Breaking Mental Illness, Violence, Divorce, and Murder CyclesWritten by: June Print This Article
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Our world suffers from an epidemic of destructive family cycles. These cycles occur with mothers and fathers and are passed along to their children who in turn become destructive. While much has been written about family violence, a lot of it is misleading. Further, it frequently misses the connections between violence and the problems of mental illness and divorce.
Bad parenting, mental illness, child abuse, and even child murder are problems that occur with both men and women. But the “victim feminists” of this world would like to make us all believe that mothers can never do anything wrong. In the process, they are contributing to the abuse and death of children that could be avoided, and are helping to set up future generations for similar horrid outcomes.
Top Psycho Moms: 10 of the Worst
A few days ago, I ran across a very interesting list in a blog post Top Psycho Moms: 10 of the Worst on the The Psycho Ex-Wife website. This list points out ten of the worst cases of mothers who murdered their children. As you may know, that website is run by a family who has experience with an ex-wife who they believe has Borderline Personality Disorder. I’ve learned quite a bit about how mentally ill spouses behave from reading that site, it is definitely one you should examine if you think your current partner or ex is harmfully crazy.
The point of mentioning this list is not to single out moms as the source of destructive family cycles, it is to make it very clear that contrary to popularized feminist propaganda, family violence is a problem that involves both genders. Men commit a share of family violence, but blaming men exclusively for it is irresponsible and dangerous. In the last few decades, it has been conclusively shown by competent and well-reputed researchers and studies that family violence is committed by women and that female violence is far more widespread than the still-inaccurate perceptions of the public suggest. Terminating these destructive family cycles requires many steps, but among the first is for all of us to acknowledge that family violence is not a gender issue and to stop treating it as such.
Many Murderous Moms are Mentally Ill
What I realized when reading that list is that many of these deaths could have been prevented with reasonable mental health care and safety precautions. But in Western nations, the rights of the mentally ill have trumped the civil and personal safety rights of others. Getting a 5150 psychiatric confinement (or similar) ordered for a person like the murderous moms in the list is difficult until after they have done something horrible. The person has to be beyond a raving lunatic for it to happen, clearly demonstrating an immediate mortal danger to themselves or others. Usually these people have enough self-control they can hide much of their illnesses for a while from police and even from skilled mental health care professionals.
Mental Illness is Hidden
Parents who murder their families have often shown many signs of mental illness and dangerous behaviors, but they are hidden except from people living with them who are emotionally entangled with them. This is particularly common for mental health disorders such as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).
Unfortunately, such people are usually in denial about their mental illness and they do a good job of covering it up by discrediting the people who know they are sick. They will often attack the people who know how sick they are with distortion campaigns that may make it appear they are victims of their targets rather than the victimizers they truly are.
Female Borderlines are particularly good at this because the sexist myths and victim feminism widespread in Western societies make it all too easy for others to believe it must be the man with the problems. The end result is that truly disturbed people who could be helped don’t get the help they need. Often they end up with primary custody of children who are put in harm’s way by the mentally ill and the broken mental health care and family justice systems.
Professionals Don’t Diagnose Accurately and Can’t Force Treatment
Mental health professionals are often afraid of stating an accurate diagnoses for somebody with BPD. They chose to cover it up so they won’t be attacked and possibly can keep the patient in treatment for a little while longer. But this is a mistake. It enables their patients to continue to harm others and gives their targets no way to defend themselves. Some of the less adept mental health professionals, particularly ones who identify with victim feminism, get sucked in by the distortion campaigns and become co-aggressors with the Borderline.
Churches and Religious Groups Sometimes Contribute to Mental Illness
Other mentally ill people are surrounded by “do gooders” who are too willing to overlook signs of danger in the belief that a “good Christian friend” couldn’t possibly do something as bad as many of the murderous moms on that list did. Yet many of them were very religious and involved in church and other religious organizations. One wonders whether fanatical belief systems of some of these groups (particularly the one in which Andrea Yates was involved) drove these murderous moms to commit their horrific crimes.
Clergy need to be educated on psychology and helping people to get appropriate mental health care. Western societies also need to de-stigmatize mental health care to make it more tractable for clergy and others around a mentally ill person to do something about it without feeling like they are committing some moral wrong against the person who needs help. Although there has been a lot of progress in this area in recent decades, there is still a long way to go.
Mental Illness, Domestic Violence, and Divorce Are Related
When a child is abused, the risk of developing long-term mental illness skyrockets. If the child develops lasting mental illness, it is often hidden and not addressed until far into adulthood, if ever. People with such histories are more likely to have difficulty in relationships and more likely to commit domestic violence.
Both of these contribute to divorce. Such divorces often result in the family unit being ripped to shreds with primary or sole custody of minor children often going to the less mentally healthy parent because that parent is good at terrorizing the other parent, blocking access (part of the parental alienation child abuse pattern), and/or playing victim and duping government agencies and courts into making bad decisions.
