There is a mother who has not seen her daughter for 10 years, not because she is a murderer, but because the juvenile court has decided that she is dangerous on the basis of a Technical Consultancy Office (TCO) that has branded her as suffering from histrionic disorder with the hypothesis of a possible and future parental alienation. This highly contested pseudo-theory is already present in the Italian courts and the lobby of Gardner’s followers has been trying for years to pass it into law, as the now archived and highly contested, draft law presented last year by the senator Simone Pillon (who belongs to the Lega political party).
Parental alienation syndrome
As already happened in these days with Laura’s case, also for Ginevra the disorder that is feared in order to take away her child is the Pas (Parental alienation syndrome) that has been refused by the Ministry of Health and it was never included in the DSM (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). Not only that, but it was deemed inapplicable by the Supreme Court ruling drawn up by former Supreme Court section president Gabriella Luccioli, who in 2013 wrote that “the hypothesis of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) needs scientific support” Its founder Richard Gardner, an unpaid volunteer at Columbia known for having justified pedophilia, was a doctor that described children in his books as demons who hate their fathers, claiming that “within custody disputes they act out of low, vindictive instincts” (R. Gardner, The collective hysteria of sexual abuse, ed. Quattro Venti, Urbino 2013, pp. 148-149), led by malevolent mothers who exploit them through false accusations against always innocent fathers:
women who, always according to Gardner, if instead were honest, would prefer “to live in a situation in which their children are sexually abused rather than suffer the breakdown of their marriage”
(R. Gardner, “True and False Accusation of Child Sex Abuse”, ed Creative Terapeu- tics, Cresskill NJ 1992, p. 15). Theories of alienation and inadequate mothers that cost Ginevra the total inhibition of her daughter: she had turned to the institutions for protection after running away from the marital home and reporting the man with whom she had decided to start a family. A juvenile court that had initially entrusted the little girl to her mother with the right to visit the father and then, thanks to a Technical office consultant, gave exclusive custody to the father, completely excluding the mother from the child’s life for the entire growth of the little girl, taken away when she was only 18 months old. A mother who has been a teacher for 20 years, having constant contact with children without ever having received a warning.
Technical office consultant and R. Gardner
A script that has been repeated in the courts for years and that makes children taken away from their mothers, either those placed in a foster home or entrusted to fathers reported for injuries, mistreatment or abuse, one of the greatest emergencies in this country. The principle of double parenthood is shouted only when it concerns fathers who cry because they do not see their children and never when a child is taken away from a mother who, unheard, is punished for having asked for help in a difficult situation, by the very State she turned to.
Mothers who do not give up and do not forget their children who have been snatched from their arms by raids at home or at school, in the presence of social workers and the police, as if they were criminals
Ginevra, however, never gave up, fighting during all these years to see her daughter again, and a year and a half ago she filed a new appeal to the juvenile court to resume contact with her and restore the parental responsibility taken away from her 9 years ago, also asking for a review of the exclusive custody given to the father, who in the meantime has been convicted for injuries against her, and to which the juvenile court responded by remaining silent for a long time.
“Having regard to articles 533 and 535 (ccp, code of criminal procedure). Declares him guilty of the offence of wounding as charged in count C) and according to it, sentences him to four months’ imprisonment and to pay the costs of the proceedings. Sentence suspended”.
A silence that was broken only a few months ago when the Juvenile Court ordered the social services to carry out new evaluations on the woman. These reports were carried out by the municipality of residence of the woman and stated that she was not affected by any disorder and therefore did not need any psychiatric investigation:
the services also reported the testimony of a balanced life in full satisfaction of the work she does, having daily contact with her school children
“The lady, an empathetic and balanced person, despite her painful situation, tries with generosity and dignity to keep her smile and be a positive person. Her way of interacting with others is immediate and sincere. She is a responsible, objective person, with a linear and critical thought, she does not present disturbances or ideas or even minor disorders that could justify a psychiatric investigation”.
A certification which, however, was not sufficient for this court to activate a first protected meeting or a video call, reiterating instead the need for an investigation by the social services of Rome for “a process of assessment of the psychiatric condition” as well as her “parental skills”. A new “no” from the judge led the defense to have the following request put on record during the hearing that took place a few days ago:
“Mrs. x in these years of pain and deprivation has lived with balance and dignity, working constantly in contact with young children, respecting the indications of the Court and never having had family, social or professional issues. In light of the report of the Social Services of the Municipality x, which rules out the need for a psychiatric investigation and confirms what has been written by the Roman psychiatrists Ferracuti, Volterra and Mastronardi, and in view of the serious delay with which she was summoned by the clinic of the Municipality x (…), the lady, at the moment, does not intend to let the claims on her and her daughter’s rights be conditioned by belated, pointless and vexatious requests of the Juvenile Court. Considering that the CTU, which has given rise to a true and proper parentectomy, has not placed or suggested any prohibitions in the mother-daughter relationship, a formal petition is submitted in order that the lady can video call her daughter every day and can initially meet her within a protected environment”.
This statement made the honorary judge Paola Popolla, psychologist and psychotherapist of the developmental age, waver but did not change one comma. She did not think she could take a step forward, even if she supports the perfect bigenitoriality, as she wrote in her article “The Parental Alienation Syndrome” (written with Dr. Fabiana Briganti) published on the website Parental Coordination, where she also refers to the eight points of Gardner’s theories mentioned above and where she also mentions the neuropsychiatrist Camerini and the lawyer Gulotta (bibliography), among the inspirers and draftsmen of the much contested Pillon bill on the modification of shared custody, now ended up in the dustbin. But why should this mother be treated? What is she suffering from?
