Borderline Personality Disorder Splitting: Symptoms & Care

borderline personality disorder splitting

“Splitting” is a psychiatric term when an individual is unable to see alternatives.  Sometimes it is described as seeing everything as black or white.  It is considered a defense mechanism in those persons who suffer from borderline personality disorder (BPD).

Splitting allows the person to reject anything they consider “bad”. They will only adopt or support those things “good,” no matter the risk or potential harm.  For them, there is no discussion or compromise, or negotiation.

People who suffer from this disorder can vacillate erratically. They may seem dramatic or overly anxious especially when making declarations of their ideas. For those around them, this can be exhausting, confusing, and disturbing.

Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder Splitting

We probably all know folks like that, someone who is firm in their convictions or overbearing.  However, splitting combined with borderline personality disorder takes on additional symptoms. These symptoms may include:

  • Rash actions without concern for any consequences
  • Belief in their own superiority
  • Projecting a negative emotion to someone else

This condition can only be diagnosed by a qualified mental health professional. Psychiatrists have the right diagnostic tools and experience to evaluate this disorder. They will be able to better at evaluating when an attitude is a one-off quirk or if it consistent enough enough to warrant treatment.


If you have a loved one diagnosed with borderline personality disorder splitting, you know it is difficult to deal with.  For close relationships and when symptoms are extreme, it can feel beyond your capabilities to help.  Some things that may work are:

  • Understanding: Remember that these are symptoms of a disease. What they do or say may seem hurtful to you or others, but those actions are only a defense mechanism. Those actions and words can be difficult for the person to control.
  • Treatment: Encourage the individual to seek and continue with treatment. You may wish to join a support group or seek mental health counseling to help you in dealing with this person.
  • Boundaries: Working with the therapist, establish boundaries between you and the BPD person.  Should that line be crossed, as calmly and composed as possible, explain why you need to withdraw.  This maneuver can actually save the relationship.
  • Communication: Continue to speak to one another. If an unwarranted situation occurs, discuss it as soon as possible.
  • Love: Continue to let the individual know that you still care for them even though their actions can be hurtful.

Don’t let the other person’s behavior allow you to neglect your own well being.  If safety, yours or someone else, is a concern, it may be necessary to discontinue the relationship, at least temporarily.  Security, especially if children are involved, may be the best response.

Discussing your personal experiences with a therapist of your own will help you feel better equipped to deal with them.