‘What is black and white and red all over?’ Years ago, the popular answer was a newspaper because it was asked in many newspapers around 1917.
Now in the 2020s, it is a NewsBlog. Reading newspapers is no longer commonplace for finding out what is happening worldwide. Recently, we are often using modern technology and inserting a word or few words to get information to assist us in finding out about anything and everything.
In my recent article, Pick a Color for Our Mental Health, we concentrated on colours and how they can influence both positively and negatively the mental health community.
This article has a slightly different focus. Using black and white about our mental health is our theme. By definition, black is a colour which results from an absence or complete absorption of visible light.
On the other hand, White is the lightest colour and has no visible hue. They are total opposites, but they are often linked together. Yes, black and white are usually not described as colours – black is only a shade, and white is the absence of colour.
In mental health, black and white thinking is frequently thought of as patterns that make people do everything in absolutes. Many psychiatrists say this is Borderline Personality Disorder that causes individuals to experience intense feelings of anger, anxiety and depression.
Three Dog Night wrote and sang the song, Black and White, portraying this well. Several persons frequently develop black and white thinking, where a psychological term that is used splitting. Although splitting is a symptom of BPD, not everyone gets this.
For instance, one might believe they are living with great wealth and are successful with a yacht or living in a mansion. Others are in great poverty, are homeless, cannot even rub two nickels together, and consider themselves a failure.
Some experts agree that splitting is a cognitive distortion and therefore causes one not to see life as it is; therefore, it can be a complex, uncertain and constantly changing world.
Humans who live with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) like myself, many times are considered fixed thinkers. It gives us a sense plus a feeling of control and comfort in our lives.
Also, this can lead to rigidity in different areas of life, which ultimately can make it hard to change. For some lives. Of course, we know our planet is not an either-or place.
Overall, our lives are in shades of grey. This is where I am most hours. Seeing our world in black and white, rather than a huge and wide rainbow, like it is, makes it initially difficult for good decision-making.
Can we imagine Kermit The Frog singing Rainbow Connection or Black or White by Michael Jackson? Perhaps not! In addition, splitting makes it harder and harder to separate good from bad, right from wrong and beautiful from ugly.
Also, this way of thinking can be physically and emotionally exhausting, sending many of us on a metaphorical roller coaster with plenty of ups and downs.
In a recent study, black and white thinkers have problems getting and keeping relationships because they tend to have unrealistic expectations of prospective partners.
People who think and believe ideally have other issues that will not be discussed in this piece. Suffice to say, and no one is perfect. Challenging our thoughts, especially negative ones, is tough for most of us. This is even rougher when we stay in concrete thinking. An exercise of the mind is often successful. With the aid of a therapist, a good psychologist or a psychiatrist can give us possible options and steer us on the path we want.
Howard Diamond is a certified peer specialist in New York.