In dissociative identity disorder, formerly called multiple personality disorder (the phenomenon behind Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”), at least two seemingly separate people occupy the same body at different times, each with no knowledge of the other. This can be seen as a more severe form of borderline personality disorder. In borderline personality disorder, there is one dramatically changeable personality with an intact memory, as opposed to several distinct personalities, each with an incomplete memory. People with dissociative identity disorder have two or more (on average, eight to ﬁfteen) personalities or personality fragments that control their behavior at different times. Often there is a passive, depressed primary identity who cannot remember personal history as fully as can the other more hostile, protective, or controlling identities.
Childhood maltreatment is associated with an automatic negative emotion processing bias in the amygdala
Major depression has been repeatedly associated with amygdala hyper‐responsiveness to negative (but not positive) facial expressions at early, automatic stages of emotion processing using subliminally presented stimuli. However, it is not clear whether this “limbic bias” is a correlate of depression or represents a vulnerability marker preceding the onset of the disease. Because childhood maltreatment is a potent risk factor for the development of major depression in later life, we explored whether childhood maltreatment is associated with amygdalar emotion processing bias in maltreated but healthy subjects.
Judges and magistrates in the Family Court in England and Wales have to make extremely difficult decisions about what is best for children if their parents cannot agree on the arrangements for the children on or after parental separation or divorce. The family courts have seen a steady increase in such applications since 2014, with 55,645 private law children applications made in 2020 (Government Justice Data, 2021). While courts make great efforts to reach decisions that are in children’s best interests, there may be cases where the process and decisions do not best serve children and parents in this discretionary area of law. However, if there are problems with the process or decisions made, the public cannot usually know about this. Section 12 of the Administration of Justice Act 1960 stipulates that the publication of information relating to proceedings brought under the Children Act 1989 is a contempt of court. This legislation, which is intended to protect children, means that nothing about a case can be reported without the court’s permission.
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No figures exist on how many enforced removals take place, so Dispatches sent an FOI to Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service and to every police force to try to find out:
- The Courts and Tribunals Service said it would be “too costly to answer the question”
- Out of the 46 police forces just two said it was possible to give us figures.
- Between them they identified 24 enforced removals over five years but indicated there could be more.
Dispatches also conducted the largest ever survey of legal professionals practicing family law, asking them about their experiences of the various levels of court
We asked 297 experienced family solicitors and barristers about this type of forced removal
- They reported they had witnessed 42 orders for this type of removal over the last 3 years.
There are at least 13,000 solicitors and barristers practising family law in England and Wales.
“She said she was the mother of two little girls that he had sexually abused and subsequently served time in prison for abusing,” Julia says. “I literally jumped.” She recalls feeling “very confused, scared and in shock”.
When she confronted him, Robert was “blasé” about it. “He said, ‘Oh yeah, she’s friends with my ex-wife. Don’t listen to her, she’s one of the people who launched a hate campaign against me’.”
Most legal professionals felt the lower courts, where most cases are heard, are particularly letting down victims of domestic abuse and their children. Four out of five lawyers said magistrates have a poor or very poor understanding of domestic abuse and coercive control. One in three said District Judges also have a poor or very poor understanding of these issues.
More than 2,000 parents felt the judge was actively hostile towards them. More than 70% of both mothers and fathers were unhappy with the outcome. Sixty-seven per cent agreed or strongly agreed that their children’s mental health had been affected by family court proceedings.
Cases take on average 18 months to complete, with one in 10 lasting more than five years. The average cost of proceedings is about £13,000, though one in 20 said they had spent more than £100,000.
“It is essential family court judges, magistrates, professionals and experts have full, trauma-informed training on domestic abuse, as recommended by the Ministry of Justice Harm Panel, and are alive to the tactical use of accusations of parental alienation,” said Dr Barnett.
Fronted by journalist Louise Tickle, who has fought for transparency in the family courts for longer than five years, ‘Torn Apart – Family Courts Uncovered’ airs this evening (Tuesday 20th July) on Channel 4’s Dispatches at 10 pm. Dr Barnett’s full final report publishes later this year. Read her interim report here.Continue reading “C4 Dispatches: devastating decisions by Family Courts”
Abuse victims, like anyone in relationships with high emotional reactivity, build automatic defense systems, which include preemptive strikes — if you expect to be criticized, stonewalled, or demeaned, you may well do it first. Victims can easily develop a reactive narcissism that makes them seem like abusers
The British Psychological Society, incorporated by Royal Charter, is the learned and professional body for psychologists in the United Kingdom. We are a registered charity with a total membership of just over 60,000.
Under its Royal Charter, the objective of the British Psychological Society is “to promote the advancement and diffusion of the knowledge of psychology pure and applied and especially to promote the efficiency and usefulness of members by setting up a high standard of professional education and knowledge”. We are committed to providing and disseminating evidence-based expertise and advice, engaging with policy and decision makers, and promoting the highest standards in learning and teaching, professional practice and research.
The British Psychological Society is an examining body granting certificates and diplomas in specialist areas of professional applied psychology.