What is Black and White Thinking?

Consider the following phrases:

“Everyone hates me.”

“Things are never going to get better.”

“Either I get this job, or I’m a failure.”

These are examples of black and white thinking, which may also be coined as “splitting”. For many people, these phrases appear from time to time, especially when one is frustrated or trying to make a point about the extent or severity of one’s fears, hopes, dreams, and desires. For others, however, this form of black and white thinking happens the majority (if not all) of the time, which is a symptom of borderline personality disorder (BPD). For those with BPD, the perception is often that something cannot be both good and evil, perfect and imperfect, etc. With this disorder, everything must be one way or the other – there’s rarely an in-between.

A 2015 study conducted by researchers from Germany sought to understand BPD and how self-concept is experienced; results from the study indicated that those with BPD have highly compartmentalized self-concept structures, with also more negative self-attributes than positive ones. With this platform for self-concept, many people with BPD struggle to see themselves and others as complex human beings with a variety of factors that make them neither good nor evil, etc. One of the biggest challenges for those with BPD, therefore, is seeing things as both grey and colorful, rather than black and white.

A common form of treatment for BPD is dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), which is used to help people find and understand the “grey” areas of life. Here are some examples of what DBT can help with:

  • Going from “that person hates me because they haven’t called me recently” to “that person probably has a lot of life things going on like paying the bills, going to school, etc.”
  • Changing perspective from “that person is bad (or I don’t want to be their friend) because they have X political views” to “that person has X political views and they’re allowed to have those views, that’s okay and I can still like them as a person”

If you haven’t already, speak with a professional from a reputable treatment center to learn more about treatment for BPD. Recovery is possible.

Stop the cycle of merry-go-round treatment and find the solution you’re looking for in trauma treatment. Through effective residential treatment, Khiron House helps you find the path you need toward health and wellness in recovery. For information, call us today. UK: 020 3811 2575 (24 hours). USA: (866) 801 6184 (24 hours).