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Splitting: A Polarizing Phenomena in Psychology & Politics
March 27, 2021 at 7:30 pm EDT
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Interintellect Maybe Gray invites you to explore our tendency to see “Good” and “Bad” separately in ourselves, our relationships, and our political perspectives.
“The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either — but right through every human heart — and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956
Although every individual, every relationship, and every country has a complex combination of Good and Bad qualities, navigating the world bearing in mind all of that complexity in every context all of the time would be impossible.
So we compartmentalize. From a very early stage in our development, we each learn to divide up our experiences of ourselve and of the world into the things we find pleasurable and the things that bring us pain. We learn, both subconsciously and consciously, to label those things Good and Bad.
Despite these efforts, complexity insists itself upon us. To avoid being paralyzed by ambivalence we tend to overemphasize the distinctions we draw. When these distinctions become too emphatic, too rigid, we can lose our ability to see through them and glimpse the complexity underneath. We begin to experience ourselves, our relationships, and the world, as either all Good or all Bad depending on whatever contours arise in our present experience of pleasure and pain.
In psychology, this phenomenon is called “splitting” and it is usually associated with Borderline Personality Disorder. However, through a non-pathologizing lens, we can see the same black and white thinking from social media soap boxes to culture wars to the polarized political climate.
In this salon we will investigate these phenomena and ask questions like…
- Are any of our experiences purely pleasurable or painful?
- What constraints tempt us to reduce the complexity of the world so that it fits within categories of Good or Bad?
- Is there a context of ambivalence hidden beneath the culture war and political polarization?
- How can we be more mindful of complexity in our relationships with ourselves and others?
- What could we glimpse if we unlearned black and white thinking and saw in subtler shades of gray?
Read before the Salon:
- “Splitting” In Borderline Personality Disorder: What You Should Know – MedCircle
- The Essence of Borderline Personality Disorders with Otto Kernberg
- “Life during the culture wars: our political manicheasm” by Russell Blackford
- “Complicating the Narratives” by Amanda Ripley
New York – 7:30 pm
San Francisco – 4:30 pm
Sydney – 10:30 am
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