Jean Mercer wrote a blog trying to dismantle this website and its contents.
I recommend you read it and also read my response.
I recommend you read it and also read my response.
Alternative Psychotherapies: Evaluating Unconventional Mental Health Treatments
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 17, 2020
The "American Psychological Association Review"
A colleague recently called my attention to the website https://americanpsychologicalass.com/. This is one of many Internet sites that argue in highly personal terms against “parental alienation” and claim that a former spouse and a judge have interfered with the author’s relationship with his [usually] children. Kenneth Gottfried was told he could not have contact with his children following a psychological evaluation. The two teenage girls had stated that they did not want to see him, a situation that Gottfried attributed to “alienation” on the part of the girls’ mother.
This is a sad and all too common situation, and I would say nothing about it except for the fact that the unfortunate Gottfried has become a megaphone for spreading the questionable views of the “parental alienation” advocate Craig Childress. I think I am right in assuming that Gottfried has not spent his time studying the various aspects of psychology he mentions, but that he has picked up his claims from Childress, either directly or via Internet.
The thrust of Gottfried’s statement is that the American Psychological Association is responsible for “countless” deaths associated with judges’ decisions not to give custody of children to one of their parents. The deaths he refers to are said to include a case of what he apparently means to call “self-immolation”. Gottfried claims that he has personally witnessed 30 deaths of separated parents in the last 4 years, but does not provide any evidence for this statement. He also appears to think that such deaths would not occur if APA were to recognize “parental alienation”; he does not say how such recognition would affect courts or parents. It may be that Gottfried confuses the American Psychological Association with the American Psychiatric Association, both confusingly referred to as APA. The latter is responsible for DSM, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and in preparation of the 2013 edition declined to include “parental alienation” as a diagnosis. No actions by the American Psychological Association would determine inclusion of a disorder in DSM.
Gottfried uses a letter written by APA to argue that the organization knows it is contributing to causing deaths. The letter, however, is on the subject of separation of immigrant children from their parents, and refers to suicides in that group. Although abuse of analogies is common in arguments about “parental alienation”, to conflate families where children avoid one parent with parents and children involuntarily separated (and poorly treated) is surely the achievement of a new rhetorical low.
I am a member of APA (the psychology one) but hold no particular brief for the organization and would like to see quite a few changes in it. However, although I see no way APA can or should make the moves Gottfried proposes, I think I can guess why he thinks what he does. His positions stem from those of Craig Childress. It’s my opinion that these Gottfired charges against APA stem from the events two years ago when Childress and some of his adherents delivered a petition to the APA headquarters in Washington, DC. Childress had made excited announcements on the Internet about how they were going to do this and what APA might do in response. I wasn’t present at the delivery, but what I have gathered is that someone in the office took the petition and said “thank you” and the Childress group then left. That was, not surprisingly, the end of that. But Childress has been muttering about this for two years. He has also been muttering about the events involving his presentation at a conference of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts group, which culminated in having APA cancel the continuing professional education units that had been planned for presentation attendees. This led to even more fulmination against APA, and more recently against AFCC, with some special personal remarks about the AFCC head Matthew Sullivan.
What do I see on americanpsychologicalass that makes me so sure that Childress is behind this? For one thing, there is the very fact that Childress is referred to. He is barely mentioned in the literature about “parental alienation”, although Jennifer Harman (not Harmon, that’s someone else) in 2018 said she thought there should be some empirical research into his ideas. Gottfried did not come across Childress by picking up a professional journal article, but by seeing and being drawn into Childress’s and his followers’ large and noisy Internet presence.
I also see Childress in a number of references made by Gottfried. Anyone who has read Childress’s self-published work will recognize the tireless repetition of certain names: Bowlby, Bowen, Minuchin, Madanes--- and then more recently, van der Kolk and Tronick. The connection of specific ideas to Childress’s work is not elaborated anywhere, and connections are made by jumping rather than step by step. For example, citing Bowlby’s discussion of attachment, Childress arrives quickly at the conclusion that a child who avoids one parent has had his or her attachment system suppressed.
