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How does parental alienation affect adult children?

On Behalf of | Aug 28, 2021 | Divorce

When you think of parental alienation, you likely think of it impacting your young child. Indeed, most cases and case studies focus on the effect that alienation has on younger children, as they are much more susceptible to these forms of manipulation than older ones.

But how can the impact of parental alienation linger into adulthood? Do adult children who suffered from parental alienation in their youth continue to experience the repercussions to this day?

Late impacts of parental alienation

The Psychiatric Times examines parental alienation and how it affects children. Most of these effects have a blossoming field of study behind them, with plenty of research and data dissection to help build, examine and support theories.

What gets less attention are the lingering effects that parental alienation can have well into the adulthood of these children who suffer in their youth. Parental alienation often utilizes many forms of manipulation and even potential abuse in order to gain the favor of a child. This can include tactics like gaslighting or smear campaigns. Unfortunately, this also means children of parental alienation can suffer from the same long-term symptoms as other survivors of abuse.

Difficulties in adult life

Many adult children who went through parental alienation claim that they struggle to form bonds and connections with their peers. They struggle to trust other people and often find it hard to maintain open and honest relationships, without paranoia.

Many also have a higher level of depression, anxiety and trauma-related stressor disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder. They also tend to suffer from addictions, whether to gambling, drugs, alcohol or other issues. Many of these problems tie directly back to responses to childhood abuse. It is one of many reasons why parental alienation should get treated like the major risk it is.