Five Types of High-Conflict Personalities

High-conflict personalities are fundamentally adversarial personalities. They don’t see their part in their own problems and instead are preoccupied with blaming others—possibly you. In this blog series, I offer many tips for dealing with high-conflict people (HCPs). Today, I describe the basic features of 5 types of high-conflict personalities, so that you can be aware of them, in order to avoid them or deal with them more effectively.

They all have the basic HCP pattern of:

1) Targets of Blame,

2) a lot of all-or-nothing thinking,

3) unmanaged emotions and

4) extreme behaviors.

In addition, they also have traits of 5 personality disorders. Some may just have traits and others have a full disorder. This can make them very difficult, but also more predictable. Here is a very brief overview of some of their common patterns of behavior:

1. Antisocial HCPs: These are also known as sociopaths or psychopathsaggressive people without a conscience. Antisocial personalities can be extremely charming and deceptive, combined with being extremely cruel to get what they want. Antisocial HCPs blame their Targets for causing their many frustrations, interfering with their schemes or simply because they got in the way. They are con artists, often involved in criminal schemes and loyal to no one—not even each other. (This does not include people who just “don’t feel social” this weekend.)

They punish their Targets in relationships and then expect sex and affection even after hurting them. They seem to be more biologically energized to harm people without remorse. For example, the Texas shooter in yesterday’s mass church shooting was reportedly angry at his estranged wife’s parents, and so went to kill everyone at the church they attended. Would he fit here?

2. Narcissistic HCPs: Most people are familiar with the self-absorption of narcissistic personalities, but narcissistic HCPs focus intensely on their Targets of Blame. They are constantly putting them down, often in public, in an effort to prove they are superior beings. They use a lot of insults with their partners, yet at the same time they demand admiration and affection. They claim their behavior is justified because others treat them so unfairly. Yet they have no real empathy for their Targets of Blame or anyone else. In the workplace, they are known for “kicking down” (on those below them) and “kissing up” (to those above them), so that management won’t realize how bad they really are. Bullying and sexual harassment may fit right into their drive for power and superiority.

3. Borderline HCPs: They are preoccupied with their close relationships and cling to them. However, sooner or later they will treat their partners, children, parents, co-workers, bosses, and others as Targets of Blame for any perceived abandonment. Their rages can be quite dangerous: physically, emotionally, legally, financially, reputationally or otherwise. Yet their moods swing both ways, so you may feel whip-sawed by how quickly they go from friendly to rage to friendly again (and then rage again).

As a therapist and lawyer, I have seen many borderline HCPs fighting for custody in family court against their Targets of Blame with extreme behavior including domestic violence, child alienation and/or false allegations. They are both men and women, driven to cling to their children (and each other) to avoid feelings of abandonment.

4. Paranoid HCPs: They can be suspicious of everyone around them, and believe there are conspiracies to block their careers at work, their friendships and their family relationships. They can carry grudges for years, and then punish their Targets of Blame. Paranoid HCPs may believe that those around them are about to harm them, so they may pre-emptively attack their Targets. They easily feel treated unjustly and in the workplace, some experts say “the majority of lawsuits are filed by this type of coworker.” (Cavaiola & Lavender, 2000)

5. Histrionic HCPs: This personality is most often associated with drama and endless emotional stories. Yet histrionic HCPs often accuse their Targets of Blame of exaggerated or fabricated behavior, to hurt them or to manipulate them. They assume relationships are deeper than they are so that they are constantly feeling surprised and hurt by how others react to them. They demand to be the center of attention and attack their Targets of Blame when they are not. They often involve others in their many complaints, which can lead to public accusations and humiliation for their Targets of Blame.

Overview: None of these HCP personality patterns have anything to do with intelligence, as they range from super smart to not very smart at all, like the rest of the population. There are some personality disorders in every occupation, geographic region (although slightly more in urban areas) and income group (although lower income has slightly more, the higher income ones can attract more attention).

