How Intellectualization Prevents Us From Dealing With Our Difficult Emotions

Are You Using The Defense Mechanism Of Intellectualization?

3 min readSep 3, 2022


Photo by Brock Wegner on Unsplash

The defense mechanism of intellectualization

Intellectualization defense mechanism is often used to steer clear of any unpleasant emotion or circumstances. In other words, the person using this defense mechanism frequently uses reason, logic, and facts to avoid dealing with their feelings.

“Being overly intellectual to cope can help avoid feelings of overwhelm, anxiety, and depression. Staying too cerebral in the long run, however, can minimize and even deny the important emotional components of the situation.” — Carla Marie Manly, PhD


  • A student may explain cheating on an exam by saying that they are required to get the grade to graduate. Here, the student is justifying his/her wrongful conduct to avoid guilt.
  • A 17-year-old daughter loses her father by actively participating in the funeral arrangements rather than grieving her father’s death. Here, the daughter avoids the sadness and grieving process because it is too much for her to accept her father’s death.

The reason behind Intellectualization

Any traumatic or painful experience can change our beliefs and sense of self. In that case, deception works as a protection for our self-esteem and self-worth. Most importantly, any type of uncertain and massive changes present a threat to our consciousness as these changes take time to be integrated into our life.

Intellectualization in therapy

In some circumstances, it might be beneficial to avoid some emotional burden. However, in the long run, it can be harmful if emotions are not dealt with properly. Because unresolved emotions can cause problems, for instance, anxiety or panic attack and these problems can deteriorate a person’s daily life.



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Ph.D. Candidate (Mgmt)| Educator |Content Writer | Writing about things that intrigue my curious mind |