Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Black and White....

“I began dividing life in absolutes... things and people were either perfectly bad, or perfectly good, and when life didn’t obey this black-and-white rule, when things or people were complex and contradictory, I pretended otherwise.

I turned every defeat into a disaster, every success into an epic triumph, and separated all people into heroes or villains. Unable to bear ambiguity, I built a barricade of delusions against it.” -J. R. Moehringer

While there are certain absolutes and some things in life that are clearly black and white with no wiggle room, black and white thinking can also be a problem for areas where shades of gray are appropriate.

I learned about a psychoanalytic term in class called splitting that reminds me of the quote above. Splitting can be a normal developmental process in toddlers or a defensive one as well. For example, a child who sees a babysitter as all bad because she won’t give him candy is splitting. The process of splitting may also be called all or nothing thinking in psychology. Whatever it’s called, beware of processing people or information or life into such distinct categories.