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(Original Air Date: 10/03/08) (It’s being called the ultimate form of child abuse -- brainwashing your children against an ex-spouse to win custody. Could you be harming your child emotionally and not even know it? First up, Ken is a successful surgeon who says he’s the victim of parental alienation syndrome (PAS). He says he hasn’t seen his 14-year-old son since last October and claims his ex-wife destroyed what was once a loving father-son relationship. Mel Feit, director of the National Center for Men, says Ken’s situation is a classic case of kids being turned against their father, but family law attorney Liz Kates says PAS is a phony tactic used by some men to get out of paying child support. What does Dr. Phil think? Then, Karen lost custody of her children after she was accused of parental alienation syndrome by her ex-husband. Karen maintains her innocence, so why were her parental rights terminated when her daughters accused her ex of sexual abuse? Plus, 19-year-old Demi joins the show via Web cam and says her father verbally abused her mother during their divorce. Now, she fears that her 15-year-old sister is caught in the middle. Find out what you can do if you’re caught between sparring parents. And, meet a father so desperate to see his young children, he kidnapped them from his ex-wife and went on the lam for two years. Talk about the show here.

Find out what happened on the show.
Comments
Replied By: tracyeferguson on Feb 6, 2014, 12:38PM
So, I am seeing this episode for the first time today, Feb. 6, 2013.  I am almost 51 years old, and I lived thru this exact topic being discussed.......It was a horrible experience.  My mother had me convinced my father did not love me, did not pay child support and just all around didn't care.  As a child living 500 miles away from my father, I believe her.  My parents had me kind of late in life, 38 and 40, and divorced when I was 7, I think.  I don't have very many memories from my childhood. ( I feel like I'm rambling.)  After living with my mother during the "school year" and hearing all the things about my father, the day after school was out, I was sent 500 miles away from my mother to spend the summer with someone I was told didn't love or want me, my father.  It was a very uncomfortable situation, I was quiet, shy and didn't talk much.  I was also told that my father's whole family felt the same way as he did.                                              I survived, sort of, graduated, got married and had a child.  These are the things I was told I was supposed to do.  Not go to College, get married!  I decided to find out for myself how my father felt.  As an adult, everytime I went and visited him, when I returned home, I would get the cold shoulder from my mother for a while.  I was 25 when my mother passed away.  I felt like she died and I never received her approval on anything.  I was then able to get close to my father.  He was in WW2, and was disabled.  Child support was Social Security.  Something that was failed to be told to me.  I really regret my child hood.  For the love I missed out on, for the way I feel about my husband.    My father had faults I don't deny that, but the one thing I know for sure, he never said one bad thing about my mom in front of ME.  Only asked about her well being.  I was 32 when my father passed away.  When he died I KNEW that he LOVED me and always had.  There is more to this story, but this is what pertains to me and my parents.  I have never written to a show before, and I know this is an old show.  I just thought I would write and tell you how this has been going on for more years then anyone probably knows, and it is terrible.  I am finally able to go to therapy and talk about things to try and fiqure out "WHO I REALLY AM".......I hope I find out before I die!  Have a good day!
 
Replied By: trinity08809 on Feb 6, 2014, 11:49AM
It is absolutely true that parents brainwash their children during a seperation or divorce! I am living proof of this! My mother made me hate my father when i was a kid. She filled my head full of lies about him and men in general. I had no respect for my father or any other male figure in my life. She even had me give her father's day cards stating she's more of a father than he ever was. I hated my dad and wanted nothing to do with him. When he would come to my house to pick up my brothers and visit us I was not allowed to see him. I wasn't even allowed to look at him through the window. I rebelled one day and ran out of my house crying to give him a hug. He cried and hugged me tight. She never let me see him again until i moved out. Up until two years ago she still bad mouthed him to me on a daily bases. I no longer speak to my mother. It was two years this january since i have. I have a wonderful relationship with my father now and i am so grateful. My mother i came to find out is a narcissist  which is a WHOLE other story. I could go on for hours but i just wanted to point out that the brainwashing in fact DOES happen!!
 
Replied By: atlmichelle on Aug 7, 2012, 10:41AM
The 2008 show is interesting and helpful. But I would be very interested in a current show about this issue. Whether you call it "PA Syndrome", "brainwashing" or whatever. Clearly this does happen. My partner and I have found ourselves in this very hopeless situation. The book "Divorce Poison" by Dr. Richard A. Warshak has at least helped us realize we are not alone. We have searched for local support groups with no luck. And it seems like this topic is due for another round of awareness-raising.


