Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Wilful Blindness Is Not The Solution

Nervous Breakdown
Several years ago I visited a friend, she had a female guest there also, a happily married mother. What started out as a pleasant afternoon, became serious rather quickly when the female guest had a minor nervous breakdown. In the following weeks her condition deteriorated and the consequences escalated, such that an unpleasant scene she subsequently created at the business she ran lead to her being forced to spend some time involuntarily in a psychiatric hospital for treatment for her condition. The change in the health of the mother had a drastic impact upon her family, including her primary-school-aged children.

Prior to the episode at her work it was clear that the mother should seek professional medical and mental health assistance. Her behaviour enlivened the possibility that she be asked to submit to a non-urgent mental health assessment via a Justices Examination Order (JEO). Such an Order is issued by a Magistrate or Justice of the Peace (JP) and would involve the mother submitting to an examination by a doctor or authorised mental health practitioner. Any person can make an application for a JEO, including a relative of the person to be assessed. I have seen a JEO used in greater family law proceedings. I suggested to my friend it is something the husband / father might seriously consider in the circumstances, were he truly concerned about the welfare of his children.

Once the episode at the work of the mother occurred that decision was taken out of the hands of the husband / father and the benefits of an early intervention were lost.

Manipulative False Suicidal Ideation Claim
In light of that nervous breakdown situation, consider someone who makes a manipulative false suicidal ideation claim. They have evidenced their bullying, emotional blackmail and emotional abuse to maintain adherence to their narrative and / or control the amount of attention they get. It is also possibly evidence of self-destructive behaviour on the part of the author of the false claim.

The maker of the false claim is responsible for these developments, which are a consequence of decisions they made voluntarily. There is now good evidence to support the contention that the person who made the false claim should seek professional medical and mental health assistance. It can be evidence of Borderline Personality Disorder. Their role with their employer is also entitled to be reviewed. In that regard someone who makes a manipulative false suicidal ideation claim is not someone who should be lecturing at health conferences.

Consider the implications if the person who made the manipulative false suicidal ideation claim also has the role of the primary carer of the children of the relationship. It was the mother who had the nervous breakdown I mentioned earlier.

In Jackson & Macek [2015] FCCA 1656 Meyers J said at paragraph [37]:
“The Court must consider the need to protect the child from physical or psychological harm from being subjected to or exposed to abuse, neglect or family violence. It is a paramount consideration with primacy over all others, and it is a consideration the Court gives greatest weight of those condensations at s.60CC [of the Family Law Act 1975] when determining what is in the best interests of the child.”

Relevantly here:
  • The suicidal ideation of the mother puts in question her mental health
  • Does the mental health of the mother pose a risk to the children, in that the children will suffer physical or psychological harm from coming into contact with the mother or spending time or living with the mother?
  • Will the mother abuse the children or neglect the children or subject the children to family violence as a result?
(See Jackson & Macek [2015] FCCA 1656 per Meyers J at paragraph [45])

In Hunter & Morrison (contravention) [2014] FamCA 198 the mother made statements about her alleged suicidal tendencies to and in the presence of the children (per Tree J at para [28]). The emergence of the alleged suicidal ideation of the mother caused the father to reconsider the safety of the children (See para [57])

The question then arose:
  • Did the mother present a physical and emotional risk to the children by virtue of her alleged suicidal ideation? (See para [33])

The Court found that:
  • “it was reasonable for the father to seek clarification of the opinion of the treating psychologist of the mother specifically in relation to the prospect of the mother experiencing and, if she experienced, entertaining, suicidal ideation whilst having the children in her care” (See para [52])
  • “the father believed that it was necessary to withhold the children from their holiday contact with the mother in order to protect them from risk of harm, should she experience or entertain or act upon suicidal ideation whilst the children were in her care” (See para [55])
  • the belief of the father was based on reasonable grounds (See para [55])

The consequences that flowed from confronting the reality of the condition of the mother who was the friend of my friend were profound, both for the mother and her family. Early or earlier intervention may have provided a less profound impact upon those involved.

Ignoring the reality of what making the manipulative false suicidal ideation claim evidenced will not make it go away. Denying the benefits early intervention can bring to the situation reduces the treatment and management options for the entire situation.

Whilst the maker of the manipulative false suicidal ideation claim may revel in their success after seemingly achieving their attention-seeking or narrative controlling goal, the reality of their condition and disposition will not go away. The need for professional medical and mental health assistance will continue and by ignoring early intervention, the available treatment options are reduced.

Other consequences flow from making the suicide threat. Where there are children involved in the relationship, the person making the suicide threat should expect that threat to be the subject of a Child Concern Report with the Department of Children’s Services. It is conceivable that the parent not making the threat may then be fearful for the safety of the children  and concerned about the ongoing mental health of the parent who made the threat. Consequently the parent not making the threat may require that time spent with the children by the parent who made the threat be supervised by a responsible adult.

