Thursday, August 25, 2011

Splitting Protecting Yourself While Divorcing Someone with a Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Excerpted from Splitting...

Borderline Abandonment Rage
Mental health professionals are very familiar with the fear of abandonment of the person with BP traits. This may have been a very real issue in childhood when the child’s life depended on a secure bond with a parent. In adulthood, this fear often drives people away and is no longer productive. Regardless, people with BP traits alternate between the extremes of clinging behavior and rage when they feel their relationship security is in any way threatened. Once a divorce is obvious and clinging won’t work (and again, it doesn’t matter who initiated the divorce), they often become enraged against the perceived target. They may do anything to harm the target, both for revenge and for validation that they are innocent of any responsibility for the breakup. 

They may physically batter their former loved ones (Dutton 2007). They may attempt to dominate or alienate the children. They may make allegations that will publicly humiliate their partners. Sometimes they are conscious of the wrong they are doing, but it seems justified because of the intensity of their sense of abandonment. Sometimes they completely believe that their domestic violence is necessary: “She deserved it after what she did to me.” And sometimes they truly believe in their false allegations of abuse, despite all the evidence to the contrary: “He must have harmed our child; I just know it, after what he did to me by abandoning me.”

The above was excerpted from Splitting, to read more of this passage, order your copy of Splitting by visiting www.unhookedbooks.com. To learn more about Bill Eddy, visit www.highconflictinstitute.com. To learn more about co-author, Randi Kreger, visit www.bpdcentral.com.
High Conflict Institute provides training and consultations, as well and books, DVDs and CDs regarding dealing with High Conflict People (HCPs) in legal, workplace, educational, and healthcare disputes. Bill Eddy is the President of the High Conflict Institute and the author of It's All Your Fault!, Splitting, BIFF: Quick Responses to High Conflict People, Their Hostile Emails, Personal Attacks and Social Media Meltdowns and Don't Alienate the Kids!. He is an author, attorney, mediator, and therapist. Bill has presented seminars to attorneys, judges, mediators, ombudspersons, human resource professionals, employee assistance professionals, managers, and administrators in 25 states, several provinces in Canada, France, and Australia. For more information about High Conflict Institute, our seminars and consultations, Bill Eddy or to purchase a book, CD or DVD, visit: http://www.HighConflictInstitute.com


 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

MANAGING HIGH CONFLICT PEOPLE IN COURT: The Role of Cognitive Distortions

An excerpt from Managing High Conflict People in Court. Ideal reading for judges, lawyers, mediators, and anyone who is connected with family courts.

5. Cognitive Distortions
One of the largest problems of those with personality disorders in conflict situations is their significant distortion of past events, current relationships and future expectations.

Over the past thirty years, cognitive researchers (Burns, 1980; Beck, 1990) have identified several cognitive distortions, which are generally unconscious and distressing to the person. The following are examples of cognitive distortions (thinking distortions) in laymen’s terms:

• All-or-Nothing Thinking - seeing things in absolutes, when in reality little is absolute
• Emotional Reasoning - assuming facts from feelings (I feel stupid, therefore I am)
• Personalization – taking personally unrelated events, or events beyond your control
• Mental Filter – picking out a single negative detail and dwelling on it
• Fortune Telling – believing that you know the outcome of events, when you cannot
• Labeling – eliminating the realities of life with broad, negative terms (dummy, failure)
• Mind-reading – believing that you know what other people are thinking or intending
• Minimizing the Positive, Maximizing the Negative - distorting reality to fit your biases
• Over generalization - drawing huge conclusions from minor or rare events
• Wishful Thinking – expecting positive outcomes from unrelated or negative behavior
• Projecting – blaming others for thinking, feeling or behaving in ways that you are
actually thinking, feeling or acting but can’t see in yourself because
• Splitting – seeing certain people as absolutely “all-good” or “all-bad,” so that the all good person is justified in extremely fearing, hating or hurting the all-bad person

Each of these cognitive distortions may be more or less severe for a particular person at a specific time. However, those with personality disorders tend to have chronic cognitive distortions.

To learn more about how do deal with HCPs in court or mediation, order your copy at unhookedbooks.com.

