PLEASE NOTE: This blog is a bigotry free zone open to all persons, regardless of age, race, religion, color, national origin, sex, political affiliations, marital status, physical or mental disability, age, or sexual orientation. Further, this blog is open to the broad variety of opinions out there and will not delete any comments based upon point of view. However, comments will be deleted if they are worded in an abusive manner and show disrespect for the intellectual process.
Showing posts with label PSYCHOLOGY. Show all posts
Showing posts with label PSYCHOLOGY. Show all posts

Saturday, August 29, 2015

IS PSYCHOLOGY RESEARCH FAKE?

Steve Connor of "The Independent" asks the question of whether psychology research is fake:

"Psychology has long been the butt of jokes about its deep insight into the human mind – especially from the “hard” sciences such as physics – and now a study has revealed that much of its published research really is psycho-babble.

More than half of the findings from 100 different studies published in leading, peer-reviewed psychology journals cannot be reproduced by other researchers who followed the same methodological protocol.

A study by more than 270 researchers from around the world has found that just 39 per cent of the claims made in psychology papers published in three prominent journals could be reproduced unambiguously – and even then they were found to be less significant statistically than the original findings.

The non-reproducible research includes studies into what factors influence men's and women's choice of romantic partners, whether peoples’ ability to identify an object is slowed down if it is wrongly labelled, and whether people show any racial bias when asked to identify different kinds of weapons..."

READ MORE:

Friday, December 5, 2014

DR. ERIC FRAZER, PAS EXPERT: HE IS FOUND TO BE LICENSED BUT STILL GUILTY AS CHARGED OF BEING STUPID!

I've had many people tell me how smart I am -- thank you -- which did not protect me from the mistake of thinking that Dr. Eric Frazer, a psychologist practicing out of Westport, CT, did not have a license.  I did investigate very carefully prior to publishing that information, but I still ended up being misled by the way the State database worked.  So I am not immune to error.  However, I would not say that I am stupid, which is more than you could ever say about Dr. Eric Frazer. [And before I proceed, I do want to thank those who were quick to contact me on that point.  I am very grateful to my readership for keeping me on track!]

 
Recently, a mother contacted me to let me know that Dr. Frazer had become involved in her case as a PAS (Parental Alienation Syndrome) expert and GAL and that he had investigated her case and concluded that she was alienating her child from the father.  She assured me that this was not so and showed me additional information that led me to believe she was telling the truth. 

In contrast, from the documents I saw it appeared as though Dr. Eric Frazer had misrepresented the facts of PAS on the stand and had lied about the mother. 

Of course, I am not surprised that anyone who characterizes him or herself as an expert in the quack theory of PAS also turned out to be a quack as well.  Licensed or not, a psychologist who acts on the basis of a quack theory remains a quack. 

The end result of his wrongdoing and false testimony was that this mother lost custody of her son who had been living with her for many years and the young man was summarily transferred into the primary care of the father.  This demonstrates more powerfully than anything else how the testimony of a psychologist can end up devastating a custody case even though such testimony is completely bogus. 

Remarkably enough, however, before this family court case was over, nobody bothered to check out Dr. Eric Frazer's credentials.  They should have--because they are seriously not that great!   

First of all, so-called Dr. Frazer claims that he received his Psy.D. from the Miami Institute of Psychology.  The Miami Institute of What?  What is with our Court system that it could actually place the serious responsibility for the wellbeing of a family in the hands of a graduate of some obscure college in Florida that no one has ever heard of!  Are there no professionals who actually graduated from the University of Connecticut or Yale University that the Family Court could have checked with, schools that have some kind of track record and credibility? 

He does have a license in the State of Connecticut--but my question is--how did he get it despite being so poorly qualified!  I am sure there is an explanation!

 
So what about Dr. Eric Frazer's education?  What is interesting about Dr. Frazer's "about me" page is it doesn't say a thing about his academic credentials which would be the first thing you would want to know about a professional who is going to take on powerful responsibilities such as deciding which parent a child ends up with.  For that information on Dr. Frazer I went to the Yale University School of Medicine where he claims to be an Assistant Clinical Professor--ah hemm--part time. 

On the Yale University School of Medicine website where Dr. Frazer has been listed, the only academic credentials he provides is the information that he received his Masters of Science at the Miami Institute of Psychology in 1998.  The only problem is that at another location online--his "linked in" page--Dr. Frazer claims that he was working on his Psy.D. at the Miami Institute of Psychology from 1996 to 2000 and makes no mention of a Masters in Science.  So what did he get--a Master's Degree or a Psy.D.? 

You might speculate that he got both, but that is not how it works.  Ordinarily, a credible Master's Degree takes at least two years to obtain.  A Psy.D. takes minimally four years.  Based on that, there is no way that Frazer was able to get both a Master's degree and a Psy.D. degree at the Miami Institute of Psychology in only four years.  He either received one or the other. Or else, considering the timeframe, and this is something I hadn't considered when I first started writing this article, Dr. Frazer obtained two degrees that are of seriously poor quality! 

I am aware that the Miami Institute of Psychology made arrangements for students at Miami-Dade Community College to transfer credits into the Institute, but that would hardly be a quality level education.  Still, it is possible that this is what Dr. Frazer did because there is a gap of two years between his graduation at Fordham in 1994 and the start of his education at the Miami Institute in 1996. 

