Mental Illness and Divorce

Hi there,

Alcohol addiction causes a lot of divorces, and many ongoing problems during the divorce itself.  These divorces are often the saddest, because the family as a whole generally suffers more due to the dysfunction that has become normal before the non-addicted partner finally has had enough.  I’ve also noticed that occasionally, but not rarely, the divorce occurs AFTER the addicted partner has become sober.  I have theorized that the new sobriety has shifted the control issues in the marriage and one or the other is unwilling to continue in the new paradigm.

In terms of the divorce itself, one partner’s active alcoholism can make the dissolution of the marriage far more destructive than it needs to be.  Parenting issues, discovery delays and just plain reactive nastiness can increase the financial and emotional costs.

I tell all my clients to see a therapist as they undertake the divorce process.  If you are dealing with an alcoholic you should try to see a therapist who has good credentials in handling patients with substance abuse issues, as that knowledge will help you understand and survive the difficult days to come.


Nancy… Keep reading

Hi there,

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 … Keep reading

Hi there!

I recently received a question from a reader regarding narcissism and narcissistic partners.  I initially intended to reply to her privately, but as I thought about my response, I realized that there was enough "meat" here to share in a post to all.

Reader asks:

"Christie Brinkley seems to have been in the news a bit lately with her divorce. I have been struck by her comments on a narcissistic partner, and wonder since I think that is the case with my ex, how often it is that one spouse is a narcissist and what can be done to get through to one rationally. Is there any hope of co-parenting with a narcissist?  Any thoughts or comments on this celeb. case would be helpful. Thanks!"

My response:

Narcissists are very nasty people but charming too.  A lot of them end up in divorce because no one can worship them enough, and all the air is theirs, not their spouse’s. 

No divorce lawyer should be without her copy of "DSM-IV" (aka Diagnostic And Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition).  According to this "bible", written by the American Psychiatric Association, the diagnostic criteria for Narcissistic Personality … Keep reading