Definitions and Videos from Experts

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Jayne Major, Ph.D., Parenting Educator & Child Custody Consultant

Definition of Terms


Parental alienation syndrome is term coined by Richard A. Gardner in the early 1980s to refer to what he describes as a disorder in which a child, on an ongoing basis, belittles and insults one parent without justification, due to a combination of factors, including indoctrination by the other parent (almost exclusively as part of a child custody dispute) and the child’s own attempts to denigrate the target parent. Gardner introduced the term in a 1985 paper, describing a cluster of symptoms he had observed during the early 1980s. source


Hostile aggressive parenting is a serious form of child maltreatment and abuse, and is encountered in most high conflict child-custody disputes and is often used as a tool to align the child with one parent during litigation. source PAS and HAP have been used interchangibly.

Alienator or Alienating Parent

One parent deliberately damages, and in some cases destroys, the normal, loving relationship between his or her child and the child’s other parent. In severe PAS cases, the alienating parent and child work together to successfully eliminate the previously loved Mom or Dad from the child’s life.

Lost or Hated or Absent Parent

The lost (and usually non-custodial) parent is the one who is the target of the alienator.


Any actions, whether physical or psychological, that lead to the negative perception of a parent. Specifically refers to tactics utilized in order to induce PAS.

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