There’s more Childress in this site, but I’ll just point to the lengthy and meaningless discussion of APA ethics guidelines by Gottfried. Childress rather specializes in describing how unethical other professionals are, especially with respect to the use of the best science. Those who disagree on various points with the “parental alienation” approach are said to be outside the boundaries of their competence and therefore in violation of ethical guidelines.
It would be easy to look at americanpsychologicalass and conclude that it was the work of an individual angry and frustrated man, and of course it is. But there is more to it than that. On that site we see an amplification of the views of a psychologist whose claims about parents and children are recognized as concerning by many professionals but few laypeople. These views are potentially harmful to children and families because they encourage courts to order unnecessary separations and ineffective treatments. Please, readers, if you find yourselves confronted with the Gottfried site or anything like it, understand that there is more here than fury and goofy ideas. These arguments have the power to do harm and need to be countered.
POSTED BY JEAN MERCER AT 2:45 PM
Dear Jean Mercer,
First I would like to thank you so much for addressing my website and the many questions I have at https://americanpsychologicalass.com/
I would also like to preface this with my sincere apologies to the readers, the women who have been targeted by this form of child abuse and domestic violence along with all the other parent's families and children who are affected.
You see, Jean Mercer is delusional. I don't mean to say this lightly, I really believe she is completely delusional and her comments are not based on reality.
So like on my website, no matter how much I write in this article, no matter how many facts I quote and prove, no matter how many doctors, psychologists, or neuroscientists I produce, or pillars of psychology that prove beyond any shadow of a doubt that what I am stating are facts, Jean Mercer will continue to refute everything.
Jean is on a personal quest to kill parents, children and do everything in her power to disprove everything I have written in my books and on my websites. Even though I have first-hand knowledge of watching this abuse happen to my children. Jean's ultimate goal is to prove she is right and I am wrong.
I also doubt Jean will read this response in its entirety, do any introspection or research about the subject, and will just compile a garbage nonfactual retort. Basically a hitjob on me, rather than answer the questions I have put forward from the very beginning.
If it is ok with you Jean, I would like to address some of your comments so you may respond in kind.
You used the term 'Parental Alienation' and did not refer to the many definitions addressed in the DSM-5 such as:
You made a comment after addressing me as 'his' stating (usually). That comment seems rather extremely chauvinistic. while you may think this is something that happens to only men, I have spoken with countless women on Facebook groups and in-person that have near-identical circumstances. One mother I spoke with only 6 weeks ago whose son committed suicide as a result of the complications of this child abuse, would strongly disagree with your assumption.
Your attempt to frame my personal situation in this paragraph leaves out: 1. the bribery and corruption of the family court, 2. The intentional continuances in family court from me seeing my daughters (over a year), 3. The intentional refusal of due process, 4. The ethics violations of a counselor from North Carolina licensed professional counselors, 5. The reference material of the United Department of Justice on Domestic Violence and of the 2018 APA letter which spells out the trauma that occurs from separating parents and children.
You also left out:
In your second paragraph,
Your attitude seems very condescending. You refer to me as "The Unfortunate", a megaphone, and attacking my studies and Dr. Childress.
I would like to address one thing I believe is rather important. Please tell me what of Dr. Childress's work is incorrect. While I have read much of his work I have yet to find an honest psychologist that has dissected his work and could tell me why it is wrong?
As far as my research it has involved many people and mental health professionals, here is a small list:
Jean, are you saying that only Latinos are affected by the separation of parents and children?
Wow, you seem to have misread this way out of proportion, or I did a horrific job of explaining it on my website.
Your statement "The thrust of Gottfried’s statement is that the American Psychological Association is responsible for “countless” deaths associated with judges’ decisions not to give custody of children to one of their parents." is simply incorrect and dishonest.
The thrust of my page is that the American Psychological Association is responsible for “countless” deaths and child abuse directly because they have actively played a huge part in denying psychological child abuse and the traumatizing of parents within the family courts.