It’s important to note that many people with personality disorders are not HCPs, which means that they do not have Targets of Blame who they attack or purposely injure. But if you see someone with a high-conflict personality, the fact that they also have traits of a personality disorder means that they are unlikely to have insight into their own behavior and unlikely to change. This means that you should be careful to avoid the mistakes I mentioned in my last blog. You also may want to consider using the methods I describe in the coming weeks.

 

Babushkas for Putin

Russian women, who outlive men by more than a decade on average,
are among the president’s biggest fans, especially older women.

“Putin is respected by everyone, so men should pay attention to how and what he does,” Anna Veresova, 75, a retired teacher, told me. “In theory, he is the perfect man to have around.”

 61 percent of his votescame from women and just 39 percent from men. The gender gap has persisted:

.. For the election on Sunday, 69.2 percent of women said they planned to vote for Putin, while only 57.5 percent of men did

.. Most said they were doing so in part because he was a good man — strong, healthy and active.

.. Ms. Veresova and the other women I photographed live in a world of very few men. Russian women outlive Russian men by over a decade

.. women are expected to live until 76, and men to just 65.

.. By the time women reach retirement age, their husbands have often died, and their days consist of taking care of grandchildren, spending time with other older women and watching television.

.. On the one hand, no one I spoke with seemed to feel that they were worse off, exactly: Even before their husbands died, the women were already doing all the household chores. Most saw retirement as a chance to relax, to try things they’d always wanted to do. I met women who became professional divers, started horseback riding, were learning to use smartphones and were singing in choirs. One started a business.

.. And yet their emotional response to Mr. Putin — the only man their age who is a presence in their lives — seems to speak to both the holes and the scars that Russian men, in their absence, have left. Mr. Putin is not lazy, these women say. He doesn’t drink. He’s calm, sober, even charming.

.. He looked into the camera, praised Russia’s women who “take care of our homes and children every day.” He recited poetry. The babushkas alone in their homes watched.

Lupita Nyong’o: Speaking Out About Harvey Weinstein

he informed me that we would be having lunch at a restaurant before getting to his home. I did not think much of this. It was a busy restaurant, and as soon as we sat down he ordered a vodka and diet soda for himself. I asked for a juice. Harvey was unimpressed with my choice and told the waiter to bring me a vodka and diet soda instead. I declined and said I wanted the juice. We went back and forth until finally he turned to the waiter and said, “Get her what I tell you to get her. I’m the one paying the bill.” I smiled and remained silent. The waiter left and returned with a vodka and diet soda for me. He placed it on the table beside my water. I drank the water. Harvey told me that I needed to drink the vodka and diet soda. I informed him that I would not.

“Why not?” I remember him asking. “Because I don’t like vodka, and I don’t like diet soda, and I don’t like them together,” I said. “You are going to drink that,” he insisted. I smiled again and said that I wouldn’t. He gave up and called me stubborn. I said, “I know.” And the meal proceeded without much further ado. In this second encounter with Harvey, I found him to be pushy and idiosyncratic more than anything.

.. he insisted I go with him, laying down the law as though I too was one of his children.

.. I was after all on his premises, and the members of his household, the potential witnesses, were all (strategically, it seems to me now) in a soundproof room.

.. He responded with exactly the words I needed to hear: Come with whomever you want to come with. And so I invited two of my trusted male friends.

.. My friends had been equally charmed by Harvey. He knew when to turn it on if he wanted something. He was definitely a bully, but he could be really charming, which was disarming and confusing. I left feeling that perhaps he had learned my boundaries and was going to respect them.

.. I was expecting that it would be a group of us, as it had been for the reading, but she informed me it would just be Mr. Weinstein. She would sit with me until he arrived. She seemed on edge, but I could only imagine how stressful it was to work for a man who had so much going on.

.. Harvey arrived and the assistant immediately disappeared.

