Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences

Living Edition
| Editors: Virgil Zeigler-Hill, Todd K. Shackelford

Splitting (Defense Mechanism)

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-28099-8_1427-1



Splitting typically refers to an immature defense whereby polarized views of self and others arise due to intolerable conflicting emotions. A person employing splitting may idealize someone at one time (seeing the person as “all good”) and devalue them the next (seeing the person as “all bad”). As a defense, splitting allows individuals to simultaneously maintain contradictory attitudes towards self and others, but also prevents a view integrating both qualities concurrently. Splitting can also refer to a variety of divisions within personality and consciousness. Splitting here may include partitioning between internal and external realities, unconscious and conscious mentality, or id and ego. By encompassing division, splitting is a concept that traverses a number of theoretical approaches and can be considered a form of “dissociation.” Splitting can also be considered a...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyMacquarie UniversityNorth RydeAustralia

Section editors and affiliations

  • Virgil Zeigler-Hill
    • 1
  1. 1.Oakland UniversityRochesterUSA