High Conflict People and Narcissists
Many people referred to as high conflict people also suffer from personality disorders. One common personality disorder in high conflict people is the Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Anyone who has been married to a Narcissist knows how crazy it can make you feel. The spouse can become the target of the Narcissist’s constant need to blame others for the pain narcissists inflict upon themselves on a daily basis. They have an inability to be introspective and to see their role in their own unhappiness so they turn their anger and disappointment on their spouse.
Bill Eddy is an attorney who is also an experienced therapist and is the founder of the High Conflict Institute. He has spent years researching the unique characteristics of what he refers to as “high conflict people“. There are patterns of behavior which are consistent among high conflict people. We cannot change the behavior, but knowing these characteristics helps us understand their limitations which can be extremely helpful in moving forward and to prevent us from being pulled down the rabbit hole!
Underlying High-Conflict Personality Traits
- Rigid and Uncompromising, Repeating Failed Strategies
- Difficulty Accepting and Healing Loss
- Negative Emotions Dominate their Thinking
- Inability to Reflect on their Own Behavior
- Difficulty Empathizing With Others
- Preoccupied with Blaming Others
- Avoids Any Responsibility For the Problem or the Solution
While all of us have some, or even all, of these traits at different times during our lives, high conflict people tend to have all of these traits all the time. Getting through the divorce process with a high conflict spouse can mean months, or even years, of endless litigation because they refuse to accept any reality other than their own and they are virtually incapable of compromise…virtually.
A mediator who understands and appreciates the power and manipulation a high conflict person has at his or her disposal can help both spouses direct their focus to reaching an agreement and getting on with their lives. It is more time-consuming than mediation with people who do not have high-conflict tendencies, but it is possible. Unfortunately litigation with high conflict people can go on literally for years so mediation can be a very good option for getting through your divorce.