Thank You
 
Replied By: kirsty23 on Jun 21, 2012, 8:33PM
I would like to begin by saying that I was a victim of parental alienation by my father when my parents began going through the separation process when I was 12. My mother left due to abuse and my father controlling her every moment. He isolated her from friends and family and took the phone with him wherever he went so she could not contact anyone. My younger sister and I initially endured about a year of seeing our mother with our dad discouraging it, telling us to lie and say that she hit us and threatened to leave all the time. When he got sole custody by telling lies to the courts (he was saying all the things HE did were done by our mother-i.e. not cooking, or letting us see our friends and go on school excursions and claiming she hit and spanked us) it only got worse. We were subjected to constant barrages of comments about her doing this and that (which we knew she did not do) and constant threats that if we showed an interest in wanting to even visit her that we would be taken away and have to live with her all the time and move schools and never see our friends again. We were told to tell her we did not want to go visit her.  It got worse when we were subjected to daily threats that our father was going to hire a hit-man to kill our mother if she kept causing trouble (trying to get custody and visits). This was of course traumatising and made us think that if we went along with his demands and brainwashing he would forget about these plans, which we believed he was capable of.

 

After a few years we began to ask questions, trying to piece together the truth-which we knew we were not getting from him. This was followed by violent outbursts that ended in my sister and I fearing for each others safety. This was then followed by him trying to separate us so we could not support each other in arguments with him about our mother and he began turning my sister against me by treating me better than her and man-handling her when they had fights. After 6 years of this my sister ran away to go live with our mum. A year later I began seeing her regularly, slowly rebuilding our relationship up after 7 years of not knowing each other, and after another few years of putting up with my fathers’ tirades against my mother I left home.

 

I now see my mother without any abuse from my father as it has been almost 2 years since I was him last. I feel bad for not seeing him as he is not very physically or mentally healthy and his condition is deteriorating, but I cannot face that abuse again. As a result of this abuse I ended up with severe stress and sever anxiety, which I was medicated for. After all this time of not putting up with the abuse I am now medication free and a, left wondering if I am doing the right thing by not seeing my father to ensure my own sanity and stress free life without his abuse. Although my relationship with my mum is great now, my relationship with my sister is still strained. I still wish to this day that we had been sent to see a counsellor as part of the court process so that it was not just our fathers word that determined this whole experience.  
 
Replied By: averagewomansj on May 17, 2012, 6:00AM
Watched this episode this morning.  Struck a chord.  We went through what we felt was alienation by my husband's ex for over 20 years.  It was intense when the kids were younger.  We never 'played' the game because we felt it was wrong.  I didn't permit negative comments with my daughter towards her father or his wives or family.  We weren't going to do it with my stepchildren.  Even after they were grown, and we were all supposedly now 'civililzed' it still has it's effects.  One stepdaughter is comfortable with us and we have a good relationship.  The other is still distant.  We keep the door open, ignore the hurful things when they happen, and treat her the same as the other two girls when we are all together.  Did I mention all three girls are the same age?  My husband's heart still breaks with regularity. We will be going to her grad school graduation this weekend.  Already, he is hurting after a phone conversation with her last night.  We have already decided to come back early, since there will really be no opportunity to spend any real time with her.  We are so happy for her, and proud of her.  But the hurt never goes away, and never needed to be there in the first place.  In this part of our lives, we are always sad.  We can speculate on whys, we can theorize on the long term effects, we can point fingers.  In the end, none of that matters.  It is just sad.  It affects all the girls, and us.  All unnecessary and sad.  Perhaps it accomplished some goal her mother had.  I don't know.  I just know that, even now, no matter what, I never entertain mean or spiteful comments about my daughter's father with her, and I never express negative feelings towards her stepmother.  Do I have them?  You bet. But I don't have the right to impose that on my daughter.  Is it hard?  Even after all this time?  Yes.  My daughter just got married, and there were times at the wedding that I wanted to scream.  But it was my daughter's wedding, and I wasn't going to let anything change that happy day.  I didn't spend the last 27 years living by a certain set of rules to throw it all away in a moment of hurt or anger.  I guess it comes down to loving your children more than you love yourself.  I just wish my husband didn't hurt so much,. but it's just an 'is'.  Thank you for listening.
 
