Parental alienation is a term that refers to manipulative behavior by one parent in an attempt to turn the couple’s children against the other parent. Typically, the manipulative parent accomplishes the estrangement by painting a negative yet false portrayal of the victim parent via deprecating words, accusations and blame. Parental alienation can result in serious, lifelong damage to the children, which is why the Arizona courts treat the issue very seriously. It is also why researchers strive to understand the motivation behind the manipulation in the hopes that, one day, courts can prevent it for good.

According to Psychology Today, parents who commit parental alienation often demonstrate borderline personality and narcissistic tendencies. Those with borderline personality disorders tend to be emotionally hyper-reactive. What this means is that these individuals often get emotionally aroused too often and too intensely. They also lack the ability to self-soothe and demonstrate deficits in emotional resilience. Oftentimes, those with borderline personality disorders hold onto a victim self-image and blame those around them for whatever goes wrong in their lives.

When it comes to parental alienation, borderline disorders are evident in the way the manipulative parent distorts reality. For instance, a parent might tell the child that the healthier parent is “crazy” or “selfish,” when, in fact, he or she is one or both of those things.

Narcissism, on the other hand, is selfishness on steroids. Narcissistic individuals tend to be highly self-absorbed and lack the ability to listen to others’ differing perspectives. Instead, these individuals focus almost exclusively on what they want, feel, think and believe and rarely, if ever, take into consideration others’ wishes, including those of their own children. Narcissistic individuals are more focused on using their children as pawns than on their actual well-being and therefore lack the capacity to consider their children’s best interests.

This article is for educational purposes only. You should not use it as legal advice.