In terms of psychology, what is primal repression?

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Repression is the way in which an individual defends his or her consciousness from unwanted or harmful desires. Freud hypothesized that individuals often do not actively engage in repression but, rather, the mind works to protect an individual and repress harmful desires before they can even enter one’s consciousness. Thus,...

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Repression is the way in which an individual defends his or her consciousness from unwanted or harmful desires. Freud hypothesized that individuals often do not actively engage in repression but, rather, the mind works to protect an individual and repress harmful desires before they can even enter one’s consciousness. Thus, repression is instinctual. Primal repression works in this way.

Primal repression pre-exists the ego, or the thinking consciousness / self, which means that an individual may repress a harmful desire without being consciously aware of what is happening.  The primary purpose of primal repression is to avoid displeasure and protect an individual from harmful desires that may cause pain or anxiety. Freud posits that primal repression is most often caused by an outbreak of anxiety which leads to the repression of the desire. The mind responds to the anxiety by engaging in primal repression and protecting an individual from unwelcome desires that may be detrimental to one’s sense of self or the world.

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