Thursday, June 25, 2015

High Conflict People Part 1

This is long overdue.
Over the past decade I have observed a dramatic increase in high-conflict legal disputes––an increase driven more by personalities than by legal or financial issues. Perhaps half of all legal cases that go to trial today involve one or more parties with a HCP. In these cases, the conflict is driven more by internal distress than by external events.

After handling more than a thousand legal cases from three professional points of view––as an attorney, mediator and clinical social worker––I have recognized some surprising patterns to the high-conflict cases that are threatening to overwhelm our courts:

  • The level and cost of conflict is not based on the issues or on the amount of money involved: personalities drive conflict.
  • High-conflict personalities have a life-long, enduring pattern of behavior and blame, typically denying responsibility for their problems and chronically blaming others.
  • Many HCPs fit the criteria of Cluster B personality disorders described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association.
  • People with HCPs are more likely to escalate their disputes into court, either as plaintiffs bringing suit over misplaced blame for events in their lives, or as defendants due to interpersonal misconduct that harms others and needs to be controlled.
  • The disputes of HCPs are generally misunderstood and mishandled, and continue to escalate at a huge cost to our judicial system and our society in terms of time, money and emotional distress for all involved.

A little over two years ago I discovered a nifty little book titled High Conflict People. This book is devoted entirely to the spectrum of Cluster B personality disorders, one of my favorite topics, and their impact on our criminal justice system. The author, Bill Eddy, is a licensed social worker and a lawyer who has first hand experience dealing with this challenging bunch in both the mental health and the legal systems. Within the first two pages of chapter one that I quoted above, I saw how easily Bill Eddy's work applied to pit bull advocates. I intended to blog about it but for one reason or another, I never got around to it and it fell off my radar. The recent interest in me and my blog brought it back to the forefront.

The following is an excerpt, including the cartoon and table, from another book by Bill Eddy Managing High Conflict People in Court.

An Attraction to Court Process

The DSM-IV-TR lists 10 specific personality disorders, in three clusters (A, B, and C). The Cluster B personality disorders are generally identified as “high drama” and include Borderline, Narcissistic, Antisocial and Histrionic. Many of those with Cluster B personality disorders – or less severe “traits” – appear to have high-conflict personalities which frequently land them in our courts, either as plaintiffs endlessly pursuing exaggerated or unfounded claims, or as defendants who escalate conflicts into violence or other harmful behaviors.

This author believes that over the past fifteen years our courts have become a prime playing field for undiagnosed and untreated personality disorders. This is because the adversarial court process has a similar structure to their disorders, combined with increased media exposure of courtroom procedures and dramas during this same time period. Ironically, while practitioners and parties experienced in the adversarial court process are making a significant shift to alternative dispute resolution methods (arbitration, mediation, settlement conferences, private judges, collaborative law), those with high-conflict personalities (HCPs) have become attracted to the traditional litigation process, seeking “my day in court.” The following comparison from the author’s book, High Conflict People in Legal Disputes (2006) shows a striking fit:
Because the thought structure of HCPs and the adversarial court process are such a perfect fit, HCPs are at times effective at making innocent people look guilty, while at the same time with their desperate charm and aggressive drive they often succeed at looking innocent themselves. Many cases that appear to be two HCPs fighting are actually being driven by only one party who successfully makes the other party look bad. (Friedman, 2004)
Bill Eddy, Managing High Conflict People in Court, 2008

Does anyone else see the striking similarities between high-conflict personalities and pit bull owners and advocates?

I highly recommended the following books by Bill Eddy:

It's All Your Fault!: 12 Tips for Managing People Who Blame Others for Everything, 2012

Managing High Conflict People in Court, 2008

High Conflict People in Legal Disputes, 2012

If you can only purchase one, I recommend High Conflict People in Legal Disputes, 2012 but if you can afford them all, do it. Eddy has many more books on the subject and I will eventually get through them all.

I can not stress the importance of these books enough. If you have an interest in Cluster B personality disorders, these are a must for your library. Eddy's contribution to the understanding of Cluster B personality disorders is uniquely impressive. It is a true gift to the world and should be required reading for law students (and arson investigators. lol). His books are by far some of the best sources of information on Cluster B personality disorders that I have read, especially the histrionic variant, which unfortunately has not garnered as much attention as the other three PDs but in my opinion, HPD is more often than not the "undiagnosed and untreated personality disorder" playing out in the bizarro world of pit bull advocates.

In High Conflict People Part 2, I will explore the recent shenanigans on this blog.


