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Political / Social
Minimisation is a type of deception involving denial coupled with rationalisation in situations where complete denial is implausible. It is the opposite of exaggeration.
Minimization – downplaying the significance of an event or emotion - is a common strategy in dealing with feelings of guilt. Words associated with minimisation include:
Minimization may take the form of a manipulative technique:
'Typical psychological defenses exhibited by stalkers and guilty criminal suspects include denial, rationalization, minimization and projection of blame onto the victim'.
A variation on minimisation as a manipulative technique is "claiming altruistic motives" such as saying "I don't do this because I am selfish, and for gain, but because I am a socially aware person interested in the common good".
Minimization may also take the form of cognitive distortion:
It is frequently observed in victims of a trauma who use it to downplay that trauma so as to avoid worry and stress in themselves and others.
Understatement is a form of speech which contains an expression of less strength than what would be expected. Understatement is a staple of humour in English-speaking cultures, especially in British humour.
Related but separate is euphemism, where a polite phrase is used in place of a harsher or more offensive expression.
Redefining events to downplay their significance can be an effective way of preserving one's self-esteem. One of the problems of depression (found in those with clinical, bipolar, and chronic depressive mood disorders, as well as cyclothymia) is the tendency to do the reverse: minimising the positive, discounting praise, and dismissing one's own accomplishments. On the other hand, one technique used by Alfred Adler to combat neurosis was to minimize the excessive significance the neurotic attaches to his own symptoms - the narcissistic gains derived from pride in one's own illness.
Display rules expressing a group's general consensus about the display of feeling often involve minimizing the amount of emotion one displays, as with a poker face.
Social interchanges involving minor infringements often end with the 'victim' minimizing the offence with a comment like 'Think nothing of it', using so-called 'reduction words', such as 'no big deal,' 'only a little,' 'merely,' or 'just', the latter particularly useful in denying intent. On a wider scale, renaming things in a more benign or neutral form — 'collateral damage' for death — is a form of minimisation.
Bullying, Propaganda, Lie, Doubt, Narcissism
Narcissistic personality disorder, Vanity, Sigmund Freud, Psychological manipulation, Dark triad
Psychological projection, Denial, Cognitive distortion, Jean-Paul Sartre, Narcissism