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  • An outward directed perception of that which is not apparent - the act or result of apprehending the inner nature of things or of seeing intuitively or Induction.
  • An outward directed understanding of that which is apparent through logical processes- Power of acute observation and deduction.

An insight that manifests itself suddenly, such as understanding how to solve a difficult problem, is called with a German word Aha-Erlebnis. The term was coined by the German psychologist and theoretical linguist Karl Bühler. It is also known as an epiphany.

In psychology and psychiatry

In psychology and psychiatry, insight is the ability to recognize one's own mental illness. Anosognosia is the total lack of insight into one's own mental illness. Problem solving behavior requiring insight is the subject of insight phenomenology.

An insight is the derivation of a rule which links cause with effect. The mind is a model of the universe built up from insights. Thoughts of the mind fall into 2 categories:

1) Analysis of past experience with the purpose of gaining insight for use within this model at a later date
2) Simulations of future scenarios using existing insights in the mind model in order to predict outcomes

A mature mind has assimilated many insights and understands cause and effect. When insight is not subordinate to a validation discipline like the 'scientific method', fallacious thinking can result in a confused mind.

Intuition, which is often described in the popular literature as an alternative thought process, is merely another manifestation of insight. [1] In this process, multiple bits of seemingly unrelated data are linked together and a a hypothesis or plan of action is generated. Usually this process is generated in a novel situation. Such a circumstance links data which had hitherto seemed unrelated. [2]. The categories and analytical process, however, are not distinct from any other form of insight. The only difference is the degree of novelty of the stimulus. To form an insight the frontal lobe searches through the temporal lobes in search of the data bits. It has been hypothesized that the apparently intuitive mode uses a right temporal search. The majority of insights are derived from the left temporal lobe.

See also


  1. AJ Giannini, J Daood, MC Giannini, RS Boniface, PG Rhodes. Intellect versus intuition--a dichotomy in the reception of nonverbal communication.Journal of General Psychology. 99:19-25,1978.
  2. AJ Giannini, ME Barringer, MC Giannini, RH Loiselle. Lack of relationship between handedness and intuitive and intellectual (rationalistic) modes of information processing. Journal of General Psychology.111:31-37,1984.

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