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In psychoanalysis, what does the term "repression" refer to?

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Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Sigmund Freud defined repression as the way the brain defends itself against thoughts and feelings it finds objectionable by keeping those feeling, thoughts, and images away from the consciousness, as these things are incompatible with the individual’s ego. In his 1914 work, On the History of the Psycho-Analytic Movement" Freud argues that repression is "thecorner-stone on which the whole structure of psychoanalysis rests" (16). Repression is our brains’ primary defense in dealing with conflicts. It exists to protect the ego from our instincts. Therefore, repression is, in Freudian theory, the “universal” psychiatric process and exists in a separate part of the human psyche. Everyone represses some things: bad childhood memories or traumas, for example. But some people repress so much that repression becomes a major component of mental disorders, affecting a person’s day-to-day activities.

The concept of repression did not originate with Freud. The word had been used by the...

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Yojana_Thapa | Student

Repression is you blocking. It is blocking painful childhood memories to you unconscious. It may come through slips of the tongue (saying something out loud) or in dreams.