Thursday, January 22, 2009

Lowenstein on PAS

Educational, Clinical and Forensic Psychological Consultant and Chartered Psychologist Dr Ludwig F. Lowenstein has very kindly agreed to me reproducing three of his articles on that common scourge of children disputes, Parental Alienation Syndrome ('PAS'), on Family Lore Focus. The first article, 'Implacable Hostility Leading to Parental Alienation' can now be found on Family Lore Focus, here.

Dr Ludwig F. Lowenstein M.A., Dip. Psych., Ph.D. founded Southern England Psychological Services in 1978, following years of experience as a Consultant Psychologist and after serving the Hampshire Education Authority as Chief Educational Psychologist. He obtained his M.A. and Doctorate in Psychology and Education at London University, and is one of Britain's most quoted authorities on psychology in Education. Over the years he has held such appointments as: Director of Assessment and Guidance for maladjusted boys with learning difficulties, London and Winchester; Chief Examiner in Education Psychology, College of Preceptors, London; former educational psychologist in Essex and London; Visiting Lecturer to the Universities of London, Southampton, Maryland (U.S.A.), and Visiting Professor to the University of Khartoum (Sudan), as well as to many U.K. Colleges of technology and teacher training colleges. He is currently an Educational and Psychological Consultant. He was made a fellow of the college of Preceptors and has also published books and over 360 articles on a variety of subjects including those dealing with Forensic matters.


  1. The article isn't very scientific is it? Being open minded I would love someone to point me in the direction of scientific data about PAS because to my knowledge their are only two small scale empirical studies and one of those found, in contrast to PAS theory, children’s negative behavior and attitudes toward a parent have "multiple determinants."

    The trouble with a list of signs is that theoretically any number of reasons could 'alienate' a child, and yes, the child can manifest some aspects from conversations between adults etc, but that is true of both sides, if a NRP (mother or father) curses the PWC the child could then repeat this making the PWC less likely to be forthcoming with contact etc.

    I could literally give a multitude of reasons behind symptoms that children show and the possible/ probable causes attatched to them, but it's a flipped coin unless someone works with the family to find out the root of the evil.

    As a side issue I have a beef about references to DSM-IV. In the UK the diagnostic criteria used in mental health is the International Classification of Diseases 10, not DSM-IV.

  2. Thanks for that Fiona. I'm not sure that I am qualified to comment, but you may find the Doctor's other articles of interest.

  3. John

    have you ever got splinters in your backside from sitting on the fence so much?

    I would add that PAS is often imagined by fathers who have the wrong attitude towards their kids. Unless they make contact a pleasurable experience it will never work. Then, they blame the mother.


  4. Thankfully, my fence is splinter-free!

    Yes, I'm sure that what you say is sometimes true.

  5. Following on from Fiona's comment, I wonder what 'scientific data' would look like. The purpose of the PAS hypothesis (presumably) was to enable courts and other professionals to determine whether a child who expresses hostility towards contact is being abused by the contact parent or alienated by the resident parent (or, indeed, both). That seems to me a very important discrimination, which the system as it stands tackles very poorly.

    Researchers into PAS consequently identified a number of indicators; Lowenstein has 28, Amy Baker (for example) only has 8.

    The problem, in terms of being scientific, is that there can be no control, and no absolute, objective way of determining each case other than the list of indicators. That makes for a rather circular argument.

    The scientific method demands a control and experimentation; unfortunately society disapproves of experimentation on children (though the family courts do it every day). I can't see how one can progress scientifically on this, other than by accepting the indicators as a working hypothesis, and then refining them through experience. I think that is what Lowenstein is trying to do.


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