I’ve always liked the introduction to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
There is abundant evidence of the use of abusive, deceptive, and unfair debt collection practices by many debt collectors. Abusive debt collection practices contribute to the number of personal bankruptcies, to marital instability, to the loss of jobs, and to invasions of individual privacy.
I don’t think it goes far enough, though. Abusive debt collection practices also spread depression and contribute to the number of suicides. That’s true for the current foreclosure crisis, as well, according to Martin Andelman, who blogs at the Mortgage Lending Implode-O-Meter. He thinks homeowners are showing signs of Legal Abuse Syndrome, a type of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Legal Abuse Syndrome is very real, according to Dr. Karin Huffer.
Ms. Huffer found that many victims of the legal system suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She identified this as Legal Abuse Syndrome, brought on by the abusive and protracted litigation, prevalent in our courts.
Dealing with the legal system is incredibly stressful. Dr. Huffer says that some people who are run through the legal wringer feel disillusions and oppressed. They feel they cannot get justice, and that their hopes and dreams were torn apart by a system that is supposed to protect their rights and property. They wind up thinking “the system” will defeat them at every turn, and that lawyer, judges, and others involved in the court system are the agents of this injustice.
I know those feelings well; many of my clients have had them. The only cure—for some—is winning, but not everyone is able to “beat the system,” even if they get a lawyer’s help. And not everyone who wins feels vindicated. Often, they are just as upset to see part of their fee go to their lawyer, or they feel like the other side got away with something. Their attitudes and reactions feel much more like Legal Abuse Syndrome as Dr. Huffer describes it.
It’s no joke. Legal abuse does lead to depression, divorce, suicide, and more. Banks are quite literally sending people to therapy, splitting up families, increasing unemployment, and in some cases, killing people.