Archives for August 2015

How Personality Disorders Drive Family Court Litigation – Part 1

billeddy1William A. (”Bill”) Eddy is co-founder and president of High Conflict Institute, LLC, in Scottsdale, Arizona and Senior Family Mediator at the National Conflict Resolution Center in San Diego, California. He is a Certified Family Law Specialist in California with more than fifteen years’ experience representing clients in family court. Prior to becoming an attorney in 1992, he was a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with twelve years’ experience providing therapy to children, adults, couples and families in psychiatric hospitals and outpatient clinics.

 He is the author of several books, including “High Conflict People in Legal Disputes” (Janis Publications, 2006), and “Splitting: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing a Borderline or Narcissist (Eggshells Press, 2004). Bill has become an international speaker on the subject of high-conflict personalities, providing seminars to attorneys, mediators, collaborative law professionals, judges, ombudspersons and others.

How Personality Disorders Drive Family Court Litigation – Part 1

By Bill Eddy, Esquire, L.C.S.W.

I was first exposed to the concept of personality disorders in 1980 when I was in training as a therapist at the San Diego Child Guidance Clinic at Childrens Hospital. The DSM-III had just come out and Axis II of the five diagnostic categories required the therapist to diagnose the presence or absence of a personality disorder. (The DSM-IV used the same approach.)

I quickly learned (often the hard way) that the presenting problems on Axis I (e.g. depression, substance abuse) were simply replaced by new ones, if an underlying personality disorder was not addressed in therapy.

Now that I have completed several years as a family law attorney, I have frequently witnessed the same underlying issues in hotly contested family court litigation — yet these remain undiagnosed and, therefore, misunderstood. As those with personality disorders generally view relationships from a rigid and adversarial perspective, it is inevitable that a large number end up in the adversarial process of court.

Since more flexible and cost-conscious people nowadays are resolving their divorces in mediation, attorney-assisted negotiation, or just by themselves, those cases remaining in litigation may be increasingly driven by personality disorders.

The Nature of a Personality Disorder

Someone with a personality disorder is usually a person experiencing chronic inner distress (for example fear of abandonment), which causes self-sabotaging behavior (such as seeking others who fear abandonment), which causes significant problems (such as rage at any perceived hint of abandonment) — in their work lives and/or their personal lives. They may function quite well in one setting, but experience chaos and repeated problems in others. They look no different from anyone else, and often present as very attractive and intelligent people. However, it is usually after you spend some time together — or observe them in a crisis — that the underlying distress reaches the surface.

As interpersonal distress, fear of abandonment, and an excessive need for control are predominant symptoms of personality disorders, they place a tremendous burden on a marriage. Therefore, intense conflicts will eventually arise in their marriages and the divorce process will also be a very conflictual process.

In contrast to people who are simply distressed from going through a divorce (over 80% are recovering significantly after 2 years), people with personality disorders grew up very distressed. It is the long duration of their dysfunction (since adolescence or early adulthood) which meets the criteria of a personality disorder.

Usually they developed their personality style as a way of coping with childhood abuse, neglect or abandonment, an emotionally lacking household, or simply their biological predisposition. While this personality style may have been an effective adaptation in their “family of origin,” in adulthood it is counter-productive. The person remains stuck repeating a narrow range of interpersonal behaviors to attempt to avoid this distress.

In the next segment we will discuss the different types of personality disorders and what it’s like to be in court with them.

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Purchase Bill Eddy’s books:

High Conflict People in Legal Disputes

* All content does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Institute.

(**If we can support you in your recovery process, please let us know.  The Institute is the largest provider of recovery-based services for survivors of pathological love relationships.  Information about pathological love relationships is in our award-winning book, Women Who Love Psychopaths, and is also available in our retreats, 1:1s, or phone sessions.  See the website for more information.)

© www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com

Helping Women Find Effective Strategies for Court

By Sandra L. Brown, MA

Leaving a pathological is never easy—they aren’t wired to allow for easy separation and disengagement.  What they value most is drama, trauma, and the perpetuation of misery at any cost.  High on their entertainment list is any legal activity—especially divorces, separations, and custody battles. Pathologicals get bored easily and have a high need for entertainment. They are high-excitement seekers and have low impulse control.  This all equals great legal combativeness coupled with great enjoyment of the process.

Pathologicals are highly litigious, meaning they LOVE to sue and go to court.  They are entertained by the drama of the court scene and love anything associated with being the victim in a legal process. Therefore, they are different than normal people in that they will keep this process going as long as necessary. They will even spend more money than they will ever recover JUST to be in court, JUST to be heard, and JUST so you won’t win.