.. Again he was offended by my nonalcoholic beverage choice but he didn’t fight me on it as hard.

.. Before the starters arrived, he announced: “Let’s cut to the chase. I have a private room upstairs where we can have the rest of our meal.” I was stunned. I told him I preferred to eat in the restaurant. He told me not to be so naïve. If I wanted to be an actress, then I had to be willing to do this sort of thing. He said he had dated Famous Actress X and Y and look where that had gotten them.

.. I mustered up the courage to politely decline his offer. “You have no idea what you are passing up,” he said. “With all due respect, I would not be able to sleep at night if I did what you are asking, so I must pass,” I replied.

.. “I just want to know that we are good,” I said.

“I don’t know about your career, but you’ll be fine,” he said. It felt like both a threat and a reassurance at the same time; of what, I couldn’t be sure.

.. I was in Toronto for the premiere of “12 Years a Slave,” the first feature film I was in. At an after-party, he found me and evicted whoever was sitting next to me to sit beside me.

.. I turned down the role, but Harvey would not take no for an answer. While at Cannes, he insisted on meeting with me in person. I agreed to do it only because my agent would be present.

.. He said he was open to making it bigger, more significant, maybe they could add a love scene. He said if I did this one for him, he would do another one for me — basically guaranteeing backing a star-vehicle film for me. I ran out of ways of politely saying no and so did my agent

.. But I also did not know that there was a world in which anybody would care about my experience with him.

.. He was one of the first people I met in the industry, and he told me, “This is the way it is.”

.. everyone seemed to be bracing themselves and dealing with him, unchallenged.

..  I did not know that anybody wanted things to change. So my survival plan was to avoid Harvey and men like him at all costs, and I did not know that I had allies in this.

.. all the projects I have been a part of have had women in positions of power, along with men who are feminists in their own right who have not abused their power

.. combating the shame we go through that keeps us isolated and allows for harm to continue

.. stay vigilant and ensure that the professional intimacy is not abused

.. I hope we can form a community where a woman can speak up about abuse and not suffer another abuse by not being believed and instead being ridiculed. That’s why we don’t speak up — for fear of suffering twice

In Country Music, Nice Guys Finish First (for Now)

At the time, country music was still reckoning with its bro tendencies. For most of the 2010s, 20-something men in weathered baseball caps injected the genre with an almost comical masculinity — brawny, hip-hop-inflected sounds, lyrics that treated women as objects of lurid attention. Stars like Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line were making intriguing musical hybrids with often woeful gender politics.

.. Mr. Rhett sings gently, with the faintest hint of soul-music syrup in his barely-accented voice. “Die a Happy Man” was so straightforward it landed with a shock. It became Mr. Rhett’s breakthrough hit, topping the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart for 17 weeks.

As often happens, it also became a template: the country gentleman. And so Nashville’s bro tide is now receding, supplanted by a kindlier new generation of male country singers. They focus on uncomplicated, deeply dedicated love or, alternately, being hopeless on the receiving end of heartbreak.

.. They sing with voices light on drawl. They ooze respect, charm and, occasionally, dullness. At times they recall George Strait, the restrained cowboy superstar; at others, Earl Thomas Conley, the emotional ballad specialist of the 1980s.

.. More often than not, they have sturdy, approachable, single-syllable last names: Thomas Rhett, Brett Young, Chris Lane, Michael Ray.

.. They are the men next door, promising undying affection and emotional stability — a cliché, perhaps, but one more appealing than the last.

.. This surge also doubles as a response to the gender crisis that has been gripping country music the last few years, as captured in two parallel phenomena: the rise of the bro, and the disappearance of the female star.

.. For most of this decade, the genre’s male stars have been strutters: egocentric, bumblingly flirtatious, a little dunce-y.

At the same time, female singers have been getting squeezed ever more tightly

.. younger artists like Maddie & Tae and Kelsea Ballerini found success by positioning themselves in opposition to prevailing masculine narratives.