To learn more about Bill Eddy, visit www.highconflictinstitute.com.  
High Conflict Institute provides training and consultations, as well and books, DVDs and CDs regarding dealing with High Conflict People (HCPs) in legal, workplace, educational, and healthcare disputes. Bill Eddy is the President of the High Conflict Institute and the author of It's All Your Fault!, Splitting, BIFF: Quick Responses to High Conflict People, Their Hostile Emails, Personal Attacks and Social Media Meltdowns and Don't Alienate the Kids!. He is an author, attorney, mediator, and therapist. Bill has presented seminars to attorneys, judges, mediators, ombudspersons, human resource professionals, employee assistance professionals, managers, and administrators in 25 states, several provinces in Canada, France, and Australia. For more information about High Conflict Institute, our seminars and consultations, Bill Eddy or to purchase a book, CD or DVD, visit: http://www.HighConflictInstitute.com




Thursday, August 18, 2011

SPLITTING: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing Someone with Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Blamers and Targets

Excerpted from Splitting:

Preparing for a Difficult Divorce

Preparing Yourself
Sarah was scared. She didn’t know what to expect. For three years, Sam had verbally abused her, constantly blamed her, and sometimes even hit her. She was considering separating from him, but still loved him and hoped it could work out somehow for them to be happy together, as they used to be. Then again, she wondered, If I actually separate from him, would he come after me and really hurt me? Or would he respect me and try to treat me better?

Thomas’s wife, Tammy, had extreme mood swings, from extremely demanding to overwhelmingly loving—all in the same hour!—and was very inconsistent with their daughter. Thomas worked hard at his job, but Tammy sometimes showed up at work and claimed he was hiding money. Thomas didn’t know what his wife would do if he pursued a divorce. Tammy had hinted that she would say he abused their daughter if he ever abandoned her. He wondered, Would the court believe me—or her? Should I get a lawyer or try to represent myself?

Personalities in Difficult Divorces
These days, handling difficult divorces is less about legal issues and more about difficult personalities. Sarah and Thomas have partners who may have borderline personality disorder (BPD) or narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). If you can relate to the types of issues they are facing, or other issues in a difficult divorce, this book is for you—whether or not your partner has one of these disorders and regardless of where you are in the divorce process (before, during, or after).

We have learned that these personalities, in particular, can affect every step of the legal process. Most books on divorce don’t explain this. We will show you how to protect yourself with this knowledge so that you don’t just overreact or give up. We will brief you on what to expect and offer many strategies for what you can do, following Sarah’s and Thomas’s examples along the way.  

To read more of this passage, order your copy of Splitting by visiting www.unhookedbooks.com. To learn more about Bill Eddy, visit www.highconflictinstitute.com. To learn more about co-author, Randi Kreger, visit www.bpdcentral.com.
High Conflict Institute provides training and consultations, as well and books, DVDs and CDs regarding dealing with High Conflict People (HCPs) in legal, workplace, educational, and healthcare disputes. Bill Eddy is the President of the High Conflict Institute and the author of It's All Your Fault!, Splitting, BIFF: Quick Responses to High Conflict People, Their Hostile Emails, Personal Attacks and Social Media Meltdowns and Don't Alienate the Kids!. He is an author, attorney, mediator, and therapist. Bill has presented seminars to attorneys, judges, mediators, ombudspersons, human resource professionals, employee assistance professionals, managers, and administrators in 25 states, several provinces in Canada, France, and Australia. For more information about High Conflict Institute, our seminars and consultations, Bill Eddy or to purchase a book, CD or DVD, visit: http://www.HighConflictInstitute.com

 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Bill Leads Seminars at National Judicial Education Program

Last week I was in the Washington, DC area giving two seminars to judges about managing high-conflict litigants in the courtroom. Unfortunately, judges are facing an increasing number of people who have little respect for the court, little cooperation with court procedures and are often unprepared and emotionally too upset to communicate the necessary information to the judge. My seminars focus on ways to calm people down so that they can focus on the straight information that is needed to decide their case.

High-conflict people appear to be increasing in society in general. Many appear to have personality disorders, which means: 1) they lack self-awareness of how they create their own problems and 2) they don’t change their negative interpersonal behavior. Perhaps 20% of the United States adult population appears to meet the criteria for these personality disorders, based on the largest study ever done. This increase is particularly obvious in our courts, where the presence of personality disorders may as high as 40%.

People’s expectations of judges are often quite unrealistic. They cannot know information other than what the parties tell them in the proper legal manner (“admissible evidence”). In many cases, people are in court today for personality- based reasons rather than legal issues, as driven by one or both parties. People feel extremely hurt, abandoned, insulted, dominated and ignored today, and many of them are willing to blame it all on another individual. People with borderline personality disorder (BPD) or narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) have been identified as taking extreme view of the people around them. They “split” people into “all-good” or “all-bad” categories. They want relief and courts are where you go to deal with very bad people. Unfortunately, our courts cannot give a remedy for those types of feelings and treatment. In fact, the vast majority of cases get decided outside of court by agreement of the parties. However, parties who cannot agree and compromise are the ones mostly likely to appear again in court.

