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The Greyness of Living: Thoughts on Psychological Development With Respect to Borderline Personality Disorder

Psychological development has an emotional context to it. For emotional maturity implies psychological maturity, yet highly developed psychological maturity requires a developed sense of humor to reflect one's emotional maturity appropriately.

In theory, children evolve morally from the black-and-white thinking of what psychiatrist Melanie Klein calls "paranoid-schizoid" to the grey world of the depressive phase. However, "paranoid-schizoid" denotes a psychologically immature phase of psychological development in early childhood.

In contrast, "depressive" suggests a mature phase of psychological development.

  1. When young, self and the object, good and bad, were experienced as the same. No concept of "I and thou" existed, only "me, my and mine".
  2. Good and bad are not the same. Good is acceptable, while bad is unacceptable. Depending on their actions, the other as a person is seen as either all good or all bad. Thinking about another person as bad implies that the self is bad as well. Therefore, it's best to consider the caregiver to be a good person, so that the self is also seen as good.
  3. The self and the other possess both good and bad qualities. Having hateful thoughts about another person doesn't mean that the self is all hateful and doesn't mean that the other person is all hateful either.

Splitting -

"In a moral sense grey is ... used positively to balance an all-black or all-white view (for example, shades of grey represent magnitudes of good and bad)." &emdash; Grey in popular culture -

Commentary: The use of medication to treat clinical depression suggests that within context of society, clinical depression is not conducive with productivity in society. Medication thus is used to help stabilize what society views as a medical condition that prevents a person from exercising his responsibilities and obligations to society.

Within context of the ethical definition of grey, as covered by this note, splitting does not imply one is out of control. This is because it is primarily a defence mechanism, and has its uses as a behavioural tool, despite its crudity.

Splitting's crudity is that people are seen as either all good or all bad. Within context of psychological development, then, the word "crudity" suggests that psychological immaturity to be crude in function.

Furthermore, it is suggested that seeing the self either as all good or all bad, depending on how one views others, is a crude way of viewing the world.

What I need to do to manage borderline personality disorder (BPD) is to "integrate the good and bad images of both self and others". This is the affirmation to manage BPD.

In order to integrate the good and bad images of both self and others, it's useful to pair statements rationalizing good and bad.

In order to achieve that aim, I will quote the third stage of psychological development and comment on it: "The self and the other possess both good and bad qualities." - This statement is a synthesis of the following opposing statements: "The self possesses both good and bad qualities", and "the other possesses both good and bad qualities."

"Having hateful thoughts about another person doesn't mean that the self is all hateful and doesn't mean that the other person is all hateful either."

"Having loving thoughts about another person doesn't mean that the self is all loving and doesn't mean that the other person is all loving either."

However, me thinking all loving thoughts neither makes me a good person or a bad person. Rather, it makes me a person who is being positive.

Within the context of this article, the act of being positive has both good and bad qualities to it. I am not being positive to be good; I am being positive because it affirms self management of BPD.

This brings me to the use of grey as the positive response to black-and-white thinking (splitting).

As an affirmation to help manage BPD symptoms, i.e. lessen stress, the following statement is useful: "Shades of grey represent magnitudes of good and bad."

Even though writing out my thoughts about BPD and its management may be seen as rationalization, it helps me to see BPD as an part of my character which only arises when under stress.

To best appreciate what I have written in this article, one would have to look at the spectrum of defence mechanisms.

Splitting is a pathological defence mechanism, which means it is on the first level of defence mechanisms.

Defence mechanisms are categorized into four levels:
Level 1 - Pathological
Delusional projection
Level 2 - Immature
Acting out
Passive aggression
Projective identification
Level 3 - Neurotic
Reaction formation
Level 4 - Mature
Thought suppression

While I may use defence mechanisms of the first three levels, it remains in my best interest to use altruism, anticipation, humour, identification, sublimation and thought suppression to help manage stress.


Steve said...


Melanie Klein:

Steve said...

Both Eros and Thanatos are primal archetypes resembling the ancient Chinese symbology of yin and yang.

The yin-yang of Eros and Thanatos are one in the mind.

