Thursday, June 23, 2011
Not all people with personality disorders are HCPs, because many of those with personality disorders are not preoccupied with targets of blame. They are just stuck in a narrow pattern of dysfunctional behavior.
And not all HCPs have a personality disorder. Many HCPs just have some difficult personality traits, but not a disorder at all. I want to emphasize that being a high-conflict person does not mean someone has a mental disorder. HCP is not a diagnosis – it’s a descriptive term for someone who has a lot of high-conflict behavior in relationships.
So don’t tell someone you think that she has a personality disorder! And don’t tell someone you think that he is a high-conflict person. Their HCP defensiveness may make your life miserable for months or years to come. And you may be wrong!
Instead, I recommend that you have a private working theory that someone may be an HCP. You don’t tell the person and you don’t assume you are right. It really doesn’t matter! You simply focus on key methods to help in managing your relationship, whether or not you are dealing with an HCP. Use your private working theory to change your own behavior, not theirs.
While a BIFF response itself isn’t going to change anyone, it should help you end a conversation that has been escalating out of control.
For more information about personality disorders and managing high-conflict people in general, see my book It’s All YOUR Fault! 12 Tips for Managing People Who Blame Others for Everything (2008, HCI Press).
For dealing with a high-conflict divorce, see Splitting: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing Someone with Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder by Eddy and Kreger (2011, New Harbinger Press).