I heard the tapes of Mel Gibson calling his ex-girlfriend this week on a newscast. If indeed they are real, they were horrifying and to me they sounded like someone suffering from some form of untreated mental illness.
I have posted about narcissism and sociopaths, but not yet discussed the other mental illnesses which are most frequently seen in divorce cases; addictions, bipolar disorder or borderline personality disorder. No divorce lawyer should be without her copy of "DSM-IV" (aka Diagnostic And Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition), the Bible of the American Psychiatric Association.
Nor have I discussed parental alienation syndrome (which is not yet in the DSM-IV), which I believe occurs as a result of some sort of underlying disorder on the part of the alienator, which precludes him/her from seeing the damage caused to the kids.
Bipolar Disorder, once diagnosed, is one of the most easily treatable mental illnesses; however, many patients will be reluctant to seek help, may often self-medicate with alcohol, and when diagnosed can often be non-compliant with their medication. As a result, many of their marriages fall apart. Mental illness is just that, an illness, and is handled by the court as a condition requiring help and support. It can add to the needs of the recipient spouse in an alimony situation, and is often an issue raised in custody cases. If the parent who suffers from the illness has a history of non-compliance with medication, this can be a serious factor in determining access to children.
After the fight over whether or not the Gibson tapes were tampered with, the custody battle may well shift to Mr. Gibson’s mental status.