Particularly sickening is how these flawed systems combined with a mentally ill abuser can spread mental illness like a plague. When a family is terrorized by a mentally ill member, even if that person doesn’t murder anybody, waves of mental illness spread out affecting everybody around the bad situation. Siblings, the other parent, grandparents, friends, aunts, uncles, and others close to the family may develop a range of mental illnesses including depression, anxiety, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, eating disorders, attachment disorder, or other illnesses.
When you think about why this happens, it is not surprising. For instance, if you are the target parent of a mentally ill spouse or former spouse who conducts years of parental alienation, defamation, false allegations, interference with medical care for children, abusing the children, and perhaps even eventually murdering one or more of your children, what possible outcome can there be other than to develop a mental illness? Such a life is not happy and is filled with conflict and often despair. This is fertile ground for mental illness to grow. Such targets often spend their days being treated like criminals despite not having done anything criminal, develop anxiety about more false accusations and what is happening to their children, can’t perform at their jobs, and for those reasons and more develop increasing anxiety and depression. Their lives are out of control in some nightmare created for them by someone who has betrayed them and is out to ruin them. Who wouldn’t feel depressed and anxious about that?
Mental health care in the United States needs to be funded at a higher level to raise awareness, destigmatize mental health disorders so that people can admit they have problems and get the help they need, and provide treatment for people who need it. Employees in the family law system and government agencies such as CPS and police need better education on detecting mental illness and getting others help for it. Perjury must be punished on a routine basis, starting with misdemeanor perjury charges and working up to severe penalties for repeat offenses or offenses by government employees who lie to try to “help” others.
The adversarial nature of the current systems in these areas must be removed. There must also be ready access to neutral professionals who can help intervene when families cannot resolve conflicts. Jayne Major has written a paper she presented at a parental alienation conference in March 2009 that outlines some ideas for how to reform the family law system by taking the courts out of most of it. You can read it at The Macabre Dance of Family Law Court, Abnormal Psychology, and Parental Alienation Syndrome. Her ideas are a very promising start.
Cost of Status Quo vs. Cost of Change
The apparent costs of these changes may be high. However, some statistics suggest that as much as 25% of the crime in the United States is a direct result of failures in family law courts and mental health care systems as they relate to children and families. Catherine MacWillie, a former LAPD officer and founder of Custody Calculations, a company working on ways to fix problems in the family courts, states:
Chief Executive Officer, Catherine MacWillie, said that she was ignorant of the many issues facing parents of children with special needs at the onset of her research 10 years ago. A prior police officer for 24 years, Catherine MacWillie began researching the issue of divorce after identifying that perhaps as much as 25 percent of all crime in this country is related to family law, homicides, suicides, kidnaps, abductions, child abuse, domestic violence, violation of court orders and more.
The family law courts are flooded with high-conflict cases. CPS and police involvement in high-conflict divorces is already routine, expensive, and sometimes deadly. Police know that domestic violence calls are some of the most dangerous ones for them. Many parents end up being turned into criminals by these systems for no good reason, thus running up major losses in tax revenues and increases in government prison costs and child support costs.
If the enormous costs of today’s destructive and inept family law, family justice, and mental health systems could be reduced significantly, the savings might be enough to pay for many of the needed changes. Improved results are likely to take time before they yield savings, but they cannot be expected to occur without some investment in improving the current dismal situation.
Upgrading Practical Psychological Skills Education for Kids
Part of what is needed can be accomplished at a relatively low cost by vastly increasing the amount of psychology, parenting, and relationship education provided in public schools from elementary school to high school. Today, most public schools have little to no education in any of these areas.
Teaching Partner Relationship Skills Helps Reduce Violence
Adolescents commonly receive “sex education” in the United States, but that’s mainly about the biology of human reproduction and sexually transmitted health problems. Most programs don’t address child abuse, partner violence, mental illness, relationship skills, and so forth. This is very shortsighted as tendencies towards domestic violence, abuse, and many mental illnesses typically start in the home as young children or during early relationships in junior high and high school. Many adolescents have been known to hit a boyfriend or girlfriend in anger or to engage in verbal or emotional abuse. They need to learn how to deal with relationship difficulties without violence and harassment.
The Safe Dates educational program has demonstrated a reduction of more than 50% in partner violence based upon four-year follow-up surveys. Long-term, programs such as this might help to reduce partner violence and exposure of children to child abuse and development of mental illness.
Psychological Education Should Start in Early Grade School
However, personally I don’t think Safe Dates is enough even if it may help a lot. My experiences with children of divorce and my own life lead me to believe that many of us who have been victimized by abusers didn’t understand how abnormal their behaviors, that we shouldn’t have to tolerate them, and also believed that nobody would believe us. Having spent a lot of time learning about psychology, spending time teaching classes for children of various ages, and enduring an abusive relationship myself, I think the time to start teaching about psychology and abuse is during early grade school, about the time that kids start learning how to read.
