Richard A. Gardner - An Obituary

The PAS (Parental Alienation Syndrome) Work Group announces with profound regret that the well-known American child psychiatrist Richard A. Gardner died unexpectedly in New Jersey (USA) on 25th May 2003.

Professor Gardner M.D. first became known internationally with his book "The Boys' and Girls' Book of Divorce" (New York, Bantam Books, 1970) that was translated into several languages. His name has been connected with the problem of parent/child alienation after separation and divorce since the early eighties. Gardner used the term "Parental Alienation Syndrome" (PAS) to describe a special subtype of alienation in the sense of a consecutive disturbance in a child caused by severely manipulative (indoctrinating) false parental behaviour, through which the rejected parent is to be excluded from the life of the shared child.

According to Gardner, generation of PAS in a child is to be considered as psychic/emotional abuse, causing severe long-term psycho-traumatic consequences in the personality development of the child and later adult. Here Gardner underscored the importance of those youth-office workers, judges, lawyers, physicians, nursery-school teachers, etc. concerned with the divorce proceedings.

The standard work about PAS is Gardner's book "The Parental Alienation Syndrome, a Guide for Mental Health and Legal Professionals", which was first published in 1992, the second edition coming out in 1998 (Cresskill, N. J., Creative Therapeutics). Since then, over 140 articles have been published in specialist journals throughout the world. PAS found its way into the practice of family law through over 70 family court decisions in a host of countries, including Germany. The PAS concept gave rise to great attention amongst professionals involved in divorce throughout the world, but also triggered criticism and pointedly hostile polemics. The specialist discussion can be read in the contributions on the website

It was as late as in October 2002 that Professor Gardner took part in the international conference "Parental Alienation Syndrome - An Interdisciplinary Challenge for Professions Involved in Divorce" organised by the PAS Work Group in Frankfurt. Over 320 specialists from 16 countries exchanged information there on the subject of PAS (

Those who knew Professor Gardner were impressed by his dedicated and yet humorous disposition, with which he took up the complex subject and the interests of the emotionally abused children of divorce and the parents excluded from contact. Professionals and the persons affected will miss him as a scientist, advocate and friend.

It is our fervent hope that the interdisciplinary discussion amongst professionals and research on PAS and its consequences will also continue unabatedly after Professor Gardner's death.

Wilfrid von Boch-Galhau M.D.
for the PAS Work Group