Replied By: mpjohnson28 on Jan 10, 2012, 7:59AM
It's very upsetting to me when I see or hear about parents that tear apart the other parent to their childen or in ear distance's of their children that can hear how much one parent hates the other or what not. && what's sad is most of these "parents" are suppose to be the adult and should be supportive and encouraging to thier childen about whatever it may be they want & it upsets me above and beyond that just because the parents didnt get their relationship to work out between each other &/or they have sour feelings toward the other, Neither Parent Mom or Dad have any RIGHT to put down the other and talk negatively about the other to "THEIR" children.  I am 27 years old Single Mom, My Son now is 5 years old going on 6years old this year. He is a wonderful, loving, big hearted , smart little man and he makes me so proud. Now altho me and his father did not make our relationship last I have NEVER once talked badly about his father. Altho we broke up while I was pregnant and had a rocky relationship from the start; and his father was abusive towards me; & One biggest time that sticks out in my mind was when I was 4-5months Pregnant and he got physically abusive && all I was doing was protecting my belly. So, as example I could be telling my son how horrible of a guy he is and he hit his mommy and this and that BUT instead when my son talks about his father (who btw he really doesnt know; Last visit his Father wanted to see him was when he was 6 months old) , So when my Son's has been recently noticing that his friends in school have their Dad's around; He started to ask me about his Dad & why he doesnt have a Dad and his friends do. Now altho that was heart breaking to me for my Son to say I did not go off to talk negetive about his father. I have just told him (in 5 year old talk) that he does have a Dad but he lives very far away in a different state so when my son goes on with more questions about "So why don't I get to see him?" I do not go off and tell him "Cuz he doesnt want too" but what I do say is "Your Daddy just has tough times he has to take care of and that I Know he loves you" So NOW I'm Proud to Say My Son who doesnt even know his Father now talks very highly about his father and we still have talks about his Daddy when he has more questions and had become more detailed about those questions. & I'm very proud to say my son came up to me one day out of the blue and gave me a hug and a kiss & said to me "You a good Mom" & "Mommy, I Miss My Dad" & I can honestly say I wasnt expecting that so my first reaction was jus " Baby you don't know him?" and he looks at me and says " Mom, So what! I can still Miss My Dad and I can still Love him" Aww that just melted my heart and so I responded with "Yes baby I also miss your Dad and I love him too" I did not and do not want my son to feel alone on how he may feel about his Dad and I want him to be able to be comfortable enough to come to me and talk about his father. Altho I havent heard from his father in almost 5 years now (Last time he called & we spoke was on his 1st Birthday) & It was his father's choice to not be around for his son and we went thru Alot and I had very sour feelings toward him because of it and what he had done, I was heart broken, lonely, upset & all of the above but now of course 5 years later I have gotten over those feelings and just wish and hope that his Father will come around before it's too late. Not that before I didnt want him to be around for my son because that's all I have ever wanted but neither one of us were in a stable stated mind toward each other. Anyways I just have to say, After all that I had gone thru w/ my son;s father & how badly hurt I was and have been by his actions NOT ONCE have I EVER talked BADLY about my son's Father. So these "Parents" who do that to their children are so wrong in so many ways,. I believe that My Son has a right to have his own feelings toward his Father but his feelings will be based off how I act and how I talk about his father and since I have not said anything negative My Son Loves and Miss's his Dad no matter if he knows him or not. So I believe EVERY Child has a RIGHT to have their OWN feelings and NO PARENT should interrupt that but encourage good feelings toward the other parent and should encourage and support their children to have a relationship w/ the other parent. It's just very upsetting to me when these Mothers (& Fathers) use their Kids a a tug a war between each other especially when in reality they are loving Mom's and Dad's but let their hurtful feelings get in the way of allowing thier children to have a good relationship w/ one and not have guilt when w;/ another. && It Piss's Me OFF when wether it be a Mother or Father that may  have Custody and the other is suppose to be paying Child Support but if they don't; Either Mother or Father uses that against the other and usues their child as a damn Money Tree so they won't allow them to go see whoever it may be Father Mother because they owe MONEY!!!!! I see this happening so much and even with my friends and I get so upset because I would give anything for My Son to be able to have his Father around and he is suppose to pay child support but he doesnt and hasnt but jus recently we barely started contact again (altho I am taking it day by day and step by step because a lot has happened & he can change in a heart beat) but when I found out his wife of a year but have been together for several years cuz he was seeing her while still with me when i was pregnant but Sadly she passed (younger than me) and so I took that to step up and show my son's father (my ex) that I do care still (always have) and If there's anything he needs to l et me know. Now after 5 years of not speaking not knowing where he was; I know it was probably a shock for him to see I sent him a facebook msg. but as of right now I'm taking it day by day and just HOPING progress keeps moving upwards. He now is in a way a single Dad and has a daughter by his wife (who passed) RIP but Again He is unpredictable and has many things to work on but I want us to leave the past in the past and realize we can become friends and he can work on being a great father to his son because when it comes down to it; He is and always has been a good guy deep down and has a huge heart but jus has some issues w/ things. So as of right now My Son keeps asking if he can see his Dad this summer when we go to visit our friends back home that we do every summer (we moved to Texas when my son was born cuz at that time it wasnt safe for me there) && altho I hope he can I don't get his hopes up and i just tell him I don't know baby but we'll see (My son doesnt know I am even talking to his Father again right now) I guess my point is if Parents pput their children inbtween their own feelings toward another'; in the long run it will turn on them. && (example) if I at only 27years old can move on and never ever talk bad about my son's father who was not the nicest to me and did me wrong in so many ways I cant even count on 2 hands but if I can be a mature in that way even if I had bad feelings toward than these parents that should know better need to just grow up and put their children first and their own feelings very last on the list. Altho I feel "old" but I am a young single mom andi ts been a struggle and still is; I work 50hours a week and trying to support my son and myself & I'm worn out, don't have a social life at all, and only get 4 hours of sleep each night; I AM MORE MATURE than these "Adults" that SHOULD know better. UGH! They need to get over themselfs suck it up and put what is right for their children FIRST!!!!!! Thank You


