The aberrant & distorted behaviors and parenting practices of a Pathogenic Parent are the symptoms of psychopathology called Pathogenic Parenting Disorder. Pathogenic Parenting Disorder is a form of Delusional Disorder, and the delusions that this parent is experiencing are of the Persecutory subtype. A persecutory delusion is a type of delusion in which a person believes that they or someone they are close with is being malevolently treated in some way. The Pathogenic Parent will usually have a history of some form of personality disorder that has gone undiagnosed. This parent then experiences trauma or an event in their life that is the trigger of the pathology, which causes them to develop Pathogenic Parenting Disorder.
The general definition of a delusion is an unshakable belief in something untrue or not based on reality or a fixed false belief. In the case of Pathogenic Parenting Disorder, a parent is experiencing what is known as Non-Bizarre Persecutory Delusions, which involve situations that could occur in real life. These delusions involve the other parent and that they are malevolently treating the child in some way. These delusions usually involve these parents misinterpretation of perceptions or experiences based on mental health issues from these parents past and are not based on reality.
When a parent develops pathogenic parenting disorder, they form a fixed false belief, or in other words, a delusion that the other parent is now a danger to the Child. This delusion causes this parent to unconsciously believe that the Childs relationship with the other parent must be terminated. A parent who suffers from Pathogenic Parenting Disorder will believe these things with near certainty, and usually, no amount of therapy will change their mind. Many times up until this personality disordered parent experiences some form of recent trauma in their life, there will be no noticeable signs of mental illness or psychopathology in this parent. The trauma or event that triggers the pathology can be the pain experienced during divorce, a breakup with a boyfriend or some other experience, which is an extreme setup back for the alienating parent, and which reactivates trauma from their past. This reactivated trauma can trigger the development of Pathogenic Parenting Disorder in the already personality disordered parent.
David Fluss Expert & Litigation Consultant