Of course, then that turns attention onto Dr. Frazer's time at Fordham where it seems that Frazer only spent two years from 1992 to 1994.  Perhaps this was also a community college supplemented education, although Dr. Frazer doesn't tell us. 
 
And this is my problem.  That information should be up front and available to people who are considering whether to take advantage of his professional services.  It leaves me wondering how much I can believe of what he has posted up there.


At one point in this conversation, I had a person ask me "Where did Dr. Frazer get his doctorate?  And this is where I again kind of have an argument.  Can you legitimately call a Psy.D. a doctorate?  For me personally, I don't think you can.  You see, a Ph.D. and a Psy.D. are two entirely different degrees.  In order to obtain a Ph.D., you are required to do an original piece of research which you ordinarily write up into what is called a dissertation which is required to show a mastery of the subject matter.  This dissertation is frequently up to 100 pages or more. 


Once you have completed your dissertation, you are required to stand before a department committee consisting of professors in your department where you defend the results of your dissertation from their scrutiny.  Frequently, these dissertations end up being published as a book and/or certainly the results of the research could end up published in a professional journal. 


With a Psy.D. all you do is pass an examination and you are done.  In terms of respect and prestige within the academic community, a Psy.D. is considerably less.  As a point of interest, the Miami Institute of Psychology is accredited for a Psy.D. degree, but it is not accredited for the Ph.D.  So Dr. Frazer could not have obtained an accredited Ph.D. at the school he went to because it is of insufficient quality to offer one.


Be that as it may, somebody please tell me how this guy was ever able to become a psychology fellow at Yale University Medical School with such slim qualifications!  He's not even a member of the American Psychological Association, although he appears to be affiliated with the infamous AFCC and he is a member of the Connecticut Bar Association without being a lawyer.  I mean, why get picky about whether you have a J.D. or not! 


So tell me how this guy is able to walk into courtrooms here in the State of Connecticut and change lives forever on the basis of a diploma that is of such poor quality? 

Who is in charge here? 

Who is at the wheel to see that the experts who provide testimony in Connecticut Family Courtrooms meet some basic standards in terms of professional capability?

I have left messages with Dr. Eric Frazer at his office at Westport and also with the Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Yale University Medical School.  If either returns my call and provides me with additional information, I will certainly include their responses in this posting.  So far that hasn't happened. 


P.S.


Dr. Eric Frazer is now associated with Dr. Linda S. Smith in their mutual business Child Custody Analytics which is listed as being in practice from September 2014 to the present.  For those of you concerned that you might face false charges of PAS, I'd stay away from these guys. 

 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

WIDELY USED FAMILY COURT PSYCHOLOGIST, DR. DONALD HIEBEL, ACCUSED OF AFFAIR WITH CLIENT 30 YEARS YOUNGER, ACCEPTS MASSAGES FROM ANOTHER!

In a complaint filed on November 3, 2014, Dr. Donald Hiebel, a psychologist and a major proponent of a controversial theory known as Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS), is accused of conducting an affair with a female client 30 years his junior. 


Dr. Donald Hiebel is affiliated with Roeder and Polansky Family and Child Associates located in Middletown, CT  and also has a private office in West Hartford. The client, designated as "Jane Doe" received psychotherapy from Dr. Donald Hiebel from January 21, 2013 until approximately July 9, 2013.

According to the Complaint, from January to July 2013, Dr. Donald Hiebel provided psychotherapy for Jane Doe in order to assist her in obtaining shared custody of her minor son and to help her with emotional and psychological problems.  Then in the summer and fall of 2013, Dr. Hiebel and his patient, Jane Doe, began to spend a considerable amount of time together.  Dr. Hiebel told Jane Doe that he intended to divorce his wife so he and the client could be together.  During that time they had several sexual encounters in Dr. Hiebel's West Hartford office, at Heibel's homes and also other locations. 

Further, according to the complaint, Dr. Donald Hiebel advised Jane Doe to break up with her boyfriend at the time who was paying for her apartment, her mental health fees, as well as her attorney fees.  Then Dr. Hiebel borrowed $5,000.00 from a friend and used that money to pay all of Jane Doe's living expenses.  This money was funneled through his company, Roeder and Polansky Family and Child Associates checking account and corporate credit card.  When Jane Doe considered having therapy with another mental health professional, Dr. Hiebel advised against it.

As a consequence of this alleged inappropriate sexual relationship, Jane Doe is claiming that she has suffered various damages including "shock, mistrust of medical professionals, extreme emotional disturbance, hospitalizations, instability, humiliation, emotional devastations, and extreme emotional disturbance."  She also ended up losing custody of her son.  As a result, she complains that she will be "forced to expend sums of money for additional custody litigation and medical care."

Even more shocking is that Dr. Donald Hiebel's business partner, Dr. Keith Roeder, was aware of this relationship and advised Jane Doe to hide relationship from the father of her child.  The Complaint alleges that Dr. Keith Roeder "advised Doe to show the child's father a former apartment rather than her current apartment that she shared with Hiebel."  Eventually, in January 2014, when Dr. Hiebel decided to return to his wife, Jane Doe became extremely upset and was eventually hospitalized. 


Dr. Donald Hiebel's wife, Navarre Hiebel, apparently filed for divorce in May 2014, but withdrew the complaint, possibly when it became clear that the affair was truly over.

