Interview with Bill Eddy, January 8, 2020
High Conflict Personalities (HCP) come in five groups: Borderline, Narcissistic, Paranoid, Antisocial, and Histrionic. How do you know if you’re married to an HCP. Well, the first thing is that there always seems to be conflict, even in situations that should be easy and simple. Decisions for something as simple as choosing a movie and dinner night out ends in an argument; last minute changes are always part of the experience.
The characteristics of each HCP type:
~Borderline: Extreme mood swings
~Narcissism: Seeks constant admiration and attention, must have control at all times
~Paranoid: Fearful and suspect that other people want to manipulate them
~Antisocial: Most dangerous and uncaring; enjoy other people’s suffering
~Histrionic: Over-dramatic and intense; always feels like a victim
When dealing with a high conflict person BIFF is your best response mechanism, but depending on the intensity of the disorder, you may have to compromise more than you would like just to get out of the marriage and finalize the divorce. BIFF is the acronym for Brief, Informative, Friendly and Firm. This is the best communication approach to use with an HCP. Acknowledge that you received a communication from your spouse. Provide your reaction to the idea advanced in his/her message. Say what you would like to do in one to two sentences. Thank them for sharing their ideas and offer a remedy if you don’t agree.
If the person is truly high conflict, threatening, and makes you fearful, you should speak with a lawyer about restraining communication and contact for everyone’s peace and safety.
There is nothing more fearful than being consumed by a wild animal. It sounds gross, but ‘putting your head in the lion’s mouth’ is a great metaphor to explain how a person feels when having to deal with someone who can’t be rationale and see another side to a disagreement.It’s frightening and can certainly end in emotional and sometimes physical disaster. Clyde Beatty, the world’s most famous lion trainer, made his mark by executing this trick for audiences around the world, he put his head in the lion’s mouth. There was more of a degree of certainty in knowing that the lion probably wouldn’t bite him -the animal was to a certain degree trained -than dealing with a high conflict personality in a divorce.