Your training is not complete…

… until you understand maternal alienation (as opposed to paternal alienation).

If you have a daughter,mother, sister or niece, if you work as a teacher, police, social worker, psychiatrist, lawyer, (yes the list goes on) you are at high risk of unintentionally hurting families until you read and understand the linked document.

We invite you to grab a cuppa and relax as you immerse yourself in a whole new world of best practice.  The day will soon come when those who do not implement the learnings published and referenced here will be open to law suit.


Child protection – we’re doing it wrong!

We’ve been doing some reading, and weren’t surprised to see that research demonstrated way back in 1988 that the UK “Child Protection” system, much like our own, has been causing many more children unnecessary trauma than the number of children they have been protecting.  They have been getting it wrong at a rate of 33 correct assessments to 1,195 falsely identified assessments of risk.

That’s 1,195 families suffering separation, legal battles and trauma to justify the protection of 33 children.  With 7 children slipping through the cracks!

So, what does it matter?  It matters because the tax payers pay for the intervention against those falsely assessed families, tax payers pay for the legal bills, tax payers pay for the health bills treating psychosomatic and psychological affliction of the parents and children who have been traumatised by unnecessary intervention.

Think we’re blowing the problem out of proportion?  We invite you to read DR Perry’s book “The boy who was raised as a dog” for a quick overview of how trauma comes about, how it passes through generations, how it affects the developing brain, how it is caused by the system, and how it causes great expense at the cost of tax payers.

Child Protection (we're doing it wrong!)

Child Protection (we’re doing it wrong!)

Find “The boy who was raised as a dog”

Read about the brain’s development and the importance of the mother and child relationship.

Just one thing… A book review

If you were to do one thing this month to address domestic violence or childhood sexual abuse I would suggest you read Dr Bruce D. Perry’s book ‘The boy who was raised as a dog’, co authored by Maia Szalavitz.

Tasmanians can learn a lot from this American clinician and his team.  Any domestic violence strategy not informed by Dr Perry’s lessons will fall short of its goal.  Any person working with children or trauma is kidding themselves and their clientelle if they claim to be employing best practice without incorporating Dr Perry’s learnings.

Well written and just 275 pages, the book is an easy read, and difficult to put down (make sure you do the dishes first.). The most knowledgeable among us will learn something from Dr Perry’s career as a Child Psychiatrist specialising in trauma.  The lessons shared by Dr Perry are world changing, and applicable at the personal level.  Resist the temptation to avoid the reality portrayed by the authors.  Monitor yourself for signs of cognitive dissonance; the reality of childhood trauma and its legacy is a bitter pill to swallow.

Dr Perry shares the science and real experience of childhood trauma.  If you ever wondered what makes a person rape and murder, or wondered how to support a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, or how a neglected child can become a nurturing mother, this book will bring you the answers and more.  The relationship between trauma, the perpetrator and the abused is the key that will motivate society to bring a connected and holistic, person centred approach to supporting our most vulnerable people, and short circuiting the devastating cycle of neglect, abuse and perpetration.

I can see the day coming when professionals who fail to implement Dr Perry’s methods leave themselves open to law suite.

Sociopathy the predictor of childhood sexual abuse (CSA)

It is no surprise to this survivor that sociopathy was found by researchers to be the primary predictor of childhood sexual abuse (CSA).  Not substance abuse.  Not socio economic status, clear and simple: sociopathy.  Where there is sociopathy, there is opportunism, power and control.

“In summary, we found that parental sociopathy predicted childhood sexual abuse more strongly than did parental substance abuse and family functioning.”  Is this surprising, when sociopathy “is linked to other criminal behaviours, substance abuse, personality disorders, and negative outcomes in children.” (Maker, Kemmelmeier and Peterson, 1999)?  The researchers write: “Although such factors may well contribute to abuse, our findings suggest that parental sociopathy may actually trigger and maintain sexual abuse, even in families not characterised by chemical dependence or family dysfunction.”

Now, the authors named their paper “Parental Sociopathy as a predictor for childhood sexual abuse” because their research covered the family unit.  No doubt, further research will confirm what survivors already know: the key word here is sociopathy.  It is sociopathy and associated lack of empathy and lack of conscience that allows our most prolific abusers to traumatise 150 or more victims, sometimes thousands of victims.

The important take home message from Maker, Kemmelmeier and Peterson’s work though may surprise you: “Other theorists have stressed that sexual abuse occurs in the context of a dysfunctional family environment.  In these families, stress, poor communication,conflict, and issues of control and power contribute to the occurrence of sexual abuse.”

It seems that Maker, Kemmelmeier and Peterson should be comparing notes with Adelaide’s Anne Morris, who has a stong grasp on how fathers, grandparents and the system can act to alienate a mother, bringing stress, poor communication, conflict, and issues of power and control to the daily struggle of a single mother’s life, thereby making her children vulnerable to sexual predators.

