There are many possible disorders and syndromes that are not officially recognized by the American Psychological Association and are not featured in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, but that doesn’t mean people don’t suffer from these issues.
Two unofficially recognized psychological issues that come to mind are Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) and Parental Alienation (PA).
The differences between the two are that Parental Alienation deals with “abusive behaviors of a parent” and Parental Alienation Syndrome deals with “the possible effects of PA on the child,” according to Sarvy Emo, the treasurer and founder of Parental Alienation Awareness Organization (PAAO).
Parental Alienation is the “mental manipulation and/or bullying of children, which can result in destroying a loving and warm relationship they once shared with a parent,” according to the PAAO website.
This includes one parent targeting another through alienation and encouraging the child to do so as well. The whole purpose is to gain control and hurt the other parent, while sometimes a parent is alienated out of fear of losing a child or children. This type of scenario is usually seen during separation or divorce.
The result is Parental Alienation Syndrome, where the child avoids and hates the other parent for little or no reason.
The term Parental Alienation Syndrome was coined in the 1980s by Richard Gardner, and Parental Alienation characteristics have been noted in some court cases from the 1800s, Emo said in an e-mail.
The main reason why the APA hasn’t considered PA or PAS as official diagnoses is because there is not enough data to support these disorders/syndromes.
“Since 1996 there [has] been a ton of research on the subject and I believe the DSM is now considering entering Parental Alienation Disorder into the book, though it has not been decided either way,” Emo said.
Sol Rappaport, a clinical and forensic psychologist in Illinois, is working on a paper on parental alienation.
In a statement, he said, "My view is that most people, including professionals, do not fully understand the dynamics of it and how to assess for it.