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Implacable hostility arises after separation or divorce and denotes the attitude shown by one parent to another in denying access to, or contact with, their child(ren). What differentiates implacable hostility from the typical hostility that may arise after separation/divorce is that the deep-rooted nature of the hostility cannot be justified on rational grounds and measures taken by third parties including mediators and the family courts are to no avail.
Cases of implacable hostility are increasingly being seen as domestic violence and as a human rights abuse if not recognised by agencies involved, although it is important not to classify hostility as implacable if it is itself justified by domestic violence perpetrated by the other parent.
The typical outcome of situations of implacable hostility is that the parent to whom implacable hostility is directed becomes excluded from the life of their child(ren). There are two ways in which this exclusion arises.
Firstly, the excluded parent, having exhausted all the avenues available for resolving the situation, finally gives up the effort. This may be done in the belief that the option of withdrawal is best interests of the child(ren) given the stress that inevitably arises from repeated applications for access/contact.
Secondly, the child(ren) may become parentally alienated — they deny that they want to see the excluded parent. Once a child has become alienated from the excluded parent, the originating implacable hostility becomes subsidiary. From this point, the formerly implacably hostile parent often claims that they are supportive of access/contact but they have to respect the wishes of the child. Family courts are usually unwilling to force children to see one of their parents against their expressed wishes - and often fail to examine the cause of such statements.
Various theories have been put forward to explain the prevalence of implacable hostility:
- Control theory: Whichever parent has residence of the children may exercise power over the other parent. This may be done in pursuit of an unresolved grievance, for revenge, punishment or mere vindictiveness.
- Financial theory: Financial resources follow the residence of the children. The accommodation, child support, child social security benefits etc. provide an incentive for one parent to fight to retain residence of /care and control over the children.
- Psychological theory: One version of this holds that the powerful maternal instinct overrides even the claims of the father especially in circumstances where the mother feels threatened that she may lose control of the child, or is concerned lest the child become attached to the man whom she now doesn't love.
In some extreme causes of divorce, parents might seek revenge on each other (or causer of separation) and do an extreme action to harm either the child or the opposite gender parent. Extreme cases include suicide, murder, and kidnapping.
'Implacable hostility' is now being used (as a tactic) in place of 'Parental Alienation Syndrome' within Family Law in order for abusive fathers to claim allegations of abuse by mother or child were reflective of brainwashing and alienating, using similar behaviours of mothers who in fact are abuse victims, and their attempts at protecting their children are routinely misinterpreted as hostility or alienation. There is increasing emphasis in law to punish resident parents (mainly mothers)who do not support contact, using such terms as 'Implacable Hostility'.
The pattern of behavior of one parent or the other who was emotionally hurt in the relationship or its ending. The Person may be aggrieved openly or closed, typically this behavior derives from emotionally closed, non confrontational or shy personality types and it is an internal process which external actions.
The "injured party" constructs a "emotional barrier". This Barrier is 'normal' as part of the human psyche and coping strategies of a relationship breakdown or other life events which cause trauma. However the behavior is irrational and unjustified; Where the person can be emotionally undeveloped, of significantly emotionally harmed, or feels to have lost control of their life tend to often create deluded events, twist events which are used to 'self help' the emotional hurt and switch the 'blame' ( transference, denial ). The person will show at some point hysteria. Hysteria however this can be masked and withheld from the party. it is often shared with friends or family to a degree, where the tainted account is give to gain support to the injured party. - Typically the third party will support the injured person due to human empathy. This type of behavior is 'inbuilt' to human from birth.
The person will fantasize of the others actions and conduct during the relationship to focuses of the bad, to add 'embellish' or invent events that did not happen and will not recall the better events of the relationship without difficulty and adverse reactions. The attacking person, will construct delusions of the persecutory type and hold fears that would not be seen as normal, but will appear justified due to the heuristic of the 'conduction' which is made plausible by the hostility and justified by the supportive friends and family holding the supportive role due to the information of justification.
The issue with the psychological disorder is the material to support the highly plausible construct, as personal relationship are personal and not documented well to show the inconsistencies, a person may not recall the true events over time in any event and hear say from friends and family is tainted so no true reading can be given or facts found.
Adverse third party hostility can also effect the 'victim' whom now shows the hostility. this is Not the same formation of the heuristics as the party to the relationship constructing the events for emotional protection themselves, but the events were created by a third party and 'embedded' on the person. This formation of events occurs the same way but is an external manipulation. This can be due to abuse and control as a deliberate act or as an inadvertent accident of 'comforting' and support. However instability and poor support will be a considerable factor in unintentional coercions.
The ravage saying of "turning love to hate" is the construct of the implacable hostility wrapped in the human emotional masking and inability to deal with the breakdown of the relationship in either, a failure by one partner or act to break the 'bond' such as betrayal or simply drifting apart and realizing at a later date. It is no doubt made from a feeling of hurt, loss, regret and lack of understanding or rational justification to arrive at this crisis point in their lives.
Therapy in the form of relationship therapy in certain circumstances, can assist in releasing the symptoms. Gathering an understanding also allows for 'peace of mind'. However the construct of deep rooted and longer term hostilities can be irreversible and should be seen as a psychosis. The behavior can be isolated to target an individual, and may include their family and friends. The impact can be lifelong and will reflect in any other relationship, the injured person will not wish to enter into a relationship until significant harm to their victim is achieved.
the children will be effected by way of environmental learning. Parents who were served said that they had not involved the children as to protect them. In all cases the child was exposed to the hostility both directly and indirectly. Typically the supporter was carried out around the child or in ear shot. The child was told the formed falsehood. the children developed a fear of the other party and did not wish to see them where previously this was not the case and the children enjoyed the contact and relationship. This is subject to claims of emotionally harming the child, under the children's act 1989 S32, S48 and S105(UK) However, as many couples who are not separated can display this type of behaviour too, we would have to consider removing children from non-separated parents who are prone to arguments, put downs and apparent hostile behaviour towards each other and often accepted as normal behvaiour in families. Children are damaged if placed with an abusive father by mistake, which is becoming increasingly common. However it is a rare situation, mothers very rarely make false claims of abuse and fathers more often make false claims of neglect and/or alienation. It has been abused as a 'diagnosis' within the adversarial legal system in the UK and other countries in order to win a case.
Women are labelled as prone to this issue due to being actual victims of domestic abuse. Much of this behaviour can be attributed to the 'cycle of abuse' and is extremely difficult to prove, and more harm may be inflicted on a child through the trauma of being taken from the mother and by placing them with an abuser.
- Warshak, R. A. (2010). Divorce Poison: How to Protect Your Family from Bad-mouthing and Brainwashing. New York: Harper Collins.