What Is Black and White Thinking?

Highest Standards, Nationally Recognized:

What Is Black and White Thinking?

When you view life, people or situations as “all or nothing”, that is known as black and white thinking. For many people, these thought patterns appear from time to time, especially when they’re feeling upset, angry, disappointed, hopeless or frustrated.

This type of thinking also occurs quite often for those who have borderline personality disorder (BPD). Understanding why black and white thinking occurs, and how to cope with it, can have a positive effect on the progression of your recovery.


Borderline Personality Disorder and Black and White Thinking 


Previous studies have found that those with BPD tend to experience more negative emotions as opposed to positive ones, which could certainly contribute to black and white thinking. In particular, people with BPD tend to struggle with their self-concept.

Rather than seeing others as complex human beings, with lots of different characteristics, flaws, strengths, and weaknesses attached to them, individuals with BPD tend to view others as “good” or “bad”. This is one of the most important components of BPD regarding treatment – understanding that “grey” areas are okay.


Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is a common treatment method that can help those with BPD work through black and white thinking in several ways:


  • DBT can help a person rationalize their thought patterns, providing reasonable and logical explanations for events rather than jumping to extreme conclusions
  • DBT can assist those with BPD in recognizing that those around us can have characteristics that we don’t necessarily like or agree with, but we can still love them and accept them anyways


While black and white thinking is characteristic of BPD, most people have struggled with these types of thought patterns at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, lack of awareness and coping skills for this kind of thinking can lead to poor decision making, negative self-talk and self-image, and self-sabotage. If you find yourself stuck in the traps of black and white thinking, you are not alone. However, there are ways to recovery, provided you seek out the appropriate support.

At Avalon Malibu, we offer treatment programs, integrating therapies like DBT to support our clients as they learn new ways of thinking and behaving. If you haven’t already, speak with a professional from Avalon Malibu to learn more about how you can be treated for BPD. It’s never too late to seek the help you need. Call us today for a consultation, at 844-857-5992.

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