.. It dilutes the toxic levels of masculinity in the genre without offering women songs of their own to sing, instead plying them with ones that place them on a pedestal.

.. This is the emo side of the gentleman, looking inward for shortcomings, not outward.

In the bro era, women were objects to be chased. In these songs, they’re porcelain, gleaming and precious.

Scaramucci learned his press tactics from Wall Street. They’ll only get uglier.

When Anthony Scaramucci took over as White House communications director, prompting the resignation of press secretary Sean Spicer, the initial reaction from Washington journalists was warily optimistic. Where Spicer was aggressive and hostile, Scaramucci would be “smooth ” and affable. He even blew a kiss to end his first press briefing. These looked like signs of a thaw. After all, officials and reporters in Washington may still joke around after a bad story or a slight; the hostility is often for show.  Politics is communal and built on co-dependency.

Finance is different. It is individualist and zero-sum. As a reporter and editor covering Wall Street for 18 years, I studied the industry’s aggressive approach toward the press: Financiers, and the multibillion-dollar companies they work for, are friendly and charming as long as you see things their way, and they do everything they can to win reporters over. But when reporters don’t buy their line, the Wall Street answer is to get intransigent journalists removed from stories.

.. President Trump reportedly liked that Scaramucci’s pushback about an inaccurate CNN story — complete with rumored threat of legal action — led to the departures of three veteran investigative journalists. Scaramucci pointedly called on a CNN reporter at his first briefing and a few days later said, on a hot microphone, that network boss Jeff Zucker “helped me get the job by hitting those guys,” referring to the unemployed reporters.

.. There’s every reason to believe that the White House team sees this as a model: It will not worry about the accuracy of what is published, only whether the tone is Trump-friendly.

.. Of his new job, Scaramucci says, “It is a client service business, and [Trump] is my client.”

.. When a negative report was in the works, company representatives often called up the journalist writing it and tried to ingratiate themselves with a charming introduction and some light chitchat. The point was to humanize the people at the firm so that journalists would feel guilty reporting negatively about it.

.. When a piece was in process, they’d follow up daily, trying to get a sense of who the journalist’s sources were and the direction of the story. The key at this point was to keep their enemies close.

.. My favorite of their techniques, used by two major investment houses, was to flatly deny a story that I knew was accurate.

.. When charm didn’t work, I saw or heard about firms

  • wheedling,
  • pleading,
  • threatening,
  • calling editors and even
  • contacting media executives.

Insults and obscenities were common. One troubled hedge fund’s foul-mouthed manager called me every day for a week with some new litany of abuse.

 .. Other companies tried to co-opt aggressive reporters by offering them lucrative jobs
.. If the full-court press failed, the next step was usually to call the reporter’s editor and complain that the subject didn’t feel he or she was getting a fair shake. The point was to undermine a reporter’s support within their organization, with a view toward neutralizing their reporting.
Anything the reporter had said, even in a casual conversation, could be used as evidence of an ulterior motive. Refusing to finesse quotes was seen as biased intransigence.
.. Every journalist who covers Wall Street knows that banks keep tabs on them, sometimes spoken of as “dossiers,” though they’re nothing fancy: reporters’ articles, backgrounds, editors, potentially revealing comments they may have made to the bank’s communications team. Financial firms have multiple people picking over journalists’ past work, looking for a word or phrase that could be interpreted as biased.
.. A senior executive at Uber once suggested that the company compile opposition research on journalists who wrote critical stories.
Microsoft once broke into the Hotmail account of a blogger while pursuing the source of internal leaks.
.. The last technique I saw used against news organizations was threats, and this is what Scaramucci appears to have mastered with CNN.
  • At different publications, I saw the names of Russian oligarchs removed from stories after threats of lawsuits. ‘
  • Once, an editor killed an entire investigation because the Koch brothers threatened a lawsuit if it went forward.
  • In my first job, writing for a tiny finance trade publication, the treasurer of a multibillion-dollar company told me in an interview that the firm planned to raise money by selling bonds — then called back and threatened to sue if I quoted his on-the-record comment.

