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Splitting


Lindamomof7
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  • 3 weeks later...

My therapist said I was engaging in splitting in one of my earlier sessions. I don't think I really understood what he was saying. I had to look it up and it took me a while. Here's what the online guide in this site has to say (Coping strategies and defense mechanisms):

Splitting; a person cannot stand the thought that someone might have both good and bad aspects, so they polarize their view of that person as someone who is "all good" or "all bad". Any evidence to the contrary is ignored. For example: "My boss is evil", after being let go from work, when in reality, the boss had no choice in the matter and was acting under orders herself. Splitting functions by way of Dissociation, which is an ability people have in varying amounts to be able to wall off certain experiences and not think about them.

Yes, I definitely do this. I generally consider my ex ALL BAD. Mostly he is incredibly rude, greedy, self-centred, angry and manipulative. But if he does anything remotely nice for me, I look for his ulterior motive. Absolutely ANYTHING he does, good or bad I will find convince myself and others that his actions and intentions are ALL bad. The problem with this for me is that I think I have lost a lot of credibility. People view me as hysterical when it comes to my ex. The other problem is that my ex does fewer and fewer things that might remotely be called "nice" because there's nothing in it for him. Actually, come to think of it, I can see lots of situations where I do this, both on the "all good" and "all bad" side with various people and groups of people.

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Yes. With other people for sure, and definitely like with Athena, it's with ex's more often than not. It is hard to see them as human when I feel hurt. I used to think that hating my ex's was a necessary way of getting over them. But it's been very unhealthy for me.

I will meet up with someone I used to date again and suddenly I'm the jerk and they're wonderful. All they ever did was care for me and I screwed it up, etc. . . and I will sleep with them or something and end up being told it's just "friends", which causes self shame and more hate towards them again. It's a cycle of seeing them as horrible and me as good or me as horrible and them as good. I am rarely able to hold a picture of who I really am or who others really are in mind for long. It is always a gross over simplification - epic issues of good and evil.

This also happens with my immediate family (parents) because of what happened in childhood. I have made a lot of progress, but sometimes it's more like actively choosing to forget the past in order to get along in the present.

In friendships I have done the same thing. Two friends - I called one a sociopath and it got back around to her and hurt her feelings. That's when I realized my vilifying her was out of control and causing me to act in a hurtful way. We still aren't friends today because she understandably doesn't trust me.

I also did something similar to one ex where I posted online (cl, missed connection), analyzing his character so negatively - but anonymously - that some of his friends who read it called him up to ask him if he knew about it because it sounded just like him. When he came back at me hurting and angry, I felt HORRIBLE. Gone was that rage and anger at the ugly person I thought I was revenging myself on when I wrote the stupid post. He was WONDERFUL again, and I felt like dying. I couldn't understand why I was behaving so crazy. One moment I was laughing about getting revenge, the next I wanted to kill myself.

This stuff probably also translates over to political views, etc, but splitting is a big problem for me in relationships especially because it translates to cruel behavior.

Are you experiencing splitting?

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Guest ASchwartz

Hi Athena,

You found a good description of splitting. I want to add that some thing happen with it. In splitting, the individual goes behind the back of the individual they are splitting to a third party, kind of like gossiping behind someone's back. What makes it splitting is that the gossip is an attempt to avoid confronting the individual with whom you are angry, by talking behind their back and making them seem awful.

Is this clear, I am not sure it is. Please ask me what you need to clarify. If feel I am not explaining clearly. :eek:

Allan

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have experienced splitting all my life, but I wasn't aware that I was doing it. Now that I'm more aware of it, I find it easier to control.

That being said, it's still a problem for me as it just sort of happens naturally and if I don't pay close attention I will do it without realizing it.

For example, I thought that this forum was a boon, perfect for me to spill my guts until I can arrange actual therapy. Then I found myself waiting for someone, anyone to reply to my post in the new members forum. Soon I became angry, thinking that this forum was a pointless waste of time and wondering why I'd bothered posting.

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So, if your deadbeat, leeching ex threatens to wipe you out financially, you should just see it as an idle threat, that the guy is just angry, the same way he threatens my kids as in "I'll give you something to cry about" or "I'll wack your bum so hard you won't be able to sit for a week", or just raise a threatening hand pretending to almost hit them, then not do it. I guess I should just see this as a completely benign individual who I don't have to protect myself against? Just look at his good qualities and bury the bad ones and bury my head in the sand?

