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Characteristics of High Conflict Parents

High Conflict Parents…

  • Are highly self-righteous, vindictive, and vengeful.
  • Believe it is always the other parent’s fault (a list of transgressions is readily available).
  • Express a “narcissistic rage” towards their spouse (everything is taken personally and is construed as a threat or insult).
  • Believe that the other parent doesn’t deserve to exist, much less have a part in their child’s life.
  • Have become emotionally abusive and destructive to their child.
  • Lack insight into the negative impact of their behavior.

Bill Eddy’s 25 Characteristics of High Conflict Personalities

The High Conflict Institute was founded by Bill Eddy to provide education and resources to anyone who is faced with a High Conflict dispute, or involved in relationships of any kind with people who have High Conflict Personalities.

  1. Long History of Relationship Conflicts
  2. History of Abuse in Childhood or Disrupted Early Childhood Relationships
  3. Views Relationships as Inherently Adversarial
  4. Inability to Accept and Heal Loss
  5. Lack of Insight into Own Behavior
  6. Denial of Responsibility in Contributing to Conflicts
  7. Perpetual Self-Identification as a Victim
  8. Projection of Own Problems onto Others
  9. Preoccupation with Analyzing and Blaming Others
  10. Intense Emotions Over-Rule Thinking
  11. All-or-Nothing Thinking
  12. High Level of Mistrust or Paranoia
  13. Denial of Responsibility for Resolving Conflicts
  14. Persistent Drive to Control Others
  15. High Level of Aggressive Energy
  16. Persistent Drive to be Center of Attention
  17. Difficulty Connecting Present Actions to Future Consequences
  18. Avoidance of Mental Health Treatment
  19. Defensive about Any Feedback
  20. Unconscious Distortions and Delusions
  21. Conscious Lying and Fabrication of Events
  22. Expects Legal Process to Provide Revenge and/or Vindication
  23. Inappropriately Involves Others in Disputes (children, neighbors, co-workers)
  24. Views Friends and Family as Either Allies or Enemies
  25. Triggers Confusion and Conflict Among Professionals

Children Whose Parents are in High Conflict…

  • Lead lives of instability and confusion: Co-parental discord represents the one element of divorce presenting the greatest potential for harm to children, not the divorce itself (Lamb, et al. 1997; Pruett et al. 2004; Kelly, 2007; Featherstone, 2004; Kelly and Ward, 2002; Jaffee, et al. 2008).
  • Are caught in loyalty binds and may feel the need to “choose” one parent and reject the other: The highly conflicted child seeks to reduce stress in their life and actively “picks” to be with one parent to minimize their internal conflicts in loyalty.
  • Cannot express their true feelings: Children will attempt to reduce conflict and maintain relationships with both parents by telling the parents what they want to hear.
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