When a child is subjected to increasing amounts of parental alienation, he or she may respond with a psychological defense called “psychological splitting.” The eight symptoms of parental alienation in a child arise from this defense.
As explained by clinician Karen Woodall, splitting occurs when a child can no longer hold together the two parts of his or her “Self” that is formed from both relationships with two parents who are too far apart for the transition bridge to work. When this tipping point is reached, it causes the child to develop a “false self.” This false self is one that results when the part of himself formed from the targeted parent is denied and deeply buried so he can hold together the rest of his Self. This false self forces the child to see the world through a lens that divides it into all good and all bad. Therefore, the child sees the alienating parent as all good and the targeted parent can do nothing right.
Target parents must realize how terrifying this experience is for their child. It is also critical for others to realize that it is equally horrific for target parents to watch their relationship with their child disappear before their eyes as they feel helpless to counteract it.
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