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08Jan/17

Read More: Parental Alienation Syndrome

Please take note that the following should not be construed as legal advice. Please consult with lawyers on these matters. Laws may change and there are different laws applicable in different countries. The following research is added to this book as part of an awareness campaign and not indented by any means as legal advice.

In the 1980’s psychiatrist, Dr Richard Gardner first described and identified the concept of Parental Alienation Syndrome, referring to a practice almost exclusively within the context of divorce proceedings, where one parent embarks on a subtle or overt campaign to alienate a child from the other parent. Eventually the child is indoctrinated to such an extent that the child buys into the denigration campaign, avoids the other parent and perceives or believes the other parent to be bad or dangerous. The campaign has no justification, and the alienating parent has no insight into the extensive damage caused to the child, nor does this parent show any guilt or regrets about the behaviour.

Most common behaviour would be for the alienator to block or frustrate the child’s contact with the other parent. Examples would be organizing family outings, sleep-overs or play dates during the other parent’s weekends, booking expensive luxury holidays for the child during the other parent’s vacation time, not being at home at pick-up time, not telling a child that the other parent had called, not answering phones, claiming the child is sleeping or in the bath, or studying when the parent calls, pulling faces when the other parent calls, not informing the other parent of school functions or plays, etc.

Reasons given for blocking or frustrating access are usually that the child is unsettled or unruly after visits to the other parent, the child is unsafe, the visits disrupts the child’s routine or that the other parent is morally or mentally inferior, whilst the alienator is morally superior. This attitude creates a sense within the child that one parent is better and that the other parent is not equipped to take care of the child. In mild cases the alienator expresses irritation at the inconvenience of the other parent wanting to see the child and in severe cases the alienator expresses: “over my dead body will he / she see the child again.”

Some academic literature on the subject:

Gardner’s (1999) definition

“Parental alienation syndrome (PAS, Gardner, 1985, 1986, 1987a, 1987b, 1989, 1992, 1998) is a disorder that arises almost exclusively in the context of child-custody disputes. In this disorder, one parent (the alienator, the alienating parent, the PAS-inducing parent) induces a program of denigration against the other parent (the alienated parent, the victim, the denigrated parent).”

PAS implies that the child incorporates the thought patterns and behaviour of the alienating parent towards the absent parent.

Ward & Harvey (1993) on PAS

“There is a continuum of alienating parental behaviors which cause harm to children, and all positions on this continuum need be of concern to the professionals and the courts. Some of the behavior is scarcely detectable with the result that attorneys and the court system gloss over the alienation as a “normal” part of the divorce or litigation process. However, such barely evident alienating behavior marks the beginning of an alienation continuum.

The Continuum: Differentiating between “Typical” Divorce and “Alienation”

Alienation occurs when a parent uses the child to meet personal emotional needs, as a vehicle to express or carry his/her own intense emotions or as a pawn to manipulate as a way of inflicting retribution on the other side.

Parental alienation occurs along a broad continuum, based on the level of internal distress of the alienating parent, the vulnerability of the child and the responses of the target parent, as well as on the responses of the external system (family, attorneys, mental health professionals, the legal system). The range may be from children who experience significant discomfort at transition times (mild), through children who feel compelled to keep separate worlds and identities when with each parent (moderate); to children who refuse to have anything to do with the target parent and become obsessed with their hatred (severe).

B. Mild

At this stage, despite the seeming sincerity, the alienating parent’s view of the other parent is compromised, as indicated by behavior. He/she is not aware of the beliefs and feelings that motivate his/her unintentional alienating behavior (internal) or of the effect that statements and behavior can have on the child (interactional).

Because the statements of the alienating parent will not give the lawyers or the courts clues that there is alienation in process, it is important to look at the underlying messages that are given directly to the child. The communications to the child of the regard with which the other parent is held is the key to detecting alienating behavior.

C. Moderate

The alienating parent has some awareness of emotional motivations (fear of loss, rage) and little sense of the value of the target parent. Sometimes, an alienating parent will understand the theoretical importance of the other parent in the life of the child, but believes that in this case, the other parent, due to character deficiencies, cannot be important to the child. Their statements and behaviors are subtle but damaging to the child.

D. Overt

When the alienation is overt, the motivation to alienate, the intense hatred of the other, is blatant. The alienating parent is obsessed and sees the target as noxious to self, the children, and even the world. A history of the marriage reflects nothing but the bad times. The target parent was never worthwhile as a spouse or a parent and is not worthwhile today. Such a parent shows little response to logic and little ability to confront reality.

Many alienating parents at this stage entertain the overt belief that the target parent presents an actual danger of harm to the children. They present this belief as concrete knowledge that if the children spend time with the target parent they will be harmed in some manner.

E. Severe

By the severe stage, the alienating parent no longer needs to be active. In terms of the motivation, the alienating parent holds no value at all for the other parent; the hatred and disdain are overt. The alienating parent will do anything to keep the children away from the target parent.

At this stage the child is enmeshed with the alienating parent and takes on the alienating parent’s desires, emotions and hatreds and verbalizes them to all as his own. The child too believes that the target parent is a villain and the scum of the earth, and sees the history of the target parent and family as all negative. The child is neither able to remember nor express any positive feeling for the target parent.


“Weapons” are the false allegations by the alienating parent of behavior on the part of the target parent inimicable to the welfare of a child. The most commonly used weapons are false allegations of:

  • threats of or actual domestic violence;
  • sexual abuse of the child;
  • physical abuse of the child;
  • emotional abuse of the child;
  • mental illness on the part of the target parent;
  • alcoholism/drug abuse/homosexuality on the part of the target parent; or
  • threats of moving or flight by the alienating parent.

If it is unclear that there is in fact abuse (sexual or physical), then the allegations may have been produced by the intensity of feelings about the divorce, fear of abuse and a misreading of particular situation.

However muddled the waters are, the court must establish a factual basis upon which to proceed legally (either abuse did or did not occur) or the system will be paralyzed to the advantage of the alienating parent. Unless disproven, the allegations will cast a pall of potential harm to the child that no one person, institution or agency will be able to ignore, and an accused will always be treated as guilty unless proven innocent with regards to contact with the children.”

Rand (1997) on “brainwashing”

“Brainwashing” was defined as the interactional process by which the child was persuaded to accept and elaborate on the program. Brainwashing occurs over time and involves repetition of the program, or code words referring to the program, until the subject responds with attitudinal and behavioural compliance. According to Clawar and Rivlin, the influence of a programming parent can be conscious and wilful or unconscious and unintentional. It can be obvious or subtle, with rewards for compliance that were material, social or psychological. Noncompliance may be met with subtle psychological punishment such as withdrawal of love or direct corporal punishment.

Some cases of PAS, especially those with false allegations of abuse, may have important features in common with Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSP) in which parents fulfil their needs vicariously by presenting their child as ill. In cases of classical MSP, parents repeatedly take their children to doctors unnecessarily, often painful tests and treatments which the physician is induced to provide, based on the parent’s misrepresentations. “Contemporary type MSP” occurs when a parent fabricates an abuse scenario for the child and welcomes or actively seeks out repeated abuse interviews of the child by police, social workers and therapists.

The concept of contemporary-type MSP elaborates on the idea put forth by Sinanan and Houghton that new types of MSP behaviour will evolve in parallel with the evolution of new medical and social services, eg. the child protection system. MSP parents may change or come up with new “symptoms” for the child as to better elicit the desired response from a particular care provider or an institution offering specialised services. Thus, the same child may be receiving attention simultaneously for fabricated physical symptoms from several medical providers and for fabricated sex abuse from therapists and public agencies who specialise in abuse. Careful evaluation and thorough investigation of sex abuse allegations which turn out to be questionable or false will sometimes bring a parent to the attention of authorities for practicing “classical” as well as “contemporary-type” MSP.”

Warshak (2001) on PAS

“In some cases of moderate PAS, when the parent is more intensively programming the children and there is a high risk of the alienation becoming more severe, Gardner recommends a different legal approach. In such cases he recommends courts consider awarding primary custody to the alienated parent and extremely restricted contact between the alienating parent and child, in order to prevent further indoctrination. Similarly in the most severe cases of PAS (which in Gardner’s experience, comprise about 5 – 10 percent of all PAS cases) Gardner recommends that the court remove the children from the alienating parent.

The importance of separating the child from the alienating parent, ensuring the child’s exposure to the target parent, is consistent with treatment methods for victims of brainwashing, including prisoners of war and members of cults… “One of the most powerful tools the courts have is the threat and implementation of environmental modification. Of the approximately four hundred cases we have seen where the courts increased the contact with the targeted parent… there has been positive change in 90 percent of the relationships between the child and the target parent, including the elimination or reduction of many socio-psychological, educational and physical problems that the child presented prior to the modification.”

Bone and Walsh (1999) on PAS

A marked deterioration in the relationship between the child and the absent parent. A previously healthy relationship will not rapidly deteriorate. On the contrary children miss the absent parent and usually cannot wait to see him / her. Normal healthy relationships do not erode easily, despite the parent’s absence. A rapid deterioration indicates the alienator has been poisoning the mind of the child against the other parent. Children eventually voice abuse against the estranged parent because they fear the wrath of the alienating parent.

They know they face disapproval or even punishment should they contact, side or even express that they miss or would want to see the estranged parent. The alienating parent usually has a controlling “my way or the highway” attitude. When children misbehave they are accused of being “just as useless as your father / stupid as your mother.” They alienating parent also manipulates the child to feel guilty for leaving “your sick mother at home”, or “remember I love you more”, or “remember I am waiting all weekend for you to return and I know you are going to miss me as much as I miss you”, etc.

Especially young children fear that they will be abandoned by the primary care-giver, if they dare to visit the estranged parent. The alienating parent refuses to attend sport or cultural activities if the other parent is going to be there, the child is not allowed to have photographs of the alienated parent nor to mention the parent’s name or family.


