Post-Rationalization – When a Representation Fills a Gap in Understanding

What is post-rationalization? What is to post-rationalize and why is it useful? Is post-rationalization something we use to create an illusion, or can there actually be a useful reason for its existence?

The post-rationalization of an action is the act of giving meaning and purpose to actions after they have been conducted, and can serve as a tool to generate explanatory interior motives that were actually present, but unseen by the conscious mind during the rapidly exceeding act(s) or when a person was so caught in the moment that he or she is able to perceive from emotionally more neutral perspective that what had happened. This ability to post-rationalize is also a vital tool for learning from the personal history, as the strategies that were used in the past can be modified and lead to the creation of better strategies and responses. It can be used to romanticize one’s personal history, to dramatize it and also to sketch comedic episodes from one’s past in contrast with another way of thinking.

By creating a representation, the mind that seeks to understand existence can find meaningful and explanatory answers. The realizations created through post-rationalization in to an action make it possible for an individual to project new meanings to his or her past after recreating the event(s) in his or her mind, and even perceive in an inventive sense more intelligence, stupidity, other motives, or for example as a relic of the history of Freudian psychoanalysis, hidden psychopathological factors, other than what were present in the actual connections produced by the sub-conscious in the causal history.

Post-rationalization can alter the individual’s sense of personal history in the representational level. In good, it can create a mindful neutrality to the representations of the past, but can also be used to generate content that increases already existing anxiety or keeps on the status quo of negativity in the person’s life by generating more negativity to be a part of personal history. Thus we can observe the two sides of the ability to post-rationalize, which should both be noted during the use of this ability. In a more wider perspective, we can perceive this when we interpret the history of mankind, or in the sense of personal relationships, how we projects motives and meanings to the actions of other individuals, while trying to predict in a posteriori sense what their motive might have been during the actions we interpret.

Valda Udley

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