A consultant hired to evaluate the case records regarding Dr. Donald Hiebel and Jane Doe provided an initial opinion that there "appeared to be multiple gross lapses of professional judgment and standards of care on the part of Dr. Donald Hiebel and his associate, Dr. Keith Roeder" in the conduct of psychotherapy with Jane Doe.  This includes on Dr. Hiebel's part a lack of proper documentation of Jane Doe's record, concealing the fact that Jane Doe had a history of substance abuse, as well as possibly filing fraudulent reports to the Court in regard to her custody matter.

Another troubling aspect of the relationship Jane Doe had with Dr. Donald Hiebel is that apparently Jane Doe assisted Dr. Hiebel in his practice typing his reports on other patients, noting down his voicemail messages, as well as other tasks.  In fact, during her meeting with the consultant, Jane Doe stated that "she still had a box of records from [Dr. Hiebel's] office in the trunk of her car--including the records of an individual who had sued Dr. Hiebel..." 


The Complaint also details a relationship Dr. Donald Hiebel maintained with another woman, a friend of Jane Doe's, and a former patient of Dr. Hiebel, who provided massages to Dr. Hiebel in exchange for coaching assistance in her custody matter.  The consultant report states that Dr. Donald Hiebel and this friend "vacationed together and spent some holidays together as well (Christmas)."

Jane Doe is currently being represented by Attorney Leslie Gold McPadden of Biller, Sachs, Raio & Zito in Hamden, CT  06518.  Clearly, Attorney McPadden has the strength of character and toughness required to take on this most difficult case.

Dr. Donald Hiebel is one of the most beloved, trusted, and highly respected psychologists in family court today.  In fact, when Jane Doe was advised to work with Dr. Hiebel, she was told that he "is like a God before the Court." Judges and attorneys have regularly requested Dr. Hiebel's services for co-parenting management as well as custody related mental health treatments and evaluations.  They have done this despite the fact that multiple family court litigants over the years have complained vociferously about his unprofessional behavior and incompetent treatment. 

Further, Despite the fact that many of these litigants have submitted formal complaints to the Department of Public Health, these complaints have been consistently ignored and summarily dismissed.  One can only speculate what harm and damage might have been avoided for many current and former clients of Dr. Hiebel had the Department of Public Health taken these complaints seriously. 

In this past year, a considerable group of family court litigants gathered together in a reform movement to fight the corruption and fraud they experienced in family court.  Reporters who then spoke to attorneys, GALs and Connecticut Judicial Branch representatives were told that the problem was that these litigants had mental health issues. 


This case of Dr. Donald Hiebel, which represents only the tip of the iceberg in regard to the complete lack of professional ethics among family court professionals, really forces us to raise the question:  When it comes to family court who really has the mental health issues?  Certainly not the mothers and fathers or children who have been the victims of these kinds of predators. 


I also think it is important to reflect on how the Family Court in Connecticut, let alone elsewhere, is understanding information provided by psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health professionals.  These people are certainly well educated in the field of behavioral health, but they are by no means Gods, not a single one of them.  They themselves, if asked, and that is the crucial factor, i.e. that they ARE asked, will acknowledge that the field of mental health has many limitations and they have very little ability or qualifications to make definitive statements about the family court litigants they evaluate.  Until family court judges and attorneys fully grasp this fact, they will continue to harm many parents and children by subjecting them to  corrupt mental health professionals who arrogantly go well beyond their professional knowledge in making statements to the Court regarding these folks for which they have no basis in either fact or science.


Monday, February 25, 2013

PSYCHIATRIC DISORDER (DDPD) PREDISPOSES SOME MEN TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?

Delusional dominating personality disorder: A modest proposal for identifying some consequences of rigid masculine socialization.
 
By Pantony, Kaye-Lee; Caplan, Paula J.
Canadian Psychology/Psychologie canadienne, Vol 32(2), Apr 1991, 120-135.
 
Abstract
As an antidote to some of the institutionalized sexism in the mental health system the category of Delusional Dominating Personality Disorder (DDPD) is presented as a set of personality characteristics that result from rigid masculine socialization and constitute a serious psychological problem. Literature and research relevant to this phenomenon are also presented. 14 criteria of DDPD are discussed, including the inability to establish and maintain meaningful interpersonal relationships, an inability to identify and express a range of feelings in oneself and others, and difficulty responding appropriately and empathically to the feelings and needs of close associates and intimates. (French abstract) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

STOCKHOLM SYNDROME AND HIGH CONFLICT DIVORCE

I have noticed a strong similarity between what happens to the victim of a high conflict divorce and what happens when a person develops Stockholm Syndrome, as the consequence of the ongoing assaults of the opposing attorney in the case. 
 
So what is Stockholm Syndrome? 
 
Stockholm Syndrome was first identified in the early 70s to describe the puzzling reactions of four bank employees to their captors.  On August 23, 1973, three women and one man were taken hostage and held for six days by two ex-convicts in a botched robbery attempt. 
 
To the world's surprise, when the government attempted to rescue the hostages, they strongly resisted those efforts and instead defended their captors.  Even several months after the hostages were saved by the police, they retained warm feelings for their captors, even though the bank robbers had threatened their lives.  One of the hostages set up a defense fund for the robbers, and another hostage became engaged to one of them. 
 
There is also the well known story of Patty Hurst who was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army.  Even though she was tortured by the members of this group, eventually she joined their cause, picked up weapons and participated in bank robberies, and took on the name "Tania" to show her solidarity with her former captors.
 
