Compartmentalization (psychology)  

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Compartmentalizing is the act of splitting an idea or concept up into (sometimes more or less arbitrary) parts, and trying to enforce thought processes which are inhibiting attempts to allow these parts to mix together again. This process is performed in an attempt to simplify things, and to defend against anxiety. According to Glen O. Gabbard, often 'people with a borderline level of organization... have to compartmentalize people into "all good" and "all bad"', on the principle that 'compartmentalizing experiences... prevents conflict stemming from the incompatibility of the two polarized aspects of self or other'. Often, 'when the individual is confronted with the contradictions in behavior, thought, or affect, he/she regards the differences with bland denial or indifference'.

Psychiatrist Robin Skynner suggests the 'simplicity...[of] splitting everything into neat compartments of "good" and "bad" does several things for us, all of which make us feel better. First, it helps us feel part of a "good" group - that's comforting. Second, we can relax our usual standards of correct behaviour for a bit... And third, we can let off steam, that is, get rid of our own "bad" feelings on to the "baddies"'.

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