.. Business is often a zero-sum proposition, and executives sometimes see their relationships with journalists that way, too.

So forget the pleasant tone and the cheerful smiles that Scaramucci brought at first. The White House press corps now faces a much more aggressive, much more personal fight than the Beltway is used to.

It’s not crazy to believe that a few more journalists may lose something beyond their access to the White House — they may lose their beats or even their jobs

Maggie Haberman, Snake Charmer

old-school talk therapist, disbursing neutral prompts to draw him out and keep him going.

.. Haberman knows how to conjure it forth: with flattery, simple questions, and boundless patience.

.. also gently calls him on inaccuracies in a way that opens him up rather than shutting him down. When the president asserts (incorrectly) that the New York Times hasn’t covered the Susan Rice story, Haberman replies, “We’ve written about it twice.” Then she transforms his ego-wounded dig into a request for edification: “You mean there’s more information that we’re not aware of?”

 

.. HABERMAN: Sir, if you could give us more information about Rice. If the administration would give us more information—

TRUMP: No, you have a lot of information. No, you have so much information.

HABERMAN: If you would have given it to us last week, we would have written it. Would you declassify some of the information so that—

TRUMP: I don’t want to talk about that.

HABERMAN: No? OK.

TRUMP: No. I just don’t want to talk about that. It’s such an important story for our country, for the world. What took place.

HABERMAN: Why not talk about it then? With all due respect.

TRUMP: At the right time, I will be.

 .. Haberman appeals to the president’s vanity. When he complains that “the highways are in poor shape,” she eggs him on: “What about the airports?” When Trump takes the bait (“I think the airports are a horror show”) and tacks on a self-congratulatory aside (“I’ve traveled the world, I know the world”), she seizes the opportunity to flatter him further. “And, well, you’ve traveled the country,” Haberman notes with admiration. “Tell us what you thought.”

Jason Chaffetz is Fleeing Scandal—But Maybe not on His Own

Why is one of the most ambitious lawmakers in Washington retiring from Congress?

In the political world, to Chaffetz means to throw a former mentor under the bus in order to get ahead, and various prominent Republicans, from former Utah governor and presidential candidate Jon Huntsman Jr. to House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, have experienced what it’s like to get Chaffetzed.

.. Chaffetz, who on Thursday said he might not finish out his term, has been considered a contender for Utah governor in 2020 and perhaps one day for the presidency.

.. The once-brash congressional inquisitor has twisted himself into a pretzel trying to explain why he hasn’t been investigating President Trump, the most conflict-ridden commander-in-chief in modern US history.

.. after graduating he went to work for a local multilevel marketing company—think Amway—called Nu Skin, where he worked in PR.

.. allegations that the company was operating as a pyramid scheme. (The company has been Chaffetz’s biggest campaign donor.)

.. He worked briefly in the coal industry, unsuccessfully applied to join the Secret Service, and eventually started a marketing firm with his brother called Maxtera.

.. the former place-kicker campaigned largely on a harsh, anti-immigration platform.

.. leg wrestling Stephen Colbert on the Colbert Report.

.. a media charm offensive that would make Chaffetz popular among journalists, whom he cultivated assiduously by passing out his personal cellphone number to reporters and accepting almost any interview request. It’s all about “old-fashioned human relationships,” he told National Journal in 2015. “You’ve got to get out there and invest the time. Work with the media!”

.. a House Republican strategy session and told the assembled members, “I am your worst nightmare.” He explained how the advent of social media had allowed him to bypass the mainstream media and, with very little funding, knock off an establishment candidate.

