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A basic theoretical structure for mechanochemical transformations based on prior models for solid-state reactions and HOMO–LUMO (highest occupied molecular orbital–lowest unoccupied molecular orbital) gap closing produces the concept of distortion-induced molecular electronic degeneracy (DIMED) of the highest occupied and lowest unoccupied molecular orbitals of an energetic molecule. Both intermolecular and intramolecular charge transfer are involved. The resulting distortion-induced local instability, a mechanochemical effect, leads to chemical transformations and can be analyzed by renormalization of the molecular hardness through the molecular deformation energy. Linear combinations of normal modes are shown to be useful for description of the mechanically induced reaction path. Numerical calculations for the RDX (hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine) molecule are used to construct a path for initiation of a reaction by shock. They show the breaking of a single N–N bond as the primary step. DIMED is shown to be a kind of ‘‘inverse Jahn–Teller effect’’ leading to the general conclusion that distortion-induced instabilities and mechanically induced reactions require some, but not necessarily complete, HOMO–LUMO gap closure. This indicates that large local strains due to defects or cracks will contribute to DIMED. The DIMED concept, because of its generality, has wide applicability in solid-state chemistry.