Another similar case was that of Natascha Kampusch of Vienna, Austria.  In 1998, at the age of ten, Natascha was kidnapped and held in a basement by her captor until she escaped in 2006 at the age of eighteen. Instead of condemning the man who abducted her, Natascha found good in the situation stating, "My youth was very different.  But I was also spared a lot of things - I did not start smoking or drinking and I did not hang out in bad company."
 
Stockholm Syndrome is a bond of interdependence that develops between a captive and her captor when the captor threatens you, thinks it over, and then chooses not to kill you.  The strong feelings of relief that arise from the fact that the captor chose not to kill his victim results in intense feelings of gratitude towards the captor.  In addition, ongoing fear that the captor could change his mind leads the captive to avoid any expressions of anger or dissatisfaction towards his or her captive. 
 
Victims of terrorist acts or hostage situations have been known to have visited their captors in jail, recommended defense counsel, started defense funds, as I have mentioned, as well as become engaged to their captors.  And furthermore, they have refused to assist in prosecuting these criminals.  Thus, it is not surprising that Patty Hurst ended up marrying one of the jailors at the prison where she resided.  
 
According to experts, "the victims' need to survive in these hostage situations is stronger than their impulse to hate the person who has created the dilemma.  The victim comes to see the captor as a 'good guy', even a savior, because he could have killed her, but he didn't. 
 
There are four specific conditions which are ordinarily in place which lead to the development of Stockholm Syndrome.  They are as follows:
 
1.  A person threatens to kill another and is perceived as having the  capability to do so. 
 
2.  The other cannot escape, so her or his life depends on the threatening person. 
 
3.  The threatened person is isolated from outsiders so that the only other perspective available to her or him is that of the threatening person. 
 
4.  The threatening person is perceived as showing some degree of kindness to the one being threatened.
 
Apparently, in a hostage situation like this, it only takes around 3 days for Stockholm Syndrome to develop if the people involved haven't known each other previously. 
 
A person can become more vulnerable to Stockholm syndrome if denied food, water, or sleep, and if the captor acts in a manner that is capricious and unpredictable. 
 
I believe that a very similar situation takes place in high conflict divorces, not only with the women who become victims of these divorces, but also in regard to their children. 
 
To start, women in these divorces lose their financial base and find themselves one step away from being homeless--they can't afford to pay for basic necessities for themselves and their children. 
 
They are then terrorized by their ex husbands as the trial court system allows these abusers to disobey court orders and coerce their victims.  For example, the automatic orders allow abusive men to remain in the marital home which gives them access to their victims to further frighten and abuse them.  So this reduces women to a condition of helplessness and total vulnerability. 
 
Next, the opposing attorney hammers away at an alternative theory of the case with corrupt psychiatrists and GALs to support them.  Such theories shift the blame onto the shoulder of the victim and totally restructure reality so that the truth becomes false and the false becomes truth.
 
All of a sudden, a person who never had a mental illness previously can find herself with diagnoses of personality disorders.
 
Financial wrongdoing gets swept under the rug, and a man who was embezzling from his firm or who had a reputation for abusing a previous wife, all of a sudden is born anew with a dazzling reputation for being a great guy. 
 
The victim of this kind of restructuring of reality, the abused woman, will be told that if she doesn't go along with this newly refurbished image of her abuser, she will lose everything--her children, her financial security, her reputation--everything.  Her life becomes an endless round of trial court hearings, meetings with attorneys and evaluators involved in the case, and she often becomes so upset all the time that she is unable to maintain relationships with her friends and mentors in the community. 
 
Under these circumstances, most abused women become extremely compliant and grateful for whatever minimal favors they can get from their ex, the opposing attorney or the trial court, no matter how demeaning.  Because they know that it could always get so much worse. 
 
The punishments of trial court are swift and harsh.  Between one moment and the next you can lose all access to your children.  From one moment to the next your bank accounts can be completely wiped out.  And this often goes on for years. 
 
My guess is that if you really sat down with women in these circumstances, if you really listened to what they had to say, and heard the details of the so-called freely agreed upon settlements they signed at dissolution, you would recognize the signs of Stockholm Syndrome. 
 
The same goes for the children who quickly learn that the only one with absolute power is the abuser.  And if they want to survive, they better do what the abuser tells them to do, or else.  Unfortunately, this often means that the abusive Father will demand the children reject their Mother.  It is also worth noting that there's also a small percentage of good Fathers who are abused this way as well. 
 
Unfortunately, what this teaches children is that what counts is not right and wrong, it is not the person who is the most loving that counts.  What matters is who has the power and who can dominate and bully. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

WHY CLIENTS SHOULD NOT TAKE PSYCHOTHERAPISTS INTO THEIR CONFIDENCE: AN ESSAY BY ATTORNEY JIM GOTTSTEIN

Before you take psychotherapists into your confidence, make sure you consider what the legal consequences might be of doing so. There are legal limits to confidentiality and you might find that your therapist will end up on the stand with his testimony used against you. Attorney Jim Gottstein of Psychrights comments on these issues in the article below. See link:



http://psychrights.org/articles/GottsteinOnConfidentialityInISPSNewsletterMarch2007.pdf

Saturday, April 7, 2012

FAMILY COURT USES PSYCHIATRIC LABELS TO TERRORIZE LITIGANTS!

I think it is a female thing, this business of going to a therapist.  Yes, I know real men have therapy too, but with women, I swear it's definitive to the gender.  We like therapy!  We like to chat!  We like to think that what we go through is so important that it requires counseling of some kind. 

