Dismissing alienation: The confessions of a maverick

Now all is revealed!  Through my TEDx talk for University of Edinburgh’s inspiring TEDx team and their ‘It starts with passion’ conference, here’s Nick Child in the flesh and talking about my life and career and major lessons and mistakes – all in 15 minutes. Why show it here? Well you’ll see the denouement about how my eyes were opened to Parental Alienation by a remarkable client. I manage to get in a reference to undue influence even! I hope the talk works for you.

Part of the strategy re Alienation in this talk was to tell a story of why people – me in particular – dismiss it as part of ideological group pressures and political correctness that blinds our critical thinking. The talk is meant to be a way to get people drawn into the story so that PA comes in sideways later on, so that they are less likely to dismiss PA than if I’d put it in the title. Geddit?!  Oh well, see what you think.

If you’re interested in more of the background to this TEDx talk, I wrote a blog about how inspired I was by the student organisers. And I was recruited to do this audio podcast (No 24) to enthuse the local community in our own local TEDx event!  Finally you can read the final script and see the slides here.

So, like I say, all of me has now been revealed!

Nick Child, Edinburgh


Caught in intent attention in informal discussion during the day



About Nick Child

Retired child and family shrink and family therapist living, working and playing in Edinburgh.


  1. Since he died, Kathleen Lowenstein has continued her active interest and support for Ludwig’s work, sustaining his and her links with some of the Parental Alienation organisations he was active in until the end. So it is still possible to get a fresh lively email from “Ludwig Lowenstein”! That is a lovely and real connection, commemoration and continuation through Kathleen with Ludwig and his unstoppable amazing life and work.

    In such an email, Kathleen reflected on my TEDx talk to give us more of a rich picture of Ludwig, his career, and of his enduring relationship with Kathleen too. With her permission, I share with you what Kathleen wrote:

    Dear Nick,
    I have viewed you TEDx talk and identified with it immediately. Ludwig always went his own way and did things his own way too. He never felt comfortable within an organisation. Even as Chief Educational Psychologist of Hampshire he was always in trouble with the Chief Educational Officer his immediate superior. He always felt he was a rebel and at odds with those in an establishment or authority. He broke away from this in 1974 and opened a clinical practice on his own. It was then that he established Allington Manor School and Therapeutic Community taking on the challenge of “maladjusted” children. He tried to use his skills and knowledge to do things different to the “establishment” who had rejected and rejected these individuals again and again, until the penal system took over. I worked alongside my husband and together we ran the community fo 20 years. All this time “the establishment” through inspectorate, social services and local education authorities tried to put us down whilst at the same time needing to make use of us to place their difficult individuals with whom their own childcare services could not cope. His attitudes were the same when he took up the flag with Parental Alienation. Long live the rebels as they create and think out of the box and the work they do is invaluable to some who suffer deeply with their problems. Thank you for sharing your TEDx talk with me.
    Kind regards

    It is a pleasure and an honour to be linked with Kathleen and Ludwig like this.

    Nick Child, Edinburgh


  2. This article about gas lighting seems to link to the experience I describe in my TEDx talk as “puzzled and confused”. My survival method was to slowly become maverick. The experience in that article and in my childhood wasn’t nastily abusive. But the description still works to help understand how coercive persuasion works by invalidating a person’s reality testing and critical thinking. It is easy to see how the more intentional forms of gas lighting are very powerful. They help create what Alex Stein describes in her new book: Terror, Love and Brainwashing as “disorganised attachment” which paves the way for giving up your identity over to the powerful controlling person. See also Learning about a common enemy


  3. Here’s three videos and an article about where Political Correctness has got to on some US campuses.

    First: Van Jones (5 mins) giving his view on safe spaces on college campuses. “I’m not going to take all the weights out of the gym; that’s the whole point of the gym. .. I don’t want you to be safe ideologically, emotionally, I want you to be strong. .. I don’t want to pave the jungle. Put on some boots.”

    Second: Jonathan Haigt (25 mins) with more on the deep and recent background – and future fate – of campus culture now.

    Third: More Jonathan Haigt discussing an incident where some campus student protesters shouted down a visiting speaker they didn’t agree with. “That’s a slur, not an argument.”

    Fourth: An article that shows that the meaning of critical thinking has changed in many colleges. Why College Students Still Can’t Think.
    ” “Critical thinking” refers not to finding fault but to the ability to be objective and open-minded, dispassionate .. now “critical” means ‘critique’ or opposition to the political, economic, social order that privileges some & not others …. that’s why employers complain students can’t think – they’re taught to “oppose existing systems” & demonstrate it by emoting.”


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