Home » Ask the Therapist » Parenting » Parental Alienation Syndrome, Social Workers, Parental Rights

Parental Alienation Syndrome, Social Workers, Parental Rights

Asked by on with 1 answer:

My mother has several personality disorders. NPD, BPD, Disassociative Disorder. Thru plotting and manipulation, she sicced CPS on me and was able to steal my child. She then began brainwashing my daughter PAS and would not allow me any contact until she turned 18. We have begun to email but the PAS is so obvious I’m not sure how much I can tell her. I want to explain everything so she knows I am not to blame. I want her to know who my mother really is. What can I do for my child who suffers from PAS? She is very judgemental and rude to me. I don’t know if we can reconnect as long as my mother is in her life. I want her to know who my mother really is. (From The USA)

Parental Alienation Syndrome, Social Workers, Parental Rights

Answered by on -


It must have been very difficult for you to manage not having your daughter with you. Since you’ve used many abbreviations readers may not know I want to begin with some definitions. You said your mother has NPD, BPD, Dissociative Disorder. Lets review each of these in turn:

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), (popularly referred to as narcissism) is different than someone having narcissistic traits because of its severity. A personality disorder is defined as a consistent pattern of internal experience and behavior that deviates differs from the norm of the individual’s culture. According to Steve Bressert, Ph.D., an individual with NPD:

  • Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  • Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
  • Requires excessive admiration
  • Has a very strong sense of entitlement, e.g., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
  • Is exploitative of others, e.g., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
  • Lacks empathy, e.g., is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
  • Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
  • Regularly shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a mental illness that manifests with impulsive behaviors and typically varying mood swings and erratic and often volatile and self-injurious behaviors, including risky sexual behaviors, cutting, or suicide attempts. The main features are instability in relationships fueled by a fear of abandonment. People with BPD often feel “empty” and struggle with their identity. To learn more about BPD check here.

Dissociative Disorder (often known as Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) has several symptoms, but the primary one is that it disrupts the person’s sense of continuous identity.

There is a gap between one’s sense of self and motivation toward one’s goals with changes in emotional expression, behaviors, memories, feelings, and perceptions. Often these gaps result in memory loss of everyday events, including the specific features of one’s own personality and identity. These disruptions cause gaps in memory that are beyond what would be considered normal forgetting causing significant stress in the person’s life as it directly impacts the quality of relationships.

In the past DID was known as (and is still sometimes referred to as) Multiple Personality Disorder where other “personalities” or personality states manifest. These often include different voices and is a way the psyche tries to deal with trauma or abuse. A common symptom is for an individual with DID to lose track of time and there may be significant intervals that are lost due to one of the entities takes control. To learn more about it check here.

If your mother was diagnosed with all three of these illnesses I can only imagine how difficult it is to get along with her.

Child Protective Services (CPS) apparently awarded your child to her and you believe your mom has brainwashed her to alienate from you, creating Parental Alienation Syndrome PAS. PAS was identified by psychiatrist Richard Gardner as a: “disorder that arises primarily in the context of child custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It is caused by a combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent’s indoctrinations and the child’s own contributions to the vilification of the targeted parent.”

While it is most often found between divorced parents it can also be found in other familial situations like yours.

You wanting your daughter to know who her grandmother really is will simply be using the same tactic you are accusing your mother of using with her—trying to convince your daughter that she (not you) is the bad one. You’d be using the same method to achieve the same goal—of alienating your daughter from your mother.

I’d recommend that you and your daughter go to family therapy together with a qualified marriage and family therapist. You can find on at the top of the page on the “find help” tab, or you can check out this organization to find a family therapist near you. Be sure the person you get is familiar with Parental Alienation as this is not a topic every therapist will be familiar with dealing with, but that most family therapists will understand.

Trying to convince your daughter on your own without professional guidance is not likely to help as much as you would want because of the above reason. Having a professional present who has worked with these issues before will be safer, and likely a better way to develop a relationship with your daughter.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

Parental Alienation Syndrome, Social Workers, Parental Rights

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2019). Parental Alienation Syndrome, Social Workers, Parental Rights. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 30 Jun 2019 (Originally: 2 Jul 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 30 Jun 2019
Published on Psych All rights reserved.