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Articles Posted in Clinical Issues in Divorce

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Bill Eddy’s High Conflict Institute always has great information in the field of managing High Conflict Personalities in the context of divorce and Family Law cases.  It is difficult, if not impossible, to manage some people that present as High Conflict; often these people have traits of personality disorders that make their behaviors and communications toxic.  As is pointed out below, the HCP (High Conflict Person)  is not going to change, but you as the stable and rational party can always choose how to respond.  One element that the article does not mention is the benefits to using a third party, such as a skilled Parenting Coordinator, to intercede in conflict situations, and allow the rational person to retreat to the safety of the Parenting Coordinator, instead of arguing or fighting with the HCP.  In other words, if the HCP wants a toxic fight, don’t reward the bed behavior. Choose better ways to manage HCPs, and preserve a bit a tranquil space for yourself and the children.

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The 4D’s of High Conflict Divorce

1. Disengage: You are in conflict with your child’s other parent because their words and actions negatively trigger and affect you and your children. And, like most parents, you will do anything to protect your children form harm – physical, verbal and emotional. If you take the time to sort through your triggers and plan a strategy for how to cope when triggered, you will be putting yourself (and your children) on a path for healthier conflict resolution.

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I have had the pleasure to be a member of the American Psychological Association, for many years, and to devote myself to continuing graduate-level education in the psychological sciences.  Just as a medical doctor might benefit from a strong background or understanding in, say, nutrition, or kinetics, I have always felt that the practice of Family Law almost requires a fundamental understanding of psychology.  The article below is taken from an essay concerning a family lawyer that trained as a psychologist, and how this training has been integral to his practice.

Using his unique background in psychology, David – who has written a best-selling book called “Moving On: Redesigning Your Emotional, Financial, and Social Life After Divorce” – shares the difference taking into account mental health can make in family law cases.

How do psychology and divorce go hand-in-hand?

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I am always appreciative to be a member of the PASG, which is an international association of clinicians, academics, and legal professionals involved in the research of Parental Alienation, as well as the advocacy for better public understanding of PA.  Today, one of the members and excellent advocates in the PASG emailed this to me:

Dear Michael,

Our colleague Brendan Guildea B.L reports on a significant case that has wide reaching implications in the fight against Parental Alienation. Brendan will be one of the speakers at our Online Parental Alienation Conference on the 26th of November 2020.

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Credit: Michael Bone, Ph.D

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The coronavirus crisis, paradoxically, may be an opportunity to find new sources of meaning. Psychological research on past financial disasters may offer guidance on how people will respond to the sudden economic calamity caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

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The COVID-19 crisis has shuttered businesses and led to massive numbers of layoffs nearly overnight. As of April 2, Americans filed a record-breaking 6.6 million unemployment claims in one week, according to the Department of Labor (PDF, 743KB)

The U.S. Federal Reserve estimated that 47 million people might lose their jobs in the second quarter of 2020, translating to a 32.1% unemployment rate. That would far overshoot the peak unemployment rate of the Great Recession (10% in October 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics) and even of the Great Depression (24.9% in 1933).Despite differences between this economic crisis and previous recessions, psychological research can provide some insight into the behavioral and mental health impacts of financial loss. Key findings include:

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What is Parental Alienation?

Bernet et al (2010) considers a primary feature of parental alienation where a child whose parents are engaged in a high conflict divorce or separation allies himself or herself strongly with one parent while rejecting the relationship with the other previously loved parent without legitimate justification.

Parental Alienation

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A parent need not be a psychologist to understand that the stress of pre-divorce or the divorce process can take its toll on kids emotionally and physically. Because many of my cases involve High Conflict divorces, there is often seen in the kids of these families both emotional and somatic complaints. It is very important for parents to be mindful of these complaints and conditions with their children and seek out appropriate resources.  In my practice, I have tried to integrate both the legal aspects of divorce practice with the clinical supports that are available from clinicians that I know and respect.

The article below discusses the concerns of psychological effects on kids of divorce.

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I recently had an interesting discussion at one of the courthouses about Parental Alienation. The issue for the moment was whether PA was considered “real” from a clinical point of view, and whether the DSM had a diagnostic category for Parental Alienation.  As any reader of Illinois Divorce Lawyer Blog knows, PA is real, and I have spent many years working with and managing PA cases for my clients, along with being involved in research and professional groups associated with PA from both a legal and clinical standpoint.

As these matters go, the discussion was spirited, and my mind went to the efforts of those like Dr. Bernet and Amy Baker, who made efforts to include diagnostic codes for PA in the newest DSM updates.  Here is a summary, below:

PA  :  It is a term used by mental health and legal professionals to describe both a complex form of child psychological abuse (i.e., isolating, exploiting/corrupting, terrorizing) and a diagnostic label for identifying a pathologically disturbed parent-child relationship between an alienating parent and a child victim.
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Everyday Trauma: Induced Psychological Splitting in Children of Divorce and Separation

Credit: https://karenwoodall.blog

Understanding the impact of divorce and separation on children takes us down new pathways of understanding of induced psychological splitting, its manifestation in families and the every trauma it causes which has been hidden in plain sight for decades.

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For many years, and since the publishing of Bill Eddy’s landmark book Splitting, I have been writing on the subject of divorce and personality disorders.  My law practice has a focus on helping people navigate divorce from a narcissist or someone with other traits of toxic personality disorders.  Because divorcing someone with these traits creates a number of distinct and unusual issues for the healthy spouse, my practice focuses on managing strategically and aggressively these disordered behaviors, which can include “distortion campaigns” and false allegations.

In my law practice, there is a focus on High Conflict cases.  As the article below points out, there is a distinction to be made with the term “high conflict.” In most all of my cases, the high conflict comes from a disordered person using chaos, harassment and false allegations against an otherwise healthy spouse and parent in order to manipulate the proceedings and attempt to distort the facts of the case. The “high conflict” is one sided.  Contact my firm if you have questions about a divorce from someone with these abusive and difficult behavioral traits.

 
By Karyl McBride, Ph.D., L.M.F.T.:  A common perception among divorce lawyers, therapists, custody evaluators, judges, and other professionals is that, whenever you have a “high-conflict” divorce, both parties are responsible for the conflict. Many professionals assume that difficult, drawn-out custody battles are caused by two parents who are stubborn, selfish, and perhaps a bit crazy. As Michael Friedman wrote in The American Journal of Family Therapy, “The concept has even entered into what might be called family court folk wisdom: We say that Mother Teresa does not marry Attila the Hun or that it takes two to tango.” What we see happen then is that both parties are painted with the same brush and the antics of the narcissist are not understood or seen. The reality is that a narcissist can unilaterally create a nightmare of a divorce.

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