States of Mind: Emotional, Reasonable and Wise Mind

In DBT we looked at states of mind and I found it quite an interesting and helpful concept. The states of mind are emotional mind, reasonable mind and wise mind (Linehan 1993).

Emotional Mind

Often we are in emotional mind when we are perhaps very excited or very angry. Maybe it’s a special event or celebration or you’ve had an argument with someone. When we are in emotional mind our thoughts and behaviour are controlled by our emotions, our thoughts can be unhelpful and often distressing. It can be quite difficult to think logically and rationally. Emotions drive opinions and strong emotions can drive strong behaviours such as drinking, self harming, binging or exercising which may help in the short term but in the long term these behaviours may actually become the problem. Sometimes the facts can become distorted in order to fit in with the current distress. Emotional mind often leads us to do what we want to do.

Reasonable Mind

When we are in reasonable mind our thinking is often logical and rational. Reasonable mind is based on factual thinking with evidence. When in reasonable mind we are able to plan how to respond to a problem, however it is possible when in reasonable mind that we may come across ‘cool’ or ‘cold’ when approaching problems. We may be in reasonable mind when we are at work. Reasonable mind often leads us to do what we should do.

Wise Mind

Wise mind integrates both emotional and reasonable mind and is often the best way to approach a problem because it both recognises the emotional distress but also knows the facts. It often means viewing the bigger picture rather than just seeing little parts. Wise mind ensures that both emotional and reasonable minds are met, reasonable mind is right but emotional mind needs to be soothed. An example of when a lot of people use wise mind is when they are helping a friend, or dealing with someone else’s problems but it is important we address our own problems with wise mind too. Wise mind looks at what is appropriate and effective for the situation.


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