I was at the county library the other day and ran across a book by actor Alec Baldwin about his experience with the family court system. It’s always interesting to read the different perspective people bring to their experiences with the family court system, and I frankly felt sympathetic toward him after reading it.
What I was most interested in reading was his account of the taped telephone message for his daughter in which he called her a “pig” and spoke to her in a very disturbing manner.
The background of the situation was the existence of an ongoing battle over custody of their child. This is a common dynamic in dissolution cases in California. After lengthy proceedings, the father was granted telephone conversations with his daughter as part of the court order.
On that particular day, it appears Baldwin went to great lengths to make the telephone call, stating “I have yet again made an ass out myself in order to get free to call you.” and other awful remarks.
We don’t really know what the exact circumstances were, but we do know that this was a man who was very frustrated, as one could tell by the tone of the “conversation” and we also know that the ex-wife, Kim Basinger, distributed the taped conversation to the news agencies, who played it for the entire nation.
His behavior was appalling, immature, and totally inappropriate. But raise your hand if you are the model of parental perfection. Anyone? Exactly.
No, the real issue that I saw was the way in which this intensely personal conversation was used to cause harm to Baldwin. It was the “see, this is what he is really like” dynamic.
High-conflict personalities create situations in which normal people are pushed to extremes. Normal people are portrayed as violent, dangerous, abusive and all manner of charges come forward. Then simultaneously, the same person is attacked on various other fronts. Then when a person reacts out of anger to the continual pressure, it becomes evidence to be used against that person.
In my opinion, the pattern displayed here is characteristic of that. A mother truly concerned about her child would NEVER have wanted the entire nation to hear her being called names by her father. But in her zeal to show how bad Baldwin was, Basinger never bothered to think about how that would probably make a child feel. The classic alienator believes that the child is an extension of them. Thus if they reject and denounce the other parent, then so should the child.