The impact of PAS on the child

Gardner (1999)

“PAS Parents who induce PAS in their children are often oblivious to the psychologically detrimental effects of the progressive attentuation of the child’s bond with the target parent. In extreme cases it appears that the alienating parent would be pleased if the alienated parent were to evaporate from the face of the earth–making sure, beforehand, to bequeath an annuity for the remaining family. Such alienators basically believe that absolutely nothing would be lost to the children under such circumstances.”

Read Richard Gardner’s article on Differentiating between Parental Alienation Syndrome and bona fide abuse neglect in The American Journal of Family Therapy, vol 27,no 2 p 97 – 107, April – June 1999.

Ward & Harvey (1993)

“There are three underlying premises regarding the development of children that underlie this article. First, all litigation concerning children can affect their healthy growth and development negatively. The greater the acrimony and the greater the part that the children need or are asked to play in the litigation, the greater the potential for harm.(2) “[T]he persistent quality of the conflict combined with its enduring nature seriously endangers the mental health of the parents and the psychological development of the children. Under the guise of fighting for the child, the parents may succeed in inflicting severe emotional suffering on the very person whose protection and well-being is the presumed rationale for the battle.” Johnston, J.R. B Campbell, L.E.G., Impasses of Divorce “Forward” by J. Wallerstein, p.ix (1988).

Second, it is psychologically harmful to children to be deprived of a healthy relationship with one parent. There is a substantial body of research that indicates that children need contact with adults of both sexes for balanced development.”(3)

Third, with the exception of abuse, there is no good reason why children should not want to spend some time with each of their parents, and, even with abuse, most children still want to maintain some relationship with the abusive parent. It is the job of the parents, the professionals and the courts to see that such contact is possible under safe circumstances.(4)

Alienating messages and behavior, whether intentional or not, place the child in a severe loyalty bind, a position wherein the child believes she must chose which of her two parents she will “love” more. To have to choose between parents is itself damaging to the child, and, if the end result is the exclusion of a parent from the child’s life, the injury is irreparable.”

Rand (1997)

“Gardner was among the first to recognize that involving a child in false allegations of abuse is a form of abuse in itself and indicative of serious problems somewhere in the divorce family system.

Cartwright poignantly describes the psychological effects on the child of being involved in severe PAS. “The child experiences a great loss, the magnitude of which is akin to the death of a parent, two grandparents, and all the lost parent’s relatives and friends … Moreover… the child is unable to acknowledge the loss, much less mourn it. The child’s good memories of the alienated parent are systematically destroyed and the child misses out on the day-to-day interaction, learning, support and love, which, in an intact family, usually flows between the child and both parents, as well as grandparents and relatives on both sides. The child may encounter insurmountable obstacles if, later in life, he or she seeks to re-establish relations with the lost parent and his family. The lost parent may be unwilling to become reinvolved. The parent or grandparents may have died. Some of these children eventually turn against the alienating parent, and if the target parent is lost to them as a child, the child is left with an unfillable void.”

Johnston (2001)

“Alienated children are likely to be controlling, distrustful and easily disillusioned. They enter into therapy, often reluctantly, with a scripted story and a demand for the therapists’ immediate allegiance to their position. The child’s challenge is “Are you for me, or are you against me?”

The therapist is placed in a bind – the cost of a therapeutic alliance with the child appears to require the sacrifice of his or her therapeutic objectivity. Moreover, the therapist remains on trial – any hint of subsequent disloyalty threatens to precipitate his or her dismissal by the child…A feature of alienated children is their bland, stripped-down and simplistic black/white thinking and poor reality testing.”

Warshak (2003)

“Irrationally alienated children harbor hatred for a parent that is dissociated from their earlier love for that parent. Their internal mental state has a rift that cannot heal until it is acknowledged.

Adults who have truly suffered at the hands of inadequate parents and subsequently resolved their feelings are able to express a wide range of feelings about their parents… this is something a pathologically alienated person is unable to do, and it handicaps them in their most personal relationships.

A man who is out of touch with his loving feelings for his father has more difficulty promoting the highest-quality loving relationship with his own children;

A man who cannot appreciate the importance of his father in his life and of what he loses by not having a father, has more difficulty appreciating his own importance in his children’s lives;

A man who cuts himself off from his own feelings is less sensitive to the feelings of his wife and children;

A man who has no contact with his father and extended family deprives his own children of a grandparent and his wife of the support available through the extended family.

The saddest consequence of divorce poison occurs when a rejected parent or grandparent dies before the child has come to his/her senses, given his/her love, apologized for his/her mistreatment and expressed regret for the lost years. It is at this point that a child is most apt to resent the brainwashing parent whose efforts deprived the child of a relationship that cannot be recaptured.

When alienated children, as adults, eventually realize what they have missed out on and the immense magnitude of the hurt their behaviour has caused their loved ones, they suffer unbearable guilt and sadness. This suffering has a direct effect on their marriage and their children…If children of divorce are more likely to end a marriage rather than work out conflicts, this risk is multiplied for children who have totally rejected a parent.”

Hillaker (2010)

Early identification of a child suffering from PAS can diminish a child’s psychological damage. Early identification will allow a child to recover their true relationship with the targeted parent. There is a point of no return for the child psychologically. Enough psychological damage can be done to the child wherein the child may never recover from the indoctrination of falsehoods and vilification of the targeted parent. Early identification and treatment diminishes the harm caused psychologically to their child and the targeted parent. PAS primarily manifests itself in divorce and family separation cases.

The younger the child, the more severe the psychological damage can be to the child, if PAS is not identified and treated early.

“A secondary syndrome in divorce that has emerged in the last twenty years is Sexual Allegations In Divorce (SAID)… Austin also claims that the false allegations coupled with leading questions or suggestive counselling result in children: developing false memories; being fatherless; becoming depressed; becoming suicidal, losing self-esteem (www.falseallegations.com/parental.html.) … Children who have been subconsciously engaged in SAID and PAS may engage in acting out behaviours in adolescents and early adulthood and have psychological problems for a life time.

Introducing PAS to child is a form of emotional child abuse. Emotional abuse is of course psychological abuse, which can be more damaging than physical abuse. When the child grows up, they may not realize what actually happened, and how PAS affected them and the alienated parent psychologically. The PAS child/adult may have lifelong psychological problems. Children may not be able to outgrow their own pain and the humiliation they experienced as a PAS child. If PAS existed for a long period of time between the PAS child and the alienated parent, the PAS child may experience lifelong psychological problems. PAS children who have experienced PAS more than likely will have relationship problems with other children, significant others, and in their private and professional peer group. The normal bond and psychological attachments between a PAS child and their parent has been altered and possibly destroyed.

The PAS child, now an adult, will have a relationship between the alienating parent and the alienated parent. If that PAS child/adult can recognize previous PAS issues in their prior relationships, it may put them on a recovery path, to discover what actually happened to them in their childhood. Childhood memories of family dynamics, of pre and post family separation can be fluid and disposed of memory errors. Though the child will have varying memories, their true memories may never come out. The only mental health answer is therapy.”

A common criticism against PAS is since it is not categorised in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (textbook for psychologists and psychiatrists) it does not exist. In 2010 I testified in a court case in South Africa where the Honourable Judge Claasen found that it did exist and after my testimony he ordered that the boy be removed from his mother and placed in the care of his father that very same day.

The S.A.I.D. (Sexual Allegations In Divorce) Syndrome

Another abhorrence that rises it’s ugly head in divorce cases is when one parent makes false allegations that a child has been sexually abused by the other parent.

Blush & Ross (1986) on said:

“This acronym describes the particular phenomenon which occurs when a sexual abuse allegation develops within a pre- or post divorce context and when a family unit has become dysfunctional as a result of the divorce process.

“it is true that children have imaginations and that they sometimes lie, as do adults, but it is a very uncommon occurrence for a child to fantasize or make up a sexual assault incident… Observe physical and behavioural signs… extreme changes in behaviour such as loss of appetite. Recurrent nightmares… and fear of the dark. Regression to more infantile behaviour such as bedwetting, thumb sucking or excessive crying… Fear of a person or an intense dislike at being left somewhere or with someone. Other behavioural signals such as aggressive or disruptive behaviour, withdrawal, running away or delinquent behaviour, failing in school.

Information source after information source being presented by various social and health organizations take on this common message format. The hazard in these instructional messages is that over generalized statements concerning behavioural signs, which may mean sexual abuse, can just as realistically be symptomatic of any number of other problems occurring in a child’s life. Divorce, peer problems, school related problems, and general developmental processes are all equally competing clinical hypotheses for such behaviours and should be treated as such in investigative stages.”


Typical pattern

Background

The allegation almost always surfaces only after separation and legal action between the parents has begun

There is a history of family dysfunction with resultant unresolved divorce conflict. This usually involves “hidden’ underlying issues both spoken and unspoken

  • There are often unresolved visitation or custody problems
  • There are often unresolved money issues relating to the divorce
  • Personality Profile of the Presenting Parent – Female:
  • The personality pattern of the female parent often tends to be that of a hysterical personality
  • She often presents herself as a fearful person who believes she has been the victim of manipulation, coercion, and physical, social or sexual abuse in the marriage
  • She also tends to see the man as being a source of physical threat, economic punitiveness and retribution, or an individual who simply has not understood the physical safety and psychological needs of the children.
  • She is also often the “justified vindicator”, a hostile, emotionally expansive, vindictive, and dominant female who has directly appealed to “experts” in both the mental and health and/or legal communities. She frequently insists on formal punitive legal measures be taken via prosecution before reasonable proofs have been demonstrated. She will often have concurrent criminal action pending with her domestic legal action.

Another personality pattern which requires clinical consideration is when the reporting adult is possibly psychotic.

