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Intellectualization is a defense mechanism where reasoning is used to block confrontation with an unconscious conflict and its associated emotional stress. It involves removing one's self, emotionally, from a stressful event. Intellectualisation is often accomplished through rationalisation rather than accepting reality, one may explain it away to remove one's self.

For example, suppose John has been brought up by a strict father, and he feels hurt and angry as a result. Although John may have deep feelings of hatred towards his father, when he talks about his childhood, John may say: "Yes, my father was a rather firm person, I suppose I do feel some antipathy towards him even now".

John intellectualizes; he chooses rational and emotionally cool words to describe experiences which are usually emotional and very painful.

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