Child Psychologist Robert R. Butterworth, Ph.D., Reacts to ABC Interview of Elian Gonzales
LOS ANGELES--(ENTERTAINMENT WIRE)--March 27, 2000--According to Child Psychologist Robert R. Butterworth,Ph.D., "The ABC Interview of, six-year-old Elian Gonzales on Good Morning America, today is nothing short of psychological and political exploitation of a helpless victim who, in a child psychologist's opinion, is under the spell of his Miami relatives and any opinion that this child may voice concerning his future in the U.S. has to be suspect."
Butterworth believes that Elian Gonzales is suffering from a form of the "Stockholm Syndrome," in which victims identify with their captors and turn against their loved ones, his father.
"The 'Stockholm Syndrome' is even more severe because of the age of the child-hostage, his relationship with the captor, and the latter's ruthless psychological exploitation of the relationship. Thus, any testimony that this child would give on living arrangement preferences in the ABC interview could be clouded by this psychological type of brainwashing," said Butterworth.
"When relatives fight over custody, they are obviously not going to tell the child that their other parent is wonderful, still loves them and wants to see them. On the contrary, in many cases, the children are told that their other
parent is bad, who has abandoned them and could see them at any time if only he wanted to."
"Elian may never recover from this experience. He will become confused and angry towards his father. Who knows what messages his relatives have conveyed to him. Elian could begin to feel that his father has abandoned him.
"We know only too well how traumatic it is for children if they are suddenly denied one of their parents. We know that traumatized children can grow into traumatized adults," Butterworth said.
Many studies have been done in the United States about what is known as "Parental Alienation Syndrome," -- when one parent systematically denigrates the other -- and its devastating effect on children.
The child soon replaces the positive memories of the absent parent with hurt and anger at what he/she sees, and is encouraged to see, as abandonment and betrayal. The child ends up asserting vehemently that
he/she does not want contact with the victim parent.
International Trauma Associates, Los Angeles
Robert R. Butterworth, Ph.D., 213/487-7339 (24 hours)