articles that I have written
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"Splitting vs. Dissociation: Definitions"
By: Patricia D. McClendon, MSSW
Clinically, "splitting" refers to the
tendency to view people or events as either all good or all bad. It is a way of coping
that allows a person to hold opposite, unintegrated views. For example, the child
separates the father whom she depends on for love and protection from the father who
abuses her. This allows her to preserve an image of the "good" father, but at
great cost. She is left identifying herself as "bad" in order to make sense of
"Splitting" also describes the feeling
the survivor has when she separates her consciousness from her body, or "leaves"
her body (Bass and Davis, 1988, p.42).
Bass, Ellen, & Davis, Laura (1988). The
Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse. New York, NY: Harper
& Row Publishers (Perennial Library).
Unable to remove herself physically from the abuse, the creative child victim
finds other ways to leave. Frequently this leaving takes the form of "separation from
the self," or "depersonalization." Many incest survivors refer to this
separation as "splitting" (which is different from "splitting off," dividing good and bad into absolute,
separate realities that can never coexist) (Blume, 1990, p.83).
Blume, E. Sue (1990). Secret Survivors:
Uncovering Incest and Its Aftereffects in Women. New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons.
(T)here is a problem about the difference between splitting
and dissociation (Clary, Burstin, & Carpenter, 1984;
Gruenewald, 1977; Horevitz & Braun, 1984, Ross, 1985; Young, 1988). I consider splitting and dissociation to be
synonyms, and I consider borderline personality disorder, which is based on splitting, to
be an Axis I dissociative disorder (Ross, 1989, p.87).
Splitting is a major issue, as Braun (1986a) has
pointed out. Splitting occurs within the patient, between
patient and staff, staff and staff, other patients and other staff, in fact in all
imaginable combinations and permutations. Without processing by staff, chaos will occur.
Patients will attempt to recreate the abusive environment of childhood, just as they do in
their personal relations outside the hospital. I can't emphasize enough the need to meet
and talk, meet and talk, meet and talk (Ross, 1989, p.290-1).
Ross, Colin A. (1989). Multiple Personality
Disorder: Diagnosis, Clinical Features and Treatment. New York, NY: John Wiley and
Other articles that I have written
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distributed. I "doctored" it using VuePrint 4.2 Pro/32 edition.
Last updated on
January 13, 2011.