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Minimisation is a defense mechanism, a type of denial coupled with rationalisation. A manipulator uses minimisation to assert that his behavior is not as harmful or irresponsible as someone else was suggesting.[1][2] It is closely related to trivialization or discounting.


  • saying that a taunt or insult was only a joke
  • including the words "just" or "only" in a reply such as "I only brushed his shoulder by mistake" when accused of injuring somebody
  • a customer receiving a response to a complaint to a company for poor service being told that complaints like his from other customers were very rare when in fact they are common.

Minimisation is also used in a non pathological way by individuals to avoid worry and stress. The individual downplays a bad event and convinces himself that the mishap is only minor.[3]

A variation on minimisation is "claiming altruistic motives" such as saying "I don't do this because I am selfish, and for gain, but because I am a socially aware person interested in the common good" [4].


  1. ^ Simon, George K. In Sheep's Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People (1996)
  2. ^ Minimization: Trivializing Behavior as a Manipulation Tactic
  3. ^ Blackman, Jerome 101 Defenses: How the Mind Shields Itself (2003)
  4. ^ Kantor, Martin The Psychopathology of Everyday Life 2006

See also

Further reading

  • Rogers, Richard & Dickey, Rob (March 1991) Denial and minimization among sex offenders Journal Sexual Abuse Vol 4, No 1: 49-63

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