About a year ago, a parent-advocate organized a seminar presentation from Dorcy Pruter and Dr. Childress to a group of family law attorneys in Southern California. In introducing us, the parent-advocate spoke about the “armor of God.” She had interesting things to say about this construct.
I had never heard of that construct before, the armor of God. I listened, it seemed like a nice construct but not one I had ever thought about. Since then, however, the construct makes complete sense, and is wise beyond measure for the fight with the pathogen.
This is a trauma pathogen, it creates high intensity conflict. It enjoys conflict, it wants conflict, and it creates conflict. It loves to create conflict and fighting. How do you fight against fighting without succumbing to the fighting? Don’t fight.
Gandhi said that the antidote is the opposite. The antidote for fighting, is not to fight. Wisdom.
But how do you not fight when Hitler invades France and the Netherlands? How do you not fight when the cultural bushido of the Japanese threatens all of Asia and the Pacific with violence, and then attacks Pearl Harbor. There are times when we must fight.
How do the Americans of African descent fight lynchings and segregation without fighting? The Reverent Martin Luther King, Jr. How do women fight mysogeny and oppression without fighting? By speaking #metoo – standing together.
We don’t fight violence with violence, we fight violence by standing our ground, clothed in the armor of God. We don’t fight fire with fire, we quench fire with water.
My tai chi instructor was magnificent with the power of water chi, it overwhelms, it’s impossible to stop. Think of water, if you strike it the water just flows around your fist unimpeded, continuing on it’s force. Water takes any shape, in flows through any crevice, any crack, any advantage and water floods in. The ocean’s waves wear down and wash away mighty cliffs, the relentless rain wears down the highest mountains. The force of water is unstoppable. We quench fire with water.
The armor of God. The parent-advocate described how we don’t need to fight evil, we just need to stand our ground against it. We just need to don our armor of truth, of right, our armor of God, and stand our ground against the malevolence of evil, it’s attacks of slander and lies. We don’t need to fight, we simply need to stand our ground.
Hitler took France. He stood on the Eifel Tower surveying his captured city, they looted the Louvre of its historic treasures, they oppressed all of continental Europe, their wolfpack of U-boats wrecked havoc in the Atlantic and Britain barely maintained their stronghold island against fascism.
But hold they did. They donned their armor of God in the skies over England as their Spitfires threw back the Nazi attacks in the Battle of Britain, they relentlessly hunted the U-boats in the Atlantic shipping lanes. They held their ground.
America entered the war, but nothing much changed. They had to prepare. They stood their ground. The U.S. navy had been decimated at Pearl Harbor, but the carriers weren’t in port, they survived. America had to build and rebuild its war capacity. General Doolittle took his air force bombers by carrier and he bombed Tokyo. Symbolic, we’re here, and we are standing our ground. At Midway, the carriers of the United States stood their ground.
The Russian’s donned their armor of God at the battle of Stalingrad. They stood their ground. Russian courage, Russian lives, and the Russian winter turned the tide of battle in the east. They stood their ground.
Then courage reclaimed Europe on D-Day and began the relentless march across Europe. Courage moved island-by-island across the Pacific, and Russian courage and sacrifice rolled relentlessly forward.
We simply need to don the armor of God and stand our ground against evil. Wisdom. We fight by standing our ground.
I’m testifying in court as an expert witness. I have great respect for our legal system. An independent judiciary is one of the foundational pillars of a free society. I have great respect for the role our judges are asked to fill, it’s not an easy task to decide and dispense justice.
People are fallible, judges make errors, people make errors. But our assumption within our system of justice is that our judges are honest and they act in good-faith to find truth and make correct and just decisions. If errors in decision-making occur, then we must improve the quality of the evidence and arguments we offer. It is our responsibility to provide the court with the evidence it needs to make proper decisions.
It is our responsibility to provide the information to the court needed for its decision-making.
In providing expert testimony to the court, I am providing information from clinical psychology regarding pathology, family conflict, and treatment options for families. That is my role in expert testimony for the court.
Since I am offering expert testimony for the court’s consideration, the court and all participants in the litigation have a right to fully examine my professional background for my foundation as a professional expert. I am a clinical psychologist. I am acting in the role of an expert witness. My expertise is from my background as a clinical psychologist.
I have posted a YouTube series on my vitae, a stroll down memory lane with Dr. Childress.
I’m not trying to be more than I am. I’m a clinical psychologist. I’m a good clinical psychologist, and I’m an old clinical psychologist. Which means I know a lot of stuff about pathology and clinical psychology.
We prepare for learning by our education, we learn from the pathology. We learn the features of the pathology from assessment, we learn the core of the pathology through treatment.
Typically, as we leave graduate school we have one specialty pathology. Mine was ADHD and family therapy. This expanded into school-involved psychology, learning disability assessments, and school behavior problems, which then expanded into court-involved juvenile justice areas.
