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Divorce Poison: Protecting the Parent-Child Bond from a Vindictive Ex Paperback – February 18, 2003

4.8 out of 5 stars 310 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Divorce Poison: Protecting the Parent-Child Bond from a Vindictive Ex, Richard A. Warshak (The Custody Revolution) offers guidance to parents whose exes portray them to their children in a negative light, whether it's mild, off-the-cuff badmouthing or systematic character assassination. Common psychological wisdom, besides recommending that parents avoid fighting fire with fire, suggests doing nothing. But Warshak has witnessed the feelings of powerlessness and the increasing difficulties that come from doing nothing. So he provides "a blueprint for an effective response grounded in a solid understanding of the techniques and dynamics of parents who poison their children's relationships with loved ones." After describing numerous nuances of inter-parental malignment (brainwashing, false abuse accusations, revisionist history, etc.), Warshak moves on to "Poison Control," both independently and with the help of professional counselors. This book will seem a godsend to the many divorc‚s who are bashed by their ex-spouses. (Regan Books, $26 304p ISBN 0-06-018899-5; Jan.)

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Some level of animosity is typical in divorce, but when parents let those feelings degenerate into bad-mouthing, bashing, or brainwashing, they run the risk of emotionally damaging their children, according to child psychologist Warshak. He looks at the poisonous relationships that develop when parents carry criticism of their ex-spouses too far: parents and children estranged from one another, protracted and bitter custody and visitation battles, and even ruined relationships with the extended families. He uses case studies to illustrate how parents--sometimes unconsciously, sometimes deliberately--force children to choose between them and turn against the other parent. He describes a range of difficulties, from tainted parent-child relationships to an emotional disturbance known as parental alienation syndrome. Warshak offers strategies for parents to examine their motivations when they speak against a former spouse, to curb negative impulses, and to repair damage that may already have been done. Useful resource for families dealing with divorce and child rearing. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; Reprint edition (February 18, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060934573
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060934576
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (310 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #982,581 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dr. Richard Warshak's groundbreaking studies, trenchant challenges to gender stereotypes, and passionate advocacy for children have made him one the world's most respected authorities on divorce and child custody. He has written three books, dozens of academic journal articles and chapters, and several Op-ed columns. Canada's Globe and Mail editorial called him, "A force to be reckoned with."

Dr. Warshak's first book, "The Custody Revolution" (Simon & Schuster), earned him an invitation to the White House; the fundamental reforms the book promoted have since become mainstream in family law. "Divorce Poison: How To Protect Your Family From Bad-mouthing and Brainwashing" (HarperCollins, 2002/2010) is the classic and best-selling parental alienation resource in the world. The Warshak Brief on relocation influenced a landmark ruling by the Supreme Court of California. In 2014 the American Psychological Association published Warshak's paper, "Social Science and Parenting Plans for Young Children: A Consensus Report, in the journal Psychology, Public Policy, and Law." The paper was endorsed by 110 researchers and practitioners who added their names to the paper, "a rare occurrence in social science."

A graduate of Cornell University and Clinical Professor of psychology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dr. Warshak's work is featured in media worldwide including NBC Today, ABC 20/20, CBS Early Show, CNN, CTV, FOX & Friends, CourtTV, New York Times, USA Today, Macleans, Washington Post, London Sunday Telegraph, Toronto Star, SEMANA, National Public Radio, Time, and a PBS documentary. His DVD, "Welcome Back, Pluto: Understanding, Preventing, and Overcoming Parental Alienation," is the leading resource for families whose children struggle to stay out of the middle of parental conflicts. Dr. Warshak is a Huffington Post blogger, and you can also find his work at www.warshak.com and his personal blog, Plutoverse, www.warshak.com/blog.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
It's an unfortunate reality that some parents will do their best to destroy a child's relationship with the other parent. So long as those misguided or sick parents have unsupervised time with the children, there's always a risk of confusion, conflict, or long-term damage to the bond with the "targeted" parent.

The most important aspect of this phenomenon is to catch it early, even if the bashing seems to occur on occasion or is subtle.

Eventually, enough little drops of poison can have a devastating consequence.

This book is an excellent tool to help "targeted" parents recognize signs of what the author calls poisoning (also called alienation tactics).

Though the book's readership would likely readily agree that taking the higher road is always best, what the author emphasizes is that if the higher road is not coupled with a proactive approach, devastation to the parent/child relationship can be the result.

What I found most helpful about this book are a couple areas:

A) I realized that no court order, and no amount of counseling, and no common sense discussion would stop my ex from her subtle, on-going attempts to undermine my relationship with my daughter.

B) I realized that there are many tactics I could employ to combat my ex's attempts... tactics that are nearly all positive and proactive.

The author provides many ideas to the reader on how to help ensure the poisoning parent's attempts fall on deaf ears in the child.

Strategies that I learned from this book have proven themselves with amazing results in how I handle my own situation... and the outcome is a young child who (on her own) has been able to conclude that her mother says untrue things about her father.
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Format: Hardcover
I bought this book before the store even unboxed it for their shelf. I have to say that I was totally amazed at how Dr. Warshak nailed the description of my experience with divorce poison, the personality profile of my vindictive ex, and the response and effects I've seen it have on my child. It was like Dr.Warshak had interviewed and observed my family personally.
Divorce poison is a sick and serious issue. I don't wish it on any child or parent. If you feel like you are the target of parental alienation, educate yourself, your ex and anyone (lawyers, therapist, family, etc) who has any part in your custody matter. One of the hardest things about the recent outcome of my two year custody battle is to realize how ignorant the court, forensic psychologist, therapist, school system, and especially the father of my son, are about the power and damaging effects divorce poison has on a child.
If you are recently separated and struggling with a vindictive ex, please do not assume things will blow over or die down. People whose personalities allow them to justify bad-mouthing, bashing or even brainwashing often become consumed by revenge and cannot let it go even when it is detrimental to the child. Read Dr. Warshak's book and take action appropriately.
My lawyer made sure Divorce Poison was on our table in full view at all times during our three day custody trial. I just wish the judge could have read it before interviewing my son.
I totally agree with the prior reviewer that said this book is a bible. Picking it up and reading it every time I feel the frustration reassures me that I am not the sick one here nor am I the bad parent. With Dr. Warshak's recommendations, I can continue to try to foster a healthy relationship with my child while trying to address the poison he is being given.
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Format: Hardcover
If you should read one book on divorce and the impact on children, this is the one!
This outstanding book provides great advice for parents who are badmouthing other parents, as well as ways the target parents can combat this abuse. Unlike "experts" who have not researched the most effective ways of combatting this type of child abuse, Dr. Warshak has determined through studies that parents who do nothing and say nothing are at risk for eventually losing contact with their children.
Dr. Warshak carefully navigates the misconception that alienation is typically a "woman thing" by citing examples of fathers who alienate. In doing this, the author is able to assure readers that the book is indeed written "in the best interests of children," and not for any gender-based political agenda.
Dr. Warshak's outlook on children, parenting and custody is refreshing and should be required reading for every family court judge, every family law attorney and every person going through a divorce. The author argues very succinctly and very successful that the two parents who were so vital to the welfare and growth of the children during the marriage are just as vital after the divorce. He also illustrates how family courts and mental health experts remove children from the target parent at the first sign of alienation -- which is the exact opposite of what actually works in these cases.
Dr. Warshak argues that target parents need time to rebuild this relationship -- to show that they are not the parent depicted in the diatribes of the parent who is attempting to alienate. Instead, courts typically accept irrational reasons from a child for not wanting to see a parent without examining the root causes for the alienation.
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