Break a nail, go to counseling!  Have a sneeze, go the counseling!  Husband look at you cross eyed, go the counseling!  Kids bothering you, go to counseling!  In fact, I dare you to show me the woman who hasn't gone to counseling at one time or another, because I doubt you could find one. 

Now, I am all for doing what you can to deal with your problems, and if you are a protective mother, you have ten times more reason than most to be in counseling.  But the problem is, if you are in counseling, and you end up with a diagnostic label, what will that mean when it comes to your divorce and custody battle.  It will mean serious problems for you. 

These problems can be so serious that I have even advised people to just see a counselor and not tell anyone and not apply to insurance for reimbursement.  That way the whole enterprise is hidden and no one will find out about it.  Then you have this private consultant no one knows about whom you can use as a support for your struggle.  What does a psychiatric label do to you?  What damage does it cause?

LOWERED EXPECTATIONS:  When I first met with my divorce attorney, he was very eager to move forward with the divorce.  He told me about the aggressive strategy he expected to follow through on and the tough motions he intended to file at trial court.  Then the opposing attorney called him and gave him all sorts of information regarding the psychiatric label I'd been given years ago. 

Then, all of a sudden, my attorney told me he didn't think he could accomplish as much as he said he could previously.  His output in my case slowed down to almost nothing as he failed for follow up on motions he'd already submitted and he pretty much dragged his feet about the other tasks that needed to be done such as establishing a solid parental reponsibility plan or filing subpoenas in order to obtain financial information. 

My attorney wouldn't come to the phone when I called and wouldn't call me back even when I left a message asking him to do so.  All of a sudden I heard that I couldn't expect to achieve this goal or that goal.  In other words, I was supposed to accept much lowered expectations than I would have had to had I not had a psychiatric label. 

INADEQUATE PROTECTION:  Throughout the pendente lite period, my ex husband refused to provide the child support that he had agreed to, refused to maintain the family car that the children drove around in, and allowed our home to fall into disrepair.  He pretty much emptied the house out of all of the property that we had and transferred it out of state to a home that he was staying in. 

He continued on to neglect the children, refusing to care for them properly when they were in his care, leaving them out in public places unsupervised, i.e. leaving them in the car in the parking lot of a shopping center with the keys in the ignition.  When I brought these concerns up to the GAL and to my attorney, I was pretty much ignored, even though I put these concerns in writing and faxed them. 

Later, when the custody evaluation came out, the psychiatrist described my attempts to get something done about the injustice I experienced as an expression of oversensitivity, vindictiveness towards my ex husband, hypervigilance, and narcissism.   In other words, because of that original psychiatric label, they thought I was just making it all up.

PROLIFERATION OF ADDITIONAL PSYCHIATRIC LABELS: When I initially filed for divorce, I had one or two diagnostic labels that my therapist had included in bills submitted to my health insurance company.  By the time the divorce was finished, I'd had a broad range of labels thrown at me--controlling, domineering, histrionic--you name it, I was supposed to have it. 

I almost ended up with the diagnosis which is known as the kiss of death--Borderline Personality Disorder--but ultimately even though it was bandied about the label never stuck.

After a while, all that your attorney, or the GAL or the trial court sees of you are the broad range of labels that have been stuck all over you.  They no longer see the person and they become totally deaf to the story that you are telling them, about the abuse you've experienced, the financial fraud; all of that is completely eclipsed by the labels.  Because once you have labels, it becomes impossible for people to see anything else about you.

PERMANENT SUPERVISION FROM MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS WHO ARE THERE TO REPORT TO THE COURT:  The end result is that, once the custody evaluation in your case has been completed and you have taken a psychological test confirming additional psychiatric labels, the trial court will take steps to place you under permanent supervision by mental health professionals who are put into place to report back to the trial court regarding your behavior. 

This supervision can arise in the form of family therapy which is ordered just for you and the children, rarely for the abusive spouse, and also through the appointment of a parent coordinator or conflict manager. 

These people are not accountable to you; they are only accountable to the GAL and the trial court, both of whom are generally run by the abuser in your life.  In other words, mental health professionals simply become the means whereby the abuser continues to dictate to you exactly how you are going to live your life and parent the children, and if you don't comply, the mental health professionals working with you will simply label you as "crazy" and threaten or actually simply take the children from you. 

Every new mental health professional you and the children see provides an additional level of documentation that will misrepresent what is going on in your case.  Before you know it, if you don't do as you are told, you will only be seeing your children for an hour, once a month, under supervision, if you are lucky, and if your ex husband allows it. 

THE RIPPLE EFFECT:  And it doesn't stop there.  Once there is a document describing you in the light of psychiatric labels, those labels will drift out into the conversation of everyone associated with the case.  Your ex husband will mention it to all your friends and relatives and make reference to them in school conferences. Not only will you get a diagnosis, but all your children will have a diagnosis as well. 

It becomes one great big party for all, more reason to diagnose, more reason to label, more reason to put you and your children on psychiatric medication, more reasons for more therapy, more reasons to spend thousands and thousands of more dollars on mental health treatment that, trust me, will never end.

The rumors and misrepresentations regarding your mental state will continue to spread all the way down the line until you are surrounded by each and every one.  It is worse if your case goes to appeal and the judgements in your case end up published on the internet and then those diagnoses and misrepresentations end up being read by people throughout the United States and the world.  It never ends.  It is the gift that keeps on giving. 

