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Author Topic: BPD BEHAVIORS: Splitting  (Read 67910 times)
Silas Pseudonym
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« Reply #10 on: October 20, 2007, 10:47:13 AM »

Hi Butterflygirl,

Your description goes farther than you might think.  To me it shows me how I split (& I think I am relatively healthy & not a PD).  Remember, these behaviors are what we are all capable of, to some extent, particularly under stress.

I have suffered from depression on & off much of my adult life & that has been exacerbated by my long marriage to (at the least) a very controlling man.  In the worst moments, days of depression, I know my thoughts are disordered & even in the midst of the worst I am careful not to allow myself to believe the worst of my thoughts.  It is best to shut it all out, by sleeping (or even drinking, though I will pay) until another day.  It never lasts more than a day or two, & is probably related to female hormones (timing bears this out).

Understanding my own flaws & abilities to be in such a negative place helps me to empathise, & understand a person who may be less able to regulate the same, or even a different type of disordered thinking.

Thank BG for bringing us all a step closer together.



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« Reply #11 on: December 18, 2007, 09:24:29 AM »

A.J. -- thank you for explaining that *both* sides of the split are not real. that's what I have sensed as a child- even when I was all-good, it felt wrong.

so it's not splitting between "here and now" &  "evil past", but rather between "good past" & "evil past". meaning of course that there is no real connection to the here and now.

It makes sense to think that this splitting happens when a child tries to protect itself from the overwhelming craziness of a loved parent who is also abusive. this is to complex to understand. it would be for anyone, but it certainly is for a child.

again, the BP is acting out destructive behaviour to protect itself from the effects of the very same destructive behaviour.

I assume the splitting is also a form dissociation? when the good parent is present, memory of the bad parent needs to be suppressed, because it is too painful, and vice versa.

Deborah A. Galaska
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« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2008, 04:01:54 PM »

One concept that I have found helpful in dealing with splitting is the concept of dialectics. At times we want to urge the person with borderline personality disorder (or anyone with dichotomous thinking patterns) to move toward grey, rather than being stuck on black or white. There is another option - which is to accept both black and white.

To illustrate, there are times that I both want to be with my family and I want to be away from them. I go to a training weekend away from them that I am looking forward to with extreme anticipation - I cannot wait to go. I am also looking forward to a break from the cleaning, sibling rivalry, whining, demands, etc of my family, and having someone else take care of me for a weekend without any demands on me. At the same time that I am incredibly happy to be away from them, I miss them. How can that be? They are opposites. Yet I feel both. I don't have to find a middle ground of feeling nothing - it is ok to feel both and to accept myself feeling both.

Part of the struggle with splitting is believing I cannot feel both - I cannot be angry with you and love you - I must either love you or hate you. I cannot love you and hate you simultaneously, therefore I must flip between states. And if you are angry with me, I fear you must hate me, because I cannot believe that you can both love me and be angry with me. If you are angry with me, you will abandon me, and for a person with BPD, abandonment is the abyss.


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« Reply #13 on: August 09, 2008, 03:58:26 PM »

Here are a few quotes about splitting:


Kernberg believes that borderlines are distinguished from neurotics by the presence of "primitive defenses." Chief among these is splitting, in which a person or thing is seen as all good or all bad. Note that something which is all good one day can be all bad the next, which is related to another symptom: borderlines have problems with object constancy in people -- they read each action of people in their lives as if there were no prior context; they don't have a sense of continuity and consistency about people and things in their lives. They have a hard time experiencing an absent loved one as a loving presence in their minds. They also have difficulty seeing all of the actions taken by a person over a period of time as part of an integrated whole, and tend instead to analyze individual actions in an attempt to divine their individual meanings. People are defined by how they lasted interacted with the borderline.


Splitting: A mental mechanism in which the self or others are reviewed as all good or all bad, with failure to integrate the positive and negative qualities of self and others into cohesive images. Often the person alternately idealizes and devalues the same person. From a psychoanalytic point of view, splitting is fundamental to borderline personality disorder, and underlies the dramatic shifts in the person's experience of self and others and their difficulty in finding a stable adaptation to life.