Please see this from an outsiders point of view, the APA put their letter to the President of the United States together in less than 3 weeks, yet they deny there is any issue with separating parents and children for decades and have to put together a study group for over 3 years to figure out are psychological child abuse and domestic violence worrisome when it happens in family court?
I do want to thank you for pointing out that I did not have any reference material to back up the suicides.
Please reference this page: https://www.americanpsychologicalass.com/suicides.html You can now see a small fraction of the people that have committed suicide.
I have also going to include a new page called Murders https://www.americanpsychologicalass.com/murders This page covers some of the direct murders of a parent and filicide. This is where a parent kills their own child and most of the time then kills themselves. The page is currently under construction.
I do have a bit of confusion since the APA's own words in their letter, the APA reference a Honduran man who committed suicide from the separation (paragraph 4, As a tragic...). The fact that the APA spells this out all the while you minimize this topic is very alarming to me.
And here walks in the confusion for both you and me: You refer to a case of self-immolation when I actually am referring to the APA's own letter that states the separating of parents and children, compounded with the psychological abuse of someone's own children, where parents are forced into a corner and have no ability to protect their own child is absolutely a major factor in suicide.
Jean, for you to denounce this as not being a factor in suicide makes me wonder if you have ever studied attachment theory and family dynamics. It also scares the hell out of me that you consider yourself a professor who literally ignores Foundations of attachment theory and family dynamics.
Jean, In the next sentence you write that I think the deaths would not occur if the APA would recognize Parental Alienation and I may be confusing the APhychologicalA with the APhychiactricA. My Apologies for not elaborating on this topic. I am not confused with either of the APAs.
To make this as crystal clear as possible: The American Psychological Association which include their past 5 presidents and their board members are absolutely guilty of traumatizing and murdering parents and children, because:
By doing this the APA intentionally inflicted a generation of children and parents with harm.
The APA is guilty of their own ethical violations:
Standard 2.01a - Boundaries of Competence
Standard 9.01a - Competence in Assessment
Standard 3.04 - Avoiding Harm to the Client
Standard 2.03 - Maintaining Competence
Standard 4.05, Disclosures. Mandated to report child abuse + Most professionals who work with families and children are mandated by law All states require certain professionals or institutions to report suspected child abuse. Those required by law to file are considered mandated reporters. These professionals can include health care providers, mental health providers, crisis counselors, school personnel, social workers, daycare providers, and law enforcement personnel among others.
I just want to address this paragraph for clarification. In your emeritus educated opinion, only Latinos are affected by the separation of parents and children.
You also assume that I conflate children avoiding a parent with children involuntarily separated.
Jean, here is where you are just making shit up to try and prove a point.
Here is Dr. Childress's definitive diagnostic indicators.
1.) Attachment System Suppression:
2.) Personality Disorder Traits
3.) Delusional Belief
If you do not like that one, here is William Bernet's Five-Factor Model
Both of these models are eerily similar. Either way, any mental health professional who does not address these conditions should be brought up on grounds of child abuse. And yes, I am calling you a child abuser at this point.
You are professing to the world that you are ignorant and unprofessional. You have admitted that you refuse to accept empirical data with decades of experience that is presented in front of you and still, you are so delusional you can not accept it.
The first half of this paragraph can be summed up with "Jean Mercer HATES Dr. Craig Childres and refuses to say why or refute any of his work".
The rest of this paragraph is simply garbage Jean dragged out of the woods.
You have to ask why Jean Mercer can't see that I sent a letter to the past 5 presidents, board members, the attorneys of the APA and they refused to answer it?
Hell, Jean you wrote this whole opinionated article and refused to answer it.
Jean, your delusional guessing game where you think you can guess where I am coming from is hurtful.
You are dead wrong and seem to have zero empathy for a father who watched this happening to his own daughters.
A father who has not seen or heard from his children in 8+ years.
