When Psychotherapists Hurt Families


Just_divorcedImagine a paranoid schizophrenic. He believes that everyone is out to get him. The world is conspiring to kill him. They are at every corner, at the bus stop, in the parking lot and watching his house at night. He seeks out a psychotherapist. He is surprised but delighted when the therapist agrees with all his delusions. The therapist says, “Yes, people are out to get you, they are at the bus stop and parking lot and they are watching your house.” The patient and therapist collude on how to deal with this “problem” and in so doing dig the patient deeper and deeper into a delusional world that is ruining his life and the lives of the patient’s family. The family has been trying to help the gentleman realize that this is a part of his psychosis, and he needs to take his meds, but they have been far from successful. Nothing they can say has made any difference. Now the patient has a professional ally who agrees with his delusions and that person is also an authority. The family is sunk. They try to get a court ordered commitment to a mental health facility but the therapist testifies that the man is fine and his thoughts are not in error. The judge listens to the therapist and decides against the commitment. Things go downhill quickly. It was bad enough for the family to deal with the man’s pathology on their own but now they are outgunned and easily defeated by the authority, the therapist, speaking out and contradicting their reality. It is simple to see the devastating impact of such collusion and the irresponsibility of the therapist. This is clearly malpractice.

But could this happen in real life?  I’m afraid so.

I have seen a very similar dynamic when watching cases of what the DSM calls “Parent Child Relational Problem.” This is known outside the DSM as PAS or Parental Alienation Syndrome. When this occurs one parent, often the the mother, believes that the other parent, usually the father, is the sole antagonist. She tries to alienate the children from the father by telling them falsehoods about him and claiming what a bad man their father is and that they should be afraid of him and not associate with him. She often wrongly claims him to be abusive, hurtful, and disruptive even though he is none of these things or is only a fraction of what she claims. The man is nowhere near what she is describing, he is simply a partner in a relationship that has gone sour. He likely was a part of the problem just as the wife was also a part of the problem but in PCRP the wife frames him as the only problem and a dangerous one at that.

The wife’s erroneous beliefs share some commonality with the delusions of the schizophrenic. Both are far from the truth. Both are very hurtful to family members with the PCRP untruths being more directly injurious to the children. The underlying reason for this blaming and shaming is unknown but what is clear is that she seems to have an unbridled fury with the father over the failure of the relationship and an intensive desire to make him pay, and pay dearly. She seems literally out to get him. She will often do things such as make false accusations towards the father or accuse him of sexually abusing the kids or of domestic violence against her.

Enter a psychotherapist for the mother. What I have sometimes seen in this sort of scenario is the therapist going along with the mother’s erroneous assessment of the father. Rather than do the hard work of helping the client assess both his and her responsibility in the failure of their relationship, and the tough work of learning to share custody they instead take the easy path of agreeing with all of the negative exaggerations the mom concocts about the dad. The therapist may even encourage the mother to attack the man in court, or push for ending his visitation with the children. Worse yet, the therapist may testify in court that the father is the problem and needs to have a limited role with the children. The testimony is based solely on what was heard from the mother. If you only get one side of the story you are doomed to failure. Mother and therapist are a team in their common belief that the father has been the real problem and work together to find ways to minimize the fathers involvement and cut the children off from any contact with their dad. All the while the mother’s responsibility in the divorce and relationship problems is completely ignored. With the therapists help, the mother is able to convince the judge and lawyers that her husband is the problem and needs to be treated accordingly.

It should be clear to people that this sort of unhealthy alliance between therapist and client is not helpful to the client and is certainly not helpful to the children or father. Now the mother has an ally who believes her delusional fury about the husband and is willing to testify in court to that effect. This sort of testimony is devastating. The judge and lawyers tend to believe a professional therapist and see them as objective and holding the best interest of all. But in this case it is simply not happening. The therapist and mother are fused in a one-sided partnership to sink the father. This puts the man in a very precarious position where it is likely he will not be believed and will pay a steep price of being vilified and cut off from his children at a time that the children need him dearly.