There is no rationale when it comes to why they find court so enthralling. It’s almost like “legal malingering.” Malingering is a psychological disorder that means a person remains symptomatic because they get something out of it that we refer to as a “secondary gain.”  So it is true with the pathological in court—67 times to court for one case is not unheard of.

But the bottom line for you is that court is often traumatizing. Facing him can bring on flashbacks, panic attacks, nightmares and anxiety. The faces he makes, his posturing and his stares can often leave you highly ineffective on the witness stand. Or you are unable to think in the courtroom in order to give your attorney correct input.

Some women are followed by the pathological after court. He may stalk her in his car or call her cell phone, belittling her about the court proceedings. Taunting her before the court date can bring a woman’s functioning level to an all-time low. She may miss work and, as a result, lose pay. She may have to pay and repay court fees as he switches dates around just to make a show of power.

Women who already have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), other chronic stress conditions, or autoimmune disorders like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, or lupus, can end up bed-bound from the stress of the court drama and him. Since pathologicals love your debilitation, they are likely to stretch out the process by asking for more depositions, postponing court dates, adding more needed appearances, or even refusing a settled offer that is everything they asked for—anything to create more stress and havoc for you. Women will often do ANYTHING to avoid this kind of exposure to further abuse.

Since the pathological is rarely acknowledged for what he is, the court is not likely to identify his manipulative behaviors and so his requests are granted. You are tormented with more and more unproductive court appearances as he acts like the perpetual victim.

A woman can get PTSD-like symptoms just from how she’s treated in court or in depositions. The criminal court is known for favoring criminals, so anyone who is not criminal often finds the process abusive and traumatizing. A woman will often give away her rights, property, and money just to avoid him and court all together. She and her children are then exposed to poverty, marginal employment and a reduced quality of life ALL because she wants to avoid being traumatized by him and an unbalanced court system.

I have said for many years that the universe is strangely tilted to the benefit of the pathological. They get away with more dirty deeds, especially in court, than any normal person would ever get away with. For this reason, women come to know that their chances in court with a pathological, who is so dramatic, convincing, and unnerved by the process, is nil.

Women have had very ineffective means for balancing the scales of Her-vs-The Psychopath in family court. That’s because few women know about one VERY effective strategy that helps her regain her court composure—using a PTSD diagnosis to receive special accommodations during court proceedings.

As we have constantly mentioned, many of the women who come through our program have PTSD that was acquired during the pathological relationship or was made worse by the relationship. PTSD is a trauma disorder—meaning you were traumatized in some way, which is how you acquired it.

PTSD symptoms can last for short or long periods of time and are almost always increased by stress—such as stress by being in court or stress created by his behavior while in court. These types of recurring symptoms can negatively impact your effectiveness in court and can require special accommodations so you are able to function during court. Some of these special accommodations include:

  • Having the woman speak over a speaker phone in another room so she doesn’t have to face him.
  • Not having him in the courtroom.
  • Having him detained so she can leave early from the courtroom.
  • Calling in to the courtroom from home to avoid having to attend the hearing in person.
  • If she has to attend—having a disability advocate present with her.
  • Having him not be allowed to speak directly to her when walking past him from the courtroom.

 

All of these special accommodations can greatly ease the stress normally associated with court, but are not granted unless a special ADA (American with Disabilities Act http://www.ada.gov/pubs/ada.htm) accommodation is granted.

Accommodations can also be made for:

  • Emotional triggering caused by discussing the situation
  • Memory recall problems
  • Concentration problems
  • Flexibility with deadlines because of amnesic symptoms or recurring trauma when having to testify in front of him
  • Emergency hearing to enforce court orders
  • Rehabilitative alimony for treatment of PTSD for you or your children

PTSD is the disorder most associated with pathological love relationships. A diagnosis of this can help women acquire accommodations that are associated with the ADA accommodations offered. You simply have to have a diagnosis that requires special accommodations in order for you to function. (In our article, “PTSD as Trauma Disorder—NOT Psychiatric Illness,” we discussed the differences between mental illnesses and emotional, trauma-based disorders such as PTSD.)

http://legalabusesyndrome.com/ provides information about writing your PTSD Accommodations Request Report for the court. This is a HUGE breakthrough for women because once you have received ADA accommodations, the judges and attorneys MUST adhere to protocols developed for ADA which are federally based and help accommodate your needs in order to function in court. Protocols not followed are prosecutable, making the courts highly attentive to meeting federal protocols. This could also apply to your children if they have PTSD, and could hopefully impact how they are to be treated in court and how their needs must be met.

