Jun 18

High-Conflict Politicians Should Never Be Elected

The historical and present-day examples generally all show the same characteristics of how high-conflict politicians get elected: seductive personalities, high-emotion media, fantasy crisis triad, and splitting the voters into four groups who fight with each other. Until enough voters recognize these patterns of behavior, voters around the world will continue to elect high-conflict politicians who are narcissistic and sociopathic. Bill Eddy, Psychology Today

According to Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq., our country’s current president is just one example of known high-conflict politicians (HCP’s), i.e., leaders with “traits of narcissistic personality disorder, antisocial (i.e., sociopathic) personality disorder, or both.” Eddy, an expert on high-conflict personalities and the author of the newly released Why We Elect Narcissists and Sociopaths―and How We Can Stop, also highlights Hitler, Stalin, Nixon, Putin, and several others.

Four main reasons we sometimes wind up electing narcissists and sociopaths are laid out in Eddy’s recent Psychology Today post. Below are excerpts from his material:

  1. They have seductive personalities: “…(M)ost people miss the simple early warning signs of these high-conflict politicians (HCPs): 1) Preoccupied with blaming others; 2) Lots of all-or-nothing thinking; 3) Unmanaged or intense emotions; 4) Extreme behavior or threats.”
  2. “…(P)eople with extreme personalities will get the most attention” from the High-Emotion Media.
  3. The Fantasy Crisis Triad: What these HCPs convey is that “1) There’s a terrible crisis threatening us all; 2) It’s caused by an evil villain—an individual or group; and 3) An incredible hero is needed—typically an exciting outsider—who will quickly slay the villain(s) and solve the crisis with easy all-or-nothing solutions. The fantasy hero is the HCP who couldn’t get elected if it was based on skills, so they have to create or declare a crisis in order to get everyone thinking about the fantasy crisis triad rather than analyzing real abilities.”
  4. 4-Way Voter Split: Groups of Loving Loyalists, Riled-Up Resisters, Mild Moderates, and Disenchanted Dropouts typically form in relation to the HCP candidate—with the loyalists and moderates providing enough support to overcome the resisters and non-voters.

In an interview with Justin Caffier, Vice, Eddy explains why elected HCP leaders lack the ability to be effective in their positions.

They’re not good at working with other people. They also tend to not have patience. They don’t necessarily read a lot of history, a lot of analysis. They don’t like teamwork. HCPs don’t get along with a lot of people so they don’t have good information coming in, they don’t get challenged when they have a bad idea, and they promote their fantasy life onto the real world. So, they generally aren’t good problem solvers and narcissists in particular don’t have good problem-solving skills.

HCP personalities who run for major offices are actually “Wannabe Kings,” notes Eddy, who encourages readers of Why We Elect Narcissists and Sociopaths to learn how to never again fall under the spell of these dangerous and autocratic types.

As authoritarian expert Sarah Kendzior has repeatedly acknowledged via Tweets and elsewhere in the media: Once an autocrat gets in, it is very hard to get them out. Every day is damage done.

Jan 22

High-Conflict Divorce: Experts’ Recommendations

Research suggests that approximately 10% of the divorcing population can be identified as having high-conflict divorce. And within that group another 10% or 1% of the total divorcing population is in ongoing high-conflict that will likely never change. Divorcehelpforparents.com

Divorcehelpforparents.com also lists the following as some of the ways a high-conflict divorce might play out:

  • Ongoing, unremitting hostility between adults
  • Drawn-out or frequent court actions
  • Custody battles
  • Allegations of domestic violence, physical abuse, and/or sexual abuse
  • Restraining orders or no-contact orders
  • Lack of ability to communicate about children and their care

Often one or both partners have personality disorders, or high-conflict personalities (HCPs). This can include, for example, narcissism, borderline personality, and/or sociopathy.

Susan Valentine, HuffPost, lists five common traits of HCPs.

  1. Deceitfulness
  2. Blaming
  3. Manipulation of others
  4. Uncompromising
  5. Lack of Empathy

Regarding how to deal with such divorces, Valentine concludes, it’s “not about striving for harmony, seeking mediation, or finding a way to work together as co-parents. It’s about being pro-active, strategic, protecting yourself and your children (as much as possible), and not letting it take over your life.”

Suggested strategies, including excerpts and/or bullet points taken from Valentine’s explanations:

    • Empower yourself: Document everything; pick your battles wisely.
    • Stay grounded: Try to avoid the drama.
    • Seek support: Legal expertise and therapy go a long way.
    • Remain aware: Monitor signs of threatening behavior.
    • Surrender fantasies “…that your ex-spouse will fundamentally change.”
    • Enforce boundaries: “…Communicate only when necessary and then do so briefly by email…”
    • Maintain perspective: “…HCPs will try to keep you from moving on with your life, even after the legal case ends — and especially if you have children — so don’t give them that power.”
    • Cultivate mindfulness: “…Try and stay present, open and flexible, and be as kind to yourself as possible…you will need it.”

In addressing the typically long-term nature of co-parenting, social worker Linda Esposito, LCSW, titles her Psychology Today post, “Marriages Come and Go, but High-Conflict Divorce Is Forever.” Below are the four co-parenting “minefields” she says are commonly encountered:

  1. Contentious custody exchanges. “…In general, the fewer custodial exchanges, the better….”
  2. Persistent communication with co-parent and/or children during non-custodial time. “…Children deserve uninterrupted time with the other parent. Alternatively, you deserve time to decompress and recharge from your obligations as a single parent.”
  3. Placing children in the middle to spy or settle disputes. “…Using children to pass messages is age-inappropriate and damaging to their self-worth.”
  4. Social media shaming. “…Kids feel ‘broken’ enough trying to navigate puberty, peer pressure, and the latest social media crazes.”

Finally, here are four rules, or the 4D’s, of managing high-conflict divorce according to the High Conflict Institute.

  • Disengage: “…If you take the time to sort through your triggers and plan a strategy for how to cope when triggered, you will be putting yourself (and your children) on a path for healthier conflict resolution.”
  • Decide: “You’ve likely never had to make so many decisions in your whole life…How do you make decisions when the person you have to make them with says No to everything you put forward just because they hate you?” Have an agenda, says the Institute, and communicate via proposals.
  • Deliver: “When you are communicating with your High Conflict Ex, keep all emotional words OUT of your email…If you are writing more than 4 sentences, you are either sneaking in an opinion (and you will be attacked) or an emotion (you will also be attacked). Keep in mind ‘BIFF Responses’ to hostile emails: Brief, Informative, Friendly and Firm…”
  • Document: “In jot note form document the facts surrounding each manipulation/lie your Ex attempts to control you with. Do not add in any emotions to your notes – just the facts. Include dates, times and outcomes…”