Intellectualization – Using words, definitions, and/or theoretical ideas to explain away emotions associated with painful, uncomfortable events and thoughts.
Intellectualization is isolation of affect, meaning that our manner is removed from the emotional content of the event or situation. Intellectualization is about living in our head, not our heart. It is being cut away from our soul. When emotions are too hot to handle, some of us turn to intellectualization. However, sometimes intellectualization is so embedded in every facet of our lives that it becomes us, and how we present ourselves to the world. We become known as “smart as a whip but out of touch with simple emotions such as joy, loss or sorrow.”
People who are entrenched in intellectualization are walled off and detached from their feelings, even more than people who use other defense mechanisms. They silence their heart sounds so well that their feelings are completely dormant. To fix this, try BRAIN.
BRAIN – Be (brutally honest); Review; Assess; Intrude; and Nurture (new behaviors).
Be brutally honest – over the last year what 3 events were out of the ordinary for us?
Review our reactions to these events. Did we react as the events called for or did we “numb out” by spending hours trying to research solutions to the event? Did we only discuss the facts of the events or did we also discuss how the events affected us?
Assess the emotional impact. Asking someone who intellectualizes to assess their emotions is like searching the desert for water. Try to recall physical reactions. Did we numb out until we had back pain or tension headaches? What could we have done instead? Could we have reacted with tears? With sadness? With delight?
Intrude into other people’s heads to break the pattern of being in our heads. Think of people who react as we admire and think about how they react. We do not have to react the same way others react, but we have to be willing to be affected, to feel.
Nurture new behaviors by faking it until we make it. We should find a place where we can be free to feel and just do it.
Cite: Kagan, M. and Einbund, N. Defenders of the Heart. (2008). Carlsbad, Ca. Hay House, Inc.