My disdain for the word “or” came in fourth grade when I took my first True OR False exam in Science.
“True or false, the world has people in it,” the test question mused.
“Well,” I thought to myself, “it is true that the world has people in it, but it also has animals and trees and insects…that must mean the answer is false…but the answer couldn’t be false because there ARE people in the world…”
I remember circling true, and then drawing arrows leading to a written paragraph on the back of the test describing possible scenarios that could contradict the answer that I had chosen. “Yes, there are people in the world AND there are also animals, trees, insects and grass.”
I hated that they only gave me two choices on two opposite ends of a broad continuum of correctness. It made me feel as though I had been pushed into a corner, and NOBODY (warning dichotomous word, you’ll understand later) puts baby in a corner.
When many possible outcomes are limited to just two opposite outcomes, it leads many individuals to develop a cognitively distorted way of thinking called, All or Nothing Thinking. Ashley Thorne, LMFT was quoted on PsychCentral describing the dangers of all or nothing thinking.