Back in 2009, we blogged about the possible inclusion of Parental Alienation Syndrome in the long awaited next version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)

In that post, I discussed a US News and World Report article that addressed a movement afoot to add "parental alienation" to the next addition of the DSM (ie. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) published by the American Psychiatric Association.

However, as expected for some time, the American Psychiatric Association board of trustees has recently approved the DSM 5 which has will be released in May 2013 and it has been confirmed that Parental Alienation Syndrome will not be included in the DSM V.

I am sure that this is both a defeat to some and a happy time for others. As I noted back then, while there appears to be little debate on whether parental alienation in both subtle and not so subtle forms goes on, there is a debate as to whether it represents a mental illness. On top of that, there is concern that certain opposition to visiting with a parent could either be age appropriate (eg. a teenager being oppositional) or otherwise justified.

No matter where you stand on the debate as to whether parental alienation is a mental illness, it is clear that alienating behavior in whatever form, big or small, cannot be good for the children that are exposed to it.  That said, because it will not be in the DSM, the debate over the issue shall rage on.  Moreover, without a diagnostic code, it will be difficult to get insurance companies, where coverage for mental health issues is often challenging, to pay for treatment related to parental alienation.

Eric Solotoff is the editor of the New Jersey Family Legal Blog and the Co-Chair of the Family Law Practice Group of Fox Rothschild LLP. Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Lawyer and a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Attorneys, Eric practices in Fox Rothschild’s Roseland, New Jersey office though he practices throughout New Jersey. You can reach Eric at (973)994-7501, or

2 Responses to Parental Alienation Syndrome Will Not Be Included In the DSM 5

309.28 Adjustment Disorder with depression and anxiety. Ins companies cover that dx and it is the closest we have at the moment. Depending on the symptoms, of course. Honestly, PAS isn’t exactly a raging debate. The mental health community generally agrees this proposed “syndrome” is too vague and ill-defined. Although I believe Gardner and proponents like Amy Baker are onto something, it isn’t really taken seriously (‘it’ being the symptoms constituting its own recognized disorder).

With that said, I wish they would approve it for the next DSM just so parents who exploit and emotionally abuse their children to get at their spouse would be forced to stop.

Thanks for your post on parental alienation. Even though this destructive family dynamic will not be in the DSM, it a a huge problem for countless children, parents and extended family members.

If you get a second, please check out our website at I’m confident you’ll find our information and many parental alienation resources helpful.


mike jeffries

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