Why does Parental Alienation happen?

Common reasons for Parental Alienation can be described in two categories, although any one case is likely to contain elements from both.


On deciding/realising that the partnership is to end, one parent manipulates the child in order to:

  • secure possession of the child
  • gain the financial/material benefits associated with possession of the child
  • hurt the other parent emotionally
  • dominate or blackmail the other parent


As a symptom of post-natal depression or other illness, one parent develops an obsessive desire:

  • to monopolise the child’s affections
  • for the child to need and want only them
  • to control every aspect of the child’s life
  • to use the child as a replacement adult partner

Although Parental Alienation (Malicious) is often seen as a symptom of relationship breakdown, in cases of Pathological Disorder, it is as likely the cause. As the relationship breaks down and emotions escalate, behaviour will naturally become more extreme and destructive.