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Splitting (Defense Mechanism)

Synonyms

All-or-nothing thinking; Black-and-white thinking; Compartmentalization; Dichotomous thinking

Definition

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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Boag, S. (2017). Splitting (Defense Mechanism). In: Zeigler-Hill, V., Shackelford, T. (eds) Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-28099-8_1427-1

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-28099-8_1427-1

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