.. Chaffetz may have underestimated Hatch, whose mild-mannered exterior belies a ruthless political operator. There’s a reason he’s served longer than any Republican senator since Strom Thurmond.

.. There was a bit of information they were going to disclose if he ran. Things were going to get ugly.

.. Chaffetz stapled himself to Mitt Romney, serving as a regular campaign surrogate for the failed GOP presidential nominee, whom he endorsed over his former mentor, Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.

.. Chaffetz, now running for reelection in 2012, quickly found other ways to nab the spotlight. Before the FBI had secured the Benghazi compound following the September 11 attacks that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, Chaffetz demanded to visit the scene in his capacity as the chairman of the House oversight subcommittee on national security and foreign operations. He dashed off to Libya less than a month later—without any Democrats, as the oversight committee’s policy dictates—to supposedly conduct an independent investigation.

.. The closest he got to the crime scene was Tripoli, 400 miles away.

Chaffetz, who had previously voted to cut $300 million from the State Department’s budget for embassy security, claimed the purpose of his trip was to discern whether the Obama administration had denied requests for more security for the Benghazi compound.

.. He launched a campaign to win the chairmanship of the House oversight committee, then run by the bellicose Rep. Darrell Issa

.. Chaffetz campaigned for the chairmanship as the anti-Issa, implicitly critiquing the oversight chairman’s combative style and suggesting that he could bring to the committee an element of media savvy that Issa lacked. Once again, Chaffetz stabbed a mentor in the back and won.

.. one of his first moves was taking down the portraits of past chairmen, including Issa, that hung in the hearing room. Issa was not pleased. “It’s not a big deal, but it’s just indicative of what his mindset was and how self-centered he is,”

.. Fellow lawmakers, Bardella notes, were repelled that “Jason would be so willing to throw under the bus someone who really tried to help mentor him, for his own gain.”

.. He’d chaired the oversight committee for less than a year before launching an audacious bid for speaker of the House when John Boehner retired. Aside from being a very junior member of Congress, Chaffetz’s bid for the speakership also meant he would be running against his friend and former champion, Rep. Kevin McCarthy.

.. Jon Huntsman tweeted: “.@GOPLeader McCarthy just got “Chaffetzed.” Something I know a little something about. #selfpromoter #powerhungry

.. threatening to impeach the head of the IRS over his handling of the nonprofit status of tea party groups and suggesting there might be grounds to remove President Barack Obama from office over Benghazi.

.. HRC, a.k.a. Hillary Rodham Clinton, would have been good for Chaffetz’s political fortunes, however.

.. These listening sessions are typically subdued affairs, but this one drew hundreds of angry constituents, who demanded to know why the chairman of the House oversight committee was not doing more to investigate President Trump.

.. I think he used the fact that he could investigate an administration of an opposing party to his advantage during the Obama years that allowed him to be in front of the cameras repeatedly, and to be seen as pursuing the interests of the Republican Party. But I think what has people, or at least some people, in his district concerned is the appearance of a double standard, that he was very eager to investigate Hillary Clinton and has been extremely hesitant to pursue serious questions about the Trump administration.”

.. Evan McMullin, who launched his anti-Trump effort in Utah, had suggested he might consider challenging Chaffetz or Hatch.

.. “He has almost the perfect rainbow of hate. Liberals will never think he’s doing enough in that position. And of course the alt-right may think anything he does against President Trump is feeding into this frenzy against their president. It has put him in a place where it’s very tough to do right by anyone.”

.. Chaffetz, a canny political operator, has surely read the tea leaves, wagering that it is in his best interests to sit out the bruising political fights of the Trump administration’s first term lest Trump bring Chaffetz down with him.

.. he may take the path of other high-profile members of Congress and nab a lucrative contract with one of the networks, where he can maintain his visibility, build up his bank account, and bide his time for the right moment to get back in the political game.

.. his campaign committee registered the domains Jason2028.com and JasonChaffetz2028.com.