Tag Archives: Splitting Borderline

‘Splitting’ – What BPD Sufferers And 18 – 36 Month Old Infants Have In Common

splitting

splitting andBPD

Infants and toddlers (aged from approximately eighteen months to thirty-six months old) find it extremely hard to tolerate ambiguity and ambivalence. For this reason, their perception of features of the external world become polarized, or, as it is often, informally and metaphorically put, ‘black and white’.

For the infant / toddler (18 – 36 months, approx.) then, what we might call ‘grey areas’ are effectively eliminated as everything including, most significantly, the infant’s / toddler’s mother (or primary carer) is CATEGORIZED AS EITHER ‘GOOD’ OR ‘BAD’, depending upon how she is behaving in relation to him/her at any given point in time.

When the mother fails to satisfy adequately the infant’s needs, s/he perceives her as ‘all bad’. And, in stark contrast, when the mother DOES satisfy the infant’s needs (e.g. with a satisfying feed or by providing appropriate physical comfort) s/he perceives her as ‘all good’.It is only as the child gets older and develops and his/her understanding of the world and of those who inhabit it becomes increasingly sophisticated that s/he is able to integrate such contrasting perceptions and come to realize that both good and bad elements can exist in the same person simultaneously.

 

However, the adult sufferer of borderline personality disorder (BPD) becomes stuck in this toddler-like state of seeing others as either all good or all bad and, as a result, forms extremely unstable relationships with others, particularly significant others, perpetually vacillating and between idealizing them and demonising them ; this phenomenon is known as SPLITTING and, in essence, is a defense mechanism serving to protect  the individual with BPD from  feelings of potentially overwhelming anxiety.

 

splitting

The concept of ‘SPLITTING’ was initially developed by Ronald Fairbairn and was a component of his psychoanalytic theory known as ‘object relations theory’.

 

Finally, it is worth pointing out that it is not just people with BPD who employ the defense mechanism of ‘splitting’ ; for example, adolescents tend to do so quite a lot. Adults who do have have BPD and who are not mentally ill use it too. However, in the case of those suffering from BPD, the defense mechanism of ‘splitting’ is used abnormally frequently in comparison to the average individual and the extremes in which they perceive others vacillate more dramatically. (NB Although I employ the term ‘used’, defense mechanisms are UNCONSCIOUS processes i.e. the BPD sufferer does not deliberately choose to exercise the psychological response of ‘splitting’).

 

A leading treatment for BPD is, currently, dialectical behavior therapy which you can learn more about by clicking here.

 

RETURN TO BPD AND CHILDHOOD TRAUMA MAIN ARTICLE

 

eBook :
bpd_ebook

Above eBook now available on Amazon for immediate download. Click here further details.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSC; PGDE(FAHE).

Splitting, Denial And Flooding : The Inter-relationship

childhood trauma, splitting, denial and flooding

childhood trauma, splitting, denial, flooding

‘SPLITTING’ :

This is an unconscious defense mechanism that involves us seeing things in extreme and exaggerated ways, either as ALL GOOD or ALL BAD ; this unconscious strategy is often seen in people suffering from borderline personality disorder (BPD). 

For example, those suffering from this disorder frequently vacillate between, at times, perceiving a friend or partner in an idealized way and then, at other times, often as a result of perceived rejection (which may frequently be a false perception), ‘demonizing’ this same individual.

‘DENIAL’ : A PREREQUISITE OF ‘SPLITTING’ :

However, in order for ‘splitting’ to take place, ‘denial’ must take place first. This is because, in reality, in order to see things (and, especially people) as ‘all good’ or ‘all bad’, or, to put it another way, in ‘black or white’, the grey areas must be kept out of conscious awareness – this process, which also occurs on an unconscious level, is known as ‘denial’ and causes our view of things to be skewed and distorted. In essence, denial prevents salient information about whatever (or whoever) it is that we are making a judgment about from permeating our consciousness ; this, in turn, prevents us from considering or taking into account factors that contradict our (unknown to us) biased view, often leading to dysfunctional decisions and reactions.

childhood trauma, splitting, denial and flooding

How ‘Splitting’ And ‘Denial’ Can Lead To ‘Flooding’ :

Paradoxically, although ‘splitting’ and ‘denial’ are, technically speaking, defense mechanisms, their combined effect can be to cause FLOODING, I explain what is meant by ‘flooding’, and how this happens, below :

When ‘splitting’ and ‘denial’ operate together our emotional experience is intensified and and this reaction, in turn, can trigger related, intense memories. This can lead to a sense of our consciousness being ‘flooded’ with copious intense emotions and recollections.

Research conducted by the psychologist Siegel suggests that this overwhelming process of splitting/denial/flooding can be triggered in less than half a minute ; in effect then, it can be like a lightning fast ‘hijack’ of our mental faculties.

If our views are skewed negatively, this can lead to irrational verbal outbursts and behaviors which we are likely to later regret. On the other hand, if they are skewed positively (e.g. idealizing an abusive partner) we are prone to making poor decisions (e.g. remaining in a relationship with an abusive partner).

Link :

Splitting : Effects Of The BPD Parent Seeing The Child In Terms Of ‘All Good’ Or ‘All Bad.’

eBook :

BPD eBook

Above eBook now available for instant download. Click here for further details.

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Top