Do you have any clue what it is like missing their first day of college? How about missing their last day of college. Being gaslighted by friends, colleagues, and some family members. Missing their weddings, birth of children, art exhibits. Missing their emotional growth, not being able to call, email, message on social media because this parent has been blocked. Do you have any clue what it is like missing time with your children to go on hikes, vacations, or just chat on the phone?
whoa, whoa, whoa...
My apologies for that diatribe, I should realize that you have absolutely no empathy, especially for men based on your statement of (usually) in the first paragraph.
You obviously do not care about the feelings of a parent from the loss of their child or the torture of seeing the trauma in their eyes. You could never understand what it is like to watch your own child being traumatized and being unable to help. Mainly because there are child abuse deniers like you telling people it's not real. Men/parents have no emotions or feelings.
These are just child myths, people do not need fathers. Isn't that what the title of your blog is?
Jean, this is my website. This is not Dr. Childress's website and he put zero input into the making of https://americanpsychologicalass.com/ . Please stop projecting your hatred of Dr. Childress onto me. The fact is that you and the APA are responsible for your actions and both of you decided not to address this properly, from the foundations of psychology itself is unethical.
Again with Childress: What kind of dark obsession do you have with Dr. Childress? Have you read the works of Dr. Childress? How about Dr. Bill Bernet? Dr. Amy Baker? J. Michael Bone? Richard Warshak? Linda Gottlieb? Dr. Steve Miller? Jennifer Jill Harman? Brian Ludmer?
Have you watched any of their youtube videos? Are you stating all these people are wrong and only you have the answer? My apologies, I didn't know you were narcissistic too.
When you admit in writing that you do not believe in child psychological abuse as stated in the DSM-5 V995.51 I have to request that you immediately stop practicing and teaching psychology. You are delusional and are practicing out of your boundaries of competence and you should have ethics violations charged against you.
I believe your use of meaningless when it involves severe psychological child abuse and domestic violence seems inappropriate. Just because you do not understand that people use the title "Parental Alienation" which for most people now correlates to the definition to be in paragraph one of this response.
Just because you are completely ignorant and triggered by the words 'Parental Alienation', does that close down your ability to process anything after that point? There seems not to be a problem with the words but a problem with you at this point
In your statement "Angry and frustrated man" I have to give credit where credit is due. Spot on.
The rest of your statements should be reversed. Psychological Child Abuse Domestic Violence and suicide are not goofy ideas.
Your comment, that my website can harm and needs to be countered could not be further from the truth.
The fact that you consider yourself a psychologist and yet cherry-pick items off my website, actively ignore the foundations of psychology itself, and completely deny psychological child abuse in combination with the separation of parents and children is abhorrent.
The fact that you would write an article and not email or call me to see if you have any questions, shows your lack of integrity and depth of any form of journalism.
Jean, "You" are delusional, and the complete lack of understanding about psychology scares the living shit out of me. The fact that you are a professor and teach psychology at a university begs the question: Does Richard Stockton College vet any of its teachers?
How in the world would any college allow a professor who blatantly ignores child abuse, domestic violence and actively fights for it to be ignored, allow that professor to teach at its university?
My last comment is for Richard Stockton College.
This letter is not filled with opinions or rhetoric.
This letter references the Department of Justice, Letters from the American Psychological Association, Psychologists, and Neuroscientists.
I will ask that you immediately remove your employee Jean Mercer as she appears to be delusional and is teaching harmful studies to the students that are being educated at your college. These harmful ideas that Jean Mercer is projecting allow for lifelong psychological issues such as splitting, borderline and narcissistic personality disorder, anxiety, depressions, suicidal ideation, suicide, higher ACE scores, and more.
Richard Stockton College: You have now been notified. Any teacher or graduate from your university that harms a child or parent in this manner will be directly linked to Richard Stockton University.
Please accept this as your notification for knowingly educating harm.
Kenneth R. Gottfried
cc: Harvey Kesselman
Marrissa P. Levy
Postings on social media
Have a Beautiful day.
Kenneth R. Gottfried