Corresponding Author Information: Karary X. Gonzalez

The defense mechanism of intellectualization has long been written about within the psychoanalytic literature (A. Freud, 1936/1946; Howe, 1934). However, the empirical examination of this defense has been limited. Exner described intellectualization as a “naïve form of denial… it is a pseudo-intellectual process that conceals and/or denies the presence of affect and, as a result, tends to reduce the likelihood that feelings will be deal with directly and/or realistically” (Exner, 1993, p.440). Exner created the Intellectualization Index for his Rorschach Comprehensive System, calculated as (2AB+Art+Ay) such that elevated index scores reflect “an individual prone to respond in a highly intellectualized, pseudo-intellectual or pedantic manner” (Meyer et al., 2013, p.367). In the R-PAS, Exner’s Intellectualization Index was recast as Intellectualized Content (IntCont).

This paper, based on the first author’s dissertation, uses intellectualization in Rorschach Performance Assessment System (R-PAS) protocols to examine the theory that intellectualization as manifested in intellectualized Rorschach content (IntCont), is associated with affect restraint and inhibition.

Subjects were a culturally diverse group of 190 adult, community volunteers from Central California.

Subjects completed the Rorschach Inkblot Test (R-PAS method), Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence│ Second Edition (WASI-II), the Personality Assessment Screener (PAS) and a demographic questionnaire. Examiners were closely supervised doctoral students in clinical psychology.

This study analyzed archival data utilizing nonparametric correlations and Spearman rank-order post-hoc exploratory analyses.

Intellectualization associated with affected restraint in the Rorschach and the Negative Affect scale of the PAS were primarily examined. Additionally, this paper examines the relationship between IntCont, its components and intelligence. Finally, intellectualization (IntCont) as an obsessive-compulsive defensive strategy was examined with regard to protocol complexity.

Data analysis is ongoing.

Exner, J. E. (1993). The Rorschach: A comprehensive system, Vol. 1, Basic foundations and the principles of interpretation (3rd ed.). Wiley.

Freud, A. (1946). The ego and the mechanisms of defence. International University Press. (Original work published 1936).

Howe, E. G. (1934). Compulsive thinking as a castration equivalent. The Psychoanalytic Review, 21, 542.

Mihura, J. L., Meyer, G. J., Dumitrascu, N., & Bombel, G. (2013). The validity of individual Rorschach variables: Systematic reviews and meta-analyses of the comprehensive system. Psychological bulletin 139, 3, 548.


Karary X. Gonzalez, MA | Alliant International University - Fresno

Robert Harris, PhD | Alliant International University – Fresno

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