The story is long and starts from the expert report of 2010 signed by the TOC Marisa Malagoli Togliatti, neuropsychiatrist and professor of Psychodynamics at the University “La Sapienza”, which in its synthesis decrees the loss of a daughter because the mother is affected by a histrionic personality disorder:
“According to what has been indicated in the individual and joint clinical interviews, and observed in the context of the behavior of the expert witnessed during the expert investigations, on the basis of the anamnesis provided by the reading, from the documents to the acts, a serious personality disorder can be diagnosed which, according to the classification of the DSM IV is compatible with the diagnosis of histrionic personality disorder”.
Not only that, because even if in the immediate future she does not appear as “alienating” her daughter from her father (“We cannot say that we have found evidence of parental alienation syndrome”), she may do so in the future, as the report states
“Without a serious and lasting change in the mother’s dysfunctional personality characteristics, we can predict that the child will be a victim of parental alienation syndrome and the father runs the risk of serious accusations of inappropriate behavior towards the child”.
Revictimization and punishment
A report in which, since the child is too young, Pas cannot be diagnosed and therefore the only loophole is the presence of a disorder that objectively raises many doubts since it consists of a heavy interdiction that has been going on for almost 10 years. Technical legal consultation in which it seems that the fear of the lady towards her ex-partner, from whom she escaped going back to her parents with the child, has never been seriously taken into consideration,
generating a revictimization that designates the woman as the one and only person responsible for this situation because incapable of being a mother and a wife
Fears that belong both to the woman and to her parents and that even though detected by the technical consultation, as it is attested in different points, are continuously underestimated. Up to the overturning of the responsibilities and, as it often happens in the technical consultations made by psychologists and psychiatrists who embrace the fraud theory of parental alienation, the result is that the woman is the unsuitable one in the couple, insecure, out of her mind, that for morbidity puts the children against a victimised father:
“The TOC, when confronted with Mr. and Mrs. x’s reports on Mr. x’s conflict with Mrs. x, points out that “it is not stated that a bad husband is also a bad father”. Mrs. x, however, expresses her concern by stating “this is true, but it is the loss of control that scares us… becoming violent and shortly afterwards not remembering it anymore.”
In fact, the opinion of the man is different: even though he is vindictive, controlling and has problems with women, he is promoted as the sole custodial parent of the child, without any reservation or observation other than the generic indication of a psychotherapy never monitored over time:
“He tends to be suspicious and to act in a controlling way for the fear of being betrayed: when he feels betrayed, in fact, he may act in an aggressive and vindictive way. These characteristics are accentuated in relationships with women”.
Other unheard opinions
A very long expert’s report that in the end acknowledges the strong conflict between the parents but resolves, as many other expert opinions of this kind, with the total responsibility of the woman because suffering from a mental disorder (the histrionic one), relieving the man of all responsibility.
A disorder that constitutes the reason for the TCO’s request for an immediate court intervention
“With regard to the case in question, the TCO points out that, given the strong conflict between the parents of the child x, it is necessary for the court to take urgent measures to protect the child by issuing the necessary enforcement measures. In fact, it is reiterated that at the moment Mrs. x may have unpredictable and uncontrollable behaviors, especially when she has to face emotionally important situations”.
A case that ends with the forced removal of the 18 months old girl from her home, after which she would never see her mother again, taken away from her all of a sudden and never seen again. Yet, the investigations that were carried out after this TCO report were several and all of them did not find any personality disorder in the woman. According to Professor Stefano Ferracuti, neurologist and psychotherapist of the Department of Neuroscience and Mental Health of the University of Sapienza, the woman:
“It does not reveal any formal or content related problem. The personality characteristics described above are within the range of normality and can be understood as individual differences and not in a psychopathological sense. (…) Therefore, the present evaluation does not reveal any psychopathological element hindering the proper performance of parental duties.”
According to Dr. Mario Guadalupi, psychologist and psychotherapist consultant at the Court of Appeal of Rome in the Juvenile Civil Section, there is no histrionic disorder either:
“Psychotherapeutic treatment and a vain search for a histrionic personality disorder:
– during the course of the therapeutic treatment no indicators of any kind (behavioral or ideational) emerged, neither directly observed nor self-reported by the patient, which would allow the diagnosis of any structural disorder.
– during the course of the treatment no elements emerged which would allow a diagnosis of ‘histrionic personality disorder’. The patient did not produce any ideational content or manifest any observable behavior that could confirm at least one of the eight criteria required by the DSM-IV-TR for the diagnosis of an histrionic disorder”.
Professor Vincenzo Mastronardi, psychiatrist and clinical criminologist, at the chair of Forensic Psychology at ‘Sapienza’, questions the TCO itself:
“In the case in question, there is not a single criterion, among those listed in the DSM IV, which corresponds to the typical and observable behaviors expressed by the lady and which the TCO takes into account in his report. The TCO does not indicate anything to confirm these criteria. He lists them and that’s it. He has not provided any data to support that the criteria indicated have been confirmed by the observation of behaviors actually expressed by the lady.”
And finally, Dr Ignazio Majore, doctor and psychotherapist to whom the lady went for psychotherapy, states:
“I have been examining her psychic situation for some time and I must say that I have not found any disturbance or pathology in her personality. On the contrary, she has shown balance and resilience despite circumstances contrary to her natural maternal inclination and therefore parental attitude. I do not consider it necessary to carry out any other psychiatric or psychological investigation into her parental capacity and maternal attitude”.
Inquiry of Luisa Betti Dakli published by the Italian newspaper Corriere della sera