Court Room Drama
In court, a Tri-Polar can be very convincing, mainly because Tri-Polars truly believe they’ve been victimized. They will make highly emotional arguments which sound very convincing. They will even produce in police reports to “substantiate” their accusations.
However, with a skeptical eye, the evidence to support their claims is very often quite shallow, and deceptively manipulative.
In the courtroom Kassandra (see Case Study for a profile on this woman), produced a stack of police reports to back up her claim that her husband had beat her and broken into her house and stolen property. However, upon closer examination of the evidence, it became clear the police could never find concrete evidence of any assaults (they became aware of Kassandra’s suicide attempts and self mutilation), determined that her husband was thousands of miles away when the presumed break-ins took place (and could find no evidence of breaking and entering) and ultimately concluded she had invented everything in her head.
William Eddy’s book, Spitting, is written from a lawyer’s perspective and covers, in great detail, the legal evidence and proper defense against a Borderline, which is equally true for a Tri-Polar. (If you are going to face a Borderline, Tri-Polar, or Narcissist in court, you will do your client a Major Service by reading Eddy’s book before the first hearing.)
Here some of the things that Eddy and my clients have observed as illustrated in the courtroom during the divorce related case with Kassandra:
In the Court Room: What was really happening? – Tactics used in a typical Hearing and Trial
Tactics used by Kassandra and her Lawyer
- Using Multiple Judges – by using four judges in this case, Kassandra succeeded in making sure that each succeeding judge could not adequately build on the conclusions and evidence of the earlier judge. (Ultimately her spouse’s lawyer put an end to this charade.)
- Switching Lawyers – by using three lawyers, Kassandra made sure that the case restarted over and over again each time a new lawyer had to be brought up to speed. This also meant each lawyer took a different tack, resulting in delays and extraordinary legal fees. The reality was that Kassandra went cross-ways with her first two lawyers.
- Persuasive Blaming – Kassandra is a “blamer,” never accepting responsibility for her actions. Therefore, her spouse always became the “target:” the cause of every problem, regardless of his actions. Persuasive blamers go to court to “win” when they feel they did not win in their marriage. Because of the passionate emotional intensity of a pervasive blamer, their statements often seem quite believable. Others quickly assume the “target” must have been the cause of such stressful results. Subtly the blamer has roped the outsider into an unholy tryst: victim, persecutor, and rescuer.
- Persuasive Blamers are quite adept at aggressively stereotyping their targets as evil villains, thus gaining the advantage of creating the first impression. It is not unusual for the persuasive blamer to become so adept at their tactics that they truly begin to believe their own distortions. They then develop a public personae that helps them cope with their private personality distress and misbehavior. Many blamers know that lying in family court about abuse will usually be forgiven. The courts, so concerned about abusive behavior, often err on the side of believing all allegations at the start. If the allegations are eventually judged questionable, the blamer is usually judged as mistaken but sincere person.
How the Defense Responded in this Case:
In responding to Kassandra’s accusations, her spouse and attorney, after reading Eddy’s book Splitting, realized they had two choices (in this circumstance -- yours may be different):
- Fight & defend on psychological grounds: In other words, demonstrate that Kassandra was mentally deranged, that her evidence was shallow and the result of a twisted mind. Because Kassandra purposefully avoided being diagnosed by a clinician as having Borderline Personality Disorder (she had been diagnosed as Bi-Polar, which she was, but that was only a part of her disorder), the defense could not “prove” she was BPD (or Tri-Polar which is not an official clinical diagnosis yet)
- Type-Cast her as a devious & ruthless person: This was the strategy used in this case. By showing Kassandra was unscrupulous, malicious, and vindictive, the defense could describe her behavior, without delving into the causative issues, thus keeping the underlying psychological diagnosis, (which is quite complex) out of the courtroom. The prolonged case worked against Kassandra, who contradicted her testimony from one hearing to the next -- she could not remember the lie she told at the previous hearing -- which ultimately was her undoing.
- Emotions became Quasi-Facts – because the pervasive blamer’s problem-solving abilities are severely limited by their blaming behavior, attacks occur with surprising emotional intensity. With this intensity comes a series of cognitive distortions, including all-or-nothing thinking, jumping to conclusions, emotional reasoning, and projection. Then emotions become “quasi-facts” – facts are distorted to fit the emotional evidence: "emotional reasoning." They feel that something must be true, and adopt facts to fit their feelings. Kassandra made allegations that her husband was violent and abusive. However, not a single objective third party had ever verified or supported Kassandra’s allegations – no judicial body, no law enforcement agency, no psychiatrist, and no witness. The reason they hadn’t is that they couldn’t; they couldn’t because the allegations were spectral and groundless (the same issues at the heart of the Salem witch trials in 1696).
- Distortion Campaign: Once a “target” is negatively stereotyped, it is natural for the blamer to demonize their target. Kassandra’s attempts at making others think that her husband was capable of being a criminal caused her to generate facts based on her emotions. That is why her “emotional facts” had to be backed up with accusations of violent behavior, rape, homo-sexuality, breaking and entering, etc. etc. Thus character assassination and a “smear” campaign were a natural outcome
- Negative Advocates – Persuasive blamers use emotions as quasi-facts, tending to produce negative advocates for their position in lieu of factual evidence. Negative Advocates are those who become supporters for the blamer's cognitive distortions, allying in their distortion campaigns against the Target. They often believe everything the Blamer says about being a helpless victim, and they become aggressive in their rescuer role as they become emotionally "hooked." As more and more negative advocates get hooked, they begin to assume that "If this many people believe what he is saying, it must be true." Sadly, critical analysis of factual evidence is replaced by tribal thinking.
- Mental Condition was Irrelevant -- Kassandra has a mental condition, (which had been diagnosed as Bi-Polar II, but she never had been formally diagnosed with BPD.) However, it should be noted: Bi-Polar, BPD, and Tri-Polar conditions are episodic –– in other words they come and go -- interspersed with periods of lucidity, clear thinking, and normal behavior. Thus, in a time of lucidity, Kassandra had sufficient opportunity to remedy her errors. While she was engaged in “mytho-maniacal” behavior (pathological liar), there is no sufficient defense against purjury. Further, there is NO correlation between Bi-Polar II and being either malicious or mean spirited. Bi-Polar is a manic-depressive mood disorder: one periodically becomes either elated or sad, but not necessarily angry or evil. Many people with these disorders, like Kassandra, are highly intelligent and insightful. Because of their emotional sensitivity, they have a sixth sense that makes them tuned to fear and weakness in others, and enables them to exploit these opportunities. (See Case Study section to understand what a dyna-morphic adversary this type of person can be -- someone that should not be underestimated in any way because what you see today is not necessarily what will appear tomorrow!)