It is up to the person with personality disorder(s) to, acknowledge, integrate and view both as an intimate part of the psyche.

For both Eros and Thanatos are not separate abstract concepts but are merely pieces of the whole which is the mind.

And this whole is called Psyche.

Am I suggesting that the Psyche is an archetype, too? No, because the Psyche consists of the interaction of Eros and Thanatos with the mind.

Is the mind separate of these archetypes? No, it is integral with these two archetypes. However, the interaction of both Eros and Thanatos with the mind forms the Psyche.

Due to the mind being in effect a sense like our five senses, it is creative.

Hence, the other archetypes are realized by integrating Eros and Thanatos.

Am I suggesting that the Psyche becomes conscious of archetypes? Yes, because the mind only becomes aware of the primal archetypes through education.

Therefore, borderline personality disorder may be effectively managed through education about the mind.

Steve said...

Unconscious phantasy inspires the development of the Psyche yet the mind of a child is not a blank slate, for the Superego is present from the moment of birth. Indeed, the Superego arises as the child learns to speak.

Steve said...


Id, Ego and Super-ego:,_ego,_and_super-ego

Steve said...

From the Buddhist point of view, these psychoanalytic concepts are abstractions of the mind, and thus are impermanent.

One should moderate the desire to treat these concepts of how the mind works according to Freud as real.

Moderation of this desire then consists of resolution of transference neurosis with object relationships with others.

Since borderline personality disorder arises out of neglect in the family of origin, anxiety due to separation from the family for health reasons, and other factors which may cause trauma to the developing psyche i.e. child abuse, mental abuse both in the family and in school, etc., forgiveness and gratitude are two useful tools to restoring order to the mind troubled by BPD.

Internalized forgiveness and gratitude settles the mind. One symptom of this settling of the mind is appreciation of others for helping one to heal.

Finally, the consequence of settling the mind is joy, which is the state of mind where one neither craves happiness in excess nor denies one's own happiness within the limits of social appropriateness.

Steve said...

Depression itself is most likely not a biopsychiatric ailment in need of antidepressants of the SSRI (Selective-Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitor) class which lack the anti-histamine effect of the tricyclic anti-depressants (TCA).

If my hypothesis is correct, and depression (and possibly other mental health issues) are comorbid with stress and its effect on dormant varicella zoster virus (VZV), then primarily mental health issues are due to autoimmune response precipitated by extended periods of stress, resulting in what appear to the casual observer, "mental illness".

So possibly mirtazapine works to moderate the autoimmune response to stress.

It also may be possible that leukotriene (sp?) receptor agonists and related substances may safely remedy side-effects of the autoimmune response.

Steve said...

Another comorbid condition may be sensitivity to magnetic fields, and possibly EMF.

Read here for details:

Steve said...

Regarding electromagnetic fields and the psyche, they would have to be strong enough to cause an acoustic effect to be heard. Also, EMF which change many times per second may have a stronger effect of change than a static EMF field.

For partial proof of this, the diamagnetism of water is demonstrably affected by strong magnetic fields e.g. the effect of a very strong neodymium magnet on a bowl of water at:

However, most of the EMF from house wiring, computers and television is too low to have a noticeable effect on people's behaviour.

Any changes in behaviour could more easily attributed to physiological and psychological affects i.e. personal habits, psychological history, etc.

Since emotional reasoning is a cognitive distortion, most likely the thought of EMF as influencing a person psychologically and physiologically may cause anxiety, due to the incomplete understanding of how magnetic fields actually work.

It is a fallacy that the EMF from house wiring and appliances has a cumulative effect on our mind and body.

Rather, the false belief that electromagnetic fields influence the mind and body is more likely the source of that effect than living in the modern home for 20 years.

Most likely, a person who is very sensitive to EMF is actually most sensitive to the effect of the noise produced by the electric motors turning, the fluorescent light ballast humming. Even the subsonic and high-frequency sounds from the TV and computer may have a subtle effect on the sensitive person's hearing.

The solution then is very, very simple: get out and enjoy a walk at least once a day.