To begin, I must say I do not pretend to have answers for this problem, but I do know someone who does, and I want to share him and his wisdom with you. The recent on-air shootings of Alison Parker and Adam Ward, who were employees of WDBJ in Virginia, bring to the forefront what Bill Eddy of the High Conflict Institute has been predicting for some time. Bill Eddy is a lawyer from San Diego, California, who is also a licensed social worker, and he has become an internationally known authority on high conflict personalities. In the Dallas Morning News this morning, quoting “wire reports,” the story started out by saying, “Rage, narcissism, a gun and social media combined [in this horrific killing].” I cannot say for sure what Bill Eddy would say about that, but I think he would say that this rage evolved into something way beyond narcissism. Bill Eddy says that, for whatever reason, high conflict personalities are on the rise, and that just as we have seen in this report and shockingly numerous others, this level of rage and violence may continue and even increase. Bill says that there are a list of high conflict personality traits, including narcissism, borderline, histrionic, paranoid, and anti-social. He says we all have some variety of and gradations of these, but when those traits become extreme they can become problematic for those with them or having relationships with them. In my work as a divorce lawyer, I see this every day–clients in a case exhibit many of these traits, but they are short-termed, based on the situation and stress of the divorce. When these traits are long-term and not isolated, they can become serious and dangerous. Bill Eddy has a website at his High Conflict Institute, which provides materials, including books, articles, blogs, and videos to educate us all on techniques and methods to manage those people we encounter with high conflict personalities. Eddy says it is not necessary to be able to diagnose a personality disorder–only to be able to recognize actions that indicate you may be dealing with a conflict personality. His techniques will enable us to interact with those high conflict personalities in a way that hopefully will diffuse their building rage and prevent this level of violence. This is not a simple, quick fix, for a person who has had what they perceive as a lifetime of mistreatment, but Eddy says the first step is recognizing the traits, then implementing his suggestions to temper that perception. As a divorce lawyer, I and countless numbers of my colleagues, use Eddy’s suggestions in our practices every day, to help situations not become escalated to the point of violence. He has materials for dealing with High Conflict Personalities in Legal Disputes, in the Workplace, and for many other situations. I commend his information to you for your study–this is a long-term, pervasive problem in our society, and it will take all of us to try to make it better.
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