2001 Conference (May 27-29)

Vancouver, B.C. Canada

Gaetano Giordano

The Child Custody Dispute:
a Conflictive Praxis to Resolve a Conflictive Praxis and its "Psychopathological Problems"




As generally recognized, there are many child-custody-dispute-related psychopathological problems and behaviors. According to R. Gardner, for example, the PAS - Parental Alienation Syndrome, that "...is a very important disorder that arises primarily in the context of child-custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child's campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent's indoctrination and the child's own contributions to the vilification of the target parent." In this syndrome, as in many divorce dispute cases, the child or the children (very often, those who live with the custodial parent), refuse to meet (or to live) with the other parent.

Ira Turkat in the "Divorce-Related Malicious Mother Syndrome", describes the "Child Visitation Interference In Divorce". In addition, according to other authors, the problem of the False Allegations of Child Molestation and Abuse made during divorce custody and visitation disputes (According to Wakefield and Underwager (1991), 80% of the allegations of child sexual abuse made during divorce custody and visitation disputes are blatantly false) is very important. Furthermore, it's not infrequent that a child custody dispute ends with a death - a suicide, a murder or even a massacre of the whole family.

In the opinion of the Author, these problems are not the result of the family's or individual's "psychopathological problems", but are behaviors that we observe to arise in the domain of the circular interaction between the conflict of the parental couple and the legal conflict praxis. From this point of view, the problem is in the recursivity of this social "solutions", because the social system that we call "Law" (and that according Luhmann is an Autopoietic System) prefers to utilize a conflictive praxis to resolve a conflictive praxis.

The aim of the Author is to propose a new way to understand what psychiatry, psychology, social and judicial studies, and common people, usually intend for "Psychopathological Problems in the Divorce Litigation". So, he makes a distinction within the so called "psychopathological behaviors" that we observe in the divorce litigation contexts and outlines three different syndromes that are defined through the domain in which we can observe their arising: 1) Syndromes arising in the parent-child relation; 2) Syndromes arising within the conflicting couple behavior; 3) Adjustment disorders arising in separated parent.


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