Whatever was the personal situation of the maker of the manipulative false suicidal ideation claim before it was made, it changed upon their voluntary act of making the claim. That act opened the door to scrutiny of their circumstances and if such scrutiny is not welcome in the life of the author, perhaps that is something which should have been considered before the claim was made. They have exposed their condition and their circumstances. Wilful blindness to the implications of that exposure is not the solution.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Reconciliation Requires Humility, Sincerity, Remorse and Contrition

In the movie Notting Hill (1999) the character played by Julia Roberts attends the bookshop where the character played by Hugh Grant works. She wants to resume their romantic relationship. Her request is resplendent with humility and sincerity. At its height she says,
And don’t forget, I'm just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.

The response of the Hugh Grant character is sensible in terms of protecting himself and based on a realistic assessment of their lives together and apart to that point. In a very pleasant conversation, he declines her request. The Julia Roberts character leaves his bookshop and goes about her business.

The Hugh Grant character reflects upon his decision to decline to resume the romantic relationship with the Julia Roberts character and realises he has made a mistake. Subsequently an opportunity presents itself for both of them to be at the same place at the same time. The Hugh Grant character seizes that opportunity and conveys to the Julia Roberts character his enthusiasm to resume their romantic relationship. His plea to the Julia Roberts character was also resplendent with humility and sincerity. Ultimately it was successful and their romantic relationship was resumed.

An Abstract Question
Shortly after I watched that movie a friend asked me an abstract question: Would I entertain a conversation from a specific former girlfriend with a view to reconciling our relationship? A lengthy conversations ensued.

I have long contended that we live in a world where people (wrongly) think it is acceptable to lie and that no adverse consequences flow from that dishonesty. That contention was put to the test rather promptly.

My friend knew a fair bit of the history and circumstances of the woman the subject of the abstract question. The woman in question had deliberately sabotaged a good relationship to pursue other relationships with other men. Her dishonesty increased markedly once she had established her relationship with one of the men. She was actively pursuing a new life and strategic friendships she had made were paying dividends for her. Flaunting her new life and her new men was a part of her strategy. She was also carefully crafting her narrative and her relationship with me was not a constituent part of that narrative. By her words and her actions, she had made it abundantly clear that I no longer served any useful purpose in her life.

I have written previously about credibility and I said independent corroboration of the contention the person with the shattered credibility seeks to make may be required in future before some people are prepared to accept that contention. As they made their aforementioned respective pleas for reconciliation, the characters of both Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant could be seen to be demonstrating humility, sincerity, remorse and contrition. It gave their pleas the necessary quality of integrity.

I told my friend who posed the abstract reconciliation question to me that I would be prepared to make the following concessions:
I would give the woman in question credit for:

  • The telephone call to request meet to apologise and resume our relationship
  • Getting on a plane and travelling to Brisbane
  • Arranging a hotel room to have the subject discussion

Thereafter things got very difficult. The logistics of the actual meeting were then discussed. Was it a hotel where security required meeting in the foyer or could the guest proceed straight to the room? There were strengths and weaknesses in both options.

Once entry to the hotel room had been achieved the complexity of the situation became clear.

My friend and I agreed that the subject conversation could only take place without there being any interruptions by computers, telephones, television or radio. Towards the end of our relationship the woman in question had become quite fond of utilising her mobile telephone and / or her computer whilst in my company, often to contact other people. My many requests for her to not do so were all ignored. It was one of the strategies she used to sabotage the relationship.

My friend contended that once I saw the woman in question my resistance would disappear. I assured my friend that any currency the woman in question may have had in respect of her physical appearance had been spent by her appalling behaviour and her significant dishonesty. Whilst the new life the woman in question worked so assiduously to create at the end of our relationship may have suited her purpose at that time, it did nothing to endear her to me. She has a significant history of not keeping her commitments to me and I have no interest in experiencing any more of her considerable nastiness. In fact what she had achieved was a situation where I do not know what part of the history she told me was true and what part was false. She was now in a position where I would not be inclined to believe a word she said without independent corroboration.

In the end I could not give my friend a specific answer as to what would be required to achieve the specific reconciliation she proposed in her abstract question. Whatever the woman in question said and did during that hypothetical meeting to discuss reconciliation, she would be required to demonstrate significant convincing humility, sincerity, remorse and contrition. Her plea would need to be resplendent with integrity. Then and only then might the proposed reconciliation be possible.

Whether by accident or design the Notting Hill movie had provided a rather insightful example of the reconciliation request and what one needed to do to successfully negotiate the exercise.

Insofar as the woman the subject of the abstract question is concerned, I have no realistic expectation that I will ever test my theory with her.