Black and White

Psychology Sunday – Splitting

Black and WhiteToday I’m going to talk about the psychological phenemonon called Splitting. It seems innocuous enough verbally but it’s a huge problem particularly seen in people’s voting rational. It is defined generally as the splitting of mental concepts (or black and white thinking). This sort of thinking has, in my opinion, caused the country to become driven into two different camps when in actuality most people are nearer the center of political ideology.

It is encouraged by the two viable parties, Democrats and Republicans, because it assures that if one doesn’t win the election the other will and this keeps out those who threaten their dominance of power. It is also encouraged by yellow journalists in their endless pursuit of ratings which, naturally, is a product of our viewing habits. I’ll probably talk about how we drive the media and not the other way around in a future blog.

Splitting is a dangerous way to think in many ways. It occurs not only in the political spectrum where you are inclined to believe a candidate not because of what they say but because of what party they are affiliated with but also in personal relationships when you attribute a person with particular virtues or vices. A person lies to you once so they are forever a liar or a person tells the truth once and so you believe everything they say. This is a natural phenomenon to some degree but it should be tested constantly. You should try to critically analyze each event in your life so as to properly judge it.

Splitting was first described by Pierre Janet and later analyzed by Sigmund Freud and his daughter Anna. However, in the sense that I am using here today we have Melanie Klein to thank. She argues this comes from when we are babies and there are good things and bad things and this mode of thinking haunts us into adult life.

Otto Kemberg argues that the ability to overcome splitting is one of the important developmental tasks of children. This ability to view the world in more complex shades is important for our overall development as adults. Generally things are complex and when we view them as simply good and bad we are acting like babies. This is the view that politicians would like us to have. They don’t want us to examine their propositions closely. They sieze upon relatively innocuous statements and turn them into full blown splitting insanity. President Obama says 57 states instead of 57 elections and he must be a moron. Newt Gingrinch mentions moon bases and he must be a lunatic. A political ally of Mitt Romney says Etch-a-Sketch and that means Romney will totally change everything he believes in after the primaries.

This sort of thinking leads us to vote for politicians who are uninterested in deep thought and real solutions. Simple splitting is the act of babies. Babies. Grow up and examine situations with an adult, critical mindset and we will get politicians who cater to that mindset. Keep thinking like babies and we’ll keep getting politicians who think the same way. And the country will suffer.

Tell me what you think!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist

2 thoughts on “Psychology Sunday – Splitting

  1. I’m glad you are going to address the role of the media in black and white, simplistic thinking. I think it looms large.

  2. Pingback: Conservation in Children Leads to Brawl Among Adults - Tom Liberman

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