Sincerely, VERY PROUD SINGLE MOM of My #1 SON (He's My LIFE)   
 
Replied By: garydon5570 on Dec 16, 2011, 10:26PM
As for you Liz Kates who says that "PARENTAL ALIENATION SYNDRONE"(PAS) is a phony tactic used by fathers to get out of paying child support!! I havent seen my children in 2 years and i"m still paying child support and will continue. open your eyes woman a man that is being stripped of his children by council like you paying childsupport is not even and issue we are real "FATHERS " FIGHTING FOR OUR RIGHT TO HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH OUR CHILDREN!!!
 
Replied By: garydon5570 on Dec 16, 2011, 10:03PM
 
People i want to tell you this "Parental Alienation Syndrome" (PAS) and "Molicious Mother Syndrone is real. Yes it is people being mean but its a real sickness! My ex wife has one of the worst cases its been almost 5 years since the divorce and she hasnt let up yet. Its been 2 years since my family and I have seen my children,she doesnt let them have any contact with anyone on my side of the family my son actually run from me about 6 months ago. Every symptom that was listed in " Parental Alienation Syndrone"(PAS) and "MALICIOUS MOTHER SYNDRONE" i have actually encountered by my ex wife,her mother and sister. My ex wife and her sister was actually alienated from there Father by there mother and now they are doing it to me. So yes this is a sickness and is real. IF YOU HAVE ANY INFORMATION OR ANY CERTAIN STEPS I NEEDE TO TAKE TO GET MY CHILDREN PHYSCOLOGICAL HELP AND A RELATIONSHIP BACK WITH THERE FATHER WOULKD BE GREATLY APPRECIATED. You can email me at garycrain1970@gmail.com
 
Replied By: tblack64 on Dec 10, 2011, 4:46AM
I have been divorced for 18 years. My daughter was 3 yrs at the time. She experienced this attempted brainwashing by her father. This behavior by an adult is not a syndrome, it is just plain ol meaness that stems from anger. After a couple of times of being arrested for taking our child out of the court appointed times, he was cured! No more comments to her about mommy being mean or not letting him see her. Children are not pawns. The courts will stand behind the parent who is doing the right thing in my county. I can say the comments and actions of my ex-husband greatly affected my relationship with my child for many years in a negative way.Even though these things influenced my daughter's opinion of me, we all have a great relationship now.
 
Replied By: mommomdavis on Jun 21, 2011, 4:37PM

My Niece had an ugly divorce and husband got custody of daughter she got custody of son.  Father turned both children against the Now Grandparents got custody through courts and both mom and daughter have to go through counseling to help heal the child so the mother can have custody of the daughter again. Court for now took custody away from the father because of this even.  Daughter has become very unruly and hard to handle because dad has put into her head that mom is no good and mom is trying very hard to get along and show daughter she cares and wants her but she has been so brainwashed by dad that things are not going well. I know what they are talking about 
 
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