Repression (717 words) Essay

When forming a memory, the brain takes what we see, hear, smell, feel, and or
taste, and fills in the blank spots with information that we have perceived from
common knowledge and stores it as a memory. But sometimes something happens that
is so shocking that the mind grabs hold of the memory and pushes it underground,
into some inaccessible corner of the unconscious. There it sleeps for years, or
even decades, or even forever- isolated from the rest of mental life. Then, one
day it may rise up and emerge into consciousness. When the unconscious tucks
away a memory, to hopefully be forgotten, it is called Repression. Repression is
a defense mechanism derived from Sigmund Freud near the beginning of the century
(Gay 18-19). But if a person cannot recall a memory, was it ever really a
memory? Did it ever really happen? If so, can the conscious be manipulated and
made to think that, through controversial methods such as hypnosis or a truth
serum called sodium pentathol, a false event actually happened? (Accused) And if
these false events are believed, then can the manipulated mind be used in court
cases to sue the people who caused the traumatic experience? When Freud
discovered the idea behind repressed memories he then had to come up with a way
to recover then. A process known as psychoanalysis was formed. The theory of
repression and recovery became a corner stone to understanding some of our own
neurosis (Gay 18-19). When Freud began to use this method frequently, he did not
know what psychologists would do with the theory today, nor did he realize that
people would ever use this as a method of fraud. In 1990 a case went to trial
against a man accused of murder 20 years earlier. He was accused of killing his
daughters` best friend. The daughter, now an adult, began to remember slowly
events that occurred and pieced together enough information to convict her
father. He was the first man to ever go to trial and be convicted of murder of
the grounds of a recovered memory (repressed memories). In this particular case,
was the daughter beginning to remember these events before she began therapy or
was this such a traumatic event that in order to settle it within her own mind,
she had to come up with her own solution? When a memory becomes locked away, it
can be permanent or temporary depending on the severity of the traumatic
experience. Through psychoanalysis, the memory can be brought back. The process
is a detailed inquiry of the persons past and past relations and events, which
are recorded and analyzed. (Gay 479) Through this process, the psychologist then
can determine whether or not there is more there to be brought out. This is
where hypnosis and other controversial methods can come into play. When you are
under hypnosis, you are completely vulnerable and susceptible to influence.

Memories can then be implanted by use of descriptive details, inserted
characters and fictitious plot elaboration. (Accused) There are also three ways
in which memory can be affected: when it is stored, while it is being stored and
when it is retrieved. During each of these times something could be
misunderstood, or implanted. Psychologists are not the only influences our brain
has. Recollections of horror movies, comic books, nightmares, anything on TV are
liable to get garbled in our memories and tossed around to confuse us.

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Possibilities of retrieval of lost memories are plentiful. Memories of these
things can come out in the hypnosis therapy and therapists think it to be true
and valid information. But not only is it up to the techniques reliability, but
it is also up to the mind and soul of the person to distinguish these other
influences and recapture the true event. Knowing that evidence exists that
memories can be implanted and that the mind is so easily mislead, it makes you
wonder about your own past. It makes you almost want to remember things that
your not even sure existed. It also makes you wonder why people would want to
dredge up memories if they are not real. There is no easy answer or explanation
to the theory of repression and retrieval, but until psychologists can drag our
unconsciousness into the light, retrieval of repressed memories will be left in
the dark.

Accused-False Memory Syndrome.*
(9 Sept. 1998) Freud, Sigmund. The Freud Reader. ed. Peter Gay. London: Yale
University. 1995. ?Repressed Memories.*
(9 Sept. 1998)


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