With my work as a lawyer on complex child custody cases, I have seen in many of these cases the phenomenon of “projection.” My work as a member of APA and a frequent researcher and contributor on issues concerning personality disorders in child custody and with Parental Alienation cases, brings my clients often into situations where they are being accused of behaviors that are actually resident in the disordered parent.
Psychological projection is a defense mechanism in which the human psychology defends itself against unconscious impulses or qualities by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others. These traits can be seen with some people with personality disorders, such as NPD or BPD. For example, a person who is habitually angry may constantly accuse other people, often their intimate partners or spouses, of being angry. In some cases, the abusive spouse will actually seek out domestic violence support, falsely claiming that they have been abused.
Dr. Michael Bone, a clinician and consultant on PA cases comments this way:
This is a particularly good article that was sent by a past client of our Firm. I am fortunate that many of my current and past clients stay engaged with the literature and groups that deal with Parental Alienation, to the point that they wish to share the benefits and knowledge of what they may have acquired as we worked on their case, and the client witnessed for themselves the identification of these alienation scenarios and the strategies that I have developed (with the benefit of the insights of many great clinicians, authors and PA experts through the years).
This article is quite good and focuses on an important issue for today: Why We Persevere and Stay on Course for the Child Victims of Parental Alienation. These children are being harmed by the PA. Most love their targeted parent, but have been coerced and brainwashed to reject the loving parent. This sentence, from Dr. Stines’ essay, captures the point: It is much easier to reject someone you know will never leave, than it is to reject someone you can barely hold on to.
Strategy, Perseverance, Patience. Three of my many keys to managing these cases.
Many years ago, I helped a bit with Bill Eddy’s first book, a landmark publication called Splitting that discussed and defined for the first time what it can be like to go through a divorce with a High Conflict Personality, such as a person with BPD or NPD traits. Here is a video from one of Bill’s series, discussing the analogy between splitting in politics, and the splitting that can occur in divorce.
Splittign behaviors can lead to conflict distortions, false allegations, and parental alienation, in a divorce and child custody case. It is always good to understand these phenomena, and to appreciate ways to manage them successfully in a divorce case.