parent. The concept has attracted a great deal of attention over the last few years. There has been controversy about whether parental alienation should be recognised as a psychiatric syndrome of the alienated child caught up in a conflict between supporters and opponents.
aim To try to determine whether parental alienation belongs to psychiatric diagnostics.
method We made a careful study of various databases in order to find literature relating to parental alienation.
results Parental alienation is situated on the border between psychiatry, sociology and justice. One of the main tasks of psychiatry in this border area is to safeguard the domain of diagnostics.
conclusion Because so much attention is being given to the question of whether parental alienation syndrome should be recognised as a diagnosis, there is often a tendency to ignore the possible impact of parental alienation and to pay very little attention to ways of coping with the problem.

keywords parental alienation, parental alienation syndrome, psychiatric diagnostics