Conclusion: Regardless of whether the female pattern has been that of the passive, fearful, apprehensive individual, the “justified vindicator”, or even that of the psychotic, she is emotionally convinced of the “facts” and will not be dissuaded from her perceptions. The intensity with which she relates to the world through her emotions significantly overshadows her use of a rational reasoning or problem solving approach to the situation. This emotional appeal can become convincing and very misleading to the inexperienced and/or “well-intended” professional.

Personality Profile of the Presenting Parent – Male:

  • He is often intellectually rigid, has a high need to be “correct”.
  • He has been hypercritical of the mother throughout the marriage, and verbalizes in a number of “nit-picking” ways the suspicion that she has been a non-vigilant and borderline unfit mother.
  • He typically makes allegations more against the males with whom she has become involved rather than necessarily making direct allegations toward her as the actual perpetrator of the sexual abuse. The male sees her as the person whose passive or silent endorsement of the perpetrator is her contribution to that situation.
  • He also makes statements about the frequency with which she leaves the children unsupervised, in the care of incompetent or inappropriate babysitters, or generally “at risk” in the home.
  • Personality Profile of the Alleged Perpetrator – Male:
  • He is an inadequate personality with marked passive and dependent features.
  • He presents a socially naive perception of the adult world.
  • He initially takes a “caretaker” role toward the female during courtship and the early stages of marriage.
  • He needs to “earn” love by yielding to the wants and demands of the spouse.

Because of these dynamics, it is this type of male who typically finds himself in a relationship with a more dominant female, regardless of whether her dominance is due to emotional hysteria or self-centeredness and vindictiveness.


Personality Profile of the Child:

  • The child has a limited verbal ability with which to articulate their own agenda
  • The child’s immaturity causes him/her to be unable to test and comprehend the reality of the situation in which he/she finds him-/herself, ie the politics of adult divorce
  • The child is often a female under the age of eight who controls the situation. Additionally, this child may show behavioural patterns of verbal exaggerations, excessive willingness to indict, inappropriate affective responses, and inconsistencies in relating the incident (s).
  • The child’s responses appear to be coached or rehearsed
  • The child spontaneously initiates conversation during interview by quoting the same phrases accompanied with the same affect as did the controlling parent who presented the complaint
  • The child uses age-inappropriate verbal descriptions with no demonstrated practical comprehension of what they were saying
  • The child offers a spontaneous and automatic reporting of the act (s) perpetrated upon them in the absence of any direct questions soliciting this specific information
  • The child offers inconsistencies in various aspects of reported incidents. These variances may involve specifics (who, what, where, when); frequency (only once or twice, exaggerated to many times); and subjective perceptual experiences (very frightened, not scared, hurt, not hurt, etc)
  • The child lacks the appearance of a traumatized individual both emotionally and behaviourally.

As children approach adolescence, they develop a more vindictive agenda, and they often speak in absolutes with exaggerated emotional content. The basic agenda is one of not getting their own way, or the other parent has been imposing limits which the adolescent disagrees with.

  • The allegation is first communicated via the custodial parent, usually the mother
  • The mother takes the child to an “expert” for further examination, assessment or treatment
  • The expert then often communicates to a court or other appropriate authorities a concern and/or “confirmation” of apparent sexual abuse, usually identifying the father as the alleged perpetrator

This typically causes the court to react to the “expert’s” information by acting in a predictably responsible manner, eg suspending or terminating visitation, foreclosing on custodial arguments, or in some way limiting the child-parent interaction.

The professional as Potential Victim of S.A.I.D. Syndrome

All too often, the intervening professional sees the case on a preliminary basis in a limited and biased perspective and frequently responds to the presenting parent’s report rather than viewing the situation as part of the family’s marital and divorce conflict.

Too often the therapeutic community accepts this “presenting process” and creates a clinical focus on assumed trauma and thus the need for immediate treatment of the child.

This process of accepting a presenting complaint as valid and truthful without sophisticated inquiry or clinical challenge creates the vulnerable expert opinion.

Once the initial distortions are communicated by an expert and reinforced through further contacts with the child and/or other involved adults, “facts” are created which then shape the outcome of the situation. This can occur to such a degree that the presenting parent, the child, the therapist, social and legal agencies, and any other involved persons accept this “created reality” that has become the truth.

Experience in the field investigation and follow-up of SAID cases reveals that the therapist is reluctant to change his/her perception once their professional opinion has been formulated.

A further concern is that the clinical focus has been so heavily predicated upon the belief that “children do not lie” so as to make any other considerations secondary.

The ignoring of other information is often justified in the name of “saving” the child from permanent traumatic damage.

It is ironic it is that the intervention agent or therapist who misdiagnoses a SAID case literally creates a scenario from which the family may never recover. This damage, once done, will, in our opinion, perpetuate itself throughout the rest of the history of the family. It may only partially be undone through skillful intervention of a qualified family therapist who, under the most difficult of circumstances, may bring the family members together and help them understand the dynamics of how the SAID phenomenon occurred.

Conclusion: A proper investigation/evaluation in which the collection of collateral information, background information, awareness of conflict, unresolved issues in the divorce is of the utmost importance.


Please read more:

www.skepticfiles.org/conspire/said.html Blush, GJ & Ross, KL 1986. Sexual allegations in divorce, the SAID syndrome.

Blush, Gordon J & Ross, Karol L (1986), Sexual Allegations in Divorce, The S.A.I.D Syndrome,

Cowling, A, The S.A.I.D. Syndrome, Sexual Allegations in Divorce.

Bone, J.M. & Walsh, M.R. 1999. Parental Alienation Syndrome: How to detect it and what to do about it. The Florida Bar Journal, vol 73, no 3, March 1999, p 44-48.

Gardner, RA 1999. Differentiating between parental alienation syndrome and bona-fide abuse-neglect. The American Journal of Family Therapy, (27)2 p 97 – 107

www.hillakerinvestigations.com/2010/05/: Identification of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) and Sexual Allegations in Divorce (SAID) and Child Custody Evaluations: An investigative Literature Review.

Holman WD, 1998. The Fatherbook: A document for Therapeutic work with father-absent early adolescent boys. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal (15) 2.

Johnston, JR. 2001. Rethinking parental alienation and redesigning parentchild access services for children who resist or refuse visitation. Administration of Justice Department, San Jose State University.

Rand, DC 1997. The Spectrum of Parental Alienation Syndrome. American Journal of Forensic Psychology. (15) 3

Warshak, RA 2001. Current controversies regarding parental alienation syndrome. American Journal of Forensic Psychology. (19) 3

Warshak, RA 2003. Divorce Poison. New York: Harper

Ward, P & Harvey JC 1993. Family Wars: Alienation of Children. New Hampshire Bar Journal (34)1.

Take me back to Break-Up And Divorce – Suffer the little children

08Jan/17

Read More: At Wits’ End About Disobedient Children?

All parents have a responsibility to bring up their children to become law-abiding, contributing and productive citizens of a country.

Parents often make the common mistake of asking a child why he/she has done something wrong and the standard answer is always: “I don’t know.” Parents should rather ask the children what are the consequences of their actions, and if they answer they don’t know, give them one or two hints, and then encourage them to come up with at least one or two consequences themselves.

Children are very impulsive and especially young children do not appreciate the consequences of their actions, as their prefrontal cortex’ have not yet developed to execute this function. They should be taught from a young age that every action has long-term and short-term consequences. For example the long-term consequences of smoking marijuana would be that the guilty person can acquire a criminal record and would therefore never be able to acquire a work or travel visa to another country. Unprotected sex can lead to sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS and pregnancy. Encouraging them to consider and verbally express the consequences of actions, will teach them to think twice before they repeat misbehaviour and it will teach them to become responsible adults.

There is a difference between discipline and punishment.

Discipline refers to good manners, maintaining a clean, orderly and hygienic environment, sticking to schedules, etc. and thus teaching the child to acquire self-discipline. Self-discipline is a healthy habit, which makes interpersonal relations during adulthood easier. Parents may indulge children’s bad table manners, tardiness or untidy rooms, but future colleagues, employers, friends, flatmates and life partners will not and this can lead to interpersonal conflict. No-one likes a person who thinks the world owes him/her something and who expects other people to clean up after them or accommodate their bad habits.

Punishment is the consequence of an offence. Just as a country has a judicial system differentiating between civil and criminal offences, so the judicial system within a household should distinguish between these two elements. Children do not like rules at home, nor in school. Explain to them that even as adults we are bound by rules and laws and since there is absolutely no escaping this anywhere on the planet, the sooner we learn to abide, the less trouble we get in and the better we get along with anyone and everything else on this planet. Laws should always be obeyed, but once one becomes an independent adult or a self-employed adult or parent, there are new rules which one can make, but one earns the right to do this, by acquiring self-discipline.


Civil offences in the home may include the following: not putting laundry in the washing basket, leaving dirty cups in the room, leaving clothing or personal items in the living areas, not cleaning the toilet, bath or bathroom, a messy kitchen, swearing or name calling, etc. The consequences of these civil offences are not called punishment, but rather community service, because the child offended towards the rest of the community in the home and should make some kind of retribution towards the community.

Even if you employ a housekeeper or gardener, it is recommended that children also take responsibility for some communal chores around the home such as picking up dog pooh, cleaning the pool, putting out the dustbin, sorting the washing, sweeping the veranda, etc as this would teach them to become responsible adults who care for the community and their environment. Civil offences and community service may for example include:

Criminal offences in the home, on the other hand are more serious and usually pertain to lying, endangering own or someone else’s safety or lives, violent behaviour including rage and tantrums, etc. These offences are punished either by fines, or by being grounded, just as criminals are fined or sent to jail. Punishment must also fit the crime, for example:

There are only three reasons why people lie, namely 1) not to get into trouble, 2) to protect someone else and 3) to get someone else in trouble on purpose. Children often lie simply because they don’t know what the punishment for an offence would be and they fear getting into trouble. This is usually a sign of inconsistent discipline and severe punishment by parents. Once a child knows exactly what the consequences of his/her behaviour will be, they will be more likely to avoid that behaviour, or to take the punishment.