In essence this one sided partnership is setting up a very heinous scenario. Based on the testimony of the mother and her therapist the judge and lawyers will be duped by the false accusations into severely punishing the father. This dynamic is being called “3rd party abuse” where the institution, in this case the family courts, abuses the father in a continuation of the mother’s abuse. Now the father is the recipient of the abuse from not just the mother but from the actual institution that is supposed to be helping him. They are carrying out a punishment based on the mother’s and therapist’s false accusations. The institution is cutting dad out of his kids lives not because he is a bad dad but because the mother and therapist claim he is.

How could this happen?


The first reason is gynocentrism. We live in a world that is steeped in an unconscious mandate. That mandate is very simple but very few people are aware of its presence and power. The mandate is to protect women at the expense of men. We have been living this meme for centuries. It is actually what has made every successful culture thrive. It is an essential part of each culture to protect its women. Without women our culture would die a quick death and so we see the necessity and men sacrifice their own safety and sometimes their lives in order to keep the women safe. Think Titanic, where men willingly jumped to their deaths into the icy water while giving the women the lifeboats. Think every war we have ever fought and the hundreds of thousands of men who gave their lives. Think firemen and policemen sacrificing their safety and sometimes their lives so that other can be safe. This mandate runs all around us and most of us aren’t even aware of it. When a mother gets furious and one-sided about the husband being the only problem and being dangerous guess what happens? People automatically jump to protect her. In a gynocentric world where the protection of women is an unconscious priority that is what people do without thinking. Protect the woman. The other side of this is if the man claims he is not the abuser he is immediately seen as suspect. If you add in a therapist testifying in court that the man is the problem this is often insurmountable. Keep in mind that the same gynocentrism is likely present in the lawyers and in the judge. Due to this they will be easily swayed and more vulnerable to the testimony of the wife and the therapist. The therapist is the one link that should have training and awareness that goes beyond the gynocentric brainwashing but sadly this is rarely the case.

Male Disposability

One important result of gynocentrism is that men are seen as disposable. They die in much greater numbers at work, at war, by suicide, by murder, from nearly every major health problem and on and on. And guess what? No one cares. People automatically and unconsciously see men as disposable. If you were to take any of the above examples of places men die more often and suddenly have women being the more frequent victims you would see protests in the streets. Immediately! People would not tolerate seeing women die at war or at work. Congress would act quickly. But why don’t they react now? Because men are seen as disposable. Guess what that perception does? It diminishes the importance of men’s emotions. If he is disposable then his emotions are just not that critical. Not like hers. I have seen couples therapists who focus nearly exclusively on the emotional pain of the wife but blatantly ignore the pain of the husband. This happens more often than you might think but most don’t see it. They too are living in that gynocentric trance that sees women as victims in need of assistance and men as, well, there to help women. Men’s emotional pain is routinely ignored while men are described as cold and unfeeling.

This sort of automatic and unconscious bias plays out in a therapeutic relationship. In our example it increases the chances of the therapist being suckered into the lies of the mother since the therapist is seeing the world through gynocentric glasses. It will also mean that such a therapist will be less likely to sow concern or even see the man’s emotional pain.

Women are Victims

For the past 50 years we have seen an incredible push to view women as victims. This push has been facilitated by the strong presence of gynocentrism. Probably the most influential force in this movement has been the domestic violence industry. Their claims have for years voiced the meme that men are the primary perpetrators and women the sole victims of domestic violence. This is how they gained traction to start out. They would focus only on female victims and male perps. Due to gynocentrism everyone was more than willing to see women as being at risk and men being the perpetrators. The activists pushed this meme hard and told story after story to the media that it was women who were the perennial victims and men the perpetrators. They were successful in gaining the attention of the gynocentric media who went along with this biased point of view and once you get women complaining about their safety and the media reinforcing that the politicians can’t refuse to join the parade with academia not far behind. This push to see women as victims has been so successful that there is now a default disbelief that males can even be victims.

All the while the peer reviewed research is telling a very different story. Good science does not fall for the gynocentric trance. The research is saying that men are between 33% and 50% of the victims of domestic violence but there is no one asking for stories about men, no one highlighting men as victims, no media reinforcing that claim, no politicians working to protect them and very few in academia who might offer support. What do you get? You get a world that sees women as victims and men as perpetrators simply from a woman’s accusation. In divorce cases lawyers have been suggesting women make false allegations of domestic abuse for some time knowing that even an allegation will stop the judge from giving much custody to the father. This is mostly a risk free tactic since false accusations even when exposed, rarely are punished. Women are believed when they claim victimhood. Gynocentrism and the prevailing victim mentality insure that to be the case. Just think of a woman tied to the railroad tracks and imagine how many men line up to help. Judges, police, lawyers, therapists and on and on.

