Review of memories of parental alienation: a father’s heartbreak

The memoirs of Michael Jeffries, The Heartbreak of a Family: A Parents’ Introduction to Parental Alienation, describes his transition from a beloved father to an exiled provider. It is a painful but fascinating read. The book is part of “Dear Diary”, part of a window into the therapist / patient relationship and part of an academic treatise on the various neuroses and personality disorders that led to the living hell that Jeffries experienced and that somehow, still lives.

Like a pointillist painting, where the further back you are, the clearer the image becomes, Parental Alienation is a series of apparently innocent miscommunication or concerns for the welfare of a child; and it is only when the dots are connected that the full picture is seen.

Jeffries went from the American dream of a wife and two loving children to the nightmare of parental alienation, which is a situation in which one parent, usually the mother, actively works to destroy the relationship between the other parent and a child. The once beloved son was turned against him by an ex-wife whose own fears of abandonment and insecurities destroyed the relationship between father and son.

When Jeffries decided it was time to leave their marriage, he unknowingly triggered his ex-wife’s emotional imbalance, leading her to enroll her youngest son in her psychosis. It started with her making the 11-year-old sleep in her bed, and continued to the point where the father / son bond was strained to the point of breaking.

In harrowing detail, Jeffries describes the progression of his son’s conversion from a loving young man to an emotionally drained teenager who simply cannot tolerate the ongoing pain of contact with his father. In remarkably clear language, Jeffries explains his son’s transformation and the tactics used by his ex-wife to create the transformation.

By detailing the seemingly innocuous actions of a concerned father, Jeffries can connect the dots of how a mother turned her son against his father. He paints a picture of the powerlessness of the court system to help him, based on the inherent bias of the courts in favor of the mother and the difficulty of attacking what appears to be nothing more than a mother’s concern for the well-being of her children. Nobody wants to believe that a mother can be so sneaky, deceptive and dangerous, but she can be.

This book is an excellent exploration of the “Wonderland” twist that is Parental Alienation. The lies, the deceptions, and the volcanic eruptions of anger over seemingly minor transgressions, these are the battles in a war with no winners.

For every man who is enduring this hell, for every lawyer who fights this form of child abuse, and for all the therapists who have to treat collaterally damaged children, this book should be a first resource in your weaponry.

In clear and concise language, Dr. Joel Davies and Michael Jeffries explain both the real-world effects and the underlying subconscious motivations for this form of abuse.

These are difficult cases to prove, because on the surface everything appears essentially normal. Only when you connect the dots can you see the whole picture. As stories like Jeffrie’s are made public, awareness will increase and hopefully parents and their children will be able to reunite, or better yet, never be apart.

The book is available at

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