Intellectualization

Intellectualization is defined as an emotional response, or impulse, that is controlled by thinking instead of experiencing. The thoughts are a protection, or defense, against anxiety due to unacceptable impulses. "Intel-lectualization seeks to make a connection between drives and ideational content. In this way drives are perceived as more under ego control which can operate in the area of words and intellect as an active coping device to handle aggression" (Malmquist, 1985, p. 58). Simply stated, this defense is the discharge of aggression or other unacceptable emotions in response to signal anxiety. Often, intellectualization is noted in clients with obsessive traits.

If we return to Figure I.4, it can be said that this adult male employed intellectualization in his relationships with others. He would sermonize with a passion on any topic, especially those having to do with religion or philosophy, and confuse the lower-functioning patients to no end. By so doing he never had to face his own life failures, frustrations, or crises. Yet, when he was left without the ability of speech, alone, to quietly create, the affect escaped without his permission. Out of his comfort zone, faced with the artwork, no longer able to rationalize his neurotic defense, he momentarily allowed himself to experience the feelings of fear.

In another group therapy example the same patient created a clay bear standing before a construction paper home (Figure 1.1).

In the following group session the members were instructed to pass their creations to the member on their right, and that group member was to add to the original artwork. Figure 1.2 shows what this patient's neighbor added to his figure.

As I watched this project in progress, I could not help but notice that the once-orange home now looked like a prison, while the panda took on the role of jailor. Once the projects had been passed back to the original artists, they discussed what they thought of the additions (see Figure 1.2). This man stated, "I like it. It looks safe and secure." The rest of the group heartily agreed. When I pointed out that the house now looked like a prison, I received explanations from "that's how siding looks" to excuses that blamed the materials. Beyond the obvious ego regression that institutionalization had created (this is discussed later in the chapter) not one person saw the "bars" as foreboding or related them in any way to their situation. These rationalizations were obviously necessary to the patients, for, as Malmquist (1985) states, "rationalizations and displacements are often required to maintain the intellectual position, perhaps because the defense is being challenged in discussion" (p. 58).

Another example is taken from a mural drawing. Each of the five members of this group was instructed to draw an animal; they then passed the drawings, completing various tasks to promote interaction, until the sec-

Intellectualization

ond-to-last person was instructed to make a friend for the animal. All the renderings were given back to the original artist, and the group had to fit all the different images into one cohesive mural. With this project I did not intervene or make any suggestions throughout the process. Figure 1.3 shows the completed project.

As we look along the bottom of the mural, we see a horse, multiple cats, two people, and an exceedingly small monkey hanging from a tree on the viewer's left. As we move to the viewer's right, a lion and lioness are poking out from behind foliage. In back we see two roaming dinosaurs, with seagulls flying above. Beyond what each animal implies symbolically about the creators, the mural has two definitive species—those of predator and prey. As the group had to problem solve and fit all these items into one purposefully very small area, the discussion mainly surrounded the dinosaurs and where to put them. The lion and lioness were largely ignored because they were not "in plain view." Some of the members wanted the dinosaurs on the baseline of the paper; this, however, was dismissed since they could hurt the people and domesticated animals.

They then argued over how to contain these predators. One member suggested a fence, but the other four members quickly rejected the idea. As a compromise, the group created a lake and added rocks to keep the ani-

Intellectualization Pictures

mals at bay. Note how the rocks are drawn: gingerly placed as stepping stones instead of as a means of containment. In the end only one group member continued to assert the fact that the dinosaurs needed to be fenced or they would "destroy others." Just as with Figure 1.2, this group began to arrive at excuses and rationalizations of why the dinosaurs would not do anything so violent. Just as with intellectualization, in order to defend against their anxiety they employed this excess of thinking. The need to protect against unacceptable impulses, or situations, is so strong that even man-eating dinosaurs can be tamed if we think hard enough.

One of the few images to bring a consensus of affect was Figure 1.4. This group of eight adult males was given the directive "Create a free drawing to represent any feeling you choose."

This patient, an adult male, was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. At this juncture in his treatment he was stabilized on medications but had a tendency toward thought blocking and disorganized thinking. This patient's main defense was introjection.

In assessing this drawing we see an extremely powerful-looking and muscular male standing in his cell while the cinderblock wall both frames and encloses his body. Suffice it to say that this rendering was not well received. While the patient spoke of jail time, he spontaneously began to explore his feelings of loneliness and fright. The group, in a common voice, implored

Intellectualization
1.4 Feelings of Loneliness

him to "put that away," adding, "that's awful. ... I don't even want to think about that." Faced with the group's reaction, the patient laughed, apologized, and retreated into his pattern of self-punishing behaviors.

Was this article helpful?

+1 0
How To Become A Professional Pencil Drawing Artist

How To Become A Professional Pencil Drawing Artist

Realize Your Dream of Becoming a Professional Pencil Drawing Artist. Learn The Art of Pencil Drawing From The Experts. A Complete Guide On The Qualities of A Pencil Drawing Artist.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment