All-or-None Phenomena in the Psychotherapy of Severe Disorders

  • Clarence G. Schulz


The phenomenon of splitting, referring to “good” and “bad” attitudes toward others or toward oneself, is a prominent feature in borderline personality disorders, as well as in the schizophrenias. My thesis is that splitting is only one aspect of the broader concept of the all-or-none phenomenon. Our diagnostic abilities and therapeutic efforts will improve if we recognize the many clinical manifestations of all-or-none phenomena. Among these I will present examples of cognitive aspects, affective features, narcissistic manifestations, and aspects of superego- and ego-ideal functions. In addition, I will cite a few references about all-or-none phenomena appearing in the psychiatric literature, and will consider developmental relationships to splitting. Finally, I will focus on some implications for psychotherapeutic techniques with these patients.


Borderline Personality Disorder Severe Disorder Ambivalent Attitude Borderline Patient Psychiatric Literature 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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  1. 1.
    Kernberg OF: Borderline Conditions and Pathological Narcissism. New York, Jason Aronson Inc, 1975.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Sullivan HS: Conceptions of Modern Psychiatry. Washington, DC, William Alanson White Psychiatric Foundation, 1948, p 38, p 39.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bose G: All-or-None Attitude in Sex. Samiksa 1, 1947. Reprinted in Yearb Psychoanal 4:86–98, 1948, p. 87.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Clarence G. Schulz
    • 1
  1. 1.The Sheppard and Enoch Pratt HospitalTowsonUSA

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