Personality Disorders in Divorce
Many divorce lawyers react with skepticism when clients claim that their spouse suffers from borderline personality disorder. However, in high conflict litigation, many parties demonstrate some kind of personality disorder. Frequently, the behaviors that arise from these conditions are key to a divorce suit.
According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms and signs of Borderline Personality Disorder include:
- An intense fear of abandonment, even going to extreme measures to avoid real or imagined separation or rejection
- A pattern of unstable intense relationships, such as idealizing someone one moment and then suddenly believing the person doesn’t care enough or is cruel
- Rapid changes in self-identity and self-image that include shifting goals and values, and seeing yourself as bad or as if you don’t exist at all
- Periods of stress-related paranoia and loss of contact with reality, lasting from a few minutes to a few hours
- Impulsive and risky behavior, such as gambling, reckless driving, unsafe sex, spending sprees, binge eating or drug abuse, or sabotaging success by suddenly quitting a good job or ending a positive relationship
- Suicidal threats or behavior or self-injury, often in response to fear of separation or rejection
- Wide mood swings lasting from a few hours to a few days, which can include intense happiness, irritability, shame or anxiety
- Ongoing feelings of emptiness
- Inappropriate, intense anger, such as frequently losing your temper, being sarcastic or bitter, or having physical fights
An individual who meets five or more of these criteria may receive a formal diagnosis. Even if a spouse demonstrates fewer than five criteria, “borderline traits” may be a helpful lens through which to view problematic behavior like:
- Black and white thinking;
- Problems at work
- Problems with family members;
- Inappropriate enmeshment with child or children;
- Problems keeping friends;
- Hot and cold emotions;
- Constant dissatisfaction with relationships;
- Drug or alcohol problems;
- Spending problems; and/or
- Participating in parental alienation.
If you feel that these traits or behaviors are relevant to your situation, consider contacting an experienced family law attorney to discuss how they may impact your divorce or child custody suit. Interested in learning more? Check out our next blog Personality Disorders in Divorce.