According to Gerrig and Zimbardo, 2008, repression is considered to be the most basic of the various ways in which the ego defends against being overwhelmed by threatening impulses and ideas.
What is Repression?
Repression is one of the Ego Defence Mechanisms; these are mechanism that the ego uses to defend itself in the daily conflict between id impulses that seek expression and the superego’s demand to deny. (Gerrig and Zimbardo, 2008)
The definition of the word “repression” expressed in simple words is the exclusion of bad, uncomfortable experiences, ideas or impulses to the unconscious part of the brain. Therefore, we cannot really remember what happened, but still, repressed memories do not disappear.
The level of “forgetting” in repression can vary from a temporary abolition of uncomfortable thoughts to a high level of amnesia, where events that caused the anxiety are stored very deep inside.
“The ...view middle of the document...
(Michael Billig, 1999.)
How to tell if there are repressed memories and experiences?
Repressed memories may appear through subconscious means and in altered forms, such as dreams. If a repressed memory appears in a dream, it would more likely be considered as a nightmare for me. In these dreams, the person relives the experience, idea or impulse that he doesn’t actually remembers to have happened; he is most likely to wake up anxious, sweaty and confused. These dreams repeat a lot of times, so this person starts feeling something is wrong.
Also, when people find themselves in certain situations; for example, if a person was raped during his/her childhood, and later he/she has no recollection of what happened, even though this person doesn’t remember this extremely painful experience, he/she will not develop normally in certain situations such as relationships or social events.
And there are, of course, slips of the tongue, known as “Freudian slips.”
Freudian slips, also known as parapraxes, are unconscious thoughts slipping through the mind when one is off guard. So, is basically an error in speech, memory, or physical action, such as a gesture or certain movements of the body, which are believed to be caused by the unconscious mind.
How to treat Repression?
One way to help a person recover from the discomfort and dysfunction that repression brings is by digging out the original memory. Of course, this should be done extremely carefully, if anything is done wrong, it may only cause more pain.
Some psychologist use hypnosis to bring out the repressed memories, by knowing what is wrong, the psychologist can build a plan or a therapy based on special techniques for this person to overcome these uncomfortable feelings and therefore, live a normal life.
Michael Billig, (1999) Freudian Repression: Conversation Creating the Unconscious. 21-23.
Richard J. Gerrig & Philip G. Zimbardo (2008) Psychology and Life. 428-429.
Phil Mollon, (2003) Freud’s Theories of Repression and Memory: A Critique of Freud and False Memory Syndrome.
Repression found in http://changingminds.org/explanations/behaviors/coping/repression.htm