A look at what damage parental alienation can cause.
What is Separation Anxiety?
Separation anxiety is seen to be a normal part of childhood development between 8-12 months up until about the age of 3. However more older children and even adults are now known to be living with separation anxiety or otherwise known as Separation Anxiety Disorder (SAD), a fitting acronym.
A person may develop extreme anxiety due to the separation, or anticipated separation from a specific attachment figure. In children this would usually be a parent and in adults it's typically either their child(ren) or a significant other. A person may also manifest physical symptoms of separation anxiety such as headaches and feeling nauseous.
According to Healthline SAD tends to indicate general mood and mental health issues. Around one-third of children with SAD will be diagnosed with mental illness as an adult.
What are the symptoms of Separation Anxiety?
According to Healthline some of the most common symptoms include:
unfounded fears that loved ones, or yourself, will be abducted or fatally injured
extreme and persistent hesitancy or refusal to leave the proximity of a loved one
difficulty sleeping away from a loved one for fear that something will happen to them
depression or anxiety attacks related to any of the above topics
You may also have physical aches and pains, headaches and diarrhoea associated with periods of anxiety.
Separation anxiety, or SAD, can be an incredibly crippling affliction that often requires clinical diagnosis and treatment.
What is Parental Alienation?
Parental alienation is a term used to describe a situation whereby one parent is estranged from their child(ren) usually as a result of malicious intent by another party, typically the other parent.
It also occurs when a child refuses to have a relationship with a parent due to manipulation, such as the conveying of exaggerated or false information, by the other parent. The situation most often arises during a divorce or custody battle but it can happen in intact families as well.
The psychological trauma of parental alienation is well documented with a lot of industry experts agreeing that it is tantamount to emotional abuse. Some studies have suggested it can be just as devastating as physical abuse and sometimes more so, with many many parents sadly committing suicide as a result of parental alienation.
How are Separation Anxiety and Parental Alienation linked?
The biggest known cause of separation anxiety is considered to be a significant trauma or loss, this applies to both parents and children.
Parental Alienation is already well documented as a significantly traumatic experience for both parent and child. It's also an immediate feeling of loss for both parties so it's no surprise to me that separation anxiety is becoming more prevalent in not only older children but also adults as well.
For me personally the most traumatic experience I've ever had in my life was when I was stopped from seeing my child and I know for certain that was the beginning of my affliction with separation anxiety.
While I was being alienated from my child I found it very hard to do anything, I was depressed and I needed months of therapy to get myself into a more positive headspace. During that time I was slowly regaining more and more contact but it only made it harder for both of us each time we had to say goodbye.
Years on, post PA we have a fantastic relationship and see each other all the time however my child still to this day gets very upset every time they have to leave me and so do I. That feeling of loss never ever goes away. Each time my child leaves it feels like a bereavement, a pain all too familiar to any parent who's been alienated.
It's not something that has ever got easier for either of us. The residual impact of Parental Alienation is still evident, the scars have never fully healed.
Do I have Separation Anxiety?
If you've been a victim of parental alienation and/or you or your child experience any of the symptoms listed above you may well be living with separation anxiety or SAD.
In order to determine this it's recommended that you seek a medical professional in order to receive a clinical diagnosis for you and/or your child.
There are a lot of treatment options available in order to manage SAD and get past it so please don't hesitate to reach out to a professional if you feel that you're experiencing it. Alternatively, PAPA provide free to use spaces where you can find free advice and support for a vast number of topics and issues.
What can be done?
I know that my child and I are not an anomaly. I've experienced it first hand and I've seen and heard about it countless times. The link between separation anxiety and parental alienation is a strong one.
We are slowly seeing progress being made with research and studies being done about parental alienation.
I'd like to see more research done into cases of separation anxiety and how often they correlate with cases of parental alienation. I'd also be interested in seeing a study that compares the prevalence of separation anxiety in split family homes and one family homes.
I'd like to see more support being given to both parents and children who have overcome parental alienation to make sure that any indication of separation anxiety can be managed and treated effectively.
Let us know your thoughts...
If there's anything you'd like to share or say on the matter then please let us know in the comments or in the PAPA forum.