Richard A. Gardner

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Richard Alan Gardner
Born (1931-04-28)April 28, 1931
The Bronx, New York City
Died May 25, 2003(2003-05-25) (aged 72)
Tenafly, New Jersey[1]
Known for Parental alienation syndrome
Scientific career
Fields Child psychiatry
Institutions Columbia University
Website rgardner.com at the Wayback Machine (archived April 29, 2007)

Richard Alan Gardner (April 28, 1931 – May 25, 2003) was an American | child psychiatrist known for his work in psychotherapy with children, parental alienation and child custody evaluations.[2] Gardner introduced the term Parental alienation syndrome (PAS). He wrote 41 books and more than 200 professional journal articles and book chapters.[2] He developed child play therapy and test materials which he published through his company Creative Therapeutics. Gardner was an expert witness in child custody cases.[3] Gardner and his work have been both disputed and supported.[4]

Work and career[edit]

Gardner graduated from Columbia College, Columbia University in 1952 and SUNY Downstate Medical Center in 1956. After internship at the Montefiore Hospital, he completed residences in adult psychiatry and in child psychiatry at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. He was certified as a psychoanalysis in 1966 after training at the William Alanson White Institute.[5]

In 1960-1962 he worked as director of child psychiatry in the U.S. Army Hospital, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.[5]

Gardner's professional affiliations included American Psychiatric Association, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Academy of Psychoanalysis, American Medical Association, American Society of Psychoanalytic Physicians and American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law.[5]

From 1963 until his death Gardner was a clinical professor at Columbia University's medical school, Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.[1] He also held academic teaching appointments at the William A. White Psychoanalytic Institute (1966-83), the University of Louvain, Belgium (1980-82) and at the University of St. Petersburg, Russia (1989-1997).[5]

Gardner wrote about false allegations of sexual abuse in his 1990 book Sex Abuse Hysteria: Salem Witch Trials Revisited. He assisted the defense team of Margaret Kelly Michaels which successfully appealed her prison conviction in the Wee Care Nursery School abuse trial.[1]

In 1970 when divorce was becoming more common in the United States, Gardner wrote Boys and Girls Book About Divorce to provide children with suggestions on how to cope. In 1973 he created one of the first board games for use in child psychotherapy.[1]

Controversy[edit]

His views stirred considerable controversy and he published rebuttals of his critics' arguments.[6]

Gardner's observation of a "parental alienation syndrome" focused on how one parent may misuse the powers of socialization to turn a child against a once loved parent. Gardner's labeling of alienation processes as a "syndrome" remains controversial among psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists.[7] PAS has not been recognized by the American Psychiatric Association or any other medical or professional association. It has been extensively criticized by scientists and jurists, who describe it as inadmissible in child custody hearings based on both science and law.[8] Gardner's claims that PAS is scientifically valid and legally admissible have been disputed. Proposals to include PAS in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders have been controversial. DSM-5 Task Force Chair David Kupfer and DSM-5 Task Force Public Representative James McNulty have written letters to concerned professionals that PAS will not be included in DSM-5.[9][4]

One common criticism of the PAS diagnosis is that it is not included in the DSM-5, which is true, although it typically takes many years to include or remove any DSM diagnosis. For example, homosexuality was included as a "sociopathic personality disturbance" in the DMS 1952-1973 and DSM inclusion or exclusion is influenced by "value judgement" over "factual dispute"[10] Further Gardner himself stated more research would be required over several years to provide enough evidence for inclusion in DSM-5. It has also been stated that promoting his observations runs contrary to protecting children who have witnessed domestic violence, whose behavior is entirely consistent with children who have witnessed domestic abuse or have been abused. Gardner also published several books and articles on how to tell the difference between a child suffering from witnessing abuse or having been sexually abused from one suffering from PAS. Carol S. Bruch, Research Professor of Law at the University of California, Davis, implied that Dr. Gardner's description of PAS could inflict emotions on his audience. She found lack of careful analysis and rigor among the adopters of Dr. Gardner's observations.[11]

