Intellectualization For Difficult Situations

When it comes to relationships, we are constantly exchanging information with one another. This information can come in many forms (i.e. conversations, email, text, nonverbal cues, and/or physical touch).

We are continually processing this information and responding to it depending on how we interpret what we hear or experience.

Sometimes this exchange of information can lead to closeness, understanding, affection, or agreement. Other times you may find that it leads to argument, misunderstanding, contempt, or avoidance. Sometimes when information or events become anxiety provoking, intellectualizing may start.

Intellectualization is the process where a person avoids uncomfortable emotions by focusing on facts and logic.

By concentrating on what you know or can do, you are “protected” from anxiety by blocking emotions connected to an uncomfortable event.

Some examples of this include:

  • A person that has recently experienced divorce starts to write down events that have led to the demise of the relationship and looks for a new mate that they think will be different than their previous one.
  • A woman who has been sexually assaulted seeks out information on other cases and the psychology of rapists and victims. She takes self-defense classes in order to feel better (rather than more directly addressing the psychological and emotional issues).
  • A person who is in credit card debt builds a complex spreadsheet of how long it would take to repay using different payment options and interest rates.

Responding In A Productive Way To Difficult Situations

While responding in this way can be protective if you are not ready to handle the emotional feelings from an uncomfortable event, never processing your emotions could lead to denial, resentment, lingering anxiety or depression. Having a place to process difficult events or situations can be helpful in dealing with your emotions.

Therapy can be a safe place to explore and process your feelings. Instead of just avoiding events out of fear or anxiety, you will have the tools needed to successfully respond to situations that can be anxiety provoking.

Contact Adam in our Atalanta location by visiting: or calling 404-682-1923.