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Does anyone have any personal experience with what they call "splitting" ?

Answering the original question about splitting:

Yes, I do think I do a lot of splitting. As it was earlier mentioned in this thread, people with Borderline Personality Disorder use splitting as a defense mechanism. I have been diagnosed with BPD and I'm still figuring out a lot about the different sides of my disorderly behavior and thinking.

As far as I understand, splitting happens on an emotional level and even if the splitting itself can't logically be dealt away with, the situation can be contained with logical arguments. Personally I have been very controlling about my emotions and the way I conduct myself. As of late I have been letting my emotions surface and have also been paying more attention to the finer details. It has been very tiring since I've noticed my anger and anxiety go from 0 to 100 (and back) in less than 3 seconds if I even think of something emotionally uncomfortable. Many times these things don't seem to cause a slightest flinch in other people I try to share my thoughts with.

Thinking back on my life I've always had problems with social relationships: I seem to idealize new people a lot, and then when they ever so slightly disappoint me at some time, I usually get very very mad at them. I find it really difficult to feel anything positive about them after something insulting happens. Funny thing now that I think of it is that my upbringing has always been something of a catalyst to this emotional black-and-whiteness. It always seemed weird to my parents how strongly I reacted to things and I was many times mocked or belittled for being so sensitive (read: weak).

I guess the biggest problem is I that I often feel utterly betrayed by something very stupid and I except heartfelt apologies for things that most people don't seem to care about. I've noticed that many of the friends I've hung out with for a long time, have very little emotional sensitivity when it comes to this and the ever-bugging thought in my mind is: "If I could Just make them understand!" Eventually my friendships are forced into a limbo-like existence where I'm constantly struggling with myself, instead of really telling them to take a hike. I guess my anger and feelings of betrayal manifest themselves passive-aggressively eventually and I feed something back to the people I get so much fuel for my emotional mayhem for :)

-- F60.3

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And I don't mind jumping back and trying to answer Athena ...

"Splitting" is about black-and-white thinking, absolutes.

It's quite possible that your ex is a jerk in many ways. No one suggests that you should forget those ways. Your anger at him comes through clearly, and in all likelihood, it's completely justified.

Splitting is more like thinking of him as the antichrist. It seems possible that there exist humans "worse" than he is, like rapists and murderers?

But the point here isn't about him at all. Seeing things in absolutes is usually a sign of something unaddressed in the seer. Anger is one obvious component, but maybe there are others.

So I'm more interested in what you might need, that makes you more comfortable seeing him in absolute terms?

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Thanks for replying Mark.

I need to be free of him with no strings attached, so he can't threaten my freedom and financial security anymore. I guess I also need to see him as more of a cowardly bully. He threatens my kids a lot, but he rarely actually hits them, as far as they've told me. It's possible he's doing that to me. I need to stop reacting like it is reality - it is just a threat. He is puffing his peacock feathers out and making a good show. Unfortunately he's a pathological liar so it's very hard to tell what he really intends to do. He's been rather nice to me lately, and I thought of letting down my guard and then he throws me a zinger yesterday. I was about to have a coffee to wake myself up. After his new threat, I went the other way, popped a tranquilizer and did something else that belongs in the SI forum, so I won't mention it here.

Speaking of which, i was just over in the SI forum, trying to remember why I had the urge to cut my whole hand off (not something I'd actually do, but it was a very specific urge). It finally came back to me. - I feel like he's got his claws on me. If I could just cut my hand off, I'd be free of him, kind of like an animal chewing his leg off just to get free. Once I am free, I can "risk" seeing him as having a good side. Until then, every nice word must be viewed with "what are you after?". I've even told my brother, when my ex asks how I am, just tell him to ask me himself. Because if he says I'm doing great, he'll want to live off me, and if he says I'm an emotional wreck, he'll try to get custody of the kids. (yes, he's actually threatened both). So far he uses anything he can against me.

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Guest ASchwartz

Athena,

Just because you sometimes split doen't mean that your ex is benign. He clearly is all the things you report and you need to be completely free of him. If it were me, I would feel extremely upset if he were threating my kids. He may be cowardly but that doesn't mean he's harmless. I am not meaning to scare you but just confirm your criticism of him.

Allan

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