Excerpted from BIFF: A Discussion on HCPs

BIFF book cover - red

© 2013 By Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq. Lack of Self-Awareness The hardest thing to “get” about HCPs is that they lack an awareness of how they contribute to their own problems. They honestly view other people as causing the way they feel and the way they act. “She makes me feel this way.” “He made me do it.” They think they have to react the way they do, in order to protect themselves or to connect with people without feeling extremely vulnerable psychologically. They may be aware that other people react negatively to them, but they think that it’s everyone else’s fault. Sure, they may be aware that they are lying sometimes or manipulating sometimes. But they feel that they have to lie and manipulate, because of unmanaged fears within themselves that they are not aware of. And you can’t tell them that! And you can’t change them! Trying to point out these hidden feelings will most likely trigger an intense rage against you. They’re hidden for a reason. For many HCPs, this pattern of behavior is the result of childhood abuse. They learned that it didn’t matter whether they were bad or good – they still got physically hit, verbally abused, ignored, neglected or otherwise abused. They grew up learning that aggressive behavior is how you solve problems. For other HCPs, it is a result of being raised with a strong sense of entitlement and exaggerated self-esteem. They learned that it didn’t matter whether they were good or bad – they still got what they wanted! This seems to have increased in society since the 1970’s with the increased emphasis on self-esteem. While having low self-esteem is a bad thing, too much self-esteem is also a bad thing – if it teaches people that they are superior to others and that they can get whatever they want, without learning skills and without working for it. In both cases, abuse or entitlement, HCPs have not learned that their own behavior creates or worsens the conflict situations they are in. In many ways, this is a disability, as HCPs can’t see the connection between their own actions and how others respond to them. They don’t know how to solve relationship problems, so they make things worse and don’t understand why they feel so miserable so much of the time. They turn these feelings into blaming others – and staying upset. Because blaming others doesn’t solve problems. Bill Eddy is a lawyer, therapist, and mediator. He is the co-founder and Training Director of the High Conflict Institute, a training and consultation firm that trains professionals to deal with high conflict people and situations. He is the author of several books and methods for handling high conflict personalities and high conflict disputes with the most difficult people.

Excerpted from Splitting America: How “Splitting” Generates Hatred

© 2012 By Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq. and Don Saposnek, Ph.D In high-conflict divorce, children often grow to hate one of their parents – even a parent they were very close to and loved just a year or two earlier. It’s an intense hatred and disdain that is deeply emotional. They can think of nothing good about that parent (the “rejected” parent), and they can think of nothing bad about their favored parent. It’s an example of how high-conflict behavior creates splitting in the minds of bystanders – in this case, the children. How does this happen? Many high-conflict divorces are driven by one or two parents with borderline or narcissistic personality disorder (Eddy & Kreger, 2011). One of the traits of this disorder is “splitting” people into those who are all-good and those who are all-bad, in their minds. Sometimes they even see themselves as all-good one day and all-bad the next. You might think that’s weird and decide to avoid such people. But you can’t – there are too many of them. Splitting is unconscious and contagious – just like the effects of advertising. It gets past your radar and you come to believe it – unless you realize what is happening. The reason is that high-conflict emotions are highly contagious. If you’re in a high-conflict emotional environment, you will “catch” this splitting tendency and start to view people as all-good or all-bad, as well. Children are especially vulnerable to absorbing splitting, but adults do as well – especially in high-conflict divorce and, as we are now observing, in high-conflict politics. For example, in high-conflict divorce, other adult family members and friends come to despise one of the spouses and blame the divorce entirely on that person – and on his or her relatives and friends. And, as noted above, it’s even common for professionals involved in a high-conflict divorce case to develop an extreme disrespect and disdain for each other, as they choose sides and support only their clients. Bill Eddy is a lawyer, therapist, and mediator. He is the co-founder and Training Director of the High Conflict Institute, a training and consultation firm that trains professionals to deal with high conflict people and situations. He is the author of several books and methods for handling high conflict personalities and high conflict disputes with the most difficult people.