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Dr. Michael
Dr. Michael, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2177
Experience:  Licensed Ph.D. Clinical Health Psychology with 30 years of experience in private practive and as a clinical psychology university professor.
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This question is for a clinical psychologist. I have been in

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This question is for a clinical psychologist. I have been in a legal battle with my ex-husband for 6 years. We were married for 18 years, and the torment he caused my children and me is beyond belief. I remarried in 2009, and I truly believe my current marriage is very happy and healthy.
The problem I have is that I have two children with my ex-husband. They are two awesome boys (ages 8 and 16).....
My divorce case is so crazy. Last I checked with the court there are 10 Volumes. My Final Judgment was set aside due to Fraud committed by the Former Husband. I was divorced in 2007, and it was set aside in 2010 after I was remarried. The Court Order states that the Final Judgment is set aside except the dissolution of the marriage. Good thing or I would be a bigamist!
I strongly believe from experience and books I have read that my ex-husband has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and I also believe he is a sociopath or psychopath (I don't understand the difference?). He has no conscience, is a psychopathical liar and has no fear of the Law. We have spent combined close to 500K in Litigatation over discovery issues. I ended up going Pro Se since I had no more money to fight. That scared his Lawyer off after 6 years. Now, after our Judge ordered Mediation with a very famous former Judge in Clearwater, I have THE expert Forensic CPA and Expert Witness in Pinellas County. She referred me to an Attorney that I believe will get this done.
I personally believe my children, my current husband and I are in a good place psychologically. It is all about communication that I feel so blessed to have with all three of my men. My current husband has been such a good Father Figure and both boys love him very much. The boys treat their biological Father with respect and honor him as their father, but really dont want to be with him. My ex-husband dosn't want to be with them either. He uses them as a pawn to get his way financially.
My ex-husband never physically abused me or my children; however, the verbal abuse was unbelievable. He also punched walls, through coffee mugs at the wall and kicked my mailbox down more than once. What does this mean?
I feel that my ex-husband planned on leaving me once he knew he couldn't control me. The elaborate scheme he engaged in is unbelievable. I'm not sure he is more obsessed with money or hurting me. I'm thinking the later since he has resorted to hurting the boys just to get to me.
I am about to expose him, and am very concerned. Any advice?
Hello. I believe I can be of help to you with this issue. I'm a clinical psychologist, as you wished.

Men who punch throw things etc., have learned to express anger in this way. It is important to ask yourself, what the 'function' or purpose or outcome of this behavior has been. No doubt, he is communicating to you that he believes you 'make him' do such things by your actions (which is of course, nonsense); and he is also communicating to you that you are a narrow edge away from being hurt or aggressed against yourself. The behavior is a control strategy he uses to coerce, threaten, dominate others. It surely fits with having narcissistic or socipathic features. He hasn't carried it far enough to actually cause HIM trouble i.e., historically, he knows just how far to push the physical abuse threat, and keep it a threat----he doesn't want to get arrested and cause himself difficulties in this way. Getting into trouble himself would ruin the control/coercion value of what he is doing (because the police or a judge would jail him or punish him if he acted up any more and he doesn't want anyone to take away his control strategy).

When you say you are about to expose him, what do you mean, exactly. Do you need to do this, or can you maintain the threat of exposure to generally get what you want and need out of this mess? I say this because men like your husband only 'believe in' power, coercion and the strength of powerful threat. So long as he is afraid of you or feels you have the upper hand in this divorce matter you'll be in the best position you can be in. That is, he will be most compliant and agreeable if he knows you can pressure him and cause him problems, but do so without playing your 'ace' and really destroying or damaging him.

Men with Narcissistic Personalty Disorder have a great deal in common with sociopathic personalities or what we call Antisocial personality disorder (latter two are more or less the same concepts) In fact, most men with a personalty disorder in this area almost always have characteristics of at least two of these disorders, rather than a strictly 'pure' type; that is the 'rule', rather than the exception. I'll pause here and solicit your reaction and wait for more information. I'm going to close down for the evening here to get some sleep and I'll be back in the morning if you wish.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Thank you Dr. Michael. Your feedback is very helpful. When I said expose him, I meant with the help of my current legal time, what my ex has been trying to cover up for the last 6 years should finally be revealed to the Judge. I agree with you that as long as he fears me I have the upper hand.