Splitting is the alternating of idolizing someone (or something) followed by a period of detesting and villainizing the same thing.  Splitting should be differentiated from manipulation.  Some may act as though they really love someone (again) just to get benefits.. those people may be more aspd than BPD... Or they may have split the other so completely that they feel completely justified in manipulating and conning the particular person.

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« Reply #14 on: June 05, 2011, 10:49:37 AM »

I know that pwBPD do a lot of black and white thinking. My question is, why? Does it satisfy some need or relieve some anxiety, or otherwise serve a functional purpose for the pwBPD?

When it comes to action B&W thinking is related to them falling back to instinctive behavior during dysregulation. Fight or flight - so it does serve a functional purpose - problem is we are not faced with tigers every day.

When it comes to sensing it is also related to their high sensitivity.

So on the perceiving and on the acting side they are on the more extreme side. Depending on the individual one, the other or both play a major role.

  Writing is self validation. Writing on bpdfamily is self validation squared!
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« Reply #15 on: June 08, 2011, 07:54:32 PM »

We all engaged in a lot of black and white thinking...as small children.

There are developmental stages people normally go through, and over time,  the brain moves into more and more complex functioning as we grow from child to adult.

It is at one developmental stage to have black/white type thinking.  A young child, whose mother w/holds ...perhaps doesn't come with the bottle right away...is experienced by the child as ALL BAD while that is going on.  A child will tell a parent that they hate them and throw a tantrum over not getting their way...an hour later they will be cuddled on the couch with the same parent, the tantrum is all done now, but during the tantrum, that child was really feeling rage and hate and frustration and pain...but  it's not remembered or held onto...bliss, rage, black, white, all or nothing, good bad.  It can be very black/white, love you, hate you..with small children.

In normal development, we move into more and more complex brain activity...it is actually quite an achievement for a human being to hold two opposing concepts in their head at the same time, that something can be both...a mixture of good and bad, a little black and a little white...that is actually an advanced brain function.  Not everyone does that easily.  Under stress, even those who have that ability normally...can regress to more primitive forms of thinking...becasue if you are in an emergency, it's not helpful to ruminate, rather your body wants to assess and react faster in case you are in danger.

Not EVERYONE always goes through normal developmental steps, there can be variation in a popluation... DBT is a lot about learning about the dialectic...that a thing can be good and bad...both.  If I am dyslexic...I may always struggle to read...until I am taught special skills that makes reading more accessable to how my brain works. This can be true for many people in many different areas...pwBPD do seem to struggle with this black/white processing ...but a more integrated thinking can be learned with special focus and skills training.  Also if you are emtionally arroused an upset a alot... you are scared and alarmed a lot...it would be safe to say that it would also be harder to integrate more advanced concepts because your body/mind thinks it's in danger and wants to quickly make asessments for safety sake, so black and white thinking is just faster and safer... no one has access to  their higher brain functioning when they are in fight/flight. That's why taking time outs are so important.


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« Reply #16 on: November 20, 2013, 09:15:02 AM »

Okay so am I right to say then the 'being ignored completely' by my BPD spouse is a form of splitting?

Yes I have read the majority of the comments.

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« Reply #17 on: November 20, 2013, 08:50:39 PM »

Okay so am I right to say then the 'being ignored completely' by my BPD spouse is a form of splitting?

Yes I have read the majority of the comments.

In psychology, what motivates the action tells us more than the action itself.  Ignoring you could be splitting, it could be manipulations, it could distancing for protection...

Have you been open to listen?  Really listen.  If he really knows/understands, he will probably tell you.


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« Reply #18 on: November 23, 2013, 01:41:21 PM »

Id certainly be lying if I said im 'always' the listener. But I do know what some of his personal triggers are. #1 not enough attention = I dont love him sad and when I say attention I mean, I only exist in his world.

So if im not readily available at his every whim I end up being cast aside until I make enough effort that he deams exceptable to be worthy of his time. Until that time I am his enemy.

On one hand me knowing his triggers is an advantage, but on the other hand we are learning that my personal time ie knitting doesnt mean I dont love him.

Stricky :/

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« Reply #19 on: November 23, 2013, 07:32:28 PM »

In psychology, what motivates the action tells us more than the action itself.  Ignoring you could be splitting, it could be manipulations, it could distancing for protection...

And in addition the motivation, learned behavior would fall under that category would you not agree?
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