Specialist Divorce Lawyer for Dealing With Personality Disorders?

Reader’s Question

I’m writing after reading several articles on your site that give me such solid explanations for what I have just been experiencing. My question is this:

If I have been a victim of an abusive relationship — my husband has a history of psychiatric issues, and I think it is Narcissistic Personality Disorder — is there specialized legal representation for someone in my situation??

Will any domestic relations lawyer understand all of this (as described in some of your articles), or will I need to be seeking a special type of lawyer? And what kind of lawyer would that be?

Warmest thanks for any assistance.

Psychologist’s Reply

Psychologists and Psychiatrists are well-known for placing labels on patterns of behavior that have been encountered for years by other professions. All domestic relations attorneys have seen and worked with Narcissistic Personalities and other Personality Disorders, although their “label” for this personality probably wasn’t as polite. Other professions that have encountered this individual are law enforcement, medical, banking, etc. For this reason, there is typically no specialized legal representation. This personality is well-known — only the names change over time.

I would advise printing my articles and providing them to your attorney. In developing a legal strategy, it’s often helpful to understand and recognize the other components of a personality disorder. Personality Disorders are highly manipulative, charming at times, and have absolutely no difficulty lying to, deceiving, or abusing those around them.

Like your attorney, the legal system has discovered that it deals with the majority of the Personality Disorders in our society. To deal with their pattern of deceptions, lies, and manipulations, the legal system has developed a strictly-business approach. In my state in the US for example, if you have a firearm in your possession at the time you are arrested for a violent crime, it’s an automatic three-year prison sentence. It doesn’t matter if it was unloaded, it belonged to your grandmother, you were holding it for a friend, or you thought it was a brick in your pocket. What else can you do?

  • Remember that as a Personality Disorder, your husband will try to negotiate and deal with you, feeling his chances of manipulating and intimidating you are better than his chances of manipulating your attorney or the court system. For this reason, refer all his comments and questions to your attorney.
  • Be prepared for a variety of strategies that will change quickly until he finds one that works. He may use apologies, pleas, intimidations, threats, guilt, faked disorders/ailments, accusations, etc. As a Personality Disorder, his only goal is to bend the situation to his benefit — no matter what the cost to you and no matter what he must do.
  • A common strategy used by PDs is to attempt negotiations and meetings outside the court setting, those “I’m sure we can work this out” meetings. Those are always intimidation-oriented meetings. Never agree to them.
  • If your attorney appears uninformed regarding personality disorders, you might ask for a consultation with another attorney or a mental health professional. In mental health, we have forensic psychologists and psychiatrists who assist the court system and attorneys.
  • Personality Disorders have a sense of “narcissistic pride” that is threatened in a court situation. For this reason, they feel entitled to punish you, even after the court situation is over. Be cautious with any post-court deals where he will help in the future (share child expenses, agreements to pay for something, etc.), as those deals actually offer him an opportunity to torment you for years in the future.
  • I’d also read the discussions here at this site which have been sparked by my article called Understanding Losers in Relationships. The blog posts linked to that article feature over 1000 entries from victims of Losers in the dating, social, and court environment.

While you may not need specialized legal representation, you will probably need the assurance from your attorney that he/she understands your husband’s personality.

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