Parents should instil integrity in their children. A person with integrity does not take other people’s money or possessions, does not lie, does not cheat in business or in private affairs, keeps promises, pay their taxes and licences, can admit when they have made a mistake and he/she can forgive. A person with integrity values the life force of people, animals, nature and possessions and treats these with respect. Children learn by example. If you want your child to grow up to become a law abiding, contributing, productive citizen and make adult life more easily for them, then set the example and tell them verbally about integrity.

It is recommended that both parents together make a list of civil and criminal offences first. This will be called the protocol. Then the children are invited to a round table family discussion and requested to come up with suggestions as to community service and punishments. Make sure they understand the principles of civil offences and community service versus serious crimes and punishment and explain the household functions like the state judicial system.

By asking them to come up with suggestions, the children will have a democratic input into the process. If a person feels he/she has made a democratic input, they are more likely to commit to the venture. (It is not now a case of: “When you live under my roof, you abide by my rules” – Now it is a case of: “We all live under this roof, so you have a say in the rules”). Parents of course have the right to veto suggestions, and just as the government has the right to make laws and determine punishment for serious crimes, parents have the right to set punishment for serious offences.

Differentiate between pre-school, primary school and teenagers. The younger the child, the less severe the service or punishment should be. The older children have more severe community services and punishment, but they also have more responsibility, more cell phone or computer privileges and freedom. Children should learn that freedom and responsibility go hand in hand. For instance a grade 10 child may stay out until 10pm, but a grade 12 child until 12pm. Since young children do not go out, they cannot be grounded, but they can be sent to bed early or be barred from watching television in stead.

The protocol of offences and related community services and punishments is then printed out. Each member of the household then signs this protocol as a gesture of commitment. A copy is then given to each member and one is placed for instance upon the fridge door, or behind the toilet. Parents must remember to sign this protocol too and if Mom or Dad offends by forgetting a dirty mug in the lounge then they must do the community service in good spirit. Adults are not above the law and must set a good example.

Once the protocol is singed, there is no bargaining about consequences unless there are true mitigating circumstances. Mitigating circumstances may reduce a consequence, but not set it aside and both parents must agree to it. (A cell phone’s flat battery is not a mitigating circumstance for not alerting a parent to whereabouts. Children are not allowed to leave the premises with a flat cell phone battery – it is an offence. Parents can collect all cell phones at 21h00 and charge the phones. No teenager needs a cell phone after 21h00. They have to sleep. A stolen cell phone is mitigating for not being able to alert a parent, but the child should still face the consequences for not taking responsibility to ensure such an expensive item is safe.)

Children may close their bedroom doors and parents should knock and wait for an invite to enter, but children may not lock themselves in their rooms or bathrooms. Privacy is respected – there is no need to enforce it.

Having such a protocol would cut out on parents nagging children to do things. It’s simple: You did something wrong or neglected to do something, you do the community service or take the punishment, as you committed yourself to the protocol. End of discussion.


Remember, children need at least three compliments for each criticism to build their self-esteem and confidence. Show appreciation for good behaviour and comment on it often.

It is also a good idea to reward children now and then for chores completed, but this is ad hoc and they should not expect a reward. As citizens we are all expected to keep our country clean and treat others with respect without reward. Treating them to a family outing over the weekend since everyone has completed their chores without complaining that week, will be a nice surprise. Allow them to vote as to where they would like to go. A drive to the country, tea, a visit to a museum or an expo, the theatre, horse riding excursion, etc are good examples and will promote quality family time. It would be great if each child can invite a friend along.

It is highly advisable that children receive pocket money. This not only teaches them to budget, appreciate the value of possessions and extend the gratification of their needs, but it also provides leverage for parents to fine or withdraw pocket money as punishment.

Children should pay all social expenses out of their pocket money. These include movie tickets, refreshments or meals when they go to malls, presents for friends, make-up, trinkets, costume jewellery, cd’s, etc.

All items relevant to school projects, sports or trips, some social clothing and essential toiletries should be provided by parents.

The estimated amount should encompass spending money for one or two events per weekend for teenagers. This enables them to save up money for expensive “must haves”. Children have a tendency to pay “cash for trash” and waste their money. Restricting pocket money, will eliminate this nasty habit, teach them to budget and consider twice before they just spend. They can also be encouraged to hold jumble sales, garage sales, etc to earn more money and become entrepreneurs. Parents can encourage savings by for instance contributing a quarter or half of each amount saved.

Children should learn to extend the gratification of their needs, for as adults we know we can’t always just get what we want and the world does not revolve around us. Children older than 16 can work over weekends to supplement income, eg at restaurants etc, but not during exam time. As a rule of thumb, it is advisable that children under 15 can go out one weekend night and older than 16 both weekend nights, provided they stick to curfews and the rules. Only one weekend night is advisable for both groups during exam time.

Many children have cell phones, but parents should restrict their cell phone budgets. They may add to it out of their pocket money. They should be punished if they consume the whole budget and do not have air time left for emergency calls to their parents. Their batteries should also be amply charged before they go out, so they have no excuse for not alerting parents to their whereabouts. It is the child’s responsibility to check this and they should face the consequences if they neglect this. Although we should teach our children to respect other people’s privacy, by respecting their privacy, but parents do have the right to monitor computers and cell phone for pornography and paedophiles and their rooms for drugs. Explain to the child why you do this, if you think you have reason. The police may also enter our premises with a search warrant if they suspect us of illegal conduct. Computers and cell phones used for such purposes can be confiscated.

Parents and children should not be friends on Facebook. It is however recommended that an aunt or some other adult keep an eye on the Facebook page of the child. Random checks on the friends on Facebook, in the company of the child – can be done.

If children sleep over or go out with friends for the evening, they should alert their parents if they change location, even if it is just from one restaurant to another in malls. Children and especially girls should not go to toilets alone in malls. Toilets are often located close to exits and parking lots and children can easily be abducted by grown men and kidnapped. They should always move in groups of three or more. Men’s and ladies’ toilets are also unfortunately located adjacent at the end of long corridors. Adult men can easily drag a young child into the men’s toilets and rape him/her. Children should be made aware that alerting parents of whereabouts is a safety precaution that could prevent rape and murder and has nothing to do with not trusting them.

When divorced parents remarry then they should treat all the children in their home the same. All the children should adhere to the protocol of that home, regardless of the discipline in their other home. It would be excellent if divorced parents could agree with their ex-partners on the same protocol and this should be included in the legal parenting plan. If a child is grounded for a month due to a serious misconduct, then the divorced ex-parent should maintain this grounding even if the child is visiting that weekend. Spiting the other parent by allowing the child to go to a party is not beneficial for the child, for it teaches the child to manipulate and cheat.

The sooner a protocol for desired behaviour is administered in the home, the better, but it is never too late to implement one.

Good luck, enjoy the benefits of your desired behaviour protocol and watch your children to grow up into mature, law-abiding, productive adults.

© Dr Micki Pistorius

Take me back to Weekend Dads and Stepfathers

08Jan/17

Read More: Welcome to Life as a Single Independent Woman

So, you’re newly divorced, never want to marry or date again and decide it’s time to become that wonderful vision of a Single Independent Woman owning your own house? No more little Cinderella-waiting-for-the-prince for you. Here are some pointers to becoming a Single Independent Woman, from one who has done this for decades:

Do you realise when you buy your own house that besides the transfer costs, lawyer’s costs, insurance and all the other hidden costs, you have to consider the following:

Do you realise shopping will never be the same again? From now on hardware stores take preference over Woolies, shoe shops and boutiques. Tools and especially power tools, top your birthday present wish list, and believe me, you appreciate these much more than another bottle of bubble bath, especially if it’s lavender flavour.

Do you know you have to replace the batteries of the electric fence and alarm systems – so they remain activated when there is a power failure. Do you even know where these alarms are and how they work? Do you know if you have 5 remotes it will cost you a fortune to replace all and have all of them calibrated again, even if you lose just one? A handyman has to come to your house to calibrate them all again. Remember to replace the remotes’ batteries.

If the previous owners rewired the bar fridge themselves, you can’t get a normal electrician to fix it, it has to be a refrigerator man because it involves gas. Here’s a tip, look on the fridge for the manufacturer’s telephone number instead of paging through the yellow pages. Take his (and all other handymen’s) personal cell numbers, for often enough you have to call them back for a job half-done.

The electric cable of your electric garage door runs in a shaft and this needs to be greased regularly or the motor will burn out. Did you know that you need a special grease called Brana grease and that you cannot use normal car grease as it erodes the whole thing? You would have to pay to degrease it if you used the wrong grease and reinstall the remote. You can’t get Brana at hardware stores, only at manufacturers of garage door motors.

Do you know to replace that little fan belt of the electric garage door shaft costs a fortune because it is imported? Do you know you would not have to replace it if you used the right grease? It’s still cheaper than buying a new motor.

Do you know if you do not secure your electric gate motor with a huge round padlock costing a fortune then thieves will unscrew the motor and steal it? A new motor costs another fortune, and you can claim this motor back from the house-insurance at the bank, but you will pay for the vat and anti-theft bracket, which will cost you a fortune plus another fortune for the padlock and you have to take the day off work to go to the police station to make the statement about the theft before you can claim the insurance and you have to take another day off work and be at home when they install the new motor. So just buy the padlock for the fortune from the beginning.

Do you realise you don’t have a husband who can do all of this for you and there is no-one at home when you arrive after dark who could have switched on the lights, checked the pool’s the Creepy Crawly and the filters, changed the light bulbs, fed the cat and started dinner. If you arrive after sunset – you arrive at a dark house, an annoyed cat and risk being hi-jacked in your driveway.

