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Splitting In Borderline Personality Disorder

Updated: Jan 9, 2023

Splitting is a coping mechanism used by people with BPD. It prevents them from seeing or accepting that a good person can do bad things, and it excludes any gray areas in their thinking. For this reason, splitting is also known as black-and-white thinking.

BPD splitting is going from idealization to devaluing someone. Splitting might happen after a minor disagreement or when they have been disappointed. Splitting goes hand in hand with having unrealistic expectations about people and life.

The cause of splitting in Borderline Personality Disorder

Splitting is a common characteristic in children. A child experiences things as either good or bad with no in-between. When a child develops psychologically, they realize that the universe is not simply good or bad. They can't accept the concept that it can co-exist in the same object. For example, when a child is punished by their parents, they learn to not stop loving them.

When children are abused, ignored, or get inconsistent parenting, it essentially damages their beliefs, and they start believing that their parents are perfect. It creates an all-or-nothing with no middle ground for a discussion mindset. A splitting thought pattern.

People with a splitting personality experience the following:

  • Opportunities can either be risk-free or dangerous.

  • People can be either evil or perfect angels.

  • Science, history, and news are either entirely true or entirely false.

  • It's either always or never when it comes to anything.

  • Someone will feel deceived, destroyed, or cheated when things go wrong.

BPD and Splitting

It is uncommon for ordinary people to categorize others as all good or all bad. You can usually like someone a lot even though you know they aren't perfect and have flaws. Someone with BPD would see those flaws and conclude that they are a bad person in general. They experience overwhelming emotions and struggle to integrate the concept that good and bad can co-exist in another person. Any type of relationship may suffer as a result of splitting behavior.

Someone can hold onto these black-and-white views permanently but can also fluctuate over time, where they switch from seeing someone or something as entirely good to entirely bad, or vice versa.

Emotional dysregulation is a common symptom of BPD. It is when someone has trouble controlling their emotional responses. When someone with BPD views something or someone to be fully good or bad, but reality does not line up with those beliefs, they are likely to respond in an overreacting way. Both the person with BPD and those closest to them can be exhausted by these strong emotions.

When a person with BPD sees someone or something as entirely good, they are more vulnerable to harm and danger as they are unable to see the associated risks. Also, If you believe someone is perfect, you may start to depend on them for all of your wants and needs. As a result, it can be a demanding responsibility, and both individuals may suffer.

When a person with BPD feels disappointed, betrayed, unloved, or abandoned, they perceive the other person as evil. This can happen even if a bond has already been formed for years. The Individual can become angry or withdraw entirely, which are the most common responses from someone with BPD.

What can you do if you have a splitting personality?

When you experience splitting, you are often confused with yourself and the environment. If you know that you show this symptom or have BPD, you are already one step further than many others. It is helpful to have someone who can sometimes show you the reality and the gray area in life. Take advantage of this and catch yourself when you think too much in black and white about situations or people. Learn from your actions and accept that no one is perfect. See the good in the bad, and vice versa.

I recommend seeing a mental health professional for a diagnosis if you haven't already. If you have already done this, it may be useful to make an appointment once in a while or to follow appropriate therapy if necessary.

What can you do when someone has a splitting personality?

Splitting is a symptom of borderline personality disorder, so keep that in mind. While it can be difficult not to take someone's words and behavior personally, keep in mind that they are not intending to hurt you. Splitting is something they are unintentionally doing.

Consider how you would react to someone who is splitting. Try to remain calm, and if you find it impossible, take a break by postponing the conversation. Express your concern for the individual. BPD patients are more likely to experience feelings of abandonment, isolation, and loneliness. As a result, make an effort to show the person that you care about them and listen to them.

Establish realistic limits to assist with coping skills. Set boundaries with the person with BPD, so they are aware of their actions and that you will not tolerate things such as throwing objects or violence. While these boundaries may be crossed unintentionally at times, make sure you follow through on the predetermined consequences, which may include leaving the situation.

It's also crucial that you encourage the individual to get the appropriate treatment and advocate for them when they follow it.

Understanding the diagnosis and treatment of borderline personality disorder will help you better understand behaviors like splitting that are related to the disorder. Understanding the diagnosis and treatment of borderline personality disorder will help you better understand behaviors like splitting that are related to the disorder.


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