Black-and-white thinkers can be rigid, intolerant, frustrating, and even toxic.
The world of relationships is full-color, including every shade of gray. Every person is unique, with his or her own interests, quirks and personal preferences about the way things are done.
But black-and-white thinkers have a kind of metaphorical color-blindness. They don’t see the value of the subtle differences most people recognize as important, even crucial to understanding and functionality.
Black-and-white thinkers are not flexible, open to change, easy-going or highly cooperative, and their ability to compromise – an important skill in relationships – is low.
In terms of hoping for more open-minded thinking, don’t expect a miracle when dealing with the majority of black-and-white thinkers. Many of the disorders that make a person prone to this kind of thinking are not highly treatable, so depending on the cause, the difficult person you’re dealing with may not be especially able to change their behavior.
Black-and-white thinking is common in people with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, and in individuals with autism spectrum disorder.
Ranking the disorders in terms of how they each respond to treatment, the most treatable is borderline personality disorder, followed by obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, then narcissistic personality disorder (which is not highly treatable) and finally autism spectrum disorder, which provides the very lowest response to any attempts at treatment (many would say none).
Black-and-white thinkers may:
- Be rigid and stubborn
- Have difficulty seeing the value in viewpoints other than their own
- Have difficulty empathizing properly
- Be controlling and rejecting
- May be impossible to please
- Be sticklers about details
- Have all-or-nothing tendencies
- Think their way is the only acceptable way
- Dislike changes in plans
- Not like sharing power
- Hold jobs for which control and/or details are a central theme, such as management or engineering
- See everything as either all-good or all-bad
- Have little to no creativity
- Overvalue past patterns, procedures, obedience and traditions
- Have tremendous difficulty letting go
- Be demanding and fault-finding
While autism spectrum disorders do not make people toxic, many of the other disorders – the personality disorders listed – definitely can.
Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (This is not the same as OCD).
Too detail-oriented, Perfectionistic, Doesn’t Delegate, Keeps Old Items, Rigid and Closed-Minded.
Borderline Personality Disorder
Unstable & angry, fears abandonment, self-harm, suicidality, feels empty, “splitting” (a form of black/white thinking).
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Self-centered, critical, demands admiration, unempathic, entitled, arrogant and egotistical, envious, grandiose.
Join us next time — we’re talking about what happens when you don’t ask for enough from others.
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