Psychology and Psychiatry


Rationalization is a way of explaining the response mechanisms of the external and internal world from a rationally determined position developed during a collision with psycho-emotional overloads. The most relevant moments are the situations of the absence of the conscious component, when the situation has an unconscious or uncontrollable nature. Refers to the defense mechanism, due to the use of thinking only part of the information perceived from reality, and adjusting the result of the analysis so that the behavior is controlled and corresponding to reality.

Rationalization is a defense mechanism that realizes an attempt to explain incomprehensible or unacceptable behavior unexplained by consciousness, or justify misconduct, a mistake in an effort to preserve self-esteem and positive self-perception. The emergence of this type of defense correlates with the accentuation of obsessive and individualistic personality traits. Nevertheless, being the most common form of protection against frustration in terms of numerical indicators of occurrence, rationalization was used by everyone, flowing in a light or in-depth form. The basic desire for predictability of emotional and effective reactions to the stability of the surrounding system, as well as the importance of social desirability, is due to the emergence of rationalization as the most socially acceptable and evolutionarily relevant way to protect the psyche.

Rationalization in psychology

Rationalization in psychology is a term introduced by S. Freud, and later a whole concept, developed by A. Freud. The rationalization was directed to the avoidance of intrapersonal conflict, by explaining the events from the point of view of conscious choice, while in reality, actions and choices were carried out not by the controlling part of consciousness, but under the guidance of unconscious motives.

Rationalization is a defense mechanism that allows you to hide unpleasant or unwanted thoughts and feelings, not only from society, but also from yourself. Being the most common mechanism for protecting the psyche from frustrating moments, rationalization has nothing to do with deliberate deception or attempts to justify it. The whole mechanism of action takes place outside the control of consciousness, but it can be a rationale and have quite substantial arguments. However, in the construction of rationalization concepts there is only a small fraction of the truth, and the rest is replaced by fantasy and the substitution of concepts, which carries a threat to a person’s personality.

The world of the rationalizer is simple, slender, predictable, the person himself is confident, with increased self-esteem and preserved self-esteem. With this approach, a living connection with reality is broken and new sources of experience are not available, which often comes through painful sensations. The very identity of a person is impoverished, from which all negative (relative to a person’s beliefs), but possibly quite useful (evolutionary) skills, feelings and desires are cut out.

Rationalization in psychology is a fairly wide range of manifestations of the concept - from the protective mechanism of the psyche of a normal person (not significantly affecting the course of life and development) to the symptoms of a psychiatric clinic, as one type of delusion (when the evidence base, based on logical constructions is aimed at maintaining delusional patient concepts).

The difficulty in working with this type of mental reaction depends on the stage of rationalization beliefs. In some cases, it is quite easy to show a person the inventiveness of the arguments he cites, after which work begins with traumatic experiences that are hidden behind non-true explanations of the situation. And there are cases when a logical challenge and giving any facts does not give any result. In this embodiment, the moments of rationalization are closely associated with the immediate safety of the human person, or they are on guard of deep traumatic experience. With such strong resistance, it does not make sense to break the defense, as there is a high probability that the psyche does not have the necessary resources at this time point to integrate the experience that will have to be experienced if the safety gate is removed. In this context, it has washed first to work on finding resources and carefully approach the traumatic area, focusing on the client's readiness to contact with their own experiences.

Ways of rationalization have two manifestations - a person either justifies himself or seeks explanations in factors not related to his person (circumstances, actions of others). Whichever direction (relative to the inner world or external factors) does not carry rationalization, it is worth listening to the reality to catch the moment when this mechanism acquires serious volumes and becomes impenetrable by simple conversation and indication of facts. You should also pay attention to the long-term use of rationalization for pain relief in the place of repeated cases or relative to the whole world, as a way of being. In such cases, it is worthwhile to look to the psychotherapists, whose main work when removing rationalization comes down to the ability to show that the real world is not so terrible, and true actions and desires will not lead to global cataclysms. That one can live a happy person, having flaws, negative emotions, aggressive thoughts - one has only to see that many live this way and find their own way of organizing the surrounding space so that the world or the person himself is not disgusted with himself.

Rationalization in psychology - life examples

Rationalization in life looks like a search for meanings and explanations, even in those moments when you need to confide in a situation, take a chance, or emphasize feeling. This is one of the ways to avoid anxiety and maintain an imaginary feeling of comfort. One of the common examples will look like a search for meaning in traveling with incomprehensible people in an unfamiliar country when it comes to expanding the horizons, your communication and emotional experience. Anxiety from the anticipation of the new makes you look for how it will be useful to a person for his work or the improvement of his skill. In the absence of rationalization of anxiety and recognition of the fact of its presence, a person will most likely analyze possible risks, prepare for particularly disturbing moments, or refuse an event if at the moment he cannot cope with all possible difficulties.

Rationalization can also manifest itself in explaining one’s own behavior that is contrary to ethical or moral standards. For example, having passed by lying on the sidewalk, we explain this by the fact that this is most likely an alcoholic, and when we take a bribe, we are justified by the fact that everyone does this and in general, without this money, not to buy new boots, but already winter. The desire to explain their own failures by external factors is aimed at shifting responsibility for failure to external factors and thereby maintaining a sense of dignity and self-esteem. You can build a whole system of evidence that the reprimand was obtained because of the bad mood of the chief, and also that all those who came to the budget gave a bribe or have cronyism. In such stories, a person looks like an innocent victim of a terrible world around, rather than a lazy person who has filled up the project deadlines or has not prepared for exams.

Even with an outwardly positive deed, we can face rationalization if we ask the person true motives. In the event that they turn out to be negative or censured or come into conflict with internal ideas about themselves, a person will give out a grain of truth and a harmonious rationalization.

This mechanism makes it difficult to notice reality, analyze it and draw conclusions, gaining experience for later life. Living in the illusory world of its own well-being and predictability of the world, a person inevitably faces events that turn out to be stronger than this defense mechanism and then the blow turns out to be crushing, because the skill of overcoming the negative has not been worked out. And when the defensive walls collapse, it turns out that you need to learn to accept yourself as imperfect, and sometimes terrible, to accept the fact that you can explain some of your reactions and actions after a long time on the psychotherapy excavations and learn to live in an unpredictable world where you have no control. over everything going on.