Anger Management for Kids
Starting around first grade, children should be exposed to lessons on anger, anger management, and avoiding and diffusing conflicts. This is probably a topic that can be revisited frequently until third grade to reinforce it well and then occasionally thereafter. Situations change as kids get older, so reinforcing anger management skills as the years go by with age-appropriate examples is a good idea. I’ve listed some well-reviewed books on anger management kids below.
Child Abuse – Focus on Detection, Coping, and Seeking Help
By the middle of grade school, perhaps third grade, kids should be exposed to education on child abuse that starts to explain appropriate skills for parents and older siblings and what behaviors are not reasonable or acceptable. The educational information should include advice on how to diffuse conflicts that are escalating by disengaging and how to get help for a friend, sibling, or self if a child feels abused. It should emphasize fixing the problems, not assigning blame. Most definitely, it is important to point out to kids that they learn by example, as did their parents and grandparents. If they are feeling abused, it is likely their abuser was also abused. And it is possible that if they don’t work to make the problems stop, they will become abusers themselves.
The education shouldn’t be limited to physical abuse. As odd as this may sound, physical abuse is likely less of a threat to kids than emotional and verbal abuse. That’s in part because physical abuse is much more likely to be noted by teachers, classmates, and others who will get help for the child and family. Unfortunately, emotionally and verbally abused kids often don’t have any visible marks of the damage they have suffered. Further, physical wounds often heal faster than the emotional and psychological ones. Therefore it is important to explain the concepts of emotional and verbal abuse in ways that kids can understand them. They may be likened to the playground bully who grew up without learning to stop bullying.
Finally, the topics of bodily privacy and sexual abuse must be covered. This is also an opportunity to educate children about lying and manipulation to harm others. False sexual abuse allegations are often used by mentally ill parents who want to harm the other parent. Children need to learn what real sexual abuse is versus false sexual abuse both to protect themselves and to protect their parents who are not harming them from being falsely accused by a malicious parent.
Dealing with Anxiety
Kids need to learn how to deal with worries, anxiety, and embarrassments. They also need to learn that it is OK to need help from experts like counselors, therapists, and doctors and it doesn’t mean they are crazy or bad people. Instruction in methods to analyze and cope with worries should start by early grade school and continue through high school. The crazy teen years with peer pressure and raging hormones are difficult. Preparing them for much of it in advance and continuing to provide reinforcement and escape hatches to get to expert help when needed could go a long way towards preventing crises such as involvement in drugs and emotionally-disturbed crimes like assaults and even murders that are committed by children who can’t deal with their emotions.
Many children who grow up in neglectful or abusive households have parents who have substance abuse problems. Sadly, children who have parents who are substance abusers are at increased risk of such problems themselves. Besides the obvious poor behavior models that addicted parents demonstrate, it may also indicate a genetic tendency to develop substance abuse disorders or mental health problems that are commonly coupled with substance abuse disorders. Traditional drug abuse prevention education has focused perhaps not enough attention on the overall effect on the family and that people who are substance abusers need to get help. It’s also important to avoid trashing a child’s relationship with a parent who is an addict and to create a community of kids who can understand the problem and offer some support. I think starting substance abuse education is something that should begin in these areas in early grade school.
By late grade school and junior high school, substance abuse education should shift much of the focus to examining the problems more from the perspective of a growing kid who may come into contact with drugs, alcohol, and other substance abuse challenges involving peer pressure. Fortunately, however, these are today not as big of a problem for first graders as seventh graders. But what is taught to first graders about mommies and daddies who drink too much and hurting themselves and their families will sink in and affect the perspective these children have as they grow older and face challenges themselves.
For Older Kids: Basic Psychology and Life Skills
As kids get older, they are ready for taking on more theoretical topics. I personally think that college level psychology should be livened up a bit and taught in high school. Further, junior high and high school kids are ready to start examining their own habits and behaviors and working on improving some of them. Given the increasing pressures of personal responsibility, hormone-induced craziness, and more freedom to get into trouble, teenagers need a lot of support. I’ve listed a few well-rated books in these areas below.
The family destruction cycles of mental illness, violence, divorce, and family murders can be broken. The keys include destigmatizing mental illness, teaching people to recognize when they or others need help, and teaching coping skills to provide constructive methods to avoid violence.
While many of these strategies can benefit adults, the real long-term solution for breaking the cycle starts with kids. Widespread psychology education is appropriate for grade school to high school kids. It can start even with preschool kids. As you have seen if you have looked at some of the books I’ve mentioned, there are many books available for preschool and grade school children to use with help of a loving adult or caregiver. Please, support the kids in your life with the knowledge needed to help break the cycles of family destruction.