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.
When narcissists feel that they have lost, or feel rejected or abandoned, they don’t forget it. The issues remain in their mind as: “It’s all your fault” or “How could you do this to me?” They want to strike back and often do so through children and finances. They suffer from what is called the narcissistic injury. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defines narcissistic injury as “vulnerability in self-esteem which makes narcissistic people very sensitive to injury from criticism or defeat. Although they may not show it outwardly, criticism may haunt these individuals and leave them feeling humiliated, degraded, hollow, and empty. They react with disdain, rage, or defiant counterattack.”
While “normal” divorcing couples usually take about three years to fully adjust to the changes in lifestyle, narcissists never get over a divorce and continue to blame their partner for their feelings of inadequacy, lack of happiness, or lack of love, even long after the divorce is final.
If you think you are breaking up with a narcissist or are divorcing a narcissist it is important to be well prepared and have sound professional help.