Before we get a FLOOD of letters and emails about this, here is what you need to know:

  • You must legitimately have PTSD. If you have already been diagnosed with PTSD, you have already jumped one hurdle.
  • If you need to be diagnosed, you must be evaluated by a licensed professional such as a mental health professional or a psychiatrist.
  • Once you are diagnosed, you will need to draft your PTSD Accommodations Report. This is a time-consuming and lengthy report of approximately 10-15 pages. It is a highly specialized report. It is unlikely that your doctor or health care professional will construct something of this nature as it addresses specific areas to meet the criteria for ADA. (There are ADA Advocates, professionals, who can help with this but, of course, they charge for this report; however, we believe that what the report renders to you is highly worth the investment.)
  • This is NOT the same thing as being declared “disabled,” and has nothing to do with physical or mental disability or acquiring disability payments.
  • PTSD, if diagnosed, does become part of one’s medical and/or psychological record.

We believe that these Accommodations Reports are the beginning of leveling the playing field when it comes to being in court with pathologicals. We also believe that children who are diagnosed with PTSD and who have acquired it from living with the pathological may have a far more arguable case about custody when courts try to mandate visitation with the very one who caused PTSD.

(**If we can support you in your recovery process, please let us know.  The Institute is the largest provider of recovery-based services for survivors of pathological love relationships.  Information about pathological love relationships is in our award-winning book, Women Who Love Psychopaths, and is also available in our retreats, 1:1s, or phone sessions.  See the website for more information.)

© www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com

 

 

 

Fantasy Re­runs or ‘Obsession Interruptus’

Everyone knows what ‘coitus interruptus’ is–but what you really need to know is what ‘emotional obsession interruptus’ is!

In the past, I have talked about the inherent traps, pitfalls, and perils of how people get roped back in to the pathological relationships during ‘weak moments’ of family or relationship fantasizing about normal relationships. There are no Normal Rockwells, oh, I meant ‘Norman’ Rockwells with narcissists and psychopaths. As much as you want to paint the picture of a happy family, that’s not what you got.

What you do have is a pathological dynamic. Discussion about family fantasizing stirs up many people who want to remain in the fantasy. Loneliness is subjective. You’re with them but you are STILL lonely because pathology doesn’t pay attention to anything other than itself.

One of my brilliant proteges, Carol, has SOOOO understood the issue about pathology, personality disorders and the lies you tend to tell yourself —wrote me this brilliant analogy of people who don’t want to ‘get it.’ She is speaking for the people who get offended when you discuss ending the relationship or when the newsletter hits them hard on some aspect of their denial. (read this with some sarcasm….)

“I am offended that someone shed the light on psychopathy in the newsletter. I am offended that I might be set free from my psychopath. I am happy and joyous to be in the secret and dark world of my psychopath. I am happy to unsubscribe from the very thing that might set me free from my soul destroying psychopath. I am happy to continue on the path through hell with my charming psychopath. I enjoy my time more when I spend it with a pathological.”

This ‘emotional obsession interruptus’ as I like to call it, is a re­framing technique that works incredibly well when said out loud. Repeat Carol’s often…but say it OUT LOUD and not merely just read silently.

Fantasizing normal family life is nothing new. The truth is, people want healthy families. They want what they see others have– enjoyable and meaningful relationships. Then they try to reproduce that with their own families who may not have the same capacity for normality.

Pathological people have challenges that interrupt their ability to sustain the consistent positive change you want them to make. ‘Wanting’ to have JUST ONE occasion in which everyone gets along, there is no fighting, no one gets drunk or hits someone, or no one overtly insults others doesn’t mean that the pathologicals in your life have the ABILITY to give that to you.

Repetition compulsion is often re­enacted within relationships. This is repeating the same event over and over trying to get a different and satisfying outcome. This is, sadly, what we often see in Adult Children of Pathological Parents. At 43, they are STILL trying to have that ONE Christmas with a narcissistic mother or a borderline father so that a healing can take place in them. Each year they start with the same hope that this year the parent, sibling or partner will do something kind and sweet or will ‘behave.’ They desperately feel like they need one restorative experience to heal their dysfunctional family memories.

Repetition compulsion can leave adults trapped in this never ending desire for just one good experience, but, now they have pulled their own children into the same cycle creating an inter­generational experience of exposure to pathology. (Ever see the movie ‘Stuart Saves His Family?’)

While it is painful to face the reality that pathology is related to the inability to change, grow, or have insight about their own behavior, it is less painful than putting yourself and your children through another cycle of hope and despair. Pathological parents, siblings, or partners can challenge you in ways that are kinder to yourself to just avoid.

