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Domestic Abuse Project
Advisor: Dr. Annelies Hagemeister
Minnesota State University, Moorhead
Dr. Annelies Hagemeister, a professor at Minnesota State University, Mankato, told a Detroit newspaper that such methods risk "pathologizing the children.
Annelies Hagemeister, CADA Board Chair,has been on faculty in the Department of Social Work at Minnesota State University, Mankato since 2003. Prior to this, she worked as a project coordinator for the Minnesota Center Against Violence and Abuse (MINCAVA), as an instructor in social work and family social science at the University of Minnesota, and as a therapist at the Domestic Abuse Project in Minneapolis. As project coordinator with the Collaborating for Women and Child Safety Project,she provided technical assistance, curriculum development, and training for professionals serving families impacted by domestic violence. She facilitates trainings, gives presentations, and teaches courses in the areas of domestic violence and social work research and is a licensed independent social worker. She has been involved with CADA as a volunteer and intern co-supervisor since 2004 and has been on the board since 2006.
"When 'parental alienation' is used with the term 'syndrome,' it communicates a diagnostic legitimacy," says Annelies Hagemeister, PhD, MSW, LISW, an associate professor in the social work department at Minnesota State University-Mankato.
According to Hagemeister, there was a fundamental flaw in these studies related to what she and other critics see as the circular thinking inherent in PAS. "Some of the people who were asked to do the research refused to do it because they didn't believe there was such a thing as PAS," she says. "From a theoretical perspective, that is one of the basic problems with PAS," says Hagemeister. Hagemeister asks. "Certainly. "The theory claims that the child has been made to believe that there was abuse when there wasn't, and that the alienating parent has essentially brainwashed the child to vilify or denigrate the other parent," says Hagemeister. "PAS in the courtroom has become just another part of the whole adversarial system that's been constructed," says Hagemeister. "In my opinion, it's far too easy for certain kinds of scientific-sounding language to be introduced into court cases in a way that is unhelpful to the children of the families involved and could do more damage," says Hagemeister. However, according to Hagemeister, many professionals may be reluctant to involve themselves in PAS-related research for fear of appearing to grant legitimacy to what they perceive as a discredited and divisive theory. "I think there's been sort of a fear of pursuing this in a legitimate way out of concern that one would be perceived as somehow buying into the original theory," she says. "This is one of those 'wedge issues' where there are huge camps that don't play well with each other, so there's a reluctance to even venture down that path." Hagemeister concedes that the researchers who've contributed to the reformulation of PAS have taken a step in the right direction. "In many ways, I think they've come at it from a lot more reasonable perspective. But I think that some of the issues become so divisive, researchers have to decide whether or not they want to wade into these particular very, very deep, murky waters," she says. says Hagemeister.
Annelies Hagemeister, Univ. of Minnesota-Twin Cities
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