SPLITTING: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing Someone with Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder, by Bill Eddy, LCSW, JD, and Randi Kreger, coauthor of Stop Walking on Eggshells
Review by James Sullivan, Ph.D.
Advertised as “the legal and psychological advice you need,” this is an invaluable guide for those in the vulnerable position described by the title. This is a most readable book, the text supplemented with helpful charts and bulleted notes.
The authors pay attention to the myths and realities of the courtroom and the “dynamics of persuasiveness.” They warn against thinking that judges will find the behavior of the PD (personality disordered) person obvious. In fact, the very features of PD people make them believable. These individuals are, as we know, charming, usually good-looking, and usually intelligent. So their manipulative personalities and blaming attitudes can be seductive. Even experienced judges can be duped by the manipulation and dual personas of the PD individual.
A few quotes from the book:
“People with PDs”¦are operating ”˜under the influence’ of constant cognitive distortions: exaggerated fears, all-or-nothing thinking, jumping to conclusions,emotional reasoning and projecting.”
“If you question blamers’ thinking, they take it as a personal attack.”
“In divorce, you become the target. Blamers come to court”¦ and legal professionals may totally believe their concerns about being victims.”
“The best overall strategy for targets of blame is to take a very assertive approach”¦By explaining the pattern of your blamer’s behavior and organizing your information well, you can educate your attorney, therapist, evaluator, and judge.”
As important as it is to have a seasoned attorney and a therapist, the authors warn that you should expect to do a lot of legwork yourself. Part of this legwork does not have to be analyzing all there is to know about personality disorders at least in regard to your presentation to the Court. “Courts are more persuaded,” these authors, claim, “by strong evidence of a pattern of misbehavior”¦than by an explanation of PDs.”
There are chapters devoted to working with other Court officials, like expert witnesses, evaluators, psychologists, guardians ad litem, appraisers, and accountants. They even advise on what to expect from the blamer’s attorney.
In sum, in all my years as a professional counselor, including work with divorcing couples and with the Court system, I have not encountered a more comprehensive guide for those struggling to divorce a person with a personality disorder.
James Sullivan, PhD holds four masters degrees and a doctorate from Fordham University. He has worked with individuals, groups, couples, and families for over 45 years.