On a recent episode of “The Real Housewives of Orange County,” Tamra Judge broke her silence over her own Parental Alienation experience. According to the reality star, her ex-husband Simon Barney had played a role on her non-existent relationship with daughter, Sidney.

In “RHOC,” Judge also revealed that she had filmed a documentary titled, “Erasing Families,” which speaks about the issue. But Judge isn't the only one who is suffering this problem as “Ladies of London” star Adela King is reportedly going through the same ordeal. So, what exactly is parental alienation?

In recent years, this alienating phenomenon has made headlines due to its prevalence and its negative implications on the well-being of children. A previous study published in the journal Children and Youth Services Review revealed that 13 percent of parents in the U.S. have reported being estranged, while over 22 million adults are likely experiencing destroyed affections from their children.

Psychological abuse

Deemed as one of the worst experiences any family can go through, parental alienation is simply defined as a form of emotional and psychological abuse where one parent convinces a child to hate the other parent.

This phenomenon often occurs between separating or divorcing parents involved in bitter and spiteful custody battles.

Even though this form of alienation does not inflict any visible scars, the anguish that comes with it is never easy to endure alone for both parties involved. A child’s well-being is also placed at risk as they are forced to choose between his or her conflicting parents.

A 'divorce poison'

Due to the negative implications of this heartbreaking phenomenon, this act of malevolently turning a child against the parent who spends less time with the kid is also considered a “divorce poison.” The reason? Dr. Richard Warshak, a clinical psychiatry professor at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, explained how parental alienation can turn a targeted parent into an “unloving" guardian who is undeserving of love.

Negative impacts

Even though this parenting practice of using the children as weapons to hurt the other parent showed no scientific evidence to be considered a real mental disorder, the American Psychological Association (APA ) has recognized its existence as a form of mental abuse, especially to children. In fact, the kids who are exposed to this kind of psychological manipulation are more at risk to develop mental health problems that include a substance or alcohol abuse, depression, and anxiety.

Children may also suffer the condition known as parental alienation syndrome (PAS), a term coined and identified by forensic psychiatrist Dr. Richard Gardner in the '80s. According to Psych Central, PAS is an “unhealthy” partnership between an alienating parent with narcissistic tendencies and his or her children against the nurturing, “targeted, non-narcissistic, non-abusive parent.” This is reportedly the parent perpetrator's way to divert his or her self-centered anxiety.

But aside from the children, parents are also suffering the negative implications of this issue. Due to the fact that parental alienation promotes unhealthy parent-child relationship, it cultivates distress, feelings of estrangement, hostility, insolence or aggression to the targeted parent.

Criminal act

This clinical phenomenon, however, does not only exist in the United States. In Mexico and Brazil, it is considered a criminal act or offense. This is due to the “strong arguments” suggesting that the said practice is a form of psychological abuse as it depicts an alienating parent's inability to prioritize a child’s needs and feelings above his or her own.

Shared parenting

Meanwhile, several family law experts believed that Shared Parenting could stop and help prevent the tragic consequences of parental alienation.

National Parents Organization founder Dr. Ned Holstein explained that the concept promotes spending equal time and loving care (among the parents and the children) so, it would be hard to turn a child against any parent.