Psychology and Psychiatry


Intellectualization is an attempt to unconsciously get away from the senses, abstracting. Intellectualization refers to the mechanisms for protecting the psyche from frustration factors, being a more complicated form of isolation. The differences in these forms are such that, when isolated, a person displaces a certain feeling or their spectrum from conscious living, believing that he does not experience them, while intellectualization recognizes the presence of feelings in this sphere, but their power or influence is depreciated (reasoning about emotions is alienated, as if from the side, in the absence of immersion in accommodation).

This type of protection is very useful in situations with excessive emotional potential, allows you to save the logic of judgments and not get lost, for example, under the influence of panic. Having a lot of advantages and looking like an example of adult behavior, intellectualization can bring a person into trouble in the form of a distortion of reality, which makes all the defenses, as well as provoke an inadequate reaction, due to inadequate living emotions. Examples of intellectualization are found in individuals with schizoid accentuation, being a way of distancing themselves from potentially painful experiences.

What is intellectualization?

Examples of intellectualization are found quite extensively; they can be presented in the reasoning of a person about the merits and demerits of the love object at the time of the need for choice. Also, this may include an unnecessary explanation of the reasons for your fear, when the feeling itself is viewed as if separately from the person. If you hear a person talking about his feelings to you, but at the same time you do not notice intonation and behavioral evidence of feelings, then, most likely, this is intellectualization. For example, having heard “you make me angry” uttered in an absolutely cold voice or “I am afraid” from a person who continues to drink tea - do not immediately disbelieve them, perhaps the protection of intellectualization worked and they really experience these emotions, but in such a strong or critical amount that is not able to withstand it consciously. At such moments, part of the residence of emotions hides, but their presence is recognized, the person looks somewhat frostbitten, but contact, unlike the protective mechanism of isolation, which turns on when there is a strong trauma.

Intellectualization is the opposite of affectation and is comparable to rationalization.

In psychology, intellectualization is a reaction to avoiding emotional experiences, with actual recognition of the presence of these experiences. Helping a person to cope with emotionally oversaturated situations, intellectualization creates problems in interpersonal interaction, impoverishing the diversity and variability of reactions, blocking creative adaptation. A person who is largely guided by this defense is used to planning and explaining everything in advance, his behavior and communication is devoid of an element of the game, half a hint (such forms of communication as flirting and friendly comic mockery are difficult to reach with total reaction filled with intellectualization).

Intellectualization in Psychology

Intellectualization in psychology is the excessive use of intellectual resources by a person to avoid emotional experiences. This type of control of emotions develops in adolescence, when, due to a collision with traumatic experience or disappointment, there is a need to restrain one’s affective reactions.

Revealed the relationship of development of the psychological mechanism of protection as dominant from personality traits. Usually they are closed-minded people who are characterized by pedantry, thoroughness, a high level of introspection and self-control, individualism in decision-making, a high degree of development of the intellectual sphere. When activating this protection, a person may lose the ability to make effective decisions, and only talk about what is happening, social detachment increases (phobias or aggressiveness may appear), self-deception increases for self-justification.

The analysis of the surrounding reality takes place in a specific way, with the exaggeration of the meaning of the rational components, while the person and his world seem to be split. Such behavior has a positive effect in extreme situations, when it is necessary to gather and concentrate, but causes damage to communication in everyday situations. If you communicate with a person whose intellectualization prevails, then when asked about his feelings for you, you may well hear the reasoning that you are a good person, have shown yourself as a reliable companion or are a source of benefit for him. Such communication is more like an interview or discussion of technical issues in the operation of the device than an emotional live exchange between people.

It is worth noting that intellectualization does not grant liberation from unpleasant emotions, but simply takes it out of the field of accessible experience, generalizing the feeling of unreasonable anxiety or fear.

Intellectualization - psychological protection

Intellectualization is considered a higher order defense mechanism. It has more nuances, and, accordingly, is sometimes difficult to detect, compared to the others. It occurs in adolescence, when internal personality structures are well developed and the first clashes in competition began. Strengthened or used situationally, but requires a pronounced development of the power of the ego.

The peculiarity of this defense mechanism is that even significant, important and decisive moments in the fate of such a person are perceived by him neutrally. Events are interpreted from the perspective of good-bad, useful, useless, without taking into account desires and feelings. Such a person is unlikely to fight hysterically over the death of his neighbor, but also he will not jump for the joy of having a child. One gets the feeling that he is strong and stable and no vicissitudes of life are able to significantly stir up the sensual sphere, and even more so to bring it into a state of affect. Such people amaze others when they choose a place in the cemetery, having learned that they have a couple of months left to live. Or you can contemplate intellectualization among adolescents who philosophize on vague religious themes or concepts abstract from their lives. Seeing such examples of behavior, we consider such people strange, heroes, scumbags - everything depends on the context, but we will never perceive them as the average. But in both of these examples, people are separated from their own experiences, in the first embodiment, from the fear of death, in the second, from the surging emotions of adolescence, caused by hormonal changes, which are not yet clear how to cope.

For successful work in a collision with intellectualization, one should discover the cause of excessive emotional overcrowding and reduce the flow of stimuli that generate an intolerable avalanche of feelings or try to provide such psychotherapeutic conditions where a person can meet his experiences in full. Since the most common feelings that cause intellectualization are feelings of shame or guilt, the main work of the therapist will be to ensure a non-judgmental acceptance and restoration of the correct inner image of a person.