Animal Uncontrol said...

This is very interesting stuff, I intend to learn more about it.

In regards to the recent antics, I and my ilk have found them very entertaining. To quote another frequent poster - You can't make this stuff up!!!

While I'm certainly no psychiatrist, I don't think Coop, Liger Woods, and the rest of that crowd are true high conflict people. Based on what I read in the article, a high conflict person is one I'd estimate would actually seek out and pursue a real world confrontation.

My guess is that Coop and the rest are more garden-variety internet stalkers and trolls. They have no basis for a lawsuit. They indulge in sophomoric insults and empty, aggressive posturing hoping they can scare a person or two into silence, and for their own entertainment.

Animal Uncontrol said...

So, what made you turn on comment moderation?

scurrilous amateur blogger said...

why did i turn on comment moderation? let me find just the right words, the most politically incorrect words... ah, i know. lisa camuso was being a real cunt and attacking miss margo.

lisa's comments about me being an old wrinkled bearded vegan living in dump were hoot and i of course allowed them in but she was being a cunt towards miss margo.

Anonymous said...

ooooo! The C word! That's mighty strong stuff that certainly is warranted.

I don't mind being moderated. I'm honestly surprised it isn't required more often. It just goes to show how demented Lisa Camuso is.

As far as the topic. I've always known there's something wrong with nutters. I'm not a psych student, so I wouldn't be able to analyze any of them. But there is definitely something wrong with ALL OF THEM!

I can't wait to read about the antics.


Anonymous said...

I have seen some of the exact same insults I saw in that comment section being used on a forum that had NOTHING to do with pit bulls (or dogs or animals). Specifically: fat, fat and eating nachos, poor, prescription pill addiction, flying monkeys, ugly, fat and ugly, old, and you have no life. There were some others I have seen before word.for.word. The tactic of demanding people reveal their identities was also highly present on this forum even though I don't think even one person was using their real name. That place had some paid posters. IDK if that is the case here or not, but I emphasize this place had NOTHING to do with dogs.

scurrilous amateur blogger said...

i prefer not to moderate for a few reasons. 1) it takes time 2) i like for people to be able to have a conversation in real time and 3) i actually do have a great respect for the first amendment. there is very little that i will filter out.

scurrilous amateur blogger said...

as to your second comment, i don't blame people for commenting anonymously. there are a lot of crazy fuckers in the world and a lot of them seem to have pit bulls. people don't want the aggravation of dealing with the kooks. like the owner of the blog that douglas anthony cooper is on trying to drum business for his class action lawsuit.

Admin ID:93547918eef42774
Admin Organization:ATTN:
Admin Street: 12808 Gran Bay Parkway West
Admin City:Jacksonville
Admin State/Province:FL
Admin Postal Code:32258
Admin Country:US
Admin Phone:+1.9027492701

Pibble said...

I want to share an experience that might help to answer the pit bull crowd's perennial question, "why don't any of you "anti" pit bull folks use your real names?"

About ten years ago I discovered the pit bull "advocacy" movement--I use the term tongue in cheek because no one with the exception of dogfighters has done more harm to these dogs--and found it fascinating. Anytime there was a deadly pit bull attack, the pit bull anti-defamation league's spidey sense tingled and they thronged in by the hundreds. Upon noticing that many of the same people had commented to close to one hundred pit bull attack stories with the same "pibbles are misunderstoooooood" spiel, I asked a serious question: doesn't the fact that you spend a significant amount of your time defending pit bulls in the wake of deadly attacks indicate that there might really be an issue with pit bulls? Cue predictable, indignant rage.

At the time I used my real name to comment. Pit bull advocates found my art website, ran a WHOIS on my domain to obtain my address, and signed that address up for pornographic junk mail. Since I registered the domain back in high school, the address listed was actually my mother's. She received dozens of BDSM catalogs and the like. We both felt genuinely threatened until I discovered pit bull advocates bragging about this little coup on LiveJournal.

These people also made several public, libelous claims about me. Not Douglas Anthony Cooper's version of libel, a la "using the word suicide in a sentence" = "telling someone to kill herself," but really and truly libelous claims that were factually untrue and absolutely malicious. I could have sued several people yet it never even occurred to me to sue anyone over what they were saying about me on the Internet.

Packhorse said...

Are you ready for some portable "beware of dog" signs that your dog wears--another market that fills a need in the age of killer pets.

scurrilous amateur blogger said...

i would love to see the bragfest on livejournal. is it still up? did you save a copy?