SO WHAT CAN BE DONE?  Stay away from mental health professionals throughout the entirety of your divorce unless you are willing to pay them in cash and not mention them ever.  Avoid custody evaluations.  You don't actually have to have one.  I know of people in high conflict divorces who simply refuse to participate in a custody evaluation. 

Simply refuse to participate whenever you are called to do so.  Say it is against your religion.  Say anything.  But don't let those slimy mental health professionals, widely known throughout family court by people who truly know as "whores of the court", destroy your life.

There has been a strong consumer/psychiatric movement throughout the United States and the World, leading to the establishment of organizations that are ready and willing to challenge the assumptions and prejudices generated by the mental health system.  Those of you who are struggling with corrupt mental health professionals during your divorce may find such organizations helpful.  A few of the most well known are as follows:

www.mindfreedom.org
www.psychrights.org
www.power2u.org

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

YOUR PSYCHIATRIC RECORDS: HOW CONFIDENTIAL IS CONFIDENTIAL?

Within the first few days of my filing for divorce, my attorney wanted to speak to my therapist just to get a sense of what kind of person I am.  Not long after that, the guardian ad litem in my case insisted that I sign a release giving her permission to speak to my therapist, and subsequently the custody evaluator asked for a release as well. 

The information which my therapist provided to these people played a major role in directing the outcome of my divorce for better and for worse. 

My guess is that if anyone knew the extent to which psychiatric records could be used against them in a court of law, no one would ever see a therapist, or at least, no one would ever let it be known that they see a therapist.  Calling into question your mental health is one of the primary weapons attorney's use in family court.

So what can you do about this? 

The first thing to keep in mind is the fact that you have a statutory right to confidentiality in regard to your private mental health records based upon CT General Statutes Section 52-146e and Rule 501 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, both of which protect the confidentiality of communications between a patient and her psychiatrist.  This is a privilege that is generally considered to be so important that it is recognized in all of the fifty states including the District of Columbia. 

This was affirmed in Jaffee v. Redmond 518, U.S. 1 (1996) where the court stated, "the psychotherapist privilege serves the public interest by facilitating the provision of appropriate treatment for individuals suffering the effects of a mental or emotional problem.  The mental health of our citizenry, no less than its physical health, is a public good of transcendant importance." 

Fundamental to the treatment of mental illness is the understanding that it is based upon confidentaility.  Thus, in Jaffee v. Redmond the court stated, "Reason tells us that psychotherapists and patients share a unique relationship, in which the ability to communicate freely without the fear of public disclosure is the key to successful treatment. 

Despite these protections, there are times when an opposing attorney can obtain copies of your mental health records if the court rules that the value of disclosing such information is in the interests of justice.  Still, in Jaffee v. Redmond the court recommended that this exception be very limited stating, "Making the promise of confidentiality contingent upon a trial judge's later evaluation of the relative importance of the patient's interest in privacy and the evidentiary need for disclosure would eviscerate the effectiveness of the privilege." 

If there were a situation where there appeared to be compelling reasons to allow disclosure of private medical records, the likelihood is that the judge would first review the records in camera (in his chambers) in advance to see whether the records had any evidentiary value in the case.  If they didn't, then the disclosure of the material would not be allowed.  Of course, just having the judge who makes the final decision reviewing the material could be prejudicial against your case, particularly since most judges aren't mental health experts and could misinterpret the contents. 

What you need to take away from this discussion is simply that if the opposing attorney asks you to give him copies of your medical records, you are absolutely not required to agree to do so.  In fact, the law supports you in refusing.  If the opposing attorney demands you turn them over, you can simply file a motion for a protective order.  This cannot protect you, however, from a whisper campaign that calls into question your mental health without any evidence to base it on.  That is a much tougher task to handle.  But  to start with, you have the law on your side if you wish to keep your medical records private during divorce proceedings. 

Another point I'd like to make is that if you have a therapist you can trust, if that therapist is loyal to you, he or she can simply refuse to provide any information to the court or to any attorney despite any court orders or requests.  Many therapists have taken just this stand.  Before you get into your divorce, or as early on as you can find out, establish an agreement with your therapist as to what will happen should this situation arise.  At least that way you will know where you stand.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

THE CONSEQUENCES OF VICTIMIZATION

Those who face the devastation of a high conflict divorce and are traumatized not only by their abuser, but also by the system that cooperates with the abuser, often end up as victims of trauma.  


This trauma occurs because many women in these situations are falsely accused of being bad mothers and bad people based upon fabricated evidence.  They may have paid lawyers thousands and thousands of dollars who do nothing for them in return.  They see judges who refuse to do anything when abusers blatantly violate the agreements they have signed and/or cause harm to their children.  What is worse is when so many so called intelligent and educated professionals, many mental health professionals, appear to collaborate in causing harm and damage to the victim of a high conflict divorce and her children.  


Life under these circumstances is absolutely harmful and damaging. For women like this it is as though the whole world has fallen apart. 


What kinds of emotional and intellectual consequences do women suffer under these circumstances?  


First, there is a loss of that sense of invulnerability.  You may have thought that, "It can't happen to me." But it did happen to you, and now that you know it can, you always live in fear that it can happen again.  You lose the idea that you will ever again live in a safe world. 


