Policing High Conflict Personalities


tags: Domestic Violence,

discussion: 0 comments

By Laura Wilson

From the June 2015 issue of the APJ.

High Conflict Personality(HCP) is a term that refers to people with particular behaviour clusters.[1]  People with HCP behaviours often have personality disorders. Personality disorders fall within discrete personality types. These personality types are: borderline personality disorder, obsessive compulsive personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, avoidant personality disorder, schizotypal personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, and histrionic personality disorder.[2]However, HCP people with personality disorders generally fit into the following four Cluster B personality sub-types: borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, and histrionic personality disorder.[3]People with personality disorders have particular ways of thinkingwhich adversely impact ontheir ability to function in everyday life.[4]In particular, people with HCP traits have a tendency towards hostile and provocative behaviours, and HCPpeopletend to escalate rather than minimise conflict situations.[5]

There is an association between people with HCP traits and family violence,[6]and police frequently encounter HCP behavioural traits in the family violence context. Police often use dominant and leading behaviour in their general duties. This is positive in circumstances where community members are in need of leadership and direction.[7]However, the use of dominant and leading behaviour may not be effective in circumstances where there is a HCP, particularly in the family violence context. This is because the use of dominant behaviour with a HCP will elicit an aggressive and dominant response, resulting in an escalation of the situation.[8]

[1]Duncan McLean, ‘Strategies and methods in mediation and communication with high conflict people’(2013) High Conflict Behaviours. Paper 1 <http://www.civiljustice.info/highconflict/1.

[2]American Psychiatric Association, Personality Disorders (American Psychiatric Publishing, 2013).

[3]Duncan McLean, above n 1.

[4]American Psychiatric Association,above n 2.

[5]Duncan McLean, above n 1.

[6]Jelle J Sijtsema, Lotte Baan and Stefan Bogaerts, ‘Associations Between Dysfunctional Personality Traits and Intimate Partner Violence in Perpetrators and Victims’(2014) 29 Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 2418, 2418.

[7]Martin C Euwema, Nicolien Kop and Arnold B Bakker, ‘The behaviour of police officers in conflict situations: how burnout and reduced dominance contribute to better outcomes’(2004) 18 Work and Stress, 23, 26.  


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