Pibble said...

Sadly, I do not. Essentially, it was just one person giggling about submitting my name and [my mother's] address to mailing lists, and a few others giving her virtual high-fives.

We received some very bizarre mailings including laboratory animal supply catalogs, but the BDSM/leather catalogs formed the bulk of it. It took years for us to get our names and addresses off of the mailing lists.

I've spoken with about a dozen journalists including C. W. Nevius (SF Chronicle), Forrest Carr (KGUN9) and Barbara Kay (National Post) who received a barrage of hate mail after covering pit bulls, and I've been told in every single instance that pit bull "advocates" top the charts for threatening, abusive, and otherwise worst-behaved comments and messages.

That's why I don't use my real name when I comment online about this issue. You are well within your rights and sensibilities not to use yours.

Anonymous said...

Made this earlier and thought you'd like it.

Anonymous said...

Now that I've had a chance to absorb the concept of High Conflict People, I've realize that my sister is an HCP. Guess what kind of dog she had?

It rhymes with shit full...

Catching up on the comments, holy crap! Nutters are twisted when they find out who you are! No wonder they always complain about anonymity. They want to share their special blend of crazy, insane, and demented. Who wants that?


Anonymous said...

So it turns out that spoliation has a lot more in common with dalmatian than (sort of) rhyming with each other. Who woulda thunk. Go to Petfinder and search for dalmatian and educate yourselves today!

P.S: You really can't make this stuff up.

Miss Margo said...

Sorry for the tardy comment. I just got back after traveling for six days.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with posting anonymously on the internet when you know that nutters are going to call your house without your permission, post all your personal information online, report you to child protective services, contact your professors/Dean at school to try and "expose" you and get you expelled, contact your professional licensing organization to get you disbarred or discredited, send you graphic pornographic rape threats, report you to the police or IRS, call your landlord, etc. The stalking & harassing coming from pit bull advocates is the worst I've ever seen. The only thing that even comes close are the deranged guys who stalk sex workers with the intent to doxx them, and maybe the gamergate people.

Pibble, sorry that happened to you. Signing someone up for porno and BDSM catalogs sounds like a prank until you consider that people shouldn't have to be freaked out about opening their own mail, not to mention kids getting ahold of it, or landlords/neighbors who might see it and judge you accordingly.


packhorse said...

I'm thinking of my neighbors a few houses down. Constant screaming and fighting, and visits from police. We're talking drunken 3 AM brawls on the lawn kind of conflict. Guess what kind of dog they owned?

They eventually got rid of the dog, however, I'm guessing because the landlord found out about it.

Pibble said...

Actually, we interpreted the BDSM catalogs as a threat: they showed graphic depictions of sexual violence--ritualized or pretend, sure, but that doesn't matter because the clear message was one of sex acts being inflicted on restrained women.

We didn't want nor ask for this material, and when it started appearing, it was shocking and frightening because there was no apparent explanation for it. We're both petite women, my mother lives by herself, and the catalogs had my name on them.

Anonymous said...

Pit bull probably just called a cab and split on his own, that place sounds awful.

Anonymous said...

"Because the thought structure of HCPs and the adversarial court process are such a perfect fit, HCPs are at times effective at making innocent people look guilty, while at the same time with their desperate charm and aggressive drive they often succeed at looking innocent themselves."

This must be why all these scofflaw nutters who have pits in a ban area and get caught and penalized can go to the media and make themselves look like victims - and actually sue towns and win - the people who get caught breaking the law are often responsible for forcing small towns to abandon their bans.

And I have always believed this "I demand to know your real name." = "I demand the ability to harrass you."

Anonymous said...

Yet when pit bulls attack pets or children, how often do nutters give fake phone numbers, and aliases? Or just disappear all together? They want the right to not only harass, but to have their maulers attack and get away with it.


Anonymous said...

I suppose it isn't a wonder that people whose personalities stir up conflict, are drawn to dogs bred for conflict.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Craven, I just found a couple of papers/studies and thought of your blog. They are a few years old, so maybe you've seen them already, but I'll leave them here anyway.

One is called "Veterinarians' perceptions of behaviour support in small-animal practice" ( and the other "Canine behaviour problems: discussions between veterinarians and dog owners during annual booster consultations" (

Basically, they show that vets have little training regarding behaviour and that owners either know as little as they do or don't really talk about it with them.

I found it interesting, considering all those vet and vet techs (who I imagine are taught even less about behaviour) that are pit/dangerous dogs apologists.

scurrilous amateur blogger said...

thank you

Anonymous said...

