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Denkhemmung is a German word. It is not used in German language either. I invented it to describe a phenomenon that people are unaware of the obvious but invent irrational explanations instead. Rational thinking so to say is blocked. denkhemmung so to say is a close cousin to the psychoanalytical term Verdrängung, psychological repression. By definition the latter is a psychopathological condition while denkhemmung is a normal behavioral pattern.

It is a common feature, and I dare say everybody, to some degree, experiences it though it is rarely recognized, for mainly three reasons:

  1. Nobody is aware of a denkhemmung as it occurs subconsciously.
  2. No peer is aware of a denkhemmung either as all members of a social group not only share the same denkhemmung but also encourage each other to keep to it and to suppress all rational arguments against it.
  3. A particular denkhemmung can be detected and uncovered by members of an other social groups, but every challenge from an other social group is interpreted as a thread to the own group's existance and not as an rational argument. Therefore therefore it exists a specific in-goup-out-group denkhemmung that prevents from realizing denkhemmungs pointed at from the outside.


Typical examples are ideological questions such a religions. A religion as all ideology intentionally creates denkhemmungs, which can easily be detected by atheists but never corrected.

An other example of mutual denkhemmung provide the two economic schools created by Keynes and von Hayek

Tags: Anthropology Behavior Ideology Psychology Sociology

Categories: Psychology Sociology


(c) Mato Nagel, Weißwasser 2004-2013, Disclaimer