TODAY   |  March 28, 2012

How will divorce battle affect Cook, Brinkley’s kids?

Clinical psychologist Jennifer Harstein and TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie discuss how Peter Cook and Christie Brinkley’s kids will be impacted by the ongoing verbal battle between the ex-spouses.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> let me bring in christian cal psychologist jennifer hart steen. before i talk to you, let me wrap up one thing with you savannah. before we get to the emotional side of this, and the psychological side of this, legally what is going to be decided by this court? what is their legal beef with each other?

>> well, there were issues about child support . some of which have been resolved. the big issue is there is an agreement in this divorce order that says they can't disparage each other, they have to be civil, and there's a $5,000 fine for each incident when someone is being uncivil. christie brinkley has asked for $140,000 of these instances where she's said he's been uncivil. he's said i have $240,000 worth of incidents, and it's going to come before the judge and the judge will determine. i have to think that this judge when he sees these two before him in court again basically calling each other names he will not be happy to see them.

>> jennifer as you watch this from the sideline, a trained psychologi psychologist, just give me your reaction.

>> i feel horribly badly for the children. the fact is he says this is for google eternity. all they're doing is perpetuating all of this negative interaction and venom at each other and the kids are hearing it, seeing it and they're old enough to really understand.

>> what's the impact of children growing up in the midst of this animosity?

>> divorce, we know, can create some problems for kids anyway. academic performances, low self-esteem, problems with depression. for teenagers with both of these kids they're now creating problems with having sex too early, problematic relationships. really trying drugs and alcohol, all of that kind of stuff. now add to that stuff that's so contentious, it could get even worse.

>> what about their relationships with their parents moving forward? i mean clearly it seems as if one of the children has chosen sides.

>> absolutely.

>> what's the impact of a child having to do that?

>> well, it's really going to impact how -- what are they going to do moving forward? jack has chosen to be with his mom. who knows what saylor is going to choose to do. any children where this is going on and they have to choose sides, we don't know how that's going to play out in court, how that's going to play out with the other parent. we don't know.

>> and just, you know, she was here yesterday and said that he had been diagnosed as a malignant narcissist. he has called her a narcissistic egomaniac. is there a bit of truth in both of those comments?

>> probably. and the fact is, neither of those are actual clinical diagnoses. the clinical diagnosis is narcissistic personality disorder . at its core what that means is they're in the service of their own ego and they don't care who they step on and hurt. and his point of focusing on the kids as his narcissistic