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Splitting Self


Recently, I have seen an increase of young and teenage clients claiming to have multiple personalities. They talk about the person who is "bad" and the person who is "kind." There is a person who is "beautiful" and the one who is "ugly." They have names for each personality and share how each of them shows up in different situations. They are aware of each of these personalities and can blame each one for the actions and behaviors expressed in each moment. An example might be someone who blames their "ugly" self for yelling at their younger sister. Or they may have feelings of shame placed on them by a parent for their poor grades, unkept room, and failure to do the dishes. The explosive resistance to the perceived unfair criticisms can be blamed on the "bad" personality that allows them to express their frustration and blame another for the outburst. Later, when the child has calmed down, the "good" personality shows up and apologizes for the "bad" behaviors of the other personality.


This is not a personality disorder. This is a psychological term called, "Splitting."


Every one of us has good, bad, beautiful, and ugly parts of our personalities. We can see ourselves as being outwardly beautiful and want to hide the bad things we do. There used to be a reference to the ugly parts called, "The skeletons in our closets." Those memories that plague us of our past mistakes and shame for decisions we've made or abuses that we've been made to suffer. We always want to be seen as the kind, considerate, "good" person and can self-shame those moments when we are caught doing "bad." Temptations and a weak sense of identity contribute to this constant battle between good versus evil and in some cases, when the moments that expose a weakness, or where we lack self-control, we can transfer the responsibility to another "personality."


When we work with these clients who have split up their personality in order to express their feelings of good, bad, beautiful, and ugly parts, we show them they can integrate into one whole personality with all components of self are included. Learning how to set healthy boundaries, establish and maintain safety, and take personal responsibility for one's actions, allows the person to feel comfortable in their own skin free from self-judgments and projections outside of their control. Once they have found and established a personal identity they can live with, be proud of, and build upon for a better outcome, the four will become one.



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