The word “Patho” means Pathological, and the word “Genesis” means Creation. A Pathogenic Parent describes a parent whose behavior and parenting is so abnormal or pathological; they create mental illness in a child. That causes the child to terminate or cut off their relationship with the other parent and also other family members.
The aberrant and 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 called Persecutory Delusions. The Pathogenic Parent will usually have a history of some form of personality disorder that has gone undiagnosed. This parent then experiences some form of trauma in their life that is the trigger of the pathology and causes them to develop Pathogenic Parenting Disorder also called Pathogenic Parenting Delusional 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 Delusional 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 caused by reactivation of trauma from these parents past and are not based in reality.
When a parent develops this mental illness, they form a fixed false belief or in other words, a delusion that the other parent is now a danger to the child. And the child’s relationship with the other parent must be terminated. Pathogenic Parenting Disorder also called Pathogenic Parenting Delusional 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 can be the pain experienced during a divorce or break up with a boyfriend or girlfriend which will trigger the development of Pathogenic Parenting Disorder.
David Fluss Expert & Litigation Consultant