According to Amy J Baker, PHD Parental alienation occurs any time that a parent, relative or friend speaks badly about another parent so that a child can hear what is being said. Alienating behavior may be mild, moderate or severe. All parents are likely to "lose it" and be inappropriate with their words around children, however, when there is a predominance of negative messages being communicated to a child, these messages can seriously erode the child’s psychological well-being. In severe cases of parental alienation, children are manipulated and brainwashed (programmed) into such states of confusion that their perception of events and people around them are severely distorted.
Parental alienation in its most severe form is a heinous form of child abuse and neglect. It is a dangerous manipulation of children’s minds to alter their perception of reality about another parent. The purpose of marginalizing this parent is that he or she has no means to be an effective parent or to cut that parent out of a child’s life entirely, called a parentectomy.
PAS is more than brainwashing or programming, because the child has to actually participate in the denigrating of the alienated parent. This is done in primarily the following eight ways:
1. The child denigrates the alienated parent with foul language and severe oppositional behavior.
2. The child offers weak, absurd, or frivolous reasons for his or her anger.
3. The child is sure of him or herself and doesn't demonstrate ambivalence, i.e. love and hate for the alienated parent, only hate.
4. The child exhorts that he or she alone came up with ideas of denigration. The "independent-thinker" phenomenon is where the child asserts that no one told him to do this.
5. The child supports and feels a need to protect the alienating parent.
6. The child does not demonstrate guilt over cruelty towards the alienated parent.
7. The child uses borrowed scenarios, or vividly describes situations that he or she could not have experienced.
8. Animosity is spread to the friends and/or extended family of the alienated parent.
Copied from Lee Grant at "Bubbles and Candlelight Visual for Parental Alienation Awareness Day"