Do you have your Security Company and Mr Delivery take-away’s numbers on speed dial on your phone? Some security companies are kind enough to wait for you in your driveway if you give them a call on your way home, but they won’t feed the cat.

Do you know you better stop for milk, bread and cold drink on your way home, for there is no secretary, no husband, housekeeper and no flatmate etc to buy this for you and your cat doesn’t do groceries. Do you know that Mr Delivery can deliver milk and cold drink, even alcohol as well, but not cat food?

Do you know if you do not regularly clean all three filters of the swimming pool and check the Creepy Crawly’s throat for pebbles, the motor can burn out and a new Creepy Crawly costs a fortune? Regular means every other day, so this is another reason why you want to be home before sunset. If the creepy is not working, clean the filters, check if a section in the pipe has a hole in it and replace only that section or replace the big round rubber flap instead of buying a new Creepy. I fixed a hole in the creepy with Pratley Putty – silicone doesn’t work.

Do you know once you made it home before sunset, attended to the garage door that makes an awful noise and refuses to close (if the springs on the side are worn out, they can be adjusted with a screwdriver instead of replacing them), checked the Creepy in the pool, changed the broken light bulbs, fed the cat and switched on the alarm system, you are allowed to watch soaps on television without disturbance and without answering your cell phone or feeling guilty about it. This is why you became single in the first place, right?

Do you realise when you get up in the middle of the night due to a strange noise and you have to check the property for burglars with a weapon in one hand and cell phone in the other and the car – and house keys dangling in between your fingers, that it is better to wear a dressing gown / track suit with pockets and not do this dressed in your underwear, shortie pajamas and bunny slippers, specially if you live next to a student commune or across a men’s hostel like I used to do.

Do you know if the previous owners rewired the irrigation system themselves, you have to have it rewired and have your lawn dug up in the process? And these guys are most likely to puncture a water pipe or the pool, as in my case.

Do you know if you have wooden floors it will cost you a fortune to have the termites checked and killed. If you ask nicely, they will do the lawn for you as well, but this does not kill big black ants.

Can you prune the roses, de-weed the garden and mow your own lawn without killing yourself? Do you own a lawnmower, weed-eater, garden hose, wheelbarrow, shears and garden tools?

Do you have a friend who is a fundi on computers? Get one. Anti-virus programmes need to be updated annually.

Do you know even a simple job such as changing a light bulb is a major effort? I had high ceilings and had to buy one of those fancy ladders that fold open, because there is no-one to hold a normal ladder for me. Also even the fancy ladder is so damn tight and difficult to open that I regularly break my nails. Spray-n-cook is not a good replacement for oil, no matter what people say.

Do you know that a woman’s hand is too small to open the anti-child proof swimming pool pod and that you can hold the bottle between your knees and struggle till you open it, but don’t do it with your teeth because it is poisonous. Also you will hurt your hand and break your fingernails every time you switch the pool motor from filter, to backwash, to rinse and when you clean that inside filter, so don’t expect not to get hurt.

Can you take your pool’s temperature and administer the right medicine if it is green after a thunderstorm?

Do you also strew lawn feed on your lawn during a thunderstorm, because if the chemicals don’t get enough water very soon they will burn the grass? Wear a raincoat and no bunny slippers when you do this.

Can you make a decent fire in the fireplace and have you discovered firelighters? Do your friends laugh when you add a bag of firewood to your birthday present wish list?

Do you know that it is your responsibility to check when your driver’s licence expires and that you have to take a day of work to stand in the queue to have it renewed and what it will cost you? Do you know they don’t accept colour photos although it says so on the notice boards, so you have to take off another day from work and come back the following day.

Do you check when your passport expires? What about your firearm licence?

Do you know how much it costs you to have a vehicle registered on your name and you still need to pay the insurance monthly?

Do you know you have to ask your vehicle tracking company to check you car every six months, else your insurance is invalid and they won’t pay out – check the small print.

Do you know besides checking oil, water and petrol you also have to check brake fluid and if the brake fluid is empty (and you have no brakes) you can’t just buy a bottle and pour it in, your brakes have to be bled by a professional. I don’t know how much this costs, but I have a friend who did it for me.

Do you take your car for regular services every 15 000 km as the booklet advises? You should. Your husband used to do this for you. You have to first phone the garage and make an appointment. Then you drive to the garage before 08h00 and hand in the car and the keys. Then get a cup of coffee, sit down and wait for one of the drivers to take you home or to your work. The same driver will fetch you at about 5 o’clock and make sure you have your chequebook ready. At least your car is washed when you fetch it, because who has time to wash it?

Do you know the number of a tow-in service or do you have such a sticker on your car?

Do you know that you are not allowed to touch those long shaped light bulbs/globes for the spotlights with your bare fingers and you have to use a clean rag, whilst balancing on the stepladder and biting the star screwdriver between your teeth. Don’t get up there with a normal flat screwdriver, you are just going to have to get down again and fetch a star screwdriver. You do know the difference, don’t you? If you lose (or accidently swallow) the screw, you can use one of those black plastic tie-thingies, but then you have to climb the ladder with the globe (held in a clean rag), scissors to cut the old black tie-thingie and a spare black tie-thingie all in your hands and beware that the glass pane does not slip out, because the rubber around it disintegrates, faster than cheese go bad in your fridge.

Do you know your house’s gutters have to be cleaned once a year before the rain season, at least? Invest in that ladder and plastic gloves.

Do you know the wooden window frames that look so expensive and all other wood have to be treated at least once every six months, else they will rot and that they are very expensive to replace.

Are you on first name terms with the shop assistants at the hardware store? Do you have a fully equipped toolbox and do you know you can get a fixture for screws, which fits on your electric drill like a bit and you don’t have to buy an electric screwdriver? You don’t have to have an electric screwdriver of course, but stock up on band-aids and expect tough blisters on your hands, if you don’t. Also invest in a Hilti.

Do you know a tube of silicone can fix the leak in your shower top, plug up a leak in the irrigation system and seal a hole in your roof? You can also get rubber stick-on strips to seal window frames from drafts.

Do you have your own lawyer, financial adviser, personal banker and auditor? Get them and remember their birthdays. Do you have a retirement plan and do you pay through your nose for premiums and would you rather eat sardines for a month than skip any of these payments, for you are now a single income family – you and your cat – and there is no second income salary or hubby to take care of you when you are old and decrepit?

Do you have a medical aid fund that costs you a fortune per month and do you have Professional Income Protection for if you dare to get sick and you are self employed, there is nobody to earn money to pay the bills at the end of the month and buy the cat’s food? You may send yourself flowers if you are sick and you can afford it.

Can you fill in a tax form? Do you keep all your slips, invoices etc and file them for your auditor and hand it in just after end of February?

Can you pay your accounts on the Internet and do you have all the security requirements updated as stipulated by the bank. Do you know about pin codes, passwords and extra security and do you check your bank statements every month, including cheque, credit, car, house bond, savings etc? Come again… savings – you think you can save? You’ve got be kidding!

Do you remember to refill the big gas bottle for the gas barbeque and make sure the gardener is there that day, for how the dickens do you think are you going to manage to off load that thing on your own? Keep the slip for the refill and remember to turn off the gas when you have finished the barbeque or become a vegetarian like me and leave the barbeque for your male friends.

A new tyre for your car costs a fortune or more and remember to stand in the queue again to renew your car registration every year, because they no longer send you reminders.

Do you remember your cell phone contract needs to be updated every 2 years and you need to take another day off work to do this?

If you ever think of DIY building, rather shoot yourself in the knee or chew off your left breast. It is less agonizing.

Do you have a contract for the tenant? Who fixes the geyser? Do you know that you cannot use a domestic violence interdict against a paying in-house tenant and an eviction order will cost you thousands and take months, so you have to screen very carefully whom you allow to live in your house? Beware of legal-wise old ladies, who work on your sympathy, move in with their dogs, drive into your car and cost you a fortune to evict. Check with your lawyer.

Do you know if someone shares your house and you do not charge him/her rent (and you have proved it with receipts, even if it is a minimum amount per month), they can claim a domestic relationship and move out with all your furniture, although you bought everything? This includes husbands, boyfriends, relatives and friends. Draw up a contract or get one at a stationary store. Check with your lawyer.

Can you replace a windowpane, putty and all? Can you replace a door lock, fix a leaking faucet and replace a floor tile?

Do you know the value of Clean Green?

Do you remember to put the garbage bin out on the evening before collections or else you have to do it early that morning, even though you are all prettily dressed up for work and smell like garbage once you have done it? Do you know they don’t remove garbage bags placed next to the bin? The bags have to be inside. And these guys still have the audacity to ask for Christmas boxes!

If your tv/ decoder blinks out, do you have your smart card number, do you know where the smart card is in the decoder and can you actually get a picture back on the screen without having to phone the emergency number, because everyone is phoning that number right then and you are going to wait in a long queue and miss your soaps. PS you should be watching international news – not soaps. You need to make an impression as an intelligent well-informed woman at that next dinner party and not sound like a spoiled housewife hooked on soaps.

Do you know where to take your decoder for an upgrade?

Do you realise if you work a full week you have no time to buy, fix, change and exchange all these things during the week and therefore you never get to tan next to your beautiful sparkling pool, because you spend the whole damn weekend driving around and fixing things.

Do you realise at least once a year, you deserve a hot rock massage? Forget the manicure – you have no nails left.

Wouldn’t it be nice if someone opens a pub and install laundry machines and tumble dryers, so single women can have a drink, relax and get their laundry done on a Friday after work? Then we might have time to watch International News programmes on Sunday evenings and sound clever at work on Monday mornings.