Political Correctness

Therapists are paid a good salary to be able to identify and assess pathology. There are numerous psychological disorders that increase the likelihood of false allegations. Among them are borderline personality disorder, sociopathy, dissociative disorder, narcissistic personality disorder and other personality disorders. Lying and false accusations are not uncommon in any of those diagnostic categories. The therapist is expected to be able to spot this type of pathology and when the pathology is present to be able to not reinforce such untruth either to the client or to the general public or in court testimony. Sadly, the days of therapists being trained to root out such evil are pretty much gone. In today’s mandatory Politically Correct climate any woman claiming rape or domestic violence is believed no matter what. Even questioning her about her story is framed as re-traumatizing the victim or what they are calling blaming the victim. If therapists go along with such a mandate their hands are tied to stand up for the truth if the client is false accusing. The therapist’s inability to do so leaves their clients at risk, the families at risk, the court system perjured and themselves at risk of a malpractice suit. The therapist has simply become an enabler.

Over Identification

The profession of psychotherapy tends to draw people who have a history of difficult childhoods and rocky upbringings. Many therapists work through these early troubles in school or in their own therapy. Having worked it through puts them in a very good position to be of help to others who have experienced similar difficulties. However, there is a sub-set who never really work through their own troubles and this can lead to all sorts of difficulties. One of those difficulties is if the therapist has not resolved old issues around being a victim then when a client comes along who claims to be a victim the chances are good that this therapist will over-identify with the clients victim stance. In other words, the therapists unfinished childhood issues start being seen in the problems of the client. Now the client’s victimhood is partly their own victimhood. As soon as that happens the therapist loses objectivity. It is no longer simply about helping the client see the truth and work towards living a healthy and happy life. Now they are banded together as partners dedicated to stopping the identified perpetrator. They are a team to stop the bad guy, and that bad guy is both the bad guy envisioned by the client and the bad guy of the therapists old unfinished stuff.

So put all five of these things together and what do you get? Gynocentrism, male disposability, victim mentality, political correctness, and a therapist who is overly identified with the victimhood of the client. You get real trouble. The therapist will no longer be able to see the client in a therapeutic manner. More likely they will be seen as a comrade in a war to rid the world of this perpetrator. At this point the therapist has become a danger to both their client and to the clients family. The truth is a casualty but so are the clients family. To make matters worse the therapist carries credentials that make them an authority and a part of the system. The therapist has an official seal of approval that is then carried into the courtroom to sink the chances of the man to even see his children. This application of gynocentrism and the four other factors described above are killing our culture.

Fathers are Good

The fact is that fathers are a critical part of their child’s life. Nearly every metric shows that when fathers are a big part of the child’s life the child does better. When fathers are absent things fall apart in a big way. By limiting father’s access to their children we are not only hurting the fathers, we are also setting our children up for failure. The gynocentric family court system is killing us.

We know now that dads do things automatically that help the healthy development of the child. Here’s one. Fathers are far more likely to toss their kids in the air. The mom’s grit their teeth and warn him to be careful. Now we know that being tossed in the air helps the kids to later be more able to take risks. The dad’s automatic behavior with his children is exactly what they need. By removing fathers from the homes we are shooting ourselves in the heart. The research is clear. Father involvement is a huge factor in healthy child development. By limiting the time fathers spend with their kids we are not only hurting the fathers, we are hurting the children.

Anytime there is therapy done with a divorced family there needs to be checks and balances. If one parent is blaming the other totally, making accusations of abuse and domestic violence and wildly flailing in attempts to implicate the other, there needs to be some sort of safety valve. We need a third party to verify that is the case. We need to have supports for all members of the family whether it is the mom, the dad or the kids. Divorces are serious business and can be extremely hurtful. We need to be sure they we are not the third party abusers who have fallen into a trap of lies.

Those therapists who go along with the pathology of the accusing parent need to be called out on their incapacity to treat their client in a healthy and productive manner. They need to face disciplinary action if their over-identification has caused more pain and trauma in the family. They need to see the rights and well being of all family members as being the essence of their work.