If you need any more convincing of the relationship between the grandmother who teaches her granchildren to keep secrets and who tells them that their mother is bossy (try sending your kids to bed now eh?) or, commonly enough, mentally ill, you will want to read “A Model Linking Diverse Women’s Child Sexual Abuse History With Sexual Risk Taking” (Watson et al 2012).

Watson and his team expected to find a causal relationship between child sex abuse and sexual risk taking.  What they found instead was a close relationship between Body Surveillance and Body Shame, Alexithymia, reduced Sexual Efficacy, and Sexual Risk Behaviours in that order.  It is understandable that Watson et al assumed that this chain of effect is triggered by childhood sexual abuse.  While disproving that relationship, Watson et al resisted the temptation to guess at the actual cause of body surveillance, other than the obvious and pervasive objectification of women by the media.  I have never been one for resisting temptation though, and offer Watson et al and the reader this: a narcissistic mother, now grandmother, typically denigrates her “scapegoat child”, often accusing her virgin child of being a whore, while projecting her own body shape obsessions on her unfortunate offspring.  The enabling father supports the narcissistic mother in glaring down any difference of opinion or effort to express oneself.  The daughter of a narcissistic mother can expect to be accused of being a bad parent, mentally ill (all of this without basis), and can expect that her mother will payroll and incite legal actions by the grandchildren’s father.  The result is a woman who exhibits a high degree of body surveillance and body shame, has trouble expressing herself, setting boundaries and meeting her own needs.  She is a woman who appears anxious and frought.  That is because, through no fault of her own, she is.

In plain speak, when a person sees themselves as an object/ sexual object, is denied expression of their true self, such as when a narcissistic mother tells her virgin daughter she is a whore, focusses on her daughter’s body shape etc., the person internalises that message, sees themself as a sexual object, and can take to frequent physical inspection and evaluation of her own body.  This can lead to body shame, alixythemia, and to reduced agency and efficacy, that is a reduced tendency to draw safe boundaries, to insist on the use of protection etc.  Alixythemia is cognitive and affective difficulties in identifying and describing emotions, distinguishing between emotional and bodily sensations, and introspective thought.  This leads to reduced sexual efficacy and boundary setting.  When we cannot assertively express and negotiate our sexual needs and preferences, risky sexual behaviours tend to follow, as demonstrated by Watson et al.

What society is resistant to acknowledging is that the single Mum did not invite nor cause the abuse.  In fact it is the divide and conquer toxicity of the narcissistic grandmother, the antagonistic actions of the ex, that force repeated legal proceedings, social isolation and general stress on the mother and her children.  This reduces the mother’s capacity to set boundaries to protect her brood, and leaves her vulnerable to any sexual predator who is proficient with an electric drill and a spanner.  Because the grandmother has ensured her extended family are not speaking with her, and by denying her the support we mistakenly assume every grandmother affords her offspring, the mother and her children are forced into the very dysfunction that Maker et al describe as the environment allowing childhood sexual abuse to start and continue unchecked.

It must be noted that the mother rarely knows about the childhood sexual abuse of her children while it is happening, and that the abuser uses the maternal alienation techniques described by Anne Morris to discredit the children and their protective mother within her own community, throughout the abuse cycle.

For a mother of sexual abuse survivors, who has likely been subjected to abuse herself by her children’s sociopathic abuser, it is a no win situation as the system eagerly picks up the antagonists’ line of the cliche bad mother, laying blame on her and further traumatising the mother and children.

Thank goodness our researchers are beginning to catch on.  What can you do?  Share this story, and hug a single Mum today.


Parental sociopathy as a predictor of childhood sexual abuse.

Bravehearts statistics.

A Model Linking Diverse Women’s Child Sexual Abuse History With Sexual Risk Taking; Watson et al 2013

Anne Morris’ Maternal Alienation project fact sheet

Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers

Fair’s fair Jacqui Petrusma

We were concerned today to hear Jacqui Petrusma suggest that 1 in 3 men is guilty of domestic violence.

People participate in domestic violence for various reasons; some lack resources and simply are not coping.  Some express themselves violently because they are afraid or because they do not know a peaceful way to express themselves.  These may be the people Jacqui thinks about when she assumes that the number of female victims equates directly to the number of perpetrators.

In fact there is another class of perpetrator of violence against women, a class of perpetrator that does not fit Jacqui Petrusma’s well meaning but misinformed formula.

This other class of perpetrator accesses and abuses “more than their fair share” of women (or men as the case may be).  We are therefore deeply concerned by Jacqui’s assumption on several counts: one that a perception that one in three men is a perpetrator of domestic violence is a gross and unfortunate misrepresentation of Tasmanian men and men globally; and two that Jacqui’s assumption flows from ignorance of a serious factor in understanding domestic violence:  the ‘low conscience’ disorders.