Also, as I continued to work with the ADHD and school-involved pathologies, that expanded into high-functioning autism as a differential diagnosis, and as I dropped into early childhood (ages 0-5) tracking the neuro-development of ADHD in childhood, I dropped more fully into the autistic-spectrum pathology that emerges in early childhood. Then, as I moved more fully into early childhood mental health and ADHD, I moved into trauma and complex trauma in the foster care system.
My knowledge is a function of my being an old clinical psychologist. I’ve worked with a lot of different child and family pathologies over a lifetime of practice. The pathology teaches. I know a lot of pathologies, their assessment, diagnosis, and treatment.
At each step, I learned the pathology. I read all the professional literature and research and then read journals to stay current, and in assessing and treating the pathology I learned its symptom features and how it responds to intervention. Whatever the pathology was, with each one, ADHD, school emotional and behavioral problems, family problems, autism-spectrum pathology, juvenile justice pathology, child abuse, trauma, and complex trauma in childhood, I learned the pathology directly from assessing, diagnosing, and treating the pathology.
I know a lot of pathology. And I’m a good clinical psychologist. I know a lot about assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of pathology. This is the knowledge I bring for the court’s consideration.
As Clinical Director for a three-university assessment and treatment center, I was responsible for coordinating the multi-disciplinary assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of children ages zero-to-five in the foster care system. In San Bernardino County, when children ages zero to five years-old entered the foster care system, the Department of Children’s and Family Services (DCS) sent the children and families to me, to our clinic for assessment and treatment. As the Clinical Director, I led that treatment team in the assessment and treatment of complex trauma in children.
I know a lot of stuff about pathology, its assessment, diagnosis, and treatment. That’s the knowledge from professional psychology that I offer the court in my testimony.
I haven’t been working with court-involved families over the course of my career, I’m not from this forensic psychology world of litigation and family conflict. I was happily on my way to retirement in complete obscurity when I left the childhood trauma center and entered private practice. Instead, I found myself over here in high-intensity court-involved family conflict tracking one client.
When I entered private practice, a minor’s counsel sent me a letter requesting I submit my vitae for consideration with a client. I decided yes. I decided to submit my vitae because I was an old senior staff clinical psychologist who’d worked with nearly every pathology under the sun. I had scrupulously avoided this “high-conflict divorce” pathology – it’s too dangerous, I’ll leave that to forensic psychology. They have their ten-foot poles and bomb-proof suits for that kind of work, so throughout my career I offered the traditional clinical psychologist response, “I don’t work with high-conflict divorce.”
But hey, here I was nearing the end of my career, I’m experienced in a lot of pathologies, I was curious to see what the pathology is over here in “high-conflict” divorce. I know going in that it’s likely going to involve narcissistic and borderline personality pathology in at least one of the parents, but I wanted to take a look and and see what’s up.
At no time in my career did I ever set out to be an “expert” in something, or famous and cited about anything. I was a working clinical psychologist, I’m working with kids in trouble in our school system, with kids in trouble with the juvenile justice system, and I’m working with kids in the foster care system who need our help most of all.
When I go to testify as an expert witness, I don’t need to fight. I simply need to speak the knowledge of professional clinical psychology. I simply need to don the armor of God, who I am as a clinical psychologist, and tell the court what I know about and do as a clinical psychologist, and stand my ground against evil.
Social Distribution: “Flying Monkeys”
This is evil over here. The pathology here in court-involved family conflict is evil. In my professional-level research on this pathology, I’ve read the professional literature on evil. I would direct professional discussion to the Dark Triad personality and the Vulnerable Dark Triad. An empirically validated character constellation which one of the researchers called, “The core of evil” – the Dark Triad personality.
There’s a social distribution feature with this attachment-related pathology surrounding divorce. All sorts of non-involved people become vicariously hooked to the enactment of the pathology, supporting the narcissistic pathology and the emotional abuse of the targeted-rejected parent by the narcissistic spouse.
It’s such an odd feature of pathology. Remember how I say that the pathology teaches? This pathology has a social distribution feature that’s not found in other pathology, not ADHD, not autism-spectrum, not school behavior problems.
This court-involved attachment pathology draws non-involved people to intrude into the family conflict on the side of the narcissistic parent. They claim to be “protecting the child” – but that’s betrayed as a lie by the fact that there is no child abuse to protect the child from, the targeted rejected parent is an entirely normal-range parent.
The child is being used by the allied parent as a weapon of retaliation and revenge against the targeted spouse (and parent) for the failed marriage and divorce. The targeted-rejected parent is an entirely normal-range and loving parent. The child is being weaponized by the allied parent into the spousal conflict. The targeted parent is being emotionally abused by the other spouse, who is using the child as the weapon.
