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In psychology and logic, rationalization is an informal fallacy of reasoning in which one constructs a logical justification for a belief, decision, action or lack thereof that was originally arrived at through a different mental process. It is a defense mechanism in which perceived controversial behaviors or feelings are explained in a rational or logical manner to avoid the true explanation of the behavior or feeling in question.[1][2]

This process can be in a range from fully conscious (e.g. to present an external defense against ridicule from others) to mostly subconscious (e.g. to create a block against internal feelings of guilt).

Rationalization is one of the defense mechanisms proposed by Sigmund Freud, which were later developed further by his daughter Anna Freud.

According to the DSM-IV rationalization occurs "when the individual deals with emotional conflict or internal or external stressors by concealing the true motivations for his or her own thoughts, actions, or feelings through the elaboration of reassuring or self serving but incorrect explanations."

Examples

A new patient comes to you for a physical examination. During the history, you note that he has been smoking two packs of cigarettes per day for twenty years. You tell him that cigarettes are harmful, and he should stop smoking. There is a reasonable likelihood that he will develop emphysema and/or lung cancer if he continues to smoke. The patient responds that both of his parents smoked their whole lives and are currently alive and in their eighties. Neither one has lung disease. He states, "I think smoking is good for you; it helps you live longer!" This patient dealing with the potential fear of smoking- induced disease through Rationalization [3]

A man tries to initiate sex with his uninterested spouse, she rejects him but he continues to not respect her wishes, (he wants sex and thinks he might be able to get it) this situation turns into an argument. In an attempt to rationalise the situation, the male reflects on the state of their relationship. Times when his girlfriend could have been more compassionate take precedence in his mind. Out of this, a new rationalised account of his motivation becomes the male's view of the incident. To avoid coming to terms with fault and to protect himself against feelings of guilt, the blame is shifted onto the female. Thoughts such as "She never shows me any affection and all I wanted is for us to be close" allow the male to have a more positive view of himself. This new synthesized motivation ignores the less palatable reason for the argument.

References

  1. ^ Kendra Van Wagner. "Defense Mechanisms - Rationalization". About.com: Psychology. http://psychology.about.com/od/theoriesofpersonality/ss/defensemech_6.htm. Retrieved 2008-02-24.  
  2. ^ "Defenses". www.psychpage.com. http://www.psychpage.com/learning/library/counseling/defenses.html. Retrieved 2008-03-11.  
  3. ^ Introduction to Clinical Medicine, "Defense Mechanisms" - 9/8/09 University of South Carolina School of Medicine

See also

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In psychology and logic, rationalization is the process of constructing a logical justification for a belief, decision, action or lack thereof that was originally arrived at through a different mental process. It is a defense mechanism in which unacceptable[which?] behaviors or feelings are explained in a rational or logical manner to avoid the true explanation of the behavior or feeling in question.[1][2]

This process can be in a range from fully conscious (e.g. to present an external defense against ridicule from others) to mostly subconscious (e.g. to create a block against internal feelings of guilt).

Rationalization is one of the defense mechanisms proposed by Sigmund Freud, which were later developed further by his daughter Anna Freud.

According to the DSM-IV rationalization occurs "when the individual deals with emotional conflict or internal or external stressors by concealing the true motivations for his or her own thoughts, actions, or feelings through the elaboration of reassuring or self serving but incorrect explanations."

References

  1. Kendra Van Wagner. "Defense Mechanisms - Rationalization". About.com: Psychology. http://psychology.about.com/od/theoriesofpersonality/ss/defensemech_6.htm. Retrieved on 2008-02-24. 
  2. "Defenses". www.psychpage.com. http://www.psychpage.com/learning/library/counseling/defenses.html. Retrieved on 2008-03-11. 

See also


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