Problems during divorce
While divorcing, a couple may have many problems they must overcome. There are hurt feelings and anger. Not only must you deal with these issues for yourself, but you must deal with them from your ex. You might be angry with them, but they are probably angry with you also. The divorce court and lawyers provide a layer of shielding, though this may also be frustrating as you feel you were wronged and want to get back at the other person. For many adults, while it’s difficult, at some point they may feel like they have these feelings more under control and they want to finish the divorce and move on with their lives.
You might be at that point. Just done with the whole thing and wanting to move on. If your ex has, or you believe they have, a personality disorder, resolving anything in the divorce and moving on has probably become a series of frustrations and sheer madness for you. Even if you suspect your ex has a personality disorder, you might be the only one. In general, the judge/magistrate and lawyers in family divorce court don’t want to deal with the possibility of a personality disorder. No matter what happens or what you say, it will all likely fall on deaf ears with no one wanting to listen or help.
What is a personality disorder
Personality disorders are unique and unlike other ‘diseases’. They are elusive and hard to nail down. In general, someone with a personality disorder will have very defined, but stiff, thinking. These thoughts and behaviors aren’t flexible and aren’t what most people would consider normal. Their thinking may not fit in with how a ‘normal’ adult may think and react, but they don’t see a problem or think they are at fault. To confuse the issue, even more, some people may display similar ‘symptoms’, but not have a personality disorder at all. It is a shifting environment for a health professional to nail down whether someone really has a personality disorder.
Probably the biggest impediment is the person themselves. Generally, those that need the treatment, the person with the borderline or narcissistic disorder, don’t think they have a problem and don’t think that they need help. They may even be convinced that they really don’t have a problem and be able to show it’s your problem. They deny there is an issue, so they refuse to get checked and refuse any type of treatment. If they aren’t harming themselves or others,
To the court, it appears to be two adults not agreeing and causing problems – a high conflict divorce. They aren’t health professionals, they are professionals with the law of the family court. They try to apply their rules and procedures and it’s being disrupted – not by one person with a disorder, but by two people causing problems. They usually can’t force someone to get diagnosed or to go for therapy.
But if we fixed it …
The question arises, can you cure a personality disorder, assuming you can actually diagnose someone. While they can’t be cured, they can be treated and recovery is possible.
The first hurdle is getting the person diagnosed. For that to happen, they have to realize there is a problem and want to get help. This is a fairly difficult task to accomplish. Once they start therapy, improvement may take time. Many times, though, therapy and treatment will be stopped and not continued with. This happens because the person still doesn’t think they have a problem or they think they’ve got it licked, regardless of whether there has been any change.
Those that continue with treatment find that they still have symptoms, but it’s easier to live with and control.
What about medication
Taking medication to treat a personality disorder is controversial at best. The problem is that there isn’t a known way to actually cure the problem. The best that can be done is reduce symptoms such as depression and anxiety. With the symptoms more under control, it is easier, and more effective, to treat the personality disorder.
So what treatments are available?
There are numerous treatments and therapies to help with borderline, narcissistic, histrionic, and antisocial personality disorders. Most of these involve some form of meeting with a therapist of counselor. They take various amounts of time, though each is only effective if continued and not interrupted.
Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT): DBT will help a patient to see how their emotions and actions are doing to their lives and how it affects others. This treatment is very popular and effective.
Mentalization-Based Treatment: ThisMBT will help a patient to visual how others feel and their responses to how the patient is acting, which may be different than the patient may think.
Schema Therapy: Schema Therapy helps the patient recognize thoughts and behaviors learned from childhood and how those may be incorrect and negatively affecting their life.
Psychodynamic Therapy: PT helps work through feelings and how they affect the patient and others.
The thought that a personality disorder may be flummoxing up your divorce may be completely valid and accurate. Unfortunately, in the court environment, dealing with a personality disorder is pretty much impossible. Getting others to see what the real problem is may be difficult, at best. Expecting your ex to get treatment and to have that treatment help may be a pipe dream.
If you have to deal with your ex’s personality disorder, you need to be aware of the problems and take care of yourself. Reduce your stress. Don’t get bullied through the court system. Take things one step at a time. It’s not an easy road, but it can be managed and you can move on with your life.