Of course.

Your Quiet Neighbor said...

Eddy just published another book called BIFF. It describes his formula for dealing with online attacks from the high-conflict crowd.

Sputnik said...

To Anonymous April 28, 2015 at 5:45 PM

Even veterinarians who call themselves 'veterinary behaviorists' don't really understand animal behavior, genetic influences, or even basic conditioning processes. Check out this review of a book written by a couple of these frauds:

S.K.Y. said...

Oh... Debra Horwitz... I worked as a full-time dog behavior consultant in the same city where she was an adjunct professor. I had completed all my Ph.D. studies in Zoology and in Bio Anthro, but left without completing my dissertation in order to open my behavior practice.

Along the way, I got my now 13 yr. old Border Collie that was from a litter of highly fear-aggressive and noise phobic BCs. I was looking into using a specific type of medicine in conjunction with behavioral modification, so I made an apt. with Horwitz, who was the state's only board-certified veterinary behaviorist. She traveled for visits, was very expensive, and had a months-long waiting list.

Despite my mentioning 20+ years of dog sports competition and academic background (incl. being a guest speaker several times at the same vet school), she basically said that I couldn't possibly know anything about dog behavior because I wasn't a vet.

Because I did not want to neuter my dog at that time (I prefer neutering at age 4+), she refused to prescribe any meds. She said that "people like me" just want meds to cover up crappy temperaments so we can win dog shows and sell aggressive puppies to the public. She stuck by it even after I told her I had never bred a litter in my life. And that I had the #1 Jack Russell in America, who was also the most sports-titled JRT in the world, and that I had neutered him without breeding. Her breeding fears aside, I don't believe neutering has ever been implicated in reducing fear-aggression.

She provided only extremely simplistic advice--basically, to give treats when he didn't act aggressively toward people. That was after I had already explained to her that I had quit my job for six months so that 3,000 people could drop treats on the ground for him, and he would still lunge at people aggressively. I guess she wasn't listening too well. (Note: he was soft-mouthed and never hurt anybody in his life--not even a scratch--or would have been quickly dirt-napped).

Because I wouldn't consider neutering immediately, that bit of advice was all she would offer for the $200 consultation fee. Give treats for not being aggressive. I guess that was something she learned while becoming an "Ultimate Expert." :-)

Anonymous said...

Haha, wow. My sis has a border collide that is so afraid noises (after an earthquake scared the crap out him) that he would not leave the house. They prescribed him xanex (for bad days) and prosaic every day. he lives a mostly happy life and both herds well and does amity and he ostensibly NOT entered. I also did not nueter my golden till he was done growing and developing and he is an awesome dog, gets along with everything unless another dog full on attacks him. then he will defend himself of he has to. But I ran inroads
to a lot of vets who wanted me to neuter him asap like he would ho pit if I didn't. of course I'm sure thistrend started after fighting breeds became popular because none recommend we neuter our border collide we had growing up 10 years ago before pits bee a fad. Also both dogs, actually all three have been attacked by pits. bit no its not the breed.

Anonymous said...

sry for all the mistakes in spelling. doing this on my phone is hard. my main point was with normal dogs its ok to keep intake lol. you rarely have to worry abpit crazy fights. Unlike the intact pit who came into our dog park and went for a put
pay and tried to kill it. the pit was neuttered , had its tags, and slimy s
did not care. luckily a bignore guy came up and grabbed it ( of course the pit owner was horrified)

Anonymous said...

Well. This explains why they own pit bulls I suppose.

They ENJOY the lawsuits that inevitably occur.
They ENJOY fighting BSL.
They ENJOY having to defend their dog against the (mostly deserved) negative preconception of them.

scurrilous amateur blogger said...

this comment was left on the service dog blog post. i thought it belonged here as well.

I have a certified pit bull service dog, CGC and CGCA certified as well. She is five and never had an incident, although she hates escalators, they bother her feet. I have health certs, a letter from my doctor and a copy of my military and SSA papers showing my 100% disability rating, which are not recognizable by just looking at me. Anytime I need a little extra money I go find a trashy 7-11 store and the stinky little manager yells at me in broken English. So I let him kick me out, I am very polite, I record everything and when the cops arrive I get a copy of the report. It is nice to have a little bonus once a year. I am legal, and don't even have to work anymore because ignorant folks think my pit bull is a fake SD. Wrong!!!

Josey W.
Daytona Beach