Twenty years of doing therapy have taught me
~ to define “intelligence” as the ability to learn, and
~ that the biggest obstacle to learning is defensiveness.
Psychological defenses are rooted in our need to manage anxiety, minimize discomfort, heal old trauma, and protect how we and others see us.
Those are the main reasons we avoid, act out, deny, displace, minimize, project, repress, rationalize, compartmentalize, intellectualize, compensate and transfer.
Defensiveness also involves an anxious reinterpretation of reality (She hates me, I just know it) that we hope will protect us from danger.
Defenses are essential. Without them we’d go crazy.
But to the extent that they tend to distort reality…
They sure interfere with our being intelligent.