I am pleased and honored to give judges tips for managing their high-conflict cases.

High Conflict Institute provides training and consultations, as well and books, DVDs and CDs regarding dealing with High Conflict People (HCPs) in legal, workplace, educational, and healthcare disputes. Bill Eddy is the President of the High Conflict Institute and the author of "It's All Your Fault!", "Splitting", "BIFF: Quick Responses to High Conflict People, Their Hostile Emails, Personal Attacks and Social Media Meltdowns" and "Don't Alienate the Kids!". He is an author, attorney, mediator, and therapist. Bill has presented seminars to attorneys, judges, mediators, ombudspersons, human resource professionals, employee assistance professionals, managers, and administrators in 25 states, several provinces in Canada, France, and Australia. For more information about High Conflict Institute, our seminars and consultations, Bill Eddy or to purchase a book, CD or DVD, visit: http://www.HighConflictInstitute.com

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Megan Speaks at the Diocese of Des Moines

Over the weekend, Megan Hunter, co-founder of HCI, spent two delightful days with the members from the Diocese of Des Moines at their annual retreat held at Conception Abbey, Missouri. They are a dedicated group of lay counselors and deacons who deal with a wide range of people’s issues, concerns and problems, which, of course, includes the most difficult “difficult” people. They work with the homeless and incarcerated people. They provide counseling for the married and unmarried; for the young and old; for rich and poor. All with compassion.

The issue that came up again and again was the need for strong policies and/or guidelines within the organization. High-conflict people do better with structure, which is exactly what policies, guidelines, rules, and laws provide. HCP’s usually lack structure. Those around them can be supportive and helpful by providing that much-needed structure. The added bonus is that it keeps the focus off of the person (the HCP won’t feel attacked) and it makes the boundary external instead of personal. Referring to an external reason for why they can or cannot do something may keep you from being attacked or the discussion from going round and round. “We have to do it this way because the policy in place requires it.” This takes the pressure off of you and helps put an end to the conversation.

Thanks Diocese of Des Moines for a great time in Missouri. Thanks for your kindness and welcome spirit! Keep up the good work!
Megan

High Conflict Institute provides training and consultations, as well and books, DVDs and CDs regarding dealing with High Conflict People (HCPs) in legal, workplace, educational, and healthcare disputes. Bill Eddy is the President and co-founder of the High Conflict Institute and the author of "It's All Your Fault!", "Splitting", "BIFF: Quick Responses to High Conflict People, Their Hostile Emails, Personal Attacks and Social Media Meltdowns" and "Don't Alienate the Kids!".  For more information about High Conflict Institute, our seminars and consultations, or to purchase a book, CD or DVD, visit: http://www.HighConflictInstitute.com

New Ways for Families In Orange County

On Friday (Aug. 5) I provided a workshop for Mediate West in Orange County, California. I presented 4 Advanced Skills for professionals working with high conflict families, using the New Ways for Families method. The 25 people present were mostly therapists, but some family lawyers and others who work in this field. This was an intimate training, so that there was time for numerous questions – and this group showed their wide experience by the excellent questions they asked. I did a role-play demonstration with a high-conflict client in New Ways, we watched clips from the New Ways video and I gave a PowerPoint presentation on how these skills are needed to be effective in  working with high-conflict families.

#1: STRUCTURING is a skill that few family law professionals use, understand or even know about. Yet high conflict people (HCPs) lack the internal structure to accomplish what is expected of them. Parenting classes generally don’t reach HCPs, because they need more fundamental skills first (which the New Ways method teaches). HCP parents won’t do what professionals tell them to do unless they are provided with a sufficient structure.

#2: CONNECTING with HCPs while working with resistance is another skill that few professionals use, understand or even know about.

#3: GUIDING PARENTS to teach their children resilience is necessary because it doesn’t work to have a child therapist be brilliant while HCP parents are undermining their messages – therapists need to serve as “supporting actors” while teaching parents to be “leading actors” in this process. It strengthens parent-child bonds and reinforces the family structure rather than undermining it.