Second, you lose the belief that the world is orderly and meaningful.  You ask yourself, "Why did this happen to me?"  Once you may have thought "If I try to be a careful, honest, and good person, I will avoid disaster." But once you have gone through the trauma of legal abuse, you realize that no amount of being a good person would have made a difference.  All of a sudden the world appears like a random, chaotic place where unanticipated disaster can strike at any moment.  


Third, you lose that sense that you are a good and strong person.  To a certain extent, even if you may deny it, most people don't think that good people will end up persecuted and humiliated privately and in public by an abuser.  So if you end up that way, then you might think, "What did I do, what sin did I commit, that I am being punished this way?" 


Forth, there is a loss of Self-Esteem because when you are victimized you end up feeling helpless, vulnerable, powerless and childlike.  You become needy for other peoples' attention and support and that doesn't feel good when you live in a culture that values self-sufficiency.  


Finally, many victims, particularly those in high conflict divorces, end up being forced to placate their abuser just in order to survive or keep their children or have the opportunity to see their children, and there is nothing more degrading than that.  


The end result is that many victims become isolated; they withdraw from other people because they are so ashamed.  They also become angry and enraged because their families may have let them down, their attorneys have often betrayed them, and the system has punished them without cause.  


Another source of great pain for victims is secondary wounding.  Secondary wounding occurs when people who have never been hurt deny that victims have been abused or make fun of them or disparage them when they report abuse.  


Secondary wounding occurs also because many professionals are simply unaware of what it going on in the family court system, or they don't know anything about domestic violence or child abuse and simply don't believe that it happened to the victim.  Other professionals are simply burned out and couldn't care less what victims are going through.  Also, there are those who believe that people only get what they deserve.  Thus, if there are people who suffer trauma that is because they deserved to suffer the trauma or because they were too stupid to protect themselves from it.  


For victims of trauma, what are some of the steps to healing from this kind of psychological damage?  


First, it is important to recognize what it is that you have gone through and identify what the consequences have been to your life and the way that you think about yourself.  


Second, let go of your sense of perfectionism.  Recognize that we live in an imperfect world and that there will always be mistakes and problems and that sometimes even you may be the source of them, but you as well as others have the right to forgiveness.  


Third,  many victims of trauma tend to view themselves and others in simple, absolutist, all or nothing terms.  Let go of that all or nothing thinking because it may lead you to see the world in black and white terms, in ways that are extreme and unyielding and make it difficult for you to accept your humanity and that of others.  


Finally, let go of the survival tactics that may have been useful when you were undergoing the trauma, but are no longer useful to you now that the trauma is over, and may, in fact, be hindering you and causing you damage.  For example, stop using anger and rage as a means to avoid feelings of sadness and vulnerable.  Stop blanking out your feelings and let yourself connect with your emotions again so that you can experience yourself as a person.  Learn to make choices and decisions again, instead of standing by passively and allowing things to happen to you that you may not welcome.  


Of course, if you are still in the midst of your traumatic situation, you will still have to exercise the survival tactics you have learned, but at least remain aware of what you are doing so that you will have the capacity to find your way back once the trauma is over.  In many ways, you may never actually be the loving and trusting person you once were, but perhaps you can be richer in personality, greater in your compassion to others, and wiser beyond measure.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

PARENTAL ALIENATION VS. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE BY PROXY

Those of you reading my blogs on Parental Alienation Syndrome and HB 6085 might have said to yourselves, but when my abuser alienated my child from me in my high conflict divorce wasn't that parental alienation?  No.  What happened in your situation was Domestic Violence By Proxy.  


Parental Alienation Syndrome is a discredited theory developed by Dr. Richard A. Gardner in the 1980s and exploited by father's rights groups in order to pursue their agenda against protective mothers.  


In contrast, Domestic Violence By Proxy is a term developed by Alina Patterson, author of "Health and Healing" in order to describe the behavior of a parent who has used domestic violence as a way to abuse and intimidate his spouse and who then uses a child as a substitute when he no longer has access to her.  The two concepts are entirely different.  


As Dr. Richard Gardner described it, Parental Alienation Syndrome is "a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child-custody disputes.  It's primary manifestation is the child's campaign of denigration against the parent, a campaign that has no justification."  


According to Dr. Gardner, "the disorder results from the combination of indoctrination by the alienating parent and the child's own contributions to the vilification of the alienated parent."  Dr. Gardiner also stated that this alienation could be on purpose "or unconscious on the part of the alienating parent."  


Gardiner advocated strictly punishing that parent seen as causing PAS including giving custody of the child to the targeted parent and terminating all contact even to the point of violating that parents' civil rights.  And, of course, in the vast majority of cases the parent seen as the alienator was the mother.  


As a syndrome, PAS has not been accepted into either the DSM-IV or the proposed DSM-V.  It has not been recognized by the AMA or the APA and has been critiqued as lacking a scientific basis, particularly because it is primarily anecdotal and there has been limited research into its validity.


According to The Leadership Council, women in high conflict divorces with abusers often think that the concept of parental alienation applies to what they are experiencing when batterers attempt to use their children against them.  In fact, what they are actually experiencing is Domestic Violence by Proxy.  


In this situation abusers use their children in a criminal way in order to punish and retaliate against the spouses they once abused.  Abusers have learned that when they can no longer harm their spouses, the next best thing is to go after the children.  Abusers do this by putting the children at risk either physically or emotionally and wresting custody from their mothers by coaching the children to testify against their mothers, forging documents or providing false testimony against these mothers, or using the court system as a way to oppress them.  


