Free Essay: Differences and Similarities in the Use of the Term Repression by Jennifer Freyd and Freud

Published: 2022-04-08
Free Essay: Differences and Similarities in the Use of the Term Repression by Jennifer Freyd and Freud
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Psychology
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1654 words
14 min read

Exposure to repeated and chronic trauma had deleterious consequences like depression, neuroendocrine function alterations and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Despite little dispute regarding the adverse effects that traumatic experiences present, controversy surrounds the concept of repression particularly the need and impacts of recalling memories as the basis of memory therapy and hypnosis. Repression is the building block of psychoanalysis today as reflected by earlier psychoanalysts Freyd and Fraud in their books An Outline of Psycho-Analysis and Betrayal Trauma respectively. Both authors agree with the fact that when a shocking event occurs, its memories are pushed into the unconscious and inaccessible part of the brain till the time that it emerges into consciousness. However, there is a sharp difference in which the two psychoanalysts describe depression and how they relate repression of childhood memories with the need to maintain a relationship with caregivers and parents for survival. The papers explore the differences and similarities of the two authors' views on repression.

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Freud and Freyd, despite their description of the repression implying a similar meaning, their explanations are different. For instance, Freud used the term repression to mean the procedure in which emotion, thoughts and anxiety-laden impulses from previous encounters and experiences become unconscious in one's brain. According to Freud, repression is a "mechanism of preventing unconscious thoughts and previous experiences from becoming conscious" (Freud, 1940). Freud uses repression to refer a certain form of resistance which is the basis of his theory on the hysterical psychic process. Freud takes an example of the process of curing a patient in which one of the crucial necessity is overcoming the force. The starting point of cure mechanism in hysterical psychic theory is opposing the "resistances opposed to the emergence of the forgotten ideas into consciousness." Freud (1940, p. 57) attempts to equate resistance with ego by saying that "ego r protects itself against the invasion of undesired elements from the unconscious and repressed id using anticathexis which must remain intact if it is to function normally." The statement implies that when ego feels hard-pressed, there is more increased convulsion to cling onto anticathexis to protect the remaining contents after irruptions. The resistance persisting throughout the treatment originates from repression. The opponents of recalling repressive memories as a treatment method base their beliefs on the fact that it essential and better to recover existing symptoms of trauma that dwell on the memories. However, Freud suggests that "emotionally traumatic memories are vividly remembered than non-traumatic memories." Therefore, Freud just like Freyd is skeptical on the act of reclaiming memories in hypnosis and memory therapy.

The pathogenic experiences are examples of forces that need repressing and forgetting. Freud terms the hypothetical repression to be the "undeniable existence of resistance" (Freud, 1940, p. 147). Freyd's version through the use of Betrayal Trauma Theory (BTT) uses the term repression to mean a type of motivated forgetting, traumatic and dissociative amnesia following traumatic events during childhood which, if remembered, can impact on the relationship with the oppressor. Another different way in which Freyd refers repression is an interchangeable application with knowledge isolation citing that when children isolate knowledge about previous events, it safeguard their well-being and will remain in good relationship with their caregivers. In support of the role of repression for children to maintain a good relationship with caregivers and parents, Freud (1940, p. 87) says that "children are protected against the dangers that threaten them from the external world by the solicitude of their parents." Thus Freud suggests that repression acts as security for fear of losing love which "would deliver them helpless to the dangers of the external world" ( Freud, 1940, p. 88). Previous memories have a phylogenetic basis which together with the real dangers in the present time combine to give repression as a defense mechanism. Freud says that forgotten memories stem from "Retrieval-Influenced Forgetting" theory in which the rate of recalling and rehearsing false memories is more than that of actual memories. The theory implies that falsified memories remembering precedes rehearsing the real memories of past encounters. However, Freyd suggests that reviewing and eliciting new experiences and information facilitates repression by inhibiting individuals' capacity to recall past real memories. In that way, Freyd's suggestion implies that it is easy to forget memories by recalling new experiences brought into consciousness. Freyd (1994, p. 315) proposed Shareability Theory which influences memory repression. According to the model, unrevealed childhood abuse memories are implicit, procedural, perceptual and continuous rather than being explicit, declarative, language-based and categorical.

