What is High Conflict Personality?
A person with a High Conflict Personality (HCP) usually has underlying trauma associated with distinct personality traits. Traditional diagnostic categories characterize persons with these personality qualities as “dramatic, emotional or erratic” cluster (Cluster B) that includes antisocial, borderline, narcissistic and histrionic personality “disorders.” Personality issues are often longstanding patterns of behavior and experience that adversely affect a person’s interrelationships with others and ability to function effectively in the world. People with HCP do not necessarily fall neatly into one of these recognized categories. Instead, they can demonstrate symptoms from one or more of the Cluster B diagnostic categories, and they may by exclusion fit into the category of “Personality disorder not otherwise specified.”
How is High Conflict Personality treated?
In most cases, psychotherapy is the treatment of choice for HCP, whether in an individual or group setting. Since HCP Clients have been helped by both psychodynamic and cognitive-behavioral treatment modalities, therapists have several tools at their disposal. One, in particular, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), a method of psychotherapy originally developed to treat Borderline Personality Disorder, has been effective for Clients with HCP, as the two disorders have many characteristics in common. While medication may not be the treatment of first resort, it can be appropriate for some Clients, especially for those who may be suffering from other psychological issues, especially mood disorders, in addition to HCP.
What Causes High Conflict Personality?
Like many psychiatric disorders, specific causes of HCP have not been clearly identified. In general, research has demonstrated an association between personality disorders and abuse or neglect early in life. There are many theoretical constructs that attempt to explain the circumstances that give rise to one disorder or another, but definitive causes are generally elusive. If nothing else, it is fair to say that there is no demonstrable link between these disorders and any genetic or physiological condition, although temperament may play a role in their development. It is believed that HCP is related to an insecure or disrupted attachment in childhood. Accordingly, the symptoms of HCP can clearly be exacerbated by situations like divorce or relationship difficulties (that are filled with conflict even for people without HCP).