 

(**If we can support you in your recovery process, please let us know.  The Institute is the largest provider of recovery-based services for survivors of pathological love relationships.  Information about pathological love relationships is in our award-winning book, Women Who Love Psychopaths, and is also available in our retreats, 1:1s, or phone sessions.  See the website for more information.)

 

© www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com

 

Stress and Adrenal Fatigue

In many other newsletters, I have written extensively about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and recovery. Much of learning to heal from, or live with, PTSD has to do with learning to live a gentle life that is less stressful. You can read about PTSD and the “Living the Gentle Life” series of articles in past newsletters and on our website.

However, PTSD as a stress disorder is an indicator of extreme stress. If you have it, that means you have suffered an emotional, physical, spiritual, sexual, and/or psychological trauma that was severe enough, or long enough in duration, to significantly impact your health.

Having a stress disorder means two things:

  1. You were significantly stressed or traumatized.
  2. The stress and/or trauma has affected your functioning level.

PTSD can be short-term and resolved with treatment within a few months, or it can be chronic and life-long, often reactivated by MORE stress or MORE traumatic events. In my case, I have chronic PTSD that is reactivated when I am worn down, too stressed, not living a gentle life, or when other challenging life events reactivate it. A few years ago I lost my mother, my foster son, my mother in-law and my sister, all in a very short timeframe. Losses that are coupled close together can have a similar effect.

With PTSD, whether it’s short- or long-term, you are likely to have a reduced level of productivity. You can have impaired concentration or sleep disruptions, become hyper-vigilant and have an exaggerated startle reflex. You can have anxiety mixed with depression, intrusive thoughts, emotional numbing, flashbacks and panic.

None of this lends itself to being able to work well in a consistent or productive way.  Even if you are unemployed, the quality of your daily life is disrupted and your life productivity in your day-to-day living is reduced. This is why people often need treatment for PTSD, which could be short- or long-term treatment in the form of weekly counseling, group counseling, inpatient treatment, or any combination of these.

PTSD as a stress disorder has its long-term outcomes in medical conditions as do many other stress disorders. Unresolved stress and trauma (whether it’s PTSD or everyday stress) can, and most often does, manifest into medical conditions. Part of seeking rehabilitative alimony in court with a PTSD diagnosis is because of the loss of productivity and because of the long-term effects on your health. Now more than twenty-five years after the murder of my father, I am continuing to see the medical outcome of chronic PTSD in my health.

Often in court, women are unaware they can have their attorneys argue for rehabilitation alimony or medical coverage for treatment FOR THE FUTURE. So many don’t realize how their health could be impacted now and for years to come. Stress and PTSD have many long-term medical possibilities, including:

Autoimmune disorders:  fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, Epstein-Barr, lupus, multiple sclerosis

  • Various forms of arthritis
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Migraines and TMJ
  • Female reproductive problems
  • Ongoing anxiety and depression
  • Thyroid and adrenal fatigue
  • Sleep disorders
  • Diabetes
  • And, most commonly, a combination of these

Settling your divorce or court case with the pathological and NOT considering the future medical outcome of the stress he produced in YOUR BODY is unwise. We do know that many of these stress disorders and/or PTSD will continue on long after he is gone and in the end, affect your health in some way because, at the heart of the medical conditions that develop, is adrenal fatigue.

Adrenal fatigue is the culprit most likely associated with medical disorders that go on to develop. Treating and managing adrenal fatigue could actually prevent many of the disorders that will later develop because of untreated and unmanaged fatigue of the adrenals. Here is a link on the topic and the book from which we took the adrenal fatigue quiz: www.adrenalfatigue.org/

Chronic stress wears out the adrenal glands that support other healthy functioning in your body. When stress, poor diet, lack of sleep and unresolved problems wear out the adrenal glands, your body is in a downward spiral and cannot heal from stress or PTSD. To find out if you have adrenal fatigue, here take the quiz at www.adrenalfatigue.org/take-the-adrenal-fatigue-quiz.

If you do have adrenal fatigue, this is a stepping-stone to other medical conditions if not treated immediately. More importantly, your body has started down that path. If you are in a court case, please advise your attorney of this disorder as you may be able to argue for your need for continued medical coverage and care regarding stress disorders.

(**If we can support you in your recovery process, please let us know.  The Institute is the largest provider of recovery-based services for survivors of pathological love relationships. Information about pathological love relationships is in our award-winning book, Women Who Love Psychopaths, and is also available in our retreats, 1:1s, or phone sessions. See the website for more information).

© www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com