The following is an excerpt from the book, Divorce: It’s All About Control — How To Win the Emotional, Psychological and Legal Wars (ExecuProv Press), by renowned family law specialist and managing partner of Phillips Lerner, A Law Corporation in Los Angeles, CA, Stacy D. Phillips. In Chapter Three, “The Control Wars: The Typical Three,” Phillips helps the reader to understand the differences between the three major wars, what characteristics differentiate the three, and whether they are worth fighting. In this second of a three-part series, Ms. Phillips explains the Psychological War. She writes:
THE PSYCHOLOGICAL WAR
Psychological warfare can be one of the cruelest forms of combat since it is sinister and deviant. Unlike many emotional wars, psychological wars take plotting, planning and time. Those who choose this path often do so by carefully calculating how to effectively hurt their soon-to-be or ex spouse, in a deep and often vicious way, by disturbing their mental equilibrium. Indeed, most people who choose to use weapons of “mind destruction” play out a chess game of sorts in their heads beforehand, strategizing and even carefully plotting eventual counterattacks. They can play out a scenario anticipating a response, then offer another attack, aimed at further maiming one’s mental well-being, or destroying it altogether.
In brief, it is when one person (or both) tries to make the other question his or her sanity, or when one or the other attempts to persuade others that his or her opponent is not mentally fit. Psychological Warfare extends beyond these boundaries to include any attack that plays havoc with one’s peace of mind and mental well being or focuses on the object of ruin. In the Psychological War, “mind games” are the order or the day!
A prime example might be the couple who meets for dinner to discuss what school their child should attend. He orders a drink for her but orders a Martini (his secretary’s favorite) knowing full well his wife always orders a Marguerita. She is left to speculate about all kinds of possibilities, chiefly, whether or not her ex spouse was, or is, having an affair with his secretary. Leaving a person to wonder and causing them to ruminate endlessly is what a Psychological War is all about.
Everyone usually suffers in war. Ask yourself right now:
Is a war necessary?
Will it get you what you want?
Is it productive?
Can you handle losing?
Will you think less of yourself if you walk away from one?
And most importantly, must you really fight a war to maintain a healthy sense of control?
The art of control comes in the ability to find equitable solutions and to make peace, both with your ex and yourself.
Stacy D. Phillips is a co-founder of Phillips Lerner, A Law Corporation, which specializes in high-profile family law matters. She is co-chair of the Women’s Political Committee and a member of Divorce Magazine‘s North American Advisory Board. She can be reached at (310) 277-7117. View her firm’s Divorce Magazine profile here.