Do you realise despite all this, you hope you have an understanding boss who does not expect you to work after dark; a regular salary increase; gay friends who double up as handymen and do not expect sex as payment; a sense of humour and in the end you still like to be a Single Independent Woman, because there is nothing like watching television at six o clock in the evening, bathed and dressed up in your Garfield jammies and bunny slippers, eating whatever you feel like and not having to please the whole family. Except of course your cat, who thinks you are the cat’s whiskers, because he just got fed that scrumptious imported expensive cat food, which you remembered to buy on your way home. Congratulations!

PS: If you happen to be a husband reading this, show it to your wife and she might appreciate you more. I know I would appreciate it.

Take me back to Break-Up And Divorce – Parenting Plans

27Dec/16

Read More: Maslow’S Theory On The Hierarchy Of Needs

Maslow’S Theory On The Hierarchy Of Needs

In his book, Motivation and Personality (1970 2nd edition Harper & Row) psychologist Maslow postulated that human behavior is motivated by a hierarchy of basic needs. Once lower needs are gratified, the organism – or human – will escalate to higher needs. A basic need will dominate behavior if it is thwarted or when the organism is deprived of it. Once the need is gratified, it releases its domination of the organism.

Physiological needs comprise the bottom tier of the hierarchy. These are our basic human needs, such as hunger, thirst, sleep, sex and warmth. If a need has been continuously satisfied in the past, we are better equipped to deal with its deprivation in future. If not, we may always subconsciously yearn for the gratification of that unfulfilled basic need.

The second tier of needs encompass those for safety, including such concepts such as security, stability, dependency, protection and freedom from fear as well as from anxiety and chaos, need for structure, order, law, limits, strength in the protector, etc. Maslow explains should these needs not be fulfilled “ the organism may equally well b wholly dominated by them… and we may then fairly describe the whole organism as asafety-seeking mechanism.”

Maslow identified the third tier as the need for belongingness and love. Losing touch with our roots, relocating often and changing schools, forced resettlement, war, etc will all impact on our sense of belonging. If we never experience receiving love, how can we be expected to give it?

The fourth tier comprises “esteem” needs. According to Maslow these are the desire for strength, achievement, adequacy, mastery and competence, confidence, status, glory dominance, recognition, dignity and appreciation. To men, money represents status and recognition in the eyes of other men.

The fifth and last tier, is the need for self-actualization. To Maslow, this represents a human being’s need to achieve his / her highest altruistic potential.

Characteristics Of Self-Actualized People

1 More Efficient Perception Of Reality And More Comfortable Relations With It:

They have an unusual ability to detect the spurious, the fake and the dishonest in a personality and in general to judge people correctly and efficiently. They do not cling to the familiar, nor is their quest for the truth a catastrophic need for certainty, safety, definiteness, and order. They can be, when the total objective situation calls for it, comfortably disorderly, sloppy, anarchic, chaotic, vague, doubtful, uncertain, indefinite, approximate, inexact or inaccurate.

2 Acceptance (Self, Others, Nature)

They tend to be good to animals, hearty in their appetites and enjoying themselves without regret or shame or apology. Closely related to their self-acceptance and to acceptance of others is 1) their lack of defensiveness, protective coloration, or pose and 2) their distaste for such artificialities in others. Cant, guile, hypocrisy, front, face, playing a game, trying to impress in conventional ways: these all are absent in themselves to an unusual degree.

3 Spontaneity, Simplicity And Naturalness

Their unconventionality is not superficial but essential and internal. It is their impulses, thought, consciousness that are so unusually unconventional, spontaneous and natural. Apparently recognizing that the world of people in which they live could not understand or accept this, and since they have no wish to hurt them or fight with them over every triviality, they will go through the ceremonies and rituals of convention with a good-humored shrug and with the best possible grace. When they consider something very important, it will be at such moments that their essential lack of conventionality appears, and not with the average Bohemian or authority-rebel, who makes great issues of trivial things and who will fight some unimportant regulation as if it were a world issue.

One consequence of this characteristic is that they have codes of ethics that are relatively autonomous and individual rather than conventional. The unthinking observer might sometimes believe them to be unethical, since they break down not only conventions but laws when the situation seems to demand it. Sometimes they let themselves go deliberately, out of momentary irritation with customary rigidity or with conventional blindness. They may for instance, be trying to teach someone or they may be trying to protect someone from hurt or injustice or they may sometimes find emotions bubbling up from within them that are so pleasant or even ecstatic that it seems sacrilegious to suppress them.

Their ease of penetration to reality, their closer approach to an animal-like or childlike acceptance and spontaneity imply a superior awareness of their own impulses, desires, opinions and subjective reactions in general.

4 Problem Centering

They are problem centered rather than ego centered. They generally are not problems for themselves and are generally not much concerned about themselves. Eg as contrasted with the ordinary introspectiveness that one finds in insecure people. These individuals customarily have missions in life, some task to fulfill, some problem outside themselves which enlists much of their energies.

They work within a framework of values that are broad and not petty, universal and not local, and in terms of a century rather than the moment. In a word, these people are all in one sense or another philosophers, however homely.

5 The Quality Of Detachment: The Need For Privacy

All of them can be solitary without harm to themselves and without discomfort. Furthermore it is true for almost all that they positively like solitude and privacy to a definitely greater degree than the average person.

They have an ability to concentrate to a degree not usual for ordinary men or women. Intense concentration produces as a by-product such phenomena as absent-mindedness, the ability to forget and to be oblivious of outer surroundings.

Another meaning of autonomy is self-decision, self-government, being an active, responsible, self-disciplined, deciding agent rather than a pawn or helplessly determined by others.

6 Autonomy: Independence of Culture And Environment: Will Active Agents

They are self contained. They have become strong enough to be independent of the good opinion of other people or even their affection.


7 Continued Freshness of Appreciation

They have a wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again freshly and naively the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder and even ecstasy, however stale these experiences may have become to others. They derive ecstasy, inspiration, and strength from the basic experiences of life and none of them will get this same sort of reaction from going to a night club or getting a lot of money or having a good time at a party.

8 The Mystic Experience: The Peak Experience

Peakers seem also to live in the realm of Being, of poetry, esthetics, symbols, transcendence, spirituality, of the mystical, personal non-institutional sort.

9 Gemeinschaftsgefuhl

They have for human beings in general a deep feeling of identification, sympathy, and affection in spite of the occasional anger, impatience, or disgust. They have a genuine desire to help the human race.

Very few people actually understand them, however much they may like them. However far apart from other people they feel at times, they nevertheless feel a basic underlying kinship with these creatures whom they have to regard with, if not condescension, at least the knowledge that they can do many things better than others can, that they can see things others cannot see, that the truth is as clear to them as it is hidden to others.

10 Interpersonal Relations

They are capable of more fusion, greater love, more perfect identification, more obliteration of the ego boundaries than other people would consider possible. The other members of these relationships are likely to be healthier and closer to self-actualization than the average. There is high selectiveness here. Their circle of friends is rather small. Devotion is not a matter of a moment, but requires a good deal of time and dedication.

Their love of humankind does not lack discrimination. The fact is they can and do speak realistically and harshly of those who deserve it, especially of the hypocritical, the pretentious, the pompous or the self-inflated. Their hostile reactions to others are 1) deserved and 2) for the good of the person attacked or for someone else’s good.

Their admirers are apt to demand more than the self-actualized person is willing to give. These devotions can be rather embarrassing, distressing and even distasteful to the self-actualizing individual, since they often go beyond ordinary bounds. The usual picture is of them being kind and pleasant when forced into these relationships, but ordinarily trying to avoid them as gracefully as possible.

11 Democratic Character Structure

They can be and are friendly with anyone of suitable character regardless of class, education, political belief, race or colour. As a matter of fact it seems as if they are not even aware of these differences, which are for the average person so obvious and important.

They find it possible to learn from anybody who has something to teach them, no matter what other characteristics the other person may have. They have a humility of a certain type. These individuals, themselves elite, select for their friends elite, but it is an elite of character, capacity and talent, rather than of birth, race, blood, family, age, youth, fame or power.

They are more likely rather than less likely to counterattack against evil men and evil behaviour. They are far less ambivalent, confused or weak-willed about their own anger than average people are.

12 Discrimination Between Means And Ends: Between Good And Evil

These individuals are strongly ethical, they have definite moral standards, they do right and do not do wrong. Their notions of right and wrong and of good and evil are often not conventional ones.

They believe in God, but describe God more as a metaphysical concept as a personal figure.

13 Philosophical Unhostile Sense Of Humour

Characteristically what they consider humor is more closely allied to philosophy than anything else. They do not poke fun at other people’s expense.

14 Creativeness

Each one of them shows in one way or another a special kind of creativeness or originality or inventiveness that has certain peculiar characteristics. These individuals are less inhibited, less constricted, less bound, in a word, less enculturated.

15 Resistence To Enculturation; Transcendence Of A Particular Culture

They get along with the culture in various ways, but they resist enculturation in a profound and meaningful sense. Their yielding to convention is apt to be rather casual and perfunctory, with cutting corners in favour of directness, honesty, saving energy, etc. In a pinch, when yielding to conventions is too annoying or too expensive, the apparent conventionality reveals itself for the superficial thing it is and tossed of as easily as a cloak.

They are not against fighting, but are against ineffective fighting.

16 Dropping Of Defenses In Love Relationships

They have a tendency to more and more spontaneity, dropping of defenses, dropping of roles and of trying and striving in the relationship. As the relationship continues, there is a growing intimacy and honesty and self-expression, which at its height is a rare phenomenon.

“We can love a person only to the extent that we are not threatened by him; we can love only if his reaction to us or to those things which affect us, are understandable to us.” Sex and love can be and most certainly are perfectly fused with each other in these people. They can tolerate the absence of sex more easily and will easily give it up, because it came without love and affection.

However sex can be wholeheartedly enjoyed, far beyond the possibility of the average person, but at the same time it does not play any central role in their philosophy of life. The self-actualizing person can simultaneously enjoy sex so much more intensely than the average person, yet at the same time consider it so much less important in their total frame of reference.

