Milgram, Asch, Groupthink and Gaslighting: What do they have to do with child abuse cases in our nation’s family courts?

We see it all the time in child abuse cases in our nation’s family courts.  A frantic mother seems crazy. She says she and her child have been abused and no one will help. The more time passes, the more frantic the mother gets and the crazier she seems to be.

Her panic is a result of “gaslighting” within the context of the “parental alienation” set-up in family courts today. Fathers sexually abusing children and leaving no physical evidence. Court psychologists using “threat therapy” on children and their mothers. Family court judges and attorneys berating protective mothers for trying to protect their children.

First coined with reference to the 1944 film, “gaslighting” is what happens to many good mothers in abuse cases in our family courts in America. 

If you’re a protective mom caught in the “PAS set-up” and feeling crazier and crazier because no one will protect you or your child, it’s  a great film to watch on a quiet weekend afternoon.

Are all  judges, attorneys and guardian ad litems involved in child abuse cases in our family court system either actively participating in or blind to the PAS set-up? 

Aren’t they smart enough to be able to tell if a protective mother is being “gaslighted”?  

How do our distinguished family court judges, professional attorneys and well-meaning social service providers become unwitting accomplices in the “parental alienation” trap? 

Don’t the good people working in our family courts automatically trust their own instincts and act with their own common sense and decency?

Watch what happens in this video when good people are told by someone in a position of authority to deliver life-threatening electric shocks to an unseen victim.

(Note to those who are familiar with the “parental alienation” scam:  Do the people at the switches in this video remind you of the social service workers who force abused children to “visit” with their named abusers?  Does the “professor” in the white coat remind you of the pro-Gardner court evaluators and attorneys who, speaking with the same authority, tell social workers and Guardians ad Litem to use “threat therapy” on protective mothers and abused children?)



What else contributes to the “PAS set-up” in our family courts today?

Something called “groupthink”.

According to

“Groupthink” is a term coined by psychologist Irving Janis in 1972 to describe one process by which a group can make bad or irrational decisions. In a groupthink situation, each member of the group attempts to conform his or her opinions to what they believe to be the consensus of the group. This results in a situation in which the group ultimately agrees on an action which each member might normally consider to be unwise.”

I remember when I was on my way to jail for trying to protect my child. The prison guard who held my handcuffed arms as I stepped up into the truck told me he saw other mothers go through what I went through. He told me I was doing the “right thing”. 

After my release from jail, I was ordering reports from the legal office of the Department of Youth Services and speaking with a secretary there. She told me what happened in my child’s case “happens all the time”. She told me I “should tell someone” about my child’s case to stop it from happening to me and other mothers. 

I wish the secretary at that legal office and that prison guard would speak up today about all injustice they have seen and heard in the family court system. I’m looking forward to the day when all good people working in every system begin to speak out without fear. I’m looking forward to the day when I will do the same. 

If you’ve never seen “groupthink” in action, here’s a video showing Soloman Asch’s Conformity Experiments: 



If you’ve popped the popcorn and still have some left in the bowl, there’s another good movie to watch this weekend – if you haven’t already seen it. It’s called, “Trading Places”, starring Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd.

I can’t find the full length movie online to post it here and do hope you get the chance to watch it if you’re looking for some light entertainment and an antidote for gaslighting!  It’s a reminder that it’s easy to fall apart and easy to forget to “hold it together” when you feel more like falling apart. I remember Attorney Richard Ducote telling moms at the Battered Mother’s Custody Conference something like, “No matter how badly you and your children have been beaten up, you’ve got to go into court looking like a soccer mom.”  That’s so true.

When I was in the middle of my nightmare, I eventually had to pretend that none of what was happening was happening. My child was abused and then taken from me to be endangered again. I could not protect her and began to cry all the time. I lost my job because I was a nervous wreck who was crying all the time and I would have had a nervous breakdown if I didn’t disassociate from seeing my child endangered and abused week after week. I knew it was too much for me to handle and I would have gone crazy if I didn’t find a professional to help me survive. I went to speak with a psychologist  each week, and sometimes twice a week.

I was worried about my mental health and felt myself “dissociating” from what was happening. He reassured me, telling me I was having a normal response to what was happening. He said I was “compartmentalizing” and that it was a healthy response to what was happening and that I was doing just fine. I knew at the time and still know today that he was keeping me sane by telling me that I was sane. I am forever indebted to him for that and for saving my child’s life by saving my life.

If you’re a mom and going through this nightmare, you HAVE to find someone to tell you, “Don’t worry, you’re doing just fine.” Find a good psychologist who knows about how some attorneys and evaluators in family court use “gaslighting” and terms like “alienation” to take abused children from the mothers who attempt to protect them from further abuse.  Without a good psychologist to help, it’s easy to take the bait and “act out” – a natural response to being held back from protecting your precious child. However, “acting out” in any form is what will provide proof that your child should be taken from you. Yes. It’s surreal. Upside-down thinking. Nauseating. All of those things. It’s going to change eventually, after more whistle-blowing and more investigations. For now, if you’re a mom trying to protect your child, if you need help getting through it, find that help. 


1. Don’t take the bait!

2. Look for good people who know about the PAS set-up to help you and your child.

3. If you’ve lost faith in yourself, find a way to have faith in yourself again and in your ability to protect your child.

4. Keep the faith. Justice will prevail.


Keeping the faith,


One thought on “Milgram, Asch, Groupthink and Gaslighting: What do they have to do with child abuse cases in our nation’s family courts?

  1. I am you and this is also my story however I still have my baby and visitation with the abuser has been stopped by the court ordered psychologist while he evaluates. I believe that this doctor is aware of the PAS-setup however I am afraid to relax just in case I have placed my faith in someone who is unable to protect my daughter. I am taking every step possible to keep my mental health in check but the unrelenting anxiety and the fear of the unknown is life altering. I pray that those who have the power to turn our worlds upside down will “get informed”. To be abused, to share a child with the abuser and then be abused by the system is a travesty at best.

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