What Is Splitting in Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)?


Splitting is a term used to describe that people with borderline personality disorder are much more likely than other people to have brief psychotic episodes.  

This is because those with Borderline Personality Disorder often have a tendency for “splitting” – viewing others in terms of all good or all bad.

Psychotic episodes can come about as part of a depressive episode, when an individual is not taking their medication, during periods of extreme stress, and sometimes they just happen without any apparent trigger at all. 

In essence, splitting means that someone suffering from BPD may see their therapist as perfect and excellent one moment and as a bad person the next. This can be very confusing for casual observers of BPD.

To learn what splitting is like from the point-of-view of someone who suffers from splitting in borderline personality disorder (BPD), continue reading.

What Is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)?

Borderline Personality Disorder or BPD is a mental disorder characterized by patterns of mood, behavior, interpersonal relationships, and self-image. These characteristics often create impulsive behaviors and cause problems in relationships. 

It has been estimated that up to 80% of people with BPD also exhibit major depression and anxiety disorders. 

The illness typically includes periods of escalating symptoms followed by periods of remission.

Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

The overall characteristic of BPD involves how you behave, how you feel about yourself, and how you relate to others. 

Other signs and symptoms of BPD include:

  • Extreme fear of abandonment 
  • Unstable and intense relationships 
  • Prompt changes in self-image or self-identity
  • Self-related paranoia or lost connection with reality 
  • Feelings of emptiness
  • Suicidal ideations 
  • Impulsive or risky behavior 

Splitting in BPD

In general, individuals with splitting in borderline personality disorder can either see themselves in a very positive way or in a very negative way.  They can also view things in an all-or-nothing, black and white mentality.

They may see themselves as a brilliant person that others can’t measure up to, or they may see themselves as a terrible person who doesn’t deserve love from anyone at all times.

During splitting in borderline personality disorder, these people often hear voices telling them that they don’t belong here or are some type of evil person. For whatever reason, splitting in borderline personality disorder is much more common among women than among men.

Typical symptoms of splitting in BPD include: 

  • Acting out regardless of consequences 
  • Denial or consciously ignoring reality
  • Emotional hypochondriasis or trying to get other people to realize what you’re going through
  • Projecting emotions onto others
  • Being passive-aggressive 
  • Believe you are superior compared to others 

In some cases, people have been known to attempt suicide to cope with splitting in borderline personality disorder or splitting within BPD.

Cause and Effect of Splitting 

In most cases, splitting in borderline personality disorder is not the result of any single factor. Some researchers have hypothesized that splitting in borderline personality disorder may be connected to genetics or environmental factors, such as child abuse. 

Others believe splitting in borderline personality disorder may be related to chemical imbalances within the brain.

Splitting eventually interferes with an individual’s relationships and leads to intense self-destructive behaviors.  

People with splitting behaviors will also frame a person with no common ground. For example, an individual with splitting BPD sees others either to be an angel or downright evil or view them as not a risk or a complete con. 

How to Treat BPD

Treatment for BPD typically includes the utilization of psychotherapy and medication-based therapy.  Our mental health treatment center takes advantage of talk therapy during an individual treatment program.  

Examples include dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

DBT is among the most effective ways to treat BPD.  Patients learn several valuable life skills to manage and cope with their intense emotional symptoms. 

Similarly, CBT helps to positively alter how an individual behaves, feels, and thinks.  One of the most critical factors in using CBT for borderline personality disorder is the willingness of the individual to change. 

While every person’s situation is different, individuals can see really positive results if the appropriate combination is issued.  In some cases, short periods of hospitalization may be necessary for the individual.     

SoCal Sunrise is Here for You

At Southern California Sunrise Mental Health, we understand the hesitation when getting treatment.  Telling others what you’re going through can be daunting, but we are here to help.

Splitting can be a scary symptom to feel. Fortunately, we have created a treatment plan to help you or a loved ones borderline personality disorder get better.  Our team of experienced therapists is prepared to do everything in their power to see that you get the help you need.  

A new life is only a phone call away; call SoCal Sunrise Recovery Center today. 

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