#4: FAMILY DECISION-MAKING requires skills to be reinforce by all professionals involved. Quizzing parents on what they have learned is essential. Quizzing  them on using their skills in the future is essential. Requiring them to use their email skills (BIFF responses), their making proposals skills (Yes, No or I’ll Think About It) and their managing emotions skills will help them make decisions that now professionals make for them (and fail).

It was a great group and I look forward to their efforts to implement New Ways for Families in Orange County eventually.

High Conflict Institute provides training and consultations, as well and books, DVDs and CDs regarding dealing with High Conflict People (HCPs) in legal, workplace, educational, and healthcare disputes. Bill Eddy is the President of the High Conflict Institute and the author of "It's All Your Fault!", "Splitting", "BIFF: Quick Responses to High Conflict People, Their Hostile Emails, Personal Attacks and Social Media Meltdowns" and "Don't Alienate the Kids!". He is an author, attorney, mediator, and therapist. Bill has presented seminars to attorneys, judges, mediators, ombudspersons, human resource professionals, employee assistance professionals, managers, and administrators in 25 states, several provinces in Canada, France, Sweden, and Australia.

For more information about High Conflict Institute, our seminars and consultations, Bill Eddy or to purchase a book, CD or DVD, visit: http://www.HighConflictInstitute.com

Incivility at Work? Use a “BIFF” Response!

A front page article in Monday’s (Aug. 8, 2011) USA Today newspaper stated that incivility in the workplace is growing, according to the American Psychological Association. A poll in 2011 by Civility in America indicated that 43% of American workers have experienced incivility and 38% say there is increasing disrespect in the workplace. This confirms what I have observed and heard as I speak to lawyers, judges, human resource professionals and others around the United States and Canada about “high-conflict” people in high-conflict divorce, other legal disputes and in the workplace.

So how can you respond when someone’s uncivil to you?
I suggest a BIFF response. What’s a BIFF? It’s a statement that’s Brief, Informative, Friendly and Firm. The key element of a BIFF response is that it is NOT an eye for an eye, or disrespect for disrespect. It’s a method of responding respectfully to someone who has been rude to you, while ending the disrespectful conversation.

We live in a Culture of Blame and Disrespect today and we hear politicians, celebrities and other “leaders” showing disdain for each other on a daily basis. Like it or not, leaders do set the tone for the culture – and today’s increasingly high-conflict leaders are having a powerful effect on the country. Of course, those in the news media who report all the disrespect and gotcha statements are part of the problem. And of course, all of us who listen and soak it up just reinforce this problem. Every day I hear new words and phrases of disrespect and gotcha. This is seeping into our collective unconscious and popping out a home, on the playground and at work. (I’m even finding disrespectful responses in my own brain that I never would have thought of before! These high-conflict statements and emotions are contagious!)

So I am practicing BIFF responses and using them more and more. BIFFs teach me self-discipline and I have received a lot of positive feedback. BIFFs are a way to counter-act the Culture of Blame, to earn respect from those around you, and to actually feel good after you give your response.

The secret is that BIFF responses are geared to the way our brains work. Neuroscientists have actually discovered “mirror neurons” in our brains which mimic what other people do around us. So we often mimic the high conflict behavior of others, such as incivility in response to incivility. But if you understand this, you can calm yourself and give a BIFF response. In many cases, the other person calms down and “mirrors” you. The friendly tone of a BIFF also seems to calm a person’s amygdala in their brain, so that they feel less threatened, rather than more threatened by your response. By using a Friendly tone and being Informative with neutral information, BIFFs appeal to the problem-solving aspects of the other person’s brain, so that problems can actually be solved rather than simply blaming each other.

By being Brief you don’t give the other person more ammunition to fight about and you show self-restraint – which is a rare but well-respected quality these days in social discourse. By being Firm, you end the conversation, rather than stimulating the other person to respond with more disrespect. Sometimes your BIFF response is your last word and sometimes it’s a choice you offer to the other person to solve a problem. In either case, it calms the conflict and makes you look good and feel good. Who could argue with that?

If you’re struggling with how to respond to a high-conflict person in your life, try a BIFF response. If you want more information about BIFF responses, see my new book: BIFF: Quick Responses to High Conflict People, their Personal Attacks, Hostile Email and Social Media Meltdowns.