The low and no conscience disorders are biological, chemical and physical disorders.  The brain of a ‘low conscience’ person operates differently to the brain of the general population.  It is estimated that there are between 5000 and 20000 people currently living in Tasmania who have a low conscience disorder.  It must be stressed that not all of these engage in abusive and criminal activities.

People who have low or no conscience are typically charming, bold, risk takers who rise to the top of their industry quickly.  They can attract partners easily, and often have multiple partners, both ‘significant’ and casual.  The highly intelligent among them are able to gain new skills incredibly rapidly, and have a differing hierarchy of needs that allows for them to behave in ways that are simply unbelievable to the general population.

Expert in the field Robert Hare writes: ”Laboratory experiments using biomedical recorders have shown that psychopaths lack the physiological responses normally associated with fear.” “Lying, deceiving, and manipulation are natural talents for psychopaths.” “Much of the lying seems to have no motivation other than what psychologist Paul Ekman refers to as a ‘duping delight’.”

They have a low need for community, honesty, sleep and food.  This means that they can carry out unethical and criminal activities within surprisingly tight time constraints.  They lie more easily than they tell the truth, and lie for no apparent reason because they play a constant game of “duper’s delight”.  It is generally accepted that people without conscience are not rehabilitatable and have a high rate of recidivism.  The good news is that the successful management of one low conscience perpetrator is likely to protect numerous women and children.

Low conscience is significant in the fight against domestic violence on many levels:

People of low conscience can participate in relationships and perpetrate abuse with several partners simultaneously.  They can perpetrate abuse and crimes that the general public find horrific and literally unbelievable.  They can lie convincingly to the justice system that is currently geared to assume all persons to be honest.  The crimes they commit are so awful that victims are disbelieved, and victims can disbelieve their own eyes.

This phenomenon of not believing what is truly awful is termed cognitive dissonance.  Cognitive dissonance makes it easy for a perpetrator: to groom a family to accept abuse, to believe it “normal behaviour” (“every marriage has its ups and downs after all”); and to groom a community that typically does not wish to believe “the worst”.

Complicating the domestic violence conversation further is the unfortunate fact that people of low conscience are typically drawn to positions of power or influence, and roles involving vulnerable people.  The result is that victims are not only abused by the original perpetrator, but must navigate a minefield of professionals and services that can be corrupted imperceptibly by the cultural influence of colleagues and management who may also exhibit low conscience traits.  Just one person of low conscience within a workplace can have a devastating influence over an individual case of domestic violence, and the workplace culture at large.

If a person’s parent is of low conscience this adds a whole new level of vulnerability for the offspring, ie. adult children and grandchildren.  At this stage it would seem that our Child Protection and Family Court systems are ignorant of this significant dynamic.

As an example of the potential for these people to abuse “more than their fair share” we quote expert in the field Robert D Hare, a researcher in the field of Criminal Psychology. In his book Without Conscience Robert writes:

“Most psychopaths have lots of victims. It is certain that a psychopath who is causing you grief is also causing grief to others.”  “Everyone is vulnerable to the psychopath, and there is no shame in being victimized. This may be difficult to accept if you have just been conned and are too embarrassed to complain to the police or to testify in court. But you may be surprised by the number of people in your community who have been taken in.”  “Not all psychopaths end up in jail. Many of the things they do escape detection or prosecution, or are on the ‘shady side of the law.’ For them, antisocial behavior may consist of phony stock promotions, questionable business and professional practices, spouse or child abuse, and so forth. Many others do things that, although not illegal, are unethical, immoral, or harmful to others: philandering, cheating on a spouse, financial or emotional neglect of family members, irresponsible use of company resources or funds, to name but a few.”

While the low conscience disorders make an appearance in the psychiatric diagnostic manual DSM-V, the clinical description fails to highlight the destructive nature of the low conscience disorder. For an accurate picture of how the low conscience disorders play out at home, in the workplace, in business and in government it is necessary to peruse the many victim/survivor forums. There is also a steadily growing number of books available on the subject.

We welcome the State Government’s action on domestic violence and urge that allocation of funds considers management of the low conscience disorders.

In the interest of educating the Tasmanian Community Becky invites readers to share their story anonymously here.

Further reading:

Without Conscience; Robert D Hare

Bad Boys, Bad Men; Donald Black

Puzzling People; Thomas Sheridan

Backstabbers and Bullies; Adrian Furnham

Author: Becky and Dean Morgan (pseudonyms used in order to protect the identity of child victims)

Refer: Without Conscience; Robert D. Hare; The Guilford Press; 1999; ISBN 9781572304512

To view the press release click here