Articles Posted in BPD and Divorce

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How to Recover from an Affair Involving Borderline Personality Disorder

By Tommy (

The feeling of pain and betrayal that an affair causes is something I would wish on almost no one, but when you add in the addition of borderline personality disorder it throws in a whole new set of variables. Our particular story is one that has a lot of mitigating circumstances, but that makes it no less painful to go through. In June of 2011 I lost my wife (at least that is what it felt like). June, 2011; I checked my wife into Prairie St. John’s facility in Fargo, ND for depression and manic behavior. She went into the facility a loving wife, devoted mother and successful business owner. She spent the first night there crying asking to be sent home to her family. She was met with doctors telling her that if she did not stop crying, asking to go home and start taking all the medicine they had for her that they would hold her indefinitely.

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I highly recommend the following book by my colleague and author of Splitting (1st Ed). I wrote the foreword to Bill’s first BPD and Divorce book, and have followed the great work he is doing in the High Conflict Personalities training area. Bill is a former clinician, who turned to the practice of family law in San Diego where he developed his cutting edge perspectives on divorce and high conflict personalities.

BIFF: Quick Responses to High Conflict People, Their Personal Attacks, Hostile Email and Social Media Meltdowns

By Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq.

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I reviewed this video very recently and was impressed with the quality and depth of it. Some of the leading clinicians in the area of BPD are present in this video, along with personal stories from some very courageous people.

In my divorce and custody practice, there is a focus on custody issues when one of the parents has traits of BPD. Some of these traits are discussed in this video. It is very important that when involved in a custody case with BPD, that the safety of the children is paramount, but that the parents in these cases be viewed with understanding and compassion, as well. Decisions about the custody and visitation of the children must be made through the lens of both the courts and knowledgeable clinicians. If you have questions in this area of divorce and custody, please contact my office for an informed initial consultation.



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New Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall discusses his diagnosis of and treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder.

Much of my work in divorce and custody litigation, along with some research and writing that I have done, has focused on divorce cases with a personality disorder involved. BPD and NPD present in a number of high conflict custody cases, and the tendency of people with BPD and NPD to act out, rage, blame others, and even target their spouse in divorce with false allegations is common.

As Mr. Marshall describes, BPD is treatable, yet very few have the ability or resource to seek treatment, and BP’s are notorious for refusing treatment, even while their marriage and family is breaking down.

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Much of my work focus around complex and sometimes high conflict custody cases involving Borderline personalities, and other psychological disorders. With BPD custody cases, and many other cases, there are elements of the narcissistic personality. What characteristics define a narcisisist? A recent article, “Beware the Narcissist; Know the Signs,” by Heidi Stevens (McClatchy) offers a solid description:

“Narcissism is an epidemic in our society,” argues LIsa Scott, author of It’s All About Him: How to Identify and Avoid the Narcissist Male Before You Get Hurt (CFI, 2009). “Our culture breeds it.”

While it’s one thing to watch reality show contestants bask in their own glory for the sake of finding love, it’s another to find yourself dating such a character — man or woman.

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I have spent a good part of my legal career working in the area of divorce and custody in the context of a parent with suspected or diagnosed BPD and NPD traits. Borderline personalities in divorce cases make for higher conflict cases, and when the cases involve the custody of children, many times there are elements of domestic violence, false allegations of domestic violence or sexual abuse, distortion campaigns, and parental alienation. I was fortunate to write the foreword to, and help edit, Bill Eddy’s landmark book on divorcing a borderline or narcissist, Splitting.

Today I saw a reference to a recent Time Magazine article on BPD. “The Mystery of Borderline Personality Disorder,” by John Cloud.

“A 2008 study of nearly 35,000 adults in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that 5.9% – which would translate into 18 million Americans – had been given a BPD diagnosis. As recently as 2000, the American Psychiatric Association believed that only 2% had BPD. (In contrast, clinicians diagnose bipolar disorder and schizophrenia in about 1% of the population.) BPD has long been regarded as an illness disproportionately affecting women, but the latest research shows no difference in prevalence rates for men and women. Regardless of gender, people in their 20s are at higher risk for BPD than those older or younger.

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Through the years, I have been involved with divorce and custody cases that involved elements of unhealthy narcissism. My friend and colleague Billy Eddy’s book, Splitting speaks in detail of the difficulties dealing with litigants with NPD and BPD. I am often consulted on cases involving BPD and NPD in custody cases.

Psychologists are fascinated by narcissists, both why they are attractive to healthy partners despite on some level recognizing their dysfunction, and because they embody so many paradoxes. Extreme narcissists inevitably reveal their true nature to those around them and are eventually rejected. So why don’t healthy people (and the narcissists) learn?

The charming narcissist:

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I was reading a social networking site that had a thread on Borderline Personality Disorder. It can be very helpful to read the DSM for the diagnostic criteria for BPD, but it can be also quite insightful to read the stories of people affected by a relationship or marriage with someone with BPD. Here are a few examples, below:

“Get out as fast as you can, don’t look back.The only reason to stay with a BPDer is if you are a parent who has a child with the disorder. I was married to someone with BPD. The horrors.

The non-BP has been sucker punched. When you are in a relationship with a BPD you both share a private, intense world of ups and downs. 3 AM screaming matches, stomping, acting out, and in some cases, self harm and violence. This brings you both together in a co dependency. Each time there is a blow up, the couple is drawn closer together in the resolution phase, when the BPDers devaluation episode subsides. This codependency is insidious. I call it being sucker punched.”

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As many of my cases deal with possible BPD and NPD-type disorders, I see traits of Parental Alienation Syndrome in alienating parents. These cases are very challenging…in part because there are kids being harmed by the alienation and by the pathology directed at them on a daily basis by the alienating parent. Further, the cases can be difficult to manage as the alienating parents are often skillful manipulators that have had some prior success through the years harming the healthy, non-disordered ” target=”_ parent’s legal standing, through false accusations and false orders of protection (often easy to obtain on an ex parte basis). Many disordered parents obtain custody and control of children through manipulation of the court process. In the end, the non-disordered target parent suffers, and the kids suffer, perhaps more, emotionally and developmentally.

There are strategies to combat PAS in custody cases. The article below discusses PAS in some detail.

“Welcome to the Swamp.” by Amy Johnson Conner

That’s what a judge once told a client of a divorce attorney when accusations of parental alienation were leveled against the client in a custody hearing.

Parental alienation syndrome – a controversial diagnosis to describe a child who compulsively denigrates one parent in response to consistent brainwashing by the other parent – has become a not-uncommon theme in custody cases.

According to Richard Gardner, the psychologist who is considered the father of the syndrome, it typically manifests itself as a campaign of denigration by one parent against the other, which is accompanied by weak, frivolous and absurd rationalizations for the deprecation. As a result of this steady campaign of insult, the child reflexively supports the alienating parent and experiences no guilt over their own cruelty towards the targeted parent.

But the mental health profession is far from agreement about the existence of the syndrome. Noting the lack of supporting data, the American Psychological Association has “no official position on the purported syndrome,” according to a statement in its website.

The legal community is divided as well.
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