High Conflict Institute provides training and consultations, as well and books, DVDs and CDs regarding dealing with High Conflict People (HCPs) in legal, workplace, educational, and healthcare disputes. Bill Eddy is the President of the High Conflict Institute and the author of "It's All Your Fault!", "Splitting", "BIFF: Quick Responses to High Conflict People, Their Hostile Emails, Personal Attacks and Social Media Meltdowns" and "Don't Alienate the Kids!". He is an author, attorney, mediator, and therapist. Bill has presented seminars to attorneys, judges, mediators, ombudspersons, human resource professionals, employee assistance professionals, managers, and administrators in 25 states, several provinces in Canada, France, and Australia. For more information about High Conflict Institute, our seminars and consultations, Bill Eddy or to purchase a book, CD or DVD, visit: http://www.HighConflictInstitute.com

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Splitting: high-conflict divorces in family court have increased


Over the past several years, the family court system has received more and more public attention as the number of high-conflict divorces has increased. There are certainly enough horror stories and criticisms to make anyone going through a divorce very nervous. However, family court and legal professionals can also be highly predictable, especially in high-conflict cases with BP or NP partners involved. There are predictable strategies to deal with them as well.

Of course, we make no guarantees. You must use your own judgment and get lots of advice from your local attorney, therapist, and other advisers. We are offering general principles that we have seen work in family courts around the United States, Canada, and other countries. Surprisingly, we get feedback from people around the world describing the same patterns of personality-based behavior and the same patterns of process in their family courts.

Splitting
The biggest pattern to prepare for is splitting. This book’s title, Splitting, has a double meaning. The first is obvious: splitting up. The second meaning refers to a defense mechanism universally seen in people with BPD and NPD. It means unconsciously seeing people as either all good or all bad, an extreme way of coping with confusion, anxiety, and mixed feelings. Splitting is especially prevalent under stress, particularly the stress of breaking up with someone the BPD or NPD partner views as critical to his or her emotional survival. People who split in this manner put their partners on pedestals and then knock them down.

We are very excited to announce the July release of our new book SPLITTING: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing Someone with Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder by New Harbinger Press. We wrote it to be the most realistic, honest and practical guide you’ll find anywhere for dealing with a difficult divorce in today’s world. We encourage anyone considering a separation or divorce (or their family, friends or professionals) to read it before taking any further action, so that you are prepared for What To Do and What NOT To Do. It’s available now in bookstores and online. Please add your review to Amazon.com.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Family Mediation Conference in Minneapolis


I just finished attending a national conference of Family Mediators in Minneapolis (for the Association for Conflict Resolution). It was a lively conference, with several leaders of the family mediation and divorce mediation fields for the past 30 plus years in attendance. There is a strong commitment to increasing public awareness of mediation as a much better alternative to litigation in many areas – and especially for family matters that include children, such as divorce.  
I gave a seminar on managing “high-conflict” clients in divorce, who often have traits of borderline or narcissistic personality disorders. Not all people with these disorders are high-conflict people, but when these disorders are present it can be a much more difficult, angry and prolonged process of divorce. Mediation is one method of helping calm and structure the process so that children are kept out of the conflict and the parents can feel respected and in control of the decision-making – with guidance and limits from the mediator.
At the conference, I emphasized several things about divorce mediation with high-conflict people:
·       Many times, only one person is “high conflict” and the other person is reasonable and just trying to manage the situation. This knowledge helps mediators not make assumptions and helps reasonable people feel understood for what they are going through.
·       Mediators can help high-conflict people stay calm and less defensive, by steering clear of blaming and focusing them on tasks and the future.
·       Mediators help parents work together by teaching them how to make proposals and how to communicate using the BIFF method (Brief, Informative, Friendly and Firm) for emails and other communications.
·       Even mediation has limits: If there is bullying that doesn’t stop, if there are rigid positions by one side, if one person is hiding assets or unwilling to share assets, then mediation may need to be stopped and the family may have to go to court. The mediation process is based on mutual respect and doesn’t work without enough respect.
·       With well-trained mediators, most high-conflict people can reach reasonable agreements. Although it often takes longer, the mediation approach tends to leave people better off for years to come.
Of course, after the conference I couldn’t help noticing the similarities of high-conflict divorce with the news of the debt ceiling crisis in congress: rigid positions with little empathy for the other side, lots of all-or-nothing thinking, lots of blaming and high-risk behavior. Just like in a high-conflict divorce, it was hard to tell if there was only one high-conflict party or two. And just like in a high-conflict divorce, the high-conflict behavior of one or both caused the rest of the family (the voters) to have less respect for both of them.
I’m not sure if my new book will help congress, but if you are facing a possible high-conflict divorce, I encourage you to read: SPLITTING: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing Someone with Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It can be helpful at any time before, during or after the divorce.