They have an easy relationship with members of the opposite sex, along with the casual acceptance of the phenomenon of being attracted to other people, but at the same time these individuals do rather less about this attraction than other people. Their talk about sex is considerably more free and casual and unconventional than the average.

Healthier men are more attracted by intelligence, strength, competence in women than threatened by it, as is so often the case with the uncertain male. Self-actualizing women can incorporate their “male qualities” without sacrificing their femininity.

Their love relationships are characterized by fun, merriment, elation, feeling of well-being and gaiety. In spite of the fact that their love lives often reach great peaks of ecstasy, it is also easily compared to the games of children and puppies. They have the rare ability to be pleased rather than threatened by the partner’s triumphs. There is an absence of jealousy.

The self-actualizing person will not casually control or use another or disregard his/her wishes. He/she will allow the respected person a fundamental irreducible dignity, and will not unnecessarily humiliate him/her.

Self-actualizing men who tend really to respect and to like women as partners, as equals, as pals are apt to be much more easy and free and familiar and impolite in the traditional sense.

Self-actualizing people’s tendencies to detachment and to need identification and to profound interrelationships with another person can coexist within themselves. They have a healthy selfishness, a great self-respect, a disinclination to make sacrifices without good reason. It cannot be said of them that they need each other as ordinary lovers.

They have excellent taste in love and sexual partners. The close friends, husbands and wives of self-actualizing people make a far finer group of human beings than random sampling would indicate.

The people they fall in love with are soundly selected by either cognitive or connative criteria. That is they are intuitively, sexually, impulsively attracted to people who are right for them by cold, intellectual, clinical calculation.

Take me back

26Dec/16

Read More: Introverts and Extraverts

The psychologist, Carl Jung coined the terms Introvert and Extravert.When I ask people what is the difference between extroverts and introverts, they respond that introverts don’t like socializing. This is not the case. The difference is when there is a stimulus – something happens – the extrovert immediately reacts outwards, while the introvert internalizes the information, processes it and then responds to it. It is in the response to the stimuli where the difference lies, not in their social interaction per se.

Since they incorporate information – taking it in – introverts need time alone to process the information. This is why introverts need “space”. They like being on their own, thinking about things. When introverts withdraw, extraverts experience this as rejection. It is not rejection, it is merely processing time. Imagine a computer needs to process information. If we keep tapping the keyboard, it will either freeze or explode. Don’t tap the keyboard of the introvert when they need space. Leave them alone until they are ready to interact.

Extroverts want attention 24/7. They cannot stand being alone. They can’t understand that the introvert voluntarily wants to be alone. Extroverts are always looking for company and stimuli and if they don’t find it, they create it. Introverts avoid it.

Introverts are like cats. When they encounter a stranger for the first time, they ignore him. They may walk past a few times without acknowledging the stranger. They are not rude, haughty, shy or dumb. They are introverts. Don’t pick up the cat. The cat is getting used to your energy. If it likes you, it will make eye contact. Now you can stroke it gently. Don’t pick up the cat. One day the cat will jump on your lap and purr and be all over you. Now you can pick up the cat and play with it. It may even sleep with you. Introverts know it is rude not to at least greet strangers, but they would rather not. Not until they have sussed them out.

Extroverts are like dogs on a beach. They sniff each other’s backsides, wag their tails and off they go, friends for life. They are spontaneous. Introverts are reserved. Extroverts are busy, they talk and laugh and vibrate. Introverts contemplate, develop insight and cruise.

One introvert man said he could remember being so irritated by his first wife who always wanted to know what he thought about a movie the moment they left the cinema. If they understand each other, introverts and extroverts will realise neither is right or wrong, they are just different.

Introverts don’t like noise. Since they are processing information all the time, it is very noisy inside their heads. That is why they abhor additional noise. They cannot listen to you, the radio and the tv at the same time. They don’t like crowds or noisy places. Too much stimuli. Extroverts love noise. When they walk into a home they switch on the tv, the radio and they sing. Introverts run for the hills. Because introverts are usually very quiet at first, extroverts often ask them what is wrong. Nothing is wrong, they are thinking, that’s all.

Extroverts think when people are not talking, they are unhappy. So they keep asking the introvert

“What is wrong?”
“Nothing.”
“ What is wrong?”
“ NOTHING!”
“See I knew something is wrong.”

Stop jabbing the keyboard. Some introverts are shy, some are not. They just don’t have something meaningful to say at that point in time and they don’t like small talk. Extroverts can chatter away all day long.

When introverts enter a restaurant, they aim for the corners with their backs to the walls, where they can see the people, but stay out of sight. Extraverts aim for the middle of the restaurant and within five minutes they have made friends with the waiter, the patrons at the next table and the chef. Introverts just want to eat in peace. Don’t put an introvert on the spot by introducing them to everybody at once and expect them to please everybody. Give them time. Please.

If you invite an introvert to a function over the weekend, their first answer is “No”. Give them time to think about it and probably by Friday they will say yes and go, and have a good time. Up to a point. Once introverts have blended people’s energy, they can be very funny, witty and very sociable. They can be the life of a party, if they want to and if they feel comfortable with the people. However, too much stimuli tires them, so by 12 pm they want to go home. By 12 pm, however the extroverts’ batteries are fully charged and they want to stay longer, and longer and longer. Best go with two cars.

Extroverts can be warm and sociable, funny and bubbly. They move towards people when they feel insecure and they need affirmation. They act out. Introverts can also be warm, funny and sociable but they withdraw when they feel insecure. They can wallow in self-pity.

Extroverts can be gregarious, bigger than life, and they always seem to have so much fun. Some introverts feel intimidated by extroverts and they may feel there is something wrong with them because they are not like the extroverts. There is nothing wrong being an introvert. Half of the population are introverts. They just don’t make so much noise as the extroverts and that is why you don’t notice them. Look to the quiet corners – they are there, one-on-one solving the world’s serious problems. Or laughing quietly at the spectacles of the extroverts. Introverts have much fun too – mostly inside their heads.

Open plan offices do not work with introverts. Please allow them their cubicles or at least place them along the walls with high enough partitions to provide them privacy – if you want them to be productive. Place the extroverts in the middle, facing each other, where they thrive on open competition. If you place introverts in noisy open plan offices, they will resign or become disgruntled.

In a marriage, I advise the extrovert to turn the volume down a little and expect less, and the introvert to up the volume and give a little more. Allow the introvert the long lonely bike ride on a Saturday morning – the me-time – and they will accompany the extrovert to the noisy dinner party that night.

Introverts should be aware of the impact they have on others. Once the extrovert knows how to extend the introvert time to process, the introvert sometimes forgets to give feedback. So by Friday the poor extravert still doesn’t know if he is going to that party that he enquired about three days ago.

Friends may visit the introvert-extravert couple. Soon enough the introvert will excuse him/herself and pull a disappearing act. They either go to sleep or find something else to do, away from the people. They may wash the dishes in the kitchen, just to be able to take a mini me-time break. Understand this and accommodate it.

Another tip for the introvert is to smile more. At a function or social event if you smile, then the extroverts think you are happy and approve of them, so they won’t ask you what is wrong. Smile and continue your own private thoughts and just nod your head now and again. People may just benefit from your sharing those private thoughts – that is if the extrovert gives you a chance to talk.

My father compared introverts and extroverts to bombers and fighter pilots during the Second World War. The bombers fly in formation and cause devastation by their clusters of bombs dropped indiscriminately. The fighter pilots fly alone, often coming directly out of the sun when the enemy cannot see them and they are precise, deadly snipers. In the canteen, the bombers sit together in the middle of the room, the fighter pilots sit alone at the bar.

Both extroverts and introverts can work with people. Extroverts are people-people. Introverts are one-on-one people. Both may have empathy, but extroverts spontaneously express their feelings. Introverts may feel deeply, but they don’t share those feelings easily. Extroverts may be warm, but superficial. Introverts may seem cynical, but actually, they feel too much.

Cats and dogs can live in harmony together as long as they respect their differences.

01Jan/17

Read More: The Male Endocrine System

The hypothalamus, part of the limbic system of the brain, is the organ responsible for controlling our hormones. When required, the hypothalamus will send a signal to the glands to produce and release hormones. These hormones are injected into the bloodstream and have receptors all over the body where they dock in. They charge these cells, and change the constitution of that cell.The glands will send a message back to the hypothalamus once satiation stage is reached, and the hypothalamus, working like a thermostat, will turn off production. Hormones that return to the brain, can change the way we think – just imagine a man reading a book and a naked woman passes his line of vision. The rush of dopamine and testosterone will change his thinking. Powerful steroid hormones influence every function in the body, mostly growth in teenagers, metabolism, immune system, etc. It influences men’s moods, memory and behaviour.

What happens when Achilles, Aphrodite and a pack of Wild Dogs dance together in the man’s body?

Anabolic steroid: Testosterone / Achilles

Testosterone is the magic mojo juice a male runs on. I call testosterone the Achilles of hormones. Imagine Achilles on the verge of charging onto the battlefield; his muscles flexing as he swings his sword, his body tense and taunt, his attention focussed on the enemy. He exudes confidence and animal sex appeal. He is fighting fit, aggressive, ready to take enormous risks and on a winning streak. He feels invincible. This is what manhood is all about.

Testosterone causes major changes in Achilles’ organs: his bones become denser and his muscle leaner, it increases his haemoglobin to produce clotting agents in his blood to prevent bleeding of wounds. He breathes deeper and faster, promoting oxygen uptake in his blood. His eyes focus only on the enemy directly in front of him. His mood changes to aggression, a sexual predator, prone to sexual fantasies and he is motivated to challenge rivals. Achilles moves with confidence, talks with authority, seeks sex and challenges Hades himself.