I also have observed that as long as he thinks he "won", things move more smoothly. He is very passive aggressive and hurts me, but has to maintain his "great guy" image. Is it best that I continue to be an actress and allow him to maintain his false self?

The fraud he committed against me, is not the first time he has engaged in criminal behavior and would not be the first time he's been punished for a wrong doing. He was in jail for 9 months, prior to our marriage, for selling cocaine to a security guard on his college campus. Of course he did nothing wrong. His parents covered for him which I believe has added to his behavioral disorder. They have never held him accountable and he can do "no wrong". They are covering for him with my situation as well.

I am hopeful that when this case is finally resolved in court that he can somehow convince himself that he did nothing wrong and move on like nothing happened. He is in desperate search of a new wife. I wouldn't wish him on my worse enemy; however, I feel that would take the pressure off my family. Since I remarried, he has been crazier than ever. He cannot stand that I married a successful "real man" that treats my children and I with love and respect. He seems to be in constant competion with me.

Am I fooling myself that when this legal battle is over, that he will want to move on and stop the constant attack on my family?

Thanks so much for your input.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I haven't heard from Dr. Michael. Is he still on line?
I'm still here---had to go out of town on an emergency.

Predicting his behavior is of course, impossible and so, in the end, you have to take actions based on what you think the approximate 'odds' are. Once you pull all of the hard evidence together showing what he has been covering up the last 6 years, you may want to invite him to a meeting with your attorney (he may want his present also) and lay out your case, showing that you have more leverage against him than he has against you. All he really has left are his kids and whatever gratification he believes he can gain by competing with you. But even though he loves his children, he loves himself much more and values his public image or 'persona' most of all and will fight to protect this first. This last statement is what you would place your bet or 'odds' on when you attempt to lay out everything he must do to meet your expectations and cooperate with you. Be very clear about exactly what it means to cooperate and what non-cooperation would look like i.e., if you do [x, y, z] I'll read this as a violation of our agreement here; if you don't do [x,y,z] this would be a violation. "I want you to be happy and move on with you life and live as if we've never been married. Be a decent dad to you kids; find someone else and get married. This is what I wish for you. I don't want to have any battles or have you involved in my life in any way, except making it possible for you to have the agreed-upon visitation. But the sooner you see that you should find a way to cooperate with me because of the difficulties I could cause, the quicker we can get past this". Now, I hope I'm reading this situation accurately and that there isn't important information you haven't shared or that I've overlooked. Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. Will be on/off the computer the next two days as needed.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Dr. Michael,

I'm sorry about the emergency, and I hope all is well. I would have been back to you earlier, but I have been dealing with issues with my ex-husband (Story of my Life!).

Yes, you have totally read the situation correctly. Wow, he must be a text book NPD. It's funny, after 6 years I am doing just as you suggested and it's working! I laid out the rules (which are basicly follow the parenting plan and pay the Child Support on time), in return I let him pose as "Super Dad" and Coach baseball for my 9 yr old on my time. It felt wierd because I didn't feel like I should have to make a deal with him to give him extra time with my son as long as he does what he's supposed to as a Parent. Regardless, it seems to work and my son seems content.

Your advice has also helped with my current husband's ex-wife. Why is it that I married a man whose ex-spouse is as crazy as mine? She may be worse, because she's a Lawyer! We definitely have more questions for you regarding that messed up situation.

I would like to accept your answer, and start asking you more questions. I love your advice.

I'm pleased and flattered that this has been helpful. Please click on the green Accept button below and in the future, you can direct questions to me specifically if you wish through the site. Thanks.
Dr. Michael and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Dr. Michael,

You have helped me tremendously with the issues I have with my ex-husband. I believe you can also help my current husband and me with the issues we have with his ex-wife.

I have been in contact with a Just Answer Family Law expert that has really helped, and has made us aware of how serious the problem is. My husband is in a serious battle over custody of his adopted 12 year old daughter. It has been a nightmare since his ex-wife is an Attorney herself and has been playing such underhanded games to catch my husband off guard. This actually has been going on since 2003, but has heated up with our marriage in 2009.