In the attempt to explain the causes of repression, there is an acute difference in how Freud and Freyd demonstrate. For instance, Freud says that information is transferred to an unconscious part of the brain if they are painful or frightening to remember or acknowledge. Therefore, repression process occurs when there is a need to lock out unpleasant memories and place them in the unconscious mind. In that way, Freud puts more emphasis on the essential function of unconscious mind which becomes the dominant assumption in Freudian Theory that it governs people's expectations and behavior. Freyd explains that the need for survival among children triggers the need for memory repression in which children choose to become blind to betrayal from their caretakers or parents through knowledge isolation and repressing the previous occurrence to remain engaged with their parents or caregivers for continued support (Freyd, 1994, p. 312). Betrayal Trauma Theory posits that repression an ultimate survival tactic for children depends on the caregivers or parents who subjected them to trauma in the past. It is better to repress the memories that expose them and cause caregivers to withdraw support or increase violence. There is an acute difference in the two psychoanalysis beliefes on repression objects. For instance, Freyd's belief on the items of repression follows the basis of knowledge of betrayal or betrayal awareness which should remain unconscious to the child's memory to guarantee engagement with a caregiver. On the other hand, repression objects according to Freud include instinctual needs which ego consider to be dangerous.

In similarity, both Freudian and Betrayal Trauma theories suggest that the degree and likelihood of repression occurring is subject to nature of previous events and the victim's age because young children have increased the possibility of relying on repression that grown individuals. Freyd makes a comprehensive analysis of the repression occurrence and its intensity citing that "the manner in which traumatic events pass through psychological processing and remembering depends on the extent to which the traumatic events give a representation of betrayal from a trusted person" (Freyd, 1994, p. 312). According to both psychoanalysts, repeated events such as combat, child abuse and spousal abuse cause long-term trauma and have increased the likelihood of causing repression. Freyd makes a distinction that betrayal trauma has a higher probability of causing repression that trauma triggered by natural disasters and accidents. According to Freud (1940, p. 105), the " essence of repression lies simply in the function of rejecting and keeping something out of consciousness." In a similar version, Freyd explains that seemingly forgotten memories and experiences are repressed to for betrayed to remain unconscious and stop previous trauma from influencing their present by interfering with their relationship with their caregivers. While explaining the concept of childhood trauma, Freud agrees with Feud in the essence of a child to maintain engagement and good relationship with their caregivers for survival. Freyd cements her claims citing a "social utility in remaining unaware of abuse when the perpetrator is a caregiver" (Freyd, 1994, p. 319). As the two psychoanalysts agree that depression is unconscious to humans, they pose issues in individuals' future lives. According to Freyd, there is a close relationship between repression in children with significant development of Posttraumatic stress disorder (PSTD). Freud lists the consequences of repression to include possible injuries and self-harm, which are the symptoms PTSD at prolonged level.

However, Freud supports the act of victims recalling memories citing that the failure to remember could result in mental and physical symptoms. Freud argued that psychological disorder symptoms are signals of returning repressed memories and it is a symbolic strategy by which victims report past traumatic events. Freud supports proponents of the need to recall previous memories and interpret repression saying that children should repress memories regarding previous abuse and remind them when they feel that it is safe to disclose. Freyd in agreement considers the repression to be dissociative or traumatic amnesia which when interpreted accurately can lead to a build-up of early experience accounts and thus therapy for recovering memories. According to Freyd (1994), hidden trauma has the capacity of influencing psychological functioning as the concept of recalling memories forms the basis of therapy for availing consciousness about previous experiences. In similarity, and Freud seems to hypothesize that repression is a means used by individuals in coping up with accounts of traumatic events. Such hypothesis reflected in the concept of psychogenic amnesia which pushes memories out of awareness thus enabling children to maintain their relationship, engagement and attachment to their parents or caregivers for survival. According to Freyd, repression is "applicable in social circumstances" under psychogenic or dissociative amnesia as prevalent in incidences following traumatic psychological experiences such as natural disasters and wars where they have shown significant consistency with repression.

In conclusion, it is evident from the paper that Freud and Freyd have similar views about repression. First, they concur that unsharable memories are consciously inaccessible. Secondly, they both agree on the factors that motivate repression by saying that the need for survival among children forces them to repress previous experiences to keep a good relationship with their caregiver. The differences occur in the point when Freyd advances her belief that knowledge of betrayal is the main object of repression. Freud seems to differ with Freyd by saying that id's instinctual needs that ego express to be dangerous are the primary objects of repression.


Freud, S. (1940). An Outline Of Psychoanalysis. New York: Norton.

Freyd, J. (1994). Betrayal Trauma: Traumatic Amnesia as an Adaptive Response to Childhood Abuse. Ethics and Behavior, 4(4): 307-329.

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