Extreme Thinking: Black and White, All or None

Disordered characters tend to perceive things in terms of black-and-white or all-or-none.

I’ve been posting on the ways persons with disturbed characters tend to think. Prior posts have addressed their penchants for egocentric thinking and possessive thinking. (See “Egocentric Thinking Patterns of Disturbed Characters” and “Possessive Thinking and the Disturbed Character”.)

Disordered characters also tend to perceive things in terms of black-and-white or all-or-none. They might take the position that if they can’t have everything they ask for, they won’t accept anything at all. If someone doesn’t agree with everything they say, they will frame it as not being valued or listened to in any way. If they don’t see themselves as completely on top of things and in total control, they will cast their circumstance as being on the bottom and the victim of someone else’s oppression.

This all-or-none and black-and-white type of thinking is what prompts the disordered character’s behavior of carrying things to extremes. In other words, extreme thinking leads to extreme behaviors. Such thinking interferes with a person’s ability to develop any sense of moderation. It also promotes an uncompromising attitude that causes untold problems in relationships.

Dealing with individuals prone to extreme thinking can be truly exasperating. You try to reach some amicable middle ground with them, but it’s next to impossible. Somehow you always end up feeling like “it’s their way or the highway.” There’s no room for negotiation or compromise, and it leaves you feeling like there’s no way to win.

Extreme thinking and the uncompromising attitude promoted by it are at the root of the stubborn and unyielding behaviors disturbed characters display that can easily decimate a relationship. A person who thinks in extremes will not be prone to give ground, and giving some ground is essential to reaching compromises in life’s many conflicts.

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