Testosterone motivates a man to fight and to win. Imagine Achilles meeting Aphrodite / Dopamine in the nucleus accumbens – the thrill centre of the brain. Winning becomes so thrilling he becomes addicted to it. Even spectators watching their teams win experience an increase in testosterone.

This winning effect reaches beyond the arena of the sports fields, but also to the sales floor, the stock market and even the upper echelons of the business fraternity where multi-billion dollar deals are clinched.

Cambridge scientists found that when traders’ testosterone levels test high in the morning, they make more money on the stock exchange that day. When Brazil beat Italy in the World Cup Final 1994, the average testosterone levels of Brazilian fans increased by 28%, compared to the 27 decrease of the Italian men. A testosterone surge before a competition increases chances of winning and definitely promotes a winning streak. A surge of testosterone after a single victory can last a few months.

Too much…

However at some point the elevated testosterone levels override the rational neo-cortex. These men begin to believe themselves as invincible, omnipotent, and power giants. They believe they cannot only conquer the world but that they own the world. They sleep less, become more and more driven and their over-confidence pollutes their business relations and leading to disastrous leadership. Alan Greenspan referred to this phenomenon as “irrational exuberance”. Women are not prone to the condition as they do not produce the same levels of testosterone as men. In this case, men are more “hormonal” than women!

Too little…

When a testosterone empowered man enters a room, a subordinate male will experience a drop in testosterone and an increase in cortisol, the stress hormone. Cortisol affects the hippocampus, or memory centre as well as other prefrontal cortex functions. The subordinate male will fumble, stumble over his words, act awkwardly and probably have little memory of the social blunders he committed.

When men lose – or their team loses – their testosterone levels plummet. Achilles bites the dust. Man-down. A drop in testosterone causes irritable male syndrome, they become moody, withdrawn, depressed and miserable. They lack motivation, have low libido, lose interest in sex and in life in general. A remedy would be to get them active, doing things they are good at doing and exposing them to sunshine. Beer is not a good idea, since it contains oestrogen.

Men produce ten times more testosterone than women, but there is a little Achilles in every woman too. Testosterone in men is produced in the testes and adrenals. In women it is produced in the ovaries and adrenals. An enzyme called aromatase can affect testosterone, turning it into the female oestrogen. Fat cells contain aromatase, which is why obese men often grow breasts. This phenomenon is called gynaecomastia.

How fast …

The time span between the hypothalamus signalling the glands to produce testosterone and the actual effect of it, can take up to fifteen minutes or hours. By age 30 a man’s testosterone production begins to decline and he is more rational and cognitive about the risks he is willing to take, than when he was a teenager and his hormones ruled his brain.

How sexy …

All erotic stimuli – what we see, hear, smell, feel, taste or touch – are first recorded by the thalamus. This triggers a release of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens – the thrill centre. Enter Aphrodite … The hypothalamus sends the signal to release testosterone – enter Achilles. The man will require energy for this venture, so adrenaline is released as well – enter the cheetahs. However, if he is too stressed, – detection of wild dogs – blood will not flow to the male genitals – he needs to be relaxed and in the parasympathetic nervous system, to obtain an erection.

(In the sympathetic / stressed nervous system, blood is redirected to the muscles and limbs needed to fight – men do not fight battles with their erections.) To achieve ejaculation, he needs to switch back to the sympathetic nervous system. The cerebellum controls the muscles involved in the contractions, producing the orgasm and this reptile brain activity dampens the prefrontal and temporal higher brain functions, allowing more uninhibited behaviour. An orgasm will release the oxytocin hormone, causing bonding with his partner. Oxytocin releases opiates in the brain, suppressing pain. Sex is good for pain relief.


Catabolic steroid: Cortisol / Wild dogs

Cortisol is the pack of wild dogs released by the gonads. If not kept on leash, they will attack the body from the inside and devour it with ruthless fervour. Initially, when the pack of wild dogs raise their snouts, sniff the wind and jog at a checked steady pace, cortisol, in combination with dopamine, can increase arousal, focus attention and activate a man’s senses. It makes him feel alive and alert and full of anticipation.

Cortisol works in conjunction with adrenalin, but the cheetahs soon tire and then the cortisol pack of wild dogs have free range and cause havoc in the man’s body. It attacks his digestive system, causing gastric ulcers, stunts growth, and attacks his immune system. It can damage his heart. It raids energy stores, the liver, muscles and fat cells, fervently searching for glucose. It will attack his muscles and turn them into glucose and energy, to feed its wild frenzy. He becomes anxious, paranoid, his memory fails, he becomes over-emotional when his emotional amygdala overrides his rational neo-cortex, and he becomes practically physically and mentally exhausted. It literally causes the dendrites in the brain to shrivel up. Cortisol eats his muscles and his brain.

The lethal combination of cortisol, dopamine and adrenalin cause the conquering warrior effect, but we cannot attempt to conquer Olympus and not anger the gods, so inevitably there follows the spectacular crash and burn. The after effects of the cortisol pack of wild dogs, leave a battlefield scarred with mutilated, ruined men.

Dopamine / Aphrodite

Dopamine is the Aphrodite of the neurotransmitters. She is alluring, she will seduce him and excite him. Dopamine is the anticipation of pleasure and the rewards it promises, she motivates him to move towards that which he desires. She creates euphoria and he becomes addicted to the anticipation, the wanting, the desire, the craving, not necessarily the reward. Dopamine calls him to the hunt and to be excited by the novelty and unexpected pleasure that awaits him. As soon as he becomes used to the reward, the dopamine loses her allure and he becomes bored.

When there is an unexpected reward, the dopamine surge is greater. It is smaller when there is an expected reward. The reward can be anything from sex, securing a major deal, to scoring a goal in sport. Also when there is an expected disappointment, the dopamine drop is minimal. An unexpected disappointment will cause a major drop in dopamine in the thrill centres of the brain.

Too little dopamine leads to that awful feeling where he has nothing to look forward to. Without dopamine he experiences no pleasure, no motivation and he will stay static. A coach potato man, lying on his back all day watching television, growing fatter and becoming more and more miserable, is a typical example of man lacking dopamine and testosterone.

Aphrodite’s danger lies in her addictive powers. She can enslave him. Men can become addicted to winning, to sex, to power as they become addicted to drugs and alcohol.

Too much exposure to dopamine stimuli causes a depletion of dopamine. Too much of a good thing becomes boring. Nothing can excite these men anymore and they take bigger risks, but with less judgement, to experience the euphoria of winning. When that fails they may fall prey to designer drugs to relieve the boredom and create excitement.

Reckless risk taking leads to mistakes and downfall. This is when they trip over their own ego’s. Not every disgraced business tycoon exits on a blaze of glory, they crash and burn on a spectacular level. Achilles paid the price for hubris – he knew he was doomed, and displayed a fatalistic attitude to dangerous risk and died by the arrow of Apollo.

Take me back: Virile Heroes – Impotency

27Dec/16

Read More – Time Out

Time-Out is a life skill tool that any one of the parties can call during a heated argument and the other person has to adhere, for the sake of the relationship, personal dignity and self respect.

The procedure of Time-Out work as follows:

We call Time-Out when we reach that point in the argument where we are about to lose control, either by saying things we should not, or worse, where we may just resort to violence.

If any person calls Time-Out, then the parties retreat, each to a different safe haven. This can be to the bedroom, the garden outside, bathroom etc. Just get away from each other.

Now you can continue the argument on a virtual platform with the partner, venting all your anger and releasing all the dirty name calling burning inside your guts, in a room or space where no-one but yourself can hear it. At first we focus on the other person: “You are a lousy, low down snake.” “You are a manipulating bitch.” Carry on until you have nothing left to say. The aim of this part of the exercise is just to vent and rid yourself of the anger – which is a destructive emotion.

Then we shift gears and we express our feelings: “I am angry, I am hurting, I feel betrayed, I am disappointed, I feel lost, I feel trapped…” Cry if needs be. Bury your face in the pillow. Just let it out. The aim of this part of the exercise is to get in touch with your feelings and express them. Tell yourself what you are feeling. This helps you to ground yourself and to get a hold of yourself.

When all is out of your system, now investigate your own point of view re the argument. Are you really 100% right? Are there matters where you can concede or compromise? Remember no-one can hear you and argue with you at this point. Just consider that you may not be 100% right.

Now re-evaluate the partner’s point of view. Even if it does not make sense, see if you can at least repeat their point of view, just to make sure that you actually heard it. But do make an effort to find some truth or justification or make sense from it. You don’t have to agree with it, just try to figure it out and consider it.

Ask yourself if the issue that you are arguing about is going to be important in 6 months’ time?

Is there perhaps a hidden subtext underlying this issue, that is more important and that you are both ignoring.

If the issue will not be important in 6 months’ time, go out and make up, even if you were right and the other party was wrong. Your marriage is more important than being right.

If there is a subtext, at least acknowledge that there may be a bigger problem which may require professional help and in the mean time, call a truce.

Go out and find a more friendly and amicable way to call a truce. Is it really worth a few days’ sulking?

Apologies can always help. Even if you are not apologising for your behaviour or whatever the perception is that you did wrong, at least be sorry that you hurt the other person’s feelings. This is after all the person that you love and that you want to be with.

Time-Out should not exceed an hour. If you cannot calm down within an hour at least go out and tell the partner that you are still upset and that you would prefer to talk about it the following day. Then go to bed and sleep.

Time-Out can only be called when both parties have at least had a chance to say something. A person cannot say: “I am angry because you came home late” and before the other person can even explain or defend, you call Time-Out. Time-Out is not a tool to silence the other person. It is a tool to control your own anger.

Self control and self discipline are easy words to use when we are calm. It is in the heat of the moment when it requires almost super human effort to apply it. This is what makes us mature adults. We take responsibility to vent our anger without destruction.

Take me back to Action Heroes: Protectors And Warriors – A woman does not have to fight