But these allies of the narcissistic-abusive pathology descend and intrude into matters – families – in which they have no involvement, to support the continuing emotional abuse of the ex-spouse using the child as the weapon. In the process, they are supporting the continuing psychological abuse of the child by the allied narcissistic or borderline personality spouse-and-parent, who creates severe developmental, emotional, and psychiatric pathology in the child as a weapon of emotional abuse against the ex-spouse for the failed marriage and divorce.
The popular culture has recognized this social-distribution symptom feature of narcissistic pathology before it’s been recognized by professional psychology. I had never encountered this social-distribution feature of trauma-pathology before entering court-involved practice with complex family conflict. The popular culture labels these allies of the narcissistic abuse, “flying monkeys.”
I’ve taken to calling these people “flying monkeys” partly to provoke my professional colleagues into recognition of this social-distribution feature of the complex trauma pathology.
As I enter court-involved testimony as an expert witness, the courts, opposing counsel, and the world have the full right to examine by professional background to determine the scope and credibility of my testimony. Scrutiny is invited and welcomed. I am not trying to be more than I am.
What I am is a good clinical psychologist and a knowledgeable clinical psychologist, and if asked, I will make my knowledge as a clinical psychologist available for the court’s consideration in decision-making. Courts make decisions on a variety of factors beyond my reports and testimony. My reports and testimony are offered to be helpful in the court’s decision-making.
The pathology does not want to be exposed. It wants to keep everything just the way it is. The broken systems surrounding extensive-litigation family divorce is exactly to the pathogen’s liking. It likes when the targeted parent alleges “parental alienation” – that’s exactly what the pathogen wants – because then the targeted parent has to prove that to a judge at trial.
The pathogen does NOT want to be returned to clinical psychology where we diagnose (i.e., identify) pathology, because then it will be exposed. Instead, it wants the allegation of “parental alienation” from the targeted parent to move the litigated conflict into a child custody evaluation which will identify nothing and solve nothing. The pathogen likes things just the way they are.
Through my court testimony, I am bringing the standards of practice and professional knowledge of clinical psychology back to court-involved consultation, and to the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of pathology.
As I do this, another psychology person, Jean Mercer, has emerged from the cracks and crevices of her world to offer “counter testimony” to Dr. Childress. She is not a licensed clinical psychologist – she never has been. She has never been educated or trained in any aspect of any pathology. She has never assessed, diagnosed, or treated any pathology.
She has a Ph.D. degree in experimental psychology. She then taught general-ed psychology courses at a small college in New Jersey until 2006, when she retired from teaching. She has not been involved in professional psychology for the past decade after her career as a teacher of general-education psychology courses at a local college.
She is now being offered by the counsel representing the allied parent as an “expert” to discredit the testimony of Dr. Childress. As an expert witness for the court, she opens herself and her testimony to legitimate scrutiny.
Recently, Dr. Mercer testified in a case that I was involved in. I had conducted nine-hours of clinical interviews with all of the involved family members and had rendered a DSM-5 diagnosis. Dr. Mercer’s testimony was offered to the court by minor’s counsel prior to my scheduled testimony in order to undermine my testimony to the court.
I have posted Dr. Mercer’s testimony transcript to my website along with my critique and comment.
She is not an expert in anything. Her testimony as an expert was in violation of California state law. Her testimony to the court was false and inaccurate, demonstrating broad swaths of professional ignorance, and she opined – incorrectly – about domains of clinical psychology about which she has zero education, zero knowledge, and zero background.
To the extent that Dr. Mercer’s testimony was seemingly in violation of Standard 2.01a of the APA ethics code, she will receive a letter from me personally in fulfillment of my professional obligations under Standard 1.04 of the APA ethics code. To the extent that she continues to offer herself as an expert witness, the posting of my critique and commentary on her testimony represents my professional response under Standard 1.05 of the APA ethics code requiring additional steps when informal resolution efforts are not successful.
I will speak separately on the actions of minor’s counsel in presenting the testimony of Dr. Mercer to the court as an “expert” witness, and the possible conspiracy he engaged in using Dr. Mercer’s ignorance to present false and misleading information to the court.
At this time, however, I would simply like to note that the legal professional should strongly evaluate the role and duties of minor’s counsel in complex family conflict being litigated by the court. The appointment of minor’s counsel is essentially appointing counsel to represent the pathology. The goal of minor’s counsel in this matter was to discredit the testimony of a licensed clinical psychologist who conducted nine-hours of clinical assessment with the family by presenting false and misleading testimony to the court.
The legal profession needs to consider the nature and scope of the role performed by minor’s counsel.
I would advocate for the appointment of an amicus attorney instead, who would be tasked with the responsibility of collaborating with the treating mental health professional on developing and implementing a written treatment plan for the family based on a clinical diagnosis of the family pathology.
Craig Childress, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist, PSY 18857