Splitting (also called all-or-nothing thinking) is the failure in a person's thinking to bring together both positive and negative qualities of the self and others into a cohesive, realistic whole. It is a common mechanism used by large numbers of individuals. The individual tends to think in extremes (that is, another's actions, motivations etc. are all good or all bad and there is no middle ground.)
Splitting was developed by Ronald Fairbairn in his formulation of object relations theory; it begins as the inability of the infant to combine the fulfilling aspects of the parents (the good object) and their unresponsive aspects (the unsatisfying object) into the same individuals, but sees the good and bad as separate. In psychoanalytic theory this functions as a defense mechanism. It is a central mechanism to the diagnosis of Borderline personality disorder in DSM-IV-TR.
Famous quotes containing the word splitting:
“Verily, chemistry is not a splitting of hairs when you have got half a dozen raw Irishmen in the laboratory.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)