intellectualisation as a defence mechanism


It has taken me almost four years to accept that intellectualization or over-reliance on logical thinking can be a defence mechanism too.

How did this habit of rationalization/intellectualization/logical thinking process begin? During high school, a fundamental form/source of learning for me was via books, which is the primary route through which I started to make sense of my external and internal world.

Books I would read, and a lot of it was literature with strong heavy opinions and structures and gradually, that became a way of thinking and making decisions for me, as well.

When I think of it now, I have no clue how I started reading books like the prophet or Gandhi’s biography during the starting years of my teenage, strange how all these stories, books, and ideas we consume can have a profound impact on our way of thinking and making decisions.

I started taking pride in following a logical line of thought, and somewhere the emotions (like anger, pain, shame) started taking a back seat and were sent to exile – because the rational mind dint allows space for emotional quotient (EQ) to prosper, as much as I would have liked it too.

This is a gendered issue too, where men are expected to show up and be strong continuously. Patriarchy works both ways.

I remember, at Amrutam  , we designed a campaign around #letskillthetaboo, which talked about issues surrounding men’s mental well-being. This theme often needs help finding space in prime-time dialogues except on international men’s day.

Biologically speaking, our brain is primarily divided into two parts – the left side being the logical, rational one and the right side being the emotional, creative one.

The further we dive in, we realize how multiple philosophical and medical systems worldwide have been trying to emphasize finding a balance between our left and right side brain activity. Many of these come from the eastern school of thought, though:

1. Chi – the balance between positive and negative in Chinese medicine
2. Ikigai – the sweet spot between the five circles of life, where you find purpose and meaning
3. Tridosha Balance – the balance state of three ayurvedic doshas – Vata, Pitta & Kapha

A healthy life involves finding, pursuing and being consistent with this balanced way of living. And it is complicated to do so; if you start focusing on physical health, then mental health takes a toll and vice versa, though with persistent, patient efforts – gradually we start finding those sweet spots of balance; sometimes we go off balance, and then slowly we come back to it again, that’ life – in between balance and unbalanced states.

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