Malicious or Mentally Ill?

Marcia contended that Donald, her husband, posed an extreme danger to her and their three children. She provided a vivid account of her husband’s emotionally and physically abusive behavior. Specifically, she alleged that Donald had thrown their five-year-old son down the stairs causing him to suffer head trauma. She reported that her husband kicked open a basement window, entered the marital home, then terrorized her and the children with a knife. Alleging that Donald had been attempting to poison her and the children, she continued to fear for their lives. She told police officers that Donald had punched their youngest child. Marcia filed numerous reports with hospital emergency room physicians, law enforcement officials, and social service agencies. She was frustrated and infuriated because, after conducting investigations, none of the personnel at these agencies seemed to believe her.

Results of a psychological evaluation of Donald showed him to be a stable individual without any mental disorder. Psychological testing showed him as “wanting to avoid antagonistic confrontations” and as “somewhat more forgiving than the average child custody litigant.” Moreover, his scores did “not suggest any particular tendency to dichotomize people as being for him or against him.”

Results of a psychological evaluation of Marcia were somewhat equivocal. On the positive side, testing showed that she was empathic, had a high degree of self-control, had a well-controlled temper and demonstrated no significant potential for antisocial behavior. However, test scores showed, “When she feels threatened, her ideas may be oddly connected and possibly difficult to follow.” Testing also indicated “persisting difficulties in being able to forgive and forget.” Marcia was able to hold a highly responsible professional job and was able to take care of regular tasks of daily living. She was, however, manifesting symptoms of a “paranoid personality disorder.”

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