It is normal for people to ask themselves if they really know or if they are capable of controlling what happens in the mind . In the same way, sometimes it is reflected in relation to what exactly we mean by the unconscious and conscious. The human mind continues to be a subject of discussion and analysis within the scientific field, but especially for psychology.
Feelings and emotions are just some of the elements that make up the psyche. How to make use of them or try to control them are other questions that people ask themselves, having good psychological health is a relevant aspect to have a good quality of life. For this reason, it is necessary to analyze and study what are those behaviors and thoughts that could be affected.
People can use defense mechanisms that are put into practice without realizing it. One of them is repression which will try to prevent negative feelings and emotions from being experienced. Originally devised to hurt us less, however, it usually has more negative consequences.
When emotions are repressed, processes are generated in the mind where thinking and the way we behave will be modified . These representations condition the person in such a way that trying to hide them triggers other processes such as memory loss and even the somatization of these emotions.
What is repression?
Repression is generally defined as one of the most important concepts used in psychoanalysis . This is due to the fact that it allows to encompass a large group of mental elements that are related to the unconscious, these same as a whole can constitute some type of disorder or condition that must be attended to. Normally people are not aware of its presence, so it is difficult for them to notice how it limits or affects them in their daily lives.
Repression can be associated with emotions, feelings, experiences, ideas or perceptions that occupy a part of the mind but are censored. They form a chapter in the history of the patient that has great importance because it continues to be valid and therefore influences his present. For different reasons, these elements are not easy to identify, express or accept, which is why it is very important to pay more attention and receive psychological help.
In psychology repression is considered a basic defense mechanism. The person unconsciously opposes all the content or sensations that bother him. It would be describing a complex psychic system that works by subtracting content that is rejected for being painful or painful. These same ones are the cause of anxiety, stress or mental discomfort.
What are their characteristics?
Repression is characterized by storing content that has a negative or unpleasant nature, they are usually called by the name of representations. These elements can be images, sounds, ideas, desires or sensations that cannot be accepted, perhaps some of them can generate a small sensation of pleasure in the unconscious. In most cases, it is only possible to identify representations that generate discomfort in the patient, these are censored because they are contrary to values or morality, for example.
So repression is basically the exclusion of a set of representations , these same have lived effects on patients who experience pain or displeasure. In addition, it has been observed that these people have no notion of the presence of these memories, however they do notice their effects.
According to what Freud described, the main function is to create an avoidance or self-protection mechanism . For this, three facets are experienced which are: primary, secondary and finally the return of the repressed. They happen in exactly the same sequence, people often do not notice them.
In the stage of primary repression, all the representations that must be hidden are separated and sought. That is, unconsciously these elements are grouped and censored , they are usually thoughts and memories mainly.
In the secondary stage, what is usually defined as an eviction happens. It is about the total rejection or rejection of these incompatible contents. This is a dynamic process because these elements constantly try to emerge into consciousness , but in consciousness a complex procedure is carried out where access to this information is prevented because it is an unacceptable content.
The return of the repressed is the manifestation of all the representations that are repressed through symptoms such as memory problems, distorted ideas, dreams or nightmares as well as difficulties in thinking. It is about the “return” of what had been excluded, then mechanisms such as conversion, displacement or condensation occur.
In the unconscious are the primitive drives or forces that aim to achieve immediate satisfaction. People have a wide group of these drives, as this same grows they are integrated into the cultural and social plane where they are related to repressions. Both elements are separated from the conscious system, the primitive contents that are associated with certain drives have their own representations.
What are its causes and consequences?
Different hypotheses are handled that try to give an answer to why the repressions develop. One of these probabilities is experienced during childhood with the first outbreaks of anxiety , depending on its intensity and effect, they can be a quantitative factor to which attention must be paid. The same individual can realize that satisfying certain desires generates anxiety because it is to his principles for example, consequently it leads to the repression of desire.
Mention should also be made of alexithymia, which is characterized by a deficiency in the interpretation and internalization of emotions, sensations, and thoughts . These can be canceled or their association with certain mental states is difficult. It usually begins from childhood, children do not understand concepts or words, so they address their emotions through the body and somatic sensations.
It has been observed that child abuse as well as psychological trauma have a direct relationship. During adulthood these same people can suffer from mental numbness. That is, they can block part of their memory or their emotions, even the trauma is strengthened because the memories generate very intense emotional or physical sensations. But one must also take into account the distortions, human memory depends to a large extent on perceptions, space-time schemes as well as on one’s own abilities.
The consequences, repercussions and consequences left by the representations that are repressed depend on each case. Usually these consequences are negative that have a direct effect on interpersonal relationships as well as difficulties in perceiving reality and experiencing emotions and sensations. Other consequences are resentments, anxieties, feelings of guilt , irritability, melancholy, frustration, anger, stress, addictions and compulsions.
There are multiple risks in terms of increasing the chances of developing conditions such as depression or anxiety disorder . Some consequences are unknown as the possibility that some emotional problems are the point of origin of somatic problems. The organism will manifest pain as a means of externalizing emotional pain that has not been expressed.
Importance for psychology
In psychology the term repression is very important because it makes it possible to refer to the unconscious phenomenon in which memories, thoughts or emotions that are directly linked to an impulse are rejected or hidden. An impulse generates certain satisfaction, but nevertheless it can also cause unpleasure, this is because it conflicts with other demands, values or realities, for example.
Repression can be considered as a synonym for the unconscious . When a drive begins to unleash the mechanism of repression, consequently the unconscious will always seek to externalize what has been censored. The repressed content will return in the form of dreams, physical symptoms, negative thoughts or even with the distortion of reality.
From the point of view of psychology, repression is the main defense mechanism, with the eradication of all mental contents that bother the patient. Basically it is a process in which satisfaction is given up in order to remain attached to certain principles. But it’s also about protecting yourself from some kind of traumatic memory.
Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.