Until a client sent us a clipping today, I had never heard the term “Legal Abuse Syndrome.” If you look in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, you won’t find the term. Yet. The DSM is the official “blue book” used by mental health professionals. Whereas many of the CEOs of major banks and lenders probably quality as sociopaths, we now have a title for those suffering from their heavy handed tactics .
Dr. Karin Huffer even wrote a book about the disorder entitled “Overcoming the Devastation of Legal Abuse Syndrome.” Although I have yet to read her book, I certainly will. In fact, it probably should become required reading for judges and lawyers involved in foreclosure cases.
Here is what Dr. Huffer writes:
*If you are deeply disillusioned and feeling oppressed as an American citizen, resulting from experience with our justice system you may be suffering from Legal Abuse Syndrome.
*If you’ve been a litigant in court and justice was not to be obtained at any price, you may be suffering from Legal Abuse Syndrome
*If you fantasize about an act of vigilante vengeance because it seems like the only resource, you may be suffering from Legal Abuse Syndrome
*If you feel numb, disconnected, and vulnerable, you may be suffering from Legal Abuse Syndrome
*If you feel that the “system” will defeat you at every turn and there is nothing you can do about it, you may be suffering from Legal Abuse Syndrome
Sadly, we have seen several foreclosure victims that do exhibit these symptoms. Homeowners who have been battling big banks for 4 and 5 years, always in fear of losing their home. Homeowners who didn’t miss a payment but are in foreclosure because the lender says it didn’t receive their payment. Homeowners who improperly had the locks changed on their home only to be told a day later that they could return.
One lawyer wrote in her book that, “Competent, confident, outgoing entrepreneurs are reduced to “shell-shocked” paranoia, unable to make the most basic decisions. Polite, law-abiding individuals are transformed into raging extremists, after being lulled unsuspectingly in many cases into believing that they will emerge from bankruptcy able to pick up the pieces with a fresh start.”
While the book is not limited to foreclosure cases, those who worry daily about where they will live and who get put on hold for hours or told for the 42nd time that their loan modification paperwork was not received are especially prone to suffering from this type of disorder. Foreclosure victims ride an emotional roller coaster, often facing conflicting information and seemingly impossible hurdles to keep their homes. As we have previously posted, some homeowners sadly resort to suicide.
Dr. Huffer claims that Legal Abuse Syndrome is related to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. We believe her and see it daily.
Symptoms of Legal Abuse Syndrome
According to her writings, you may be suffering from legal abuse syndrome if:
1) you feel oppressed or disillusioned with the legal system,
2) despite your best efforts the system has failed you,
3) instead of protecting your rights the system appears “rigged” or biased to the wrongdoers and establishment,
4) you feel hopeless – no matter what you do, you can’t win or make your voice heard, and
5) its not just the banks / wrongdoers / or fill-in-the-blank wrongdoers that don’t hear, its the entire system including judges and lawyers.
In our experience, victims of legal abuse syndrome have lost hope. According to Dr. Heffer, they are overwhelmed by tension and anxiety, are physically and emotionally exhausted, feel intensely vulnerable and may even have nightmares.
While Dr. Heffer doesn’t offer a “cure” for legal abuse syndrome, she does offer an 8 step program that helps those who have lost hope a way to ease the feelings of hopelessness and rechannel their energy.
Dr. Heffer’s insights and healing approach is a Godsend for people stuck “in the system” or who believe the system has failed them. But it’s not enough.
Our solution for legal abuse syndrome is having more good lawyers who actually knows how to fight bank against big banks. Unfortunately, many of the lawyers that advertise they practice lender liability law only represent banks or if they represent borrowers, are nothing more than bankruptcy lawyers. In many areas of the country, finding a great lawyer willing to take on a big bank or billion dollar mortgage company is difficult.
Unfortunately many victims and homeowners feel powerless and give up. We see that daily.
Homeowners can prevail against big banks but its not easy, especially without the right lawyer. Although our law firm generally does not handle individual residential foreclosure defense cases, we do represent commercial borrowers and farmers that choose to stand up and fight back against large banks. If you have believe that you were victimized by a big bank or mortgage company and lost $5 million or more, give us a call. Our fraud lawyers also represent individual homeowners and employees of lenders that wish to become whistleblowers.
For more information, contact attorney Brian Mahany at or online. All inquiries are kept in strict confidence. We invite readers wanting to learn more about fighting banks to visit our sister Lender Liability website site and its Banking Misconduct blog.
Mahany Law – Borrowers A Voice. Offices and attorneys throughout the United States.
Ed Note: This post was written in 2012. Since then a supporter of Dr. Huffer alerted us that she wrote another book in 2013 called (what else), “Legal Abuse Syndrome: 8 Steps for Avoiding the Traumatic Stress Caused by the Justice System and available on Amazon.com.