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Dichotomous Thinking

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Updated May 13, 2014

Definition:

Dichotomous thinking is also sometimes called “black or white thinking.” This is when someone is only able to see the extremes of a situation, and is unable to see the “gray areas” or complexities of the situation. For example, a student who engages in dichotomous thinking may believe that if they don't get an "A" in class then they have failed.

Dichotomous thinking is a very common problem in people with borderline personality disorder (BPD). In this disorder, people tend to see themselves, others, and the world as either “all good” or “all bad.” Dichotomous thinking in BPD is linked to splitting behavior.

Also Known As: black or white thinking
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