Essay on Repressed and Recovered Memory

Memory repression is one of the defense mechanisms known in psychology. It means a removal from the consciousness of thoughts, feelings, memories, impulses, fantasies, desires, etc. which evoke the painful connotations or otherwise threat the cohesion of the personality (for example, provoke questions about morality, give rise to feelings of guilt, etc.).

Repressed thoughts are are not available to consciousness. Tepression is not a one-time process and requires constant energy input.

Example: an employee does not allow to himself thoughts about the possibility of redundancies, which is said to be in his company. It feels like this is better (reducing the frustration), but the employee is completely unprepared when layoff occurs (reality distortion).

Memory repression is one of the fundamental concepts of psychoanalysis. According to Freud it is divided into two types:
The first primary takes place when certain experiences or emotions on a regular basis are blocked from consciousness. In this case, original repression takes place once, at a very early stage of childhood, when with the unconscious extracts like consciousness.

The so-called secondary or consequential or proper memory repression takes place, when the phenomenon appeared in the consciousness, but is secondarily been pushed to the unconscious.

The superseded phenomenon remains unconscious through the mechanism called censorship, controlled by the superego, but sometimes appear unexpectedly when censorship wears off (for example, under the influence of alcohol, the weakening of the ego, disease, asleep, etc.) and can also be the cause of the neuroses.

One of the directions of psychoanalysis is thus recovery of largely displaced memories, which helps to treat neurosis.

For this purpose you can use a variety of methods, including:

  • interpretation of dreams
  • analysis of mistakes
  • the method of free associations
  • hypnosis

These methods, however, tend to be unreliable. The cases are known for example that in which women under hypnosis recovers memory of rape committed in her childhood by her father, while later it turned out that she is still a virgin.

Another way to recover memory is considered by cognitive psychology which main axes of research is the study of memory.

Specifically, three stages of memory are explored:

  1. the encoding
  2. the storage
  3. the recovery

The processes of encoding and storage of memory are going according to the Atkinson and Shiffrin model, which is the model describing in detail the processes implemented through these two stages of memory.

With regard to the model of recovery of the information stored in memory, this model attempts to explain the serial position effect. This phenomenon occurs, for example, when someone presents a group of people to an individual: it tends to remember the first (primacy effect) and the last people (recency effect) of those who were presented to him and to forget other names.

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