Wednesday, April 25, 2007

How Personality Disorders Drive Family Court Litigation

Family Court is perfectly suited to the fantasies of someone with a
personality disorder: There is an all-powerful person (the judge) who will
punish or control the other spouse. The focus of the court process is
perceived as fixing blame - and many with personality disorders are experts
at blame. There is a professional ally who will champion their cause (their
attorney - or if no attorney, the judge). A case is properly prepared by
gathering statements from allies - family, friends, and professionals.
(Seeking to gain the allegiance of the children is automatic - they too are
seen as either allies or enemies. A simple admonition will not stop this.)
Generally, those with personality disorders are highly skilled at - and
invested in - the adversarial process. The lying custodial family who stole my children six years ago are consummate liars and surprise, surprise -no access to my children is in place !! I got another appointment in the Kangaroo de - family court - May 1st - to try and get some access ? I have tried to make contact to my daughters through the previous 150 odd court appearances.
The court is a sick joke and I expect to be fobbed off yet again by the filthy conniving judges !! Why all the lies , no wonder I feel vitriolic !!

http://www.dadsdivorce.com/news/artdet.php/11638.html

How Personality Disorders Drive Family Court Litigation
By William A. Eddy, LCSW, Esq.

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 current DSM-IV uses 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 five 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.

A personality disorder does not usually go away except in a corrective
on-going relationship - such as several years in a counseling relationship.
Until then, the person may constantly seek a corrective experience through
a series of unsatisfying relationships, through their children, or through
the court process. In a sense, untreated personality disorders don't fade
away - they just change venue.

Personality Disorders Appearing in Family Court

Probably the most prevalent personality disorder in family court is
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) - more commonly seen in women. BPD
may be characterized by wide mood swings, intense anger even at benign
events, idealization (such as of their spouse - or attorney) followed by
devaluation (such as of their spouse - or attorney).

Also common is Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) - more often seen in
men. There is a great preoccupation with the self to the exclusion of
others. This may be the vulnerable type, which can appear similar to BPD,
causing distorted perceptions of victimization followed by intense anger
(such as in domestic violence or murder, for example the San Diego case of
Betty Broderick). Or this can be the invulnerable type, who is detached,
believes he is very superior and feels automatically entitled to special
treatment.

Histrionic Personality Disorder also appears in family court, and may have
similarities to BPD but with less anger and more chaos. Anti-social
Personality Disorder includes an extreme disregard for the rules of society
and very little empathy. (A large part of the prison population may have
Anti-social Personality Disorder.)

Dependent Personality Disorder is common, but usually is preoccupied with
helplessness and passivity, and is rarely the aggressor in court - but
often marries a more aggressive spouse, sometimes with a personality disorder.

Cognitive Distortions and False Statement

Because of their history of distress, those with personality disorders
perceive the world as a much more threatening place than most people do.
Therefore, their perceptions of other people's behavior is often distorted
- and in some cases delusional. Their world view is generally adversarial,
so they often see all people as either allies or enemies in it. Their
thinking is often dominated by cognitive distortions, such as:
all-or-nothing thinking, emotional reasoning, personalization of benign
events, minimization of the positive and maximization of the negative. They
may form very inaccurate beliefs about the other person, but cling rigidly
to those beliefs when they are challenged - because being challenged is
usually perceived as a threat.

People with personality disorders also appear more likely to make false
statements. Because of the thought process of a personality disorder, the
person experiences interpersonal rejection or confrontation much more
deeply than most people. Therefore the person has great difficulty healing
and may remain stuck in the denial stage, the depression stage, or the
anger stage of grief - avoiding acceptance by trying to change or control
the other person.

Lying may be justified in their eyes - possibly to bring a reconciliation.
(This can be quite convoluted, like the former wife who alleged child
sexual abuse so that her ex-husband's new wife would divorce him and he
would return to her - or so she seemed to believe.) Or lying may be
justified as a punishment in their eyes. Just as we have seen that an angry
spouse may kill the other spouse, it is not surprising that many angry
spouses lie under oath. There is rarely any consequence for this, as family
court judges often believe the truth cannot be known - or that both are lying.

