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Hyperrationalization: When Doubt Blocks Us

Hyperrationalization is a type of pathological doubt that blocks the person. It is common in those that are extraordinarily logical, rational and lacking in spontaneity.

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Hyperrationalization is a type of pathological doubt that blocks the person. It is common in those that are extraordinarily logical, rational and lacking in spontaneity. On the other hand, this condition entails great discomfort to the person who suffers it.

In fact, on many occasions, emotion and intuition play an important role in the decisions we make. Not attending to these elements that are part of us means ignoring an important part of our nature; a desolation that does not always come to mind.

When doubt blocks

Doubt makes us undecided, but in many cases also wise and prudent. On the other hand, we could talk about hyperrationalization as the product of the exploitation of logic and the dismissal of intuition. The human being can doubt a decision: to believe or not to believe, to do or not to do. When a person hyper-rationalizes, he or she usually becomes entangled in doubt to the point of being trapped in it.

We are rational beings, but also emotional, so when we rely too much on logic we end up being inoperative. Thus, hyperrationalization generates anxiety, unintentionally reinforcing our passion for logic; the same one that drowns us.

What is hyperrationality?

Reason is not a natural element; in many occasions not even real, only illusory. Many of the decisions that we think we are taking with reason, are only the hidden product of the opinion of our emotions.

Hyperrationalization is nothing more than faith in this illusion, which occurs especially when we go through an era that seems like a desert of successes and good decisions. We feel betrayed by what we do not control and we cling to what we do intend to control. Thus, we can pretend to be logical when it is not possible to be logical because of the amount of information we lack.

Hyperrationalization in obsessive-compulsive disorder

The explanations that are handled around the obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are several, such as the “unfinished sensation” or the one of “not entirely correct experiences”. They are inspired by the classic descriptions of Janet (1903). The feeling of “unfinished” would refer to an internal sensation of imperfection. Therefore, associated with the perception that actions or intentions have not been fully achieved (Pitman, 1987).

The unfinished feeling is not only experienced by people who have OCD. Studies conducted with the NJRE-Q questionnaire have shown that these sensations are extremely frequent in the non-clinical population, specifically 99% of the students in the sample.

These unfinished experiences could be considered as a general tendency to express doubt or question one’s experience (Tallis, 1995). In the face of psychological research, the “Scale of Indecision” (Indecisiveness Scale, IS; Frost and Shows, 1993) is commonly used.

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