The "Just Answer" expert just suggested that a psychological evaluation of the ex-wife could be necessary. We agree since she seems to show symptoms of Paranoid schizophrenia. Some background summary:

She cannot handle anyone contradicting her, talking back to her, calling her out, or opposing her in any way. This is why my husband left her after 7 years. He said he was a camelion because he did not want to take her wrath. She controlled every aspect of his life. She had to know where he was at all times. She would not let him socialize with other people. Even though he was a drinker when he met her, she would not let him drink because it was her experience that people fought when they drank alcohol. She is obeise, lazy and wants others to take care of her. She's an Attorney, but works very little. She does not cook for her daughter or herself. She has extremely poor hygeine and wears embarrassing clothing. Her home is not a place that any child should live in. She is always angry, but accuses my husband of being so. From recent discovery, it appears she is a "closet drinker".

A few years before the divorce when my husband confronted her with his unhappiness in the marriage, she insisted on adopting a child. My husband did not want to since he already had 3 children with his previous marriage, and did not think a child would help the marriage. It's my belief that his codependency (his first wife was controlling as well) allowed him to be talked into the adoption. They ended up adopting a bi-racial baby that other couples did not want to adopt. He was the nurturing parent to his daughter until he left the marriage in 2003.

Since my husband just wanted out of the marriage he allowed his ex-wife to execute the Final Judgment since she was a Family Law Attorney and he trusted her to be fair. That was not the case. The Final Judgment was written in such a way that it restricted visitation with his daughter for the last 9 years. My husband was forced to relocate 5 hours away in Florida once he was laid off from his job. He has been employed and has maintained the excellent job ever since. He has been paying an ubsubstantiated amount in child Support for 9 years. When he questioned it, is when "you know what" broke loose.

When my husband and I were married in 2009, it enabled my husband to spend more time with his daughter since my mother happens to live 4 miles from his daughter on the other coast of Florida. Since this has happened, the jealousy and anger from his ex-wife has been unbelievable. My step-daughter is delightful and I love her as my own. I have two boys and she loves her step-brothers. We seem to get along wonderfully as a blended family; however, Mom is doing everything possible to keep her daughter away from us. She is using her as a pawn in the most unbelievable way.

One of the scariest things is that as soon as my husband left the marriage, his ex had his daughter diagnosed with ADHD and has had her drugged with Adderol ever since. That girl is not ADHD, and we are doing everything we can to get a second opinion. It is our opinion that his ex does not want her daughter to talk back to her so she drugs her.

We are at a boiling point, because my Husband filed a Petition to Modify. Since then she has hired three Lawyers to represent her and they have all withdrawn. This is odd in itself since my Husband is Pro-se, and she's a Family Law Attorney herself.

Her behavior is so unstable and frightening. She has no family and very few friends to hold her accountable or help her with seeking help. We are very worried about our daughter and are following the proper steps to gain at least temporary custody. My husband has taken the gloves off and has been fighting with her and her attorneys. He has received nothing but silence in almost a weak. What does that mean? How do we check on his daughter? Call the middle school?

How do we enforce a psycholgical evaluation?

As I have stated in my previous questions to you, I believe my ex-husband has NPD and is psychopathic. I realize this is different than a mental illness such as schizophrenia. My brother took his own life because he suffered severely from Manic Depression. I thank God every day I didn't inherit that gene. I subjected myself to a complete psychiatric evaluation since my ex suggested it, and he paid for it. What a relief, no mental illness, or personality disorder, I was however diagnosed on the far end of the compulsive spectrum. I'm sure you could determine that from my long winded questions to you!

My Husband and I are both recovering codependents from being controlled by our Controlling Ex- Spouses. Every time I say I'm a recovering codependent, people think I'm an alcoholic. I wish there was more public awareness in that regard!

I'm asking you if I'm off base or over reacting. My husband and I are so focused on his daughter and what is best for her. We really are not trying to point fingers or call names. This has taken a toll emotionally on both my husband and I. Any advice in that department?

Thanks so much for your assistance.

I'm not an attorney but I doubt you can force his ex wife to submit to a psychological evaluation just out of the blue. It can be linked to a challenge for custody, I believe. Right now, you want to try to gather information about the mother's instability. Nothing you've reported about her behavior actually seems to reflect schizophrenia. What the descriptions to fit is something called Borderline Personality Disorder, or a very common 'mixed' personality disorder that combines some features of Borderline and Narcissistic Personality Disorder. You can Google the topic of personality disorder and these disorders specifically and see if some combination of them seem to 'fit' this woman.

