by Richard A. Warshak
Regan Books, 2002
Review by James E. de Jarnette, Ph.D. on May 8th 2003
Every divorce attorney and every
therapist dealing with any family or family member who is dealing with recent
divorce issues, should recommend this book Divorce Poisonwritten
by Richard A. Warshak, Ph.D. It speaks
directly to the issue of parental alienation without getting involved with the
mental health wars as to whether or not the eminent Dr. Richard A. Gardner is
correct or not correct calling parental alienation a syndrome or some other
type of clinical configuration.
This book brilliantly brings home
the fact that when divorce happens the children get hurt. In his introduction, Warshak defines the
focus of the book as being, "on those children whose rejection of one
parent results primarily from the other parent's influence…This book explains
why the common approaches are impotent, why doing nothing will accomplish
nothing, and why relying primarily on reasoning is an unreasonable approach to
In one of the most wonderful
chapters, chapter 7, entitled Poison Control, Dr. Warshak states most
emphatically, "Love is not enough.
It is not enough to protect children from divorce poison. And it is not enough to reverse its
This reviewer is a private practice
Child Custody Evaluator in Los Angeles County and in several counties
surrounding that area. As an expert
witness for the Superior Court's Family Law Court, the effects of divorce
poison are all too frequently clear.
By the time a case reaches the point of needing a child custody
evaluation, it is this reviewer's experience that 90%+ of the time there are
issues of parental alienation that has adversely affected the child or
This book, Divorce Poison,
clearly and in easy-to-understand language talks to the parents about how their
behavior effects the best interests of their child. How it affects the overall psychological and physical well being
of the child. From what we now know
through the combined efforts of the neurosciences, psychology, psychiatry,
family counseling, child development professionals, family law courts, and
child custody experts, the harm inflicted upon a child or teenager during this
most critical time of divorce can and does have effects that last over the
entire lifespan of the child or youth involved.
The case histories that Warshak
uses more than adequately bring home to the reader the bridge between
psychological theory and research, and life-experience fact. The examples are ones that this reviewer
sees over and over again and will have the ring of reality even to the parent
that is unconscious of the harm that he or she is co-creating.
Sometimes a parent uses a child's
apparent good adjustment to keep the other parent at arm's length. The argument goes like this: If good grades;
stays out of major trouble; and claims to be happy, why rock the boat? Why require the child to relate to the other
parent? This is often punctuated by a
warning that this "well-behaved" child has threatened to run away if
forced to have contact with the hated parent…Too many therapists endorse this
misguided thinking. (Pgs. 204-205)
Along with the case histories,
there are sections within each chapter that are specially highlighted giving
direct and clear suggestions entitled most appropriately Take Action.
Suggestions contained in these special areas are not esoteric but are very
specific and always grounded in the years of experience that Warshak has had in
the child custody arena.
To the professionals reading this
review on this site, this reviewer urges you to get a copy of this book. It may or may not be new information to
you. However, it is an enjoying and
enlightening read and is a book that you will recommend to the people with whom
2003 James E. de Jarnette
James E. de Jarnette, Ph.D.,
Beverly Hills, California.