The Worst of Richard Gardner (Deceased 2003)
Gardner's self-published work is extremely deficient
scientifically, exhibits extreme gender-bias toward women and assumes that
all women are vindictive and all children are liars. This "syndrome" he
has purported is not based on systematic research, instead developed from
personal observation and prejudices. Gardner never tested his
theory, it has never been subjected to peer review, and most of its
foundational assumptions have been disproved. Virtually every symptom
Gardner describes as evidence of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is
open to opposing interpretations. PAS is not recognized as a valid medical
syndrome by either the AMA or the APA. Gardner's recommendations to
send children to juvenile detention centers and mothers to jail for
reporting abuse fly in the face of the goal of any therapy or
treatment--establishing trust and "do no harm". This is nothing more than
one man's opinion which is now being used across the country as a slick
legal defense for abusive parents to gain custody of their victims and
exact revenge upon the protective parent. It should not be relied upon by
any reasonable person. Mental health professionals should be cautioned
against using such an unscientific and harmful ideology in custody
evaluations, as it could potentially result in ethics violations and
malpractice claims by protective parents and their children who have been
irreparably harmed by incompetent assessments.
It is amazing that such misogynistic junk science could be
given the time of day in a court of law, but it has. Gardner's work
has permeated and corrupted custody legislation, judicial training,
custody evaluator training, and mental health professional training to the
detriment of women and children. Protective mothers must be aware of
how this purported "syndrome" can and will be used against them and their
children in child custody litigation. The first step is identifying
just how bizarre Gardner's writings and thought processes were:
Here are just a few of the outrageous statements that Richard Gardner
has written in his own books published by his own vanity press:
- "Pertinent to my theory here is that pedophilia also serves
procreative purposes. Obviously, it does not serve such purposes on the
immediate level in that children cannot become pregnant nor can they
make others pregnant.
- However, the child who is drawn into sexual encounters at an early
age is likely to become highly sexualized and crave sexual experiences
during the prepubertal years. Such a "charged up child" is more likely
to become sexually active after puberty and more likely, therefore, to
transmit his or her genes to his or her progeny at an early age.
- The younger the survival machine at the time sexual urges appear,
the longer will be the span of procreative capacity, and the greater the
likelihood the individual will create more survival machines in the next
generation. The ideal then - from DNA's point of view - is for the child
to be sexually active very early, to have a highly sexualized childhood,
and begin the time of puberty. This increases the likelihood that more
survival machines will be produced for the next generation. (...)
- This reflects society's repression of the animal within us: a male
animal who has the potential for rape and a female animal who, by merely
a small extension of permissible attitudes, may become masochistic -
thereby gaining sexual pleasure from being beaten, bound and otherwise
made to suffer. It may very well be that, for some masochistic women,
allowing themselves to be beaten into submission is the price they are
willing to pay for gaining the gratification of receiving the sperm."
- Gardner's sociobiologist ideology has him endorse all "paraphilias"
(merely atypical sexual behaviors) as "serving the purposes of species
survival" by "their ability to enhance the general level of sexual
excitation in society and thereby increase the likelihood that people
will involve themselves in activities that are more directly
contributory to the reproductive (and by extension, species survival)
- This extends not only to pedophilia but even to zoophilia and, yes,
necrophilia. In the same essay Gardner writes: "Yet, the necrophiliac is
still keeping (the likelihood) of heterosexual involvement with a person
who is more likely to conceive."
- Gardner says that "the mother's own suppressed and repressed sexual
fantasies are projected onto the child and father. By visualizing the
father having a sexual experience with the child, the mother is
satisfying vicariously her own desires to be the recipient of such
overtures and activities."
- According to Gardner, 90% of "alienators" are women.
- "In custody litigation,…the vast majority of children who profess
sexual abuse are fabricators."
- ''What I am against is the excessively moralistic and punitive
reaction that many members of our society have toward pedophiles ...
(going) far beyond what I consider to be the gravity of the crime.''
- "...there is a bit of pedophilia in every one of us."
- When a child has been sexually abused and feels guilt about it,
Gardner suggests, the child may be helped to appreciate that "sexual
encounters between an adult and a child are not universally considered
to be reprehensible acts. The child might be told about other societies
in which such behavior was and is considered normal." If sexual urges
continue after the abuse ends, Gardner suggests such children be
encouraged to masturbate.
- As for the alienating mother, Gardner suggests that vibrators can be
useful and "one must try to overcome any inhibition she may have with
regard to their use."
. . . . An apparent benefit of the mother's use
of a vibrator is that "her diminished guilt over masturbation will make
it easier for her to encourage the practice in her daughter, if this is
warranted." With this imagined solution, Gardner believes, the mother's
"increased sexuality may lessen the need for her husband to return to
their daughter for sexual gratification."
All of the above quotes are from Gardner's self-published True and
False Accusations of Child Sex Abuse: A Guide for Legal and Mental Health
Professionals, Creative Therapeutics, 1992, as reprinted in Ralph
Underwager's self-published journal "Issues in Child Abuse Accusations",
Spring 1993, pp. 115-118, under the title "A Theory About the Variety of
Human Sexual Behavior" and Richard A. Gardner, M.D. , The Parental
Alienation Syndrome (1992).
- "What would a good mother do if her child told her of sexual abuse
by his or her father?", asked film produce Garland Waller during a
videotaped interview of Richard Gardner for her award-winning
documentary, Small Justice. His answer: "What would she say? Don't
you say that about your father. If you do, I'll beat you."
It boggles the mind to think that this man's ideas have been more
persuasive to some judges and evaluators than the sworn testimony of
abused women and children.
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