Divorce Poison: How to Protect Your Family from Bad-mouthing and Brainwashing

Divorce Poison: How to Protect Your Family from Bad-mouthing and Brainwashing

by Richard A. Warshak
Divorce Poison: How to Protect Your Family from Bad-mouthing and Brainwashing

Divorce Poison: How to Protect Your Family from Bad-mouthing and Brainwashing

by Richard A. Warshak


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Your ex-spouse is bad mouthing you to your children, constantly portraying you in a negative light, perhaps even trying to turn them against you. If you handle the situation ineffectively, your relationship with your children could suffer. You could lose their respect, lose their affections-even, in extreme cases, lose all contact with them. The conventional advice is to do nothing, that fighting fire with fire will only result in greater injury to the children. But after years of consulting parents who heeded such advice with no success, Dr. Richard Warshak is convinced that this approach is wrong. It doesn't work, and parents are left feeling helpless and hopeless. DIVORCE POISON instead offers a blueprint for effective response. In it, you will learn how to distinguish different types of criticism, how and why parents manipulate their children, how to detect these maneuvers, and how these practices damage children. Most importantly, you'll discover powerful strategies to preserve and rebuild loving relationships with your children.

DIVORCE POISON is a time-tested work that gives parents powerful strategies to preserve and rebuild loving relationships with their children-and provides practical advice from legal and mental-health professionals to help their clients and safeguard the welfare of children. Whether they are perpetrators of divorce poison, victims of it, or both, parents who heed Dr. Warshak's advice will enable their children to maintain love and respect for their parents-even if their parents no longer love and respect each other.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061863264
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 01/19/2010
Pages: 315
Sales rank: 416,504
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Dr. Richard A. Warshak is a clinical professor of psychology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. An international authority and consultant to parents and attorneys on divorce and parental alienation, Dr. Warshak has spoken at the White House, and his work has been featured in a PBS documentary and in media including The Early Show, Today, CNN, CTV, the New York Times, USA Today, Macleans, the London Sunday Telegraph, the Toronto Star, and Time.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xiii

A Note to the Reader xv

Introduction: Stealing The Soul xxvii

1 The Delicate Balance 1

The United Front

When Silence Is Not Golden

How to Distinguish Between Helpful and Harmful Criticism

2 Bad-Mouthing, Bashing, And Brainwashing 18




Parental Alienation Syndrome

Children Who Resist Divorce Poison

3 Alienated Children 34

The Hate Campaign

Trivial Explanations for the Hatred

False Abuse Accusations

Polarizing Parents: Saints and Sinners

Parroting Adults

Declaration of Independence

Hatred by Association

Alienation Without Divorce Poison

Justified Alienation

Child-Driven Alienation

Understanding the Roots of Alienation

Is It Alienation or Not?

False Accusations of Parental Alienation

4 Malignant Motives 79

Poor Boundaries





Seeking Validation

Holding On with Hate



Hostility Toward the Children

Custody Litigation

Preventing Alienation During Custody Litigation


5 The Alienating Environment 124






6 The Corruption of Reality 142

The Name Game


Selective Attention

Judging Behavior out of Context



Concealing Contrary Facts

Revisionist History

The Total Change Theory

Suggestions and Innuendos




Holier Than Thou

With God on Our Side

"The Truth"



Cloak and Dagger

Cognitive Dissonance


Tamper-Resistant Packaging

7 Poison Control 199


The Power of Indirect Communication

Fly onthe Wall

Two Steps Removed

Using Third Parties

Strike While the Iron Is Cold

Creating Bridges

Healing Experiences

Memorializing the Positive

The Way We Were

Sowing Seeds in the Psyche


Divide and Conquer: The Value of Separating Siblings

Contagion Control: Helping Children Stay Neutral

With God on Our Side-Revisited

Agree to Disagree

No One's Perfect

Think for Yourself

Brainwashing 101

Films and Television

Become a Better Parent

Avoid Common Errors

Damage Control

Ann Landers's Reconciliation Day

8 Getting Professional Help 242

When To Call the Therapist

How Therapy Can Help

How You Can Help Your Therapist

Selecting Therapists

Conditions of Treatment

Child Custody Evaluations

Options for Healing Damaged Parent-Child Relationships

Hiring an Attorney

9 Letting Go 282

When To Let Go

How To Let Go

Staying in Touch after Letting Go

New Bridges

Alienated Children as Adults

Reconnecting with Adult Alienated Children

Coping with the Loss

Hope for the Future

Afterword: Restoring Lost Identities and Lost Relationships 298

Index 309

What People are Saying About This

Constance R. Ahrons

“With the wisdom and insight of years of professional experience, Dr. Richard A. Warshak shows parents how to avoid the painful repercussions that result when a child becomes the pawn of parental conflicts. If you’re divorced and you love your child, read this book!”

Michael Gurian

“Divorce Poison is destined to become a classic. Dr. Warshak’s sympathy for mothers, fathers, and relatives struggling to maintain their children’s affection is outweighed only by his compassion for the children themselves.”

Susan Jeffers

“Offers valuable advice, especially for those times when the going gets tough with your ex. It also helps you understand and heal your own hurts without hurting the children you love.”

Armin Brott

“An absolute must-read for any parent going through a divorce. Warshak lays bare the evils of parental alienation and gives readers the knowledge they need to defend themselves—and their children—against it.”

Mark Pendergrast

“Always painful, divorce can turn lethal when one parent attempts to poison the children against an ex-spouse. In this balanced, compassionate book, Richard Warshak offers vital advice to those caught in the emotional maelstrom of a bitter divorce.”

Warren Farrell

“A breakthrough book. . . . Original, well-written, balanced, and filled with insights, it is perfect for any parent who has been the victim of bad-mouthing.”

John W. Santrock

“Divorce Poison is a must read for every parent involved in a hostile divorce.”

Richard A. Gardner

“This book is a testament to Dr. Warshak’s vast experience, erudition, and deep commitment to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of the various categories of alienated children.”

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