In a 2002 article in the American Journal of Family Therapy, Gardner dismissed most of his critics as either biased or misinformed. "Attorneys frequently select out-of-context material in order to enhance their positions in courts of law... some of these misperceptions and misrepresentations have become so widespread that I considered it judicious to formulate this statement," he wrote.[12][13]

In the same article, Gardner denied that he condoned pedophilia. "I believe that pedophilia is a bad thing for society," he wrote. "I do believe, however, that pedophilia, like all other forms of atypical sexuality is part of the human repertoire and that all humans are born with the potential to develop any of the forms of atypical sexuality (which are referred to as paraphilias by DSM-IV). My acknowledgment that a form of behavior is part of the human potential is not an endorsement of that behavior. Rape, murder, sexual sadism, and sexual harassment are all part of the human potential. This does not mean I sanction these abominations."

Gardner also advocated against mandatory reporting laws for child abuse, against immunity from prosecution of individuals reporting child abuse and for the creation of programs with federal funding designed to assist individuals claimed to be falsely accused of child abuse.[3]

Personal life and death[edit]

Gardner was born in The Bronx on April 28, 1931. Gardner had three children with Lee Gardner before their divorce.[1]

After his suicide on May 25, 2003 at age 72, his son revealed that Gardner was suffering from type I complex regional pain syndrome, a neurological syndrome formerly known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy.[1]

Publications[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Lavietes, Stuart (2003-06-09). "Richard Gardner, 72, Dies; Cast Doubt on Abuse Claims". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-11-27. 
  2. ^ a b Warshak, Richard. "The Gardner Library". Dr. Richard A. Warshak. Retrieved 8 August 2018. 
  3. ^ a b Hoult, JA (2006). "The Evidentiary Admissibility of Parental Alienation Syndrome: Science, Law, and Policy". Children's Legal Rights Journal. 26 (1). SSRN 910267Freely accessible. 
  4. ^ a b Bernet W, Baker AJ (2013). "Parental alienation, DSM-5, and ICD-11: response to critics". J. Am. Acad. Psychiatry Law. 41 (1): 98–104. PMID 23503183. 
  5. ^ a b c d Gardner, Richard A. "Summary of Curriculum Vitae". (2002? from web archive) 
  6. ^ Gardner, Richard (2004). "Commentary on Kelly and Johnston's The Alienated Child: A Reformulation of Parental Alienation Syndrome" (pdf). Family Court Review. 42 (4): 611–21. doi:10.1177/1531244504268711. 
  7. ^ Waldron, KH; Joanis DE (1996). "Understanding and Collaboratively Treating Parental Alienation Syndrome". American Journal of Family Law. 10: 121–133. 
  8. ^ Wood, CL (1994). "The parental alienation syndrome: a dangerous aura of reliability". Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review. 29: 1367–1415. 
  9. ^ Jamison, Peter (June 10, 2011). "'Parental Alienation Syndrome' Unlikely to Be Included in DSM-5". SF Weekly. Retrieved July 30, 2012. 
  10. ^ "The diagnostic status of homosexuality in DSM-III: a reformulation of the issues" (pdf). Family Court Review. 138: 210–215. 1981. 
  11. ^ Bruch, Carol (Fall 2001). "Parental Alienation Syndrome and Parental Alienation: Getting It Wrong in Child Custody Cases" (PDF). Family Law Quarterly. 35 (3). Archived from the original on 2001-12-28. 
  12. ^ Gardner, Richard (2002). "Misinformation Versus Facts About the Contributions of Richard A. Gardner, M.D." American Journal of Family Therapy. 30 (5): 395–416. doi:10.1080/01926180260296305. 
  13. ^ Gardner, Richard (1999-06-09). "Misperceptions versus facts about Richard A. Gardner, M.D." Cresskill, New Jersey.