One of the more controversial topics addressed in our recent coverage of problems in California's family courts is the legitimacy of 'Parental Alienation Syndrome.'
Invented by the late Richard Gardner — a psychiatrist who argued that society treated pedophiles too harshly before he stabbed himself to death with a steak knife in 2003 — the theory of PAS asserts that mothers brainwash children to believe that estranged fathers have sexually molested them.
As a practical matter, PAS has frequently been used in court to discredit abuse accusations. In one California case we examined, the theory was successfully invoked by a pedophile father to get custody of his daughter.
Some fathers' rights advocates and psychologists defend the legitimacy of PAS, and argue it should be included in the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. SF Weekly recently interviewed Sacramento Superior Court Judge Jerilyn Borack, who served on a statewide task force that studied family-court reform, and asked whether she believed PAS should be admissible in court.
Her answer: Nope.