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  1. Steven K. Huprich

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0443

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Huprich, S. K. 2010. Insight. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.

Author Information

  1. Eastern Michigan University

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Most schools of psychotherapy and psychological treatment recognize the importance of insight as part of what makes psychotherapy effective (Castonguay & Hill, 2007). Insight has been conceptualized in many ways, but the general consensus is that insight provides patients with a new way to understand their inner mental life, their interpersonal conflicts or troubles, or a new understanding of those factors that contribute to an individual's difficulties. The complexities of the construct of insight have been succinctly summarized by Castonguay and Hill: “Insight can vary considerably in terms of content (e.g., links between past and present, links between conscious thoughts and underlying assumptions). Insight also seems to involve several dimensions (e.g., emotional vs. intellectual, explicit vs. implicit, sudden vs. gradual)” (2007, p. 4). Insight is often stereotypically described as when a patient has an “Aha” experience—for instance, the patient may state, “Wow, this is what has been going on! It makes so much sense. This really helps.” However, it would be rare to find a psychologist who thinks of insight strictly in this manner. Most psychologists and patients report that insight occurs emotionally rather than intellectually, explicitly and implicitly, as well as gradually—and sometimes, suddenly.


  • emotional insight;
  • intellectual insight;
  • experience-near;
  • experience-distant