In PAS, the actions of the alienating parent are thought to be unconscious, whereas the actions of an abuser in Domestic Violence by Proxy are fully planned in advance, often years in advance, and are deliberate.  Whereas in PAS, the child identifies with one parent in a divorce through a subtle process of identification, the child in a situation of Domestic Violence by Proxy suffers a kind of Stockholm Syndrome where the children bend to the wishes of the abuser as a consequence of trauma.  


So remember, if your abuser threatens your children or tells them lies about what you think, feel, have said or done (for example, saying you don't love them and never did), if he puts your children in harm's way or damages them to the point that they need ongoing counseling, call a spade a spade, call it what it is, Domestic Violence by Proxy. 


There was no alienation, there was violence.  You and especially your children were hurt and harmed.   

Sunday, October 24, 2010

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF US

I can remember way back in 2006 when my divorce first started, a lawyer I was consulting advised me to take "a whole lot of antidepressants." "Don't hold back. Take as many as your need!"

I can remember being a little taken aback by the liberality of her remarks. But, in fact, she was right. I'll tell you right now. Once you file for divorce, don't hold back on the medication. Be nice to yourself. Whatever you need to do to survive, make sure you do it. Eat right. Get exercise. And if it involves taking a lot of anti-depressants, go ahead.

A little discussed characteristic of people who are abused is that they often have very active fantasy lives. How else are you going to deal with being constantly put down, humiliated, demeaned and controlled if not by spending much of your time daydreaming and living with illusions.

Sometimes this kind of daydreaming involves having fantasies about romantic objects of affection, perhaps an old boyfriend, or an important person who took notice of you one day, or else a celebrity who embodies those qualities you most admire. Other fantasies can involve what you want to do with your life, like become a great writer, or starting a business that is going to make millions of dollars. They are kind of like desperation daydreams. I had a few of these and when I think back on them, I go, boy was I nuts.

However, there is nothing like a high conflict divorce to sober you up. There is nothing like the demands of fighting back that clears all the cobwebs out of your brain, focuses your energies, and helps you to think with the utmost clarity.

I can tell you without hesitation that, after over four years of standing up for myself, I am the sanest person that ever lived.

Cuckooness or nutcakeism remains the province of those who have the luxury for it, and we, by the way, do not have that luxury. So, whatever you have to do, therapy, support groups, friends, family, medication, meditation, Zen Buddhism, do what it takes to keep your feet firmly in the real world, open, alert, and ready to deal intellectually with the battle you have on hand. It's the only way to survive, and if you don't survive, your kids won't survive either. So, hop to, get rid of the frivolity right now!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF ENABLERS

Both are wrong.

This is essentially the current view of most of the Connecticut lawyers I've spoken to about what goes on in a high conflict divorce.

No matter how it may look, no matter what incidents are reported, no matter what gets said, and no matter what gets done, the bottom line is that both of the parties in a divorce are wrong.

According to this kind of reasoning (which is a lot of psychobabble as far as I am concerned), even if one party in the marriage looks like the perpetrator or the other looks like the victim, that is simply an illusion. The bottom line is that the parties in the divorce have a hidden understanding where either could change roles at any time. So don't let the victim sucker you into sympathizing, because deep down he or she could be asking for it, actively setting themselves up to be in the role, or getting some kind of perverted satisfaction out of it.

So the reasoning goes.

Along with that is the national conversation about "victimhood", the sense of disgust many commentators feel about the American obsession with victimhood. "When is it going to stop?" ask these commentators? Before we know it, everyone is going to be claiming they are a victim one way or another.

During my divorce, I went to a well known local psychologist, and when I began to talk about the abuse I'd experienced his immediate response was "Don't talk like you are a victim." I ended up feeling condemned for daring to have the nerve to complain about the fact that I was being abused. What this psychologist did, as did people like him, was to advocate for tolerating the abuse and allowing it to continue, all in the name of there must have been something you did to deserve it or desire it. And anyway, even if you didn't, there is nothing you can do about it, so you might as well put up with it.

Both are wrong.

But I wasn't the one lying. I wasn't the one stealing. I wasn't the one hurting the children. Couldn't they tell the difference? Well, the fact was there was a kind of boys will be boys attitude towards my ex taking our marital assets and hiding them. There was always a way to excuse something my ex did as not really that bad when it came down to it.

Also, I could see how it could look tit for tat. At one point I told the judge that my ex had lied to the custody evaluator and called me crazy. His response was to say, well, what did you call your ex husband. I had called him a psychopath. But, in my case, I was telling the truth because that is exactly what the psychologist determined as a result of testing whereas my ex was lying and test results determined I wasn't crazy. Still, it did seem "he said, she said" granting the way the judge put it.

The bottom line is that if your lawyer refuses to acknowledge abuse, he or she enables it. If the custody evaluator or the GAL doesn't condemn abuse, he or she enables it. If the court system pretends it isn't there, then it is enabling abuse also.

As far as we are concerned, we, the victims of high conflict divorce, both parents and chidlren, we are victims, and we shouldn't have to feel ashamed to say it. This doesn't mean we are going to stay victims. It simply means that we didn't do anything wrong. We are not guilty of any crimes, and there was nothing that we said or did to deserve the pain and suffering which we have endured.

No. Both are not wrong. The perpetrator is wrong. The abuser is wrong, enablers are wrong and they should be brought to justice.