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3 Eur. J.L. Reform 383 (2001)
Parental Alienation Syndrome: Junk Science in Child Custody Determinations

handle is hein.journals/ejlr3 and id is 393 raw text is: Parental Alienation Syndrome: Junk
Science in Child Custody Determinations
Carol S. Bruch*
A. Introduction
As American courts and legislatures continue their enthusiastic ventures into family
law reform, they frequently make use of theories and research from the social
sciences. This essay focuses on a development in child custody law that may be of
particular interest to colleagues abroad: increasing scholarly and judicial criticism of
the so-called 'Parental Alienation Syndrome' (PAS), a theory propounded in 1985
that became widely used despite an absence of scientific foundations. The discussion
below highlights the theoretical and practical problems with PAS and identifies
analyses now being advanced in its stead.
B. PAS and Its Critics
L PAS Doctrine
Richard Gardner, a psychiatrist, coined the term 'Parental Alienation Syndrome
(PAS)' in 1985 to describe his clinical impressions of cases he believed involved
false allegations of child sexual abuse.' The essence of PAS, in his view, is a child's
campaign of denigration against a parent that results from 'programming
(brainwashing) of a child by one parent to denigrate the other parent [and]
self-created contributions by the child in support of the alienating parent's
* Carol S. Bruch, Professor of Law and Chair, Doctoral Programme in Human
Development, University of California, Davis, the US. For their generous and skilled
assistance, the author of this article wishes to thank reference librarians Peg Durkin, Erin
Murphy and Susan Llano of the UC Davis Law Library. The author is also grateful to
Tony Tanke, Esq., Beth Tanke, PhD, and her colleague, Professor Floyd Feeney, for
helping her to refine her thinking. Errors or omissions are, of course, the author's own.
R.A. Gardner, Recent Trends in Divorce and Custody Litigation, Academy Forum
(American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 1985) at pp. 3-7.
European Journal of Law Reform, Vol. 3, No. 3
© Carol S. Bruch. All Rights Reserved. Published with the permission of the author.

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