Projection

Just as an active alcoholic or addict blames others for their substance
abuse, those with personality disorders are often preoccupied with other
people's behavior while avoiding any examination of their own behavior.
Just as a movie projector throws a large image on a screen from a hidden
booth, those with personality disorders project their internal conflicts
onto their daily interactions - usually without knowing it. All the world
is a stage - including court.

It is not uncommon in family court declarations for one with a personality
disorder to claim the other party has characteristics which are really
their own ("he's manipulative and falsely charming" or "she's hiding
information and delaying the process"), and do not fit the other party.
Spousal abusers claim the other is being abusive. Liars claim the other is
lying. (One man who knew he was diagnosed with a Narcissistic Personality
Disorder claimed his wife also had an NPD simply because she liked to shop.)

How Family Court Fits Personality Disorders

Family Court is perfectly suited to the fantasies of someone with a
personality disorder: There is an all-powerful person (the judge) who will
punish or control the other spouse. The focus of the court process is
perceived as fixing blame - and many with personality disorders are experts
at blame. There is a professional ally who will champion their cause (their
attorney - or if no attorney, the judge). A case is properly prepared by
gathering statements from allies - family, friends, and professionals.
(Seeking to gain the allegiance of the children is automatic - they too are
seen as either allies or enemies. A simple admonition will not stop this.)
Generally, those with personality disorders are highly skilled at - and
invested in - the adversarial process.

Those with personality disorders often have an intensity that convinces
inexperienced professionals - counselors and attorneys - that what they say
is true. Their charm, desperation, and drive can reach a high level in this
very emotional, bonding process with the professional. Yet this intensity
is a characteristic of a personality disorder, and is completely
independent from the accuracy of their claims.

What Can Be Done

Judges, attorneys, and family court counselors need to be trained in
identifying personality disorders and how to treat them. Mostly, a
corrective on-going relationship is needed - preferably with a counselor.
However, they usually must be ordered into this because their belief
systems include a life-time of denial and avoidance of self-reflection.

In California, for example, Family Code Section 3190 allows the court to
order up to one year of counseling for parents, if: "(1) The dispute
between the parents or between a parent and the child poses a substantial
danger to the best interest of the child. [or] (2)The counseling is in the
best interest of the child." Even short-term counseling can help.

Therapists, in addition to being supportive, need to help clients challenge
their own thinking: about their own role in the dispute; about the accuracy
of their view of the other party; and about their high expectations of the
court. Further, therapists should never form clinical opinions or write
declarations about parties they haven't interviewed.

Likewise, attorneys need to also challenge their clients' thinking and not
accept their declarations at face value. More time should be spent
educating them to focus on negotiating solutions, rather than escalating
blame. As it applies to California, the court should make greater use of
sanctions under Family Code Section 271 for parties and attorneys who
refuse to negotiate and unnecessarily escalate the conflict and costs of
litigation.

The court must realize that the parties are often not equally at fault. One
or both parties may have a personality disorder, but that does not
necessarily mean both are offenders (violent, manipulative, or lying). A
non-offending, dependent spouse may truly need the court's assistance in
dealing with the offender. The court should not be neutralized by mutual
allegations without looking deeper. Otherwise, because of their personality
style, the most offending party is often able to continue their offender
behavior - either by matching the other's true allegations for a neutral
outcome, or by being the most skilled at briefly looking good and thereby
receiving the court's endorsement.

The court is in a unique position to motivate needed change in personal
behavior. In highly contested cases, counseling or consequences should be
ordered. Professionals and parties must work together to fully diagnose and
treat each person's underlying problems, rather than allowing the parties
(and their advocates) to become absorbed in an endless adversarial process.
Because their largest issues are internal, they will never be resolved in
court.

Related Website: http://www.eddylaw.com/

2 comments:

william max said...

Household thrashing is often a popular difficulty. Due to this, frank byers decatur il makes certain safety for every single member of the family -- in particular the youngsters. The item provides as being a face shield towards psychological as well as bodily punishment. The item offers restraining instructions for you to people who threaten anyone along with your little ones. The item offers PFA, or perhaps Defense with regard to Mistreatment.

william max said...

Some of the more prevalent chores consist of starting guardianship for minor outdated kids, appropriate name modifications, adopting, and also baby support.Particular scenarios warrant utilizing frank byers decatur il legal professionals for a long period of your time. This can consist of intercontinental adoptions or even divorce proceedings. Under these types of circumstances.