Now it might be possible for your husband to press for a full change of custody for this girl and as part of that process of evaluating the request insist that the court require that both parents undergo a psychological evaluation. You might also allege that the adopted daughter is being abused or neglected by the mother. You want to create a credible emotional threat in this way because what you want to have happen is for this woman to try to escape and avoid the evaluation altogether. Most people don't want to be evaluated but for someone with a personality disorders, this is an extremely threatening prospect that she will certainly fear and seek to avoid. This is the situation you want because your husband will want to ask for the SAME clinical psychologist (not a social worker, family counselor etc.----you want a clinical psychologist, Ph.D.) conduct all of the evaluations; if another psychologist is brought in for a second opinion, you want to insist that his person is also a clinical psychologist with a Ph.D. and that he/she does all of the evaluation a second time. This woman may have psychiatric or psychological treatment records you don't know about, so don't forget to ask to get them subpoenaed if you can. In all of this, you want to have your husband evaluated FIRST, before his ex-wife. If the evaluations get ordered, he should take the initiative to set the first, earliest appointment he can; again, it is a good bet his ex will delay, reschedule and put off having to go in. Your husband wants to have the first 'shot' at persuading the psychologist about the nature of the problems he faces. He wants to directly assert that he believes his ex wife has a serious mental disorder such as undiagnosed borderline or narcissistic or a mixed personality disorder, or perhaps bipolar II disorder and that this might account for the dysfunctional behavior she shows. Your husband should suggest that formal, standardized testing for personality disorders be administered to both himself and his ex, and particularly, testing for borderline personality. The main point is to plant the notion in the mind of the psychologist that his ex has a problem, and when she does come in for an evaluation, I can guarantee you that this suggested diagnosis will be on his or her mind and they will be specifically assessing whether the symptoms and diagnostic criteria are present.

The above custody challenge and request for psychological assessments on all parties should create considerable stress in his ex wife and it might prompt her to do some rather extreme things, which if documented, can help build a case against her. The really, really hard part of all of this is to demonstrate that whatever disorder or symptoms are present, translate into ineffective and harmful parenting behavior. It will probably be important to get a couple of opinions that attest to the adopted daughter NOT having ADHD at all. Out of all of this, your husband may be able to extract many more concessions and legally-binding demands about child custody and visitation he doesn't presently enjoy. Also, in just a couple of years, his daughter can probably demand to live with him if she wishes as well, and there won't be much the mother can do about it e.g., she'll run away or visit her dad one day and simply refuse to go back home to mom.

What do you think?

for the daughter herself, to request that custody be shifted to her father, from her mom.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

I just googled BPD, and believe you are right on. She used sex to controll my husband, and when he left her she used their daughter to control him. I believe she views me as a major threat that is causing her to lose both my husband and her daughter. She does not want to be alone and is very angry.

Since my husband has filed a Petition to Modify Time-Sharing and Child Support, it sounds like (from the Law expert) that he can file a Motion to enforce a psychiatric evaluation. This motion and a contempt motion may be enough for her to give up the fight since she is scared to death of court, and I believe you are correct that the last thing she would want is to be evaluated. My husband's very direct and detailed correspondence with her recently has caused her to shut down. He hasn't heard from her in a week which I believe is helping his case since now she has shut down all communication regarding his daughter.

Since it is clear that my husband most likely won't have to pay any more child support and she has exhausted all leverage regarding visitation of his daughter, we are hoping she no longer has use of his daughter and will give her up.

It does appear she is in a desperate search for a new Man (Mark). Discovery shows her frequenting bars and excessive spending. Her sexual promiscuity also shows signs of NPD. We are hoping she will want his daughter out of the picture so she can obtain her goal without her daughter getting in the way. She obviously has no great love for her, so she may just agree to settle out of Court and give my husband what he wants and that is primary residential custody. If she finds no need for her any more, she may just go away.

I definitely think if my husband reads about BPD, he can use it to his advantage. What do you think?

Yep. On Amazon, under the book section, if you type in Borderline Personality Disorder, you'll find, on the very first couple of pages of listings, some good guidebooks on managing people with BPD/NPD features. Their behavior is fairly predictable and it is important to stay one step ahead of them, maintain adequate leverage so you don't get back-stabbed or blindsided by them. They do respond to limit-setting, perceived power in others, and they don't want to be evaluated or scrutinized carefully. I enjoyed your last post and believe you are on the correct path with this. Your assumptions about her and what is happening now, fit with what we know about BPD/NPD personality structure.

Let me know if I can be of further assistance. Please click on the green Accept button at the bottom of the screen. Thanks.
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