On Repressed Memories

On Repressed Memories

            Memory repression is a topic that has been discussed in the field of psychology for a long time. The question as to whether there really is such a thing as memory repressed or it is merely that the mind’s typical response to disturbing occurrences and experiences is to delete the memory altogether and make the person forget.

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            In the journal article by Robert Ursano (2003), he discussed about individuals who experienced sexual abuse in their childhood. However, the work concentrated not on the event of the abuse but the effects it generated to the victims psychologically. For instance, he stated that victims of childhood sexual abuse usually naturally resort to three means in order to be able to move on in life. One is that the memory of the event is not forgotten although not savored as well. The second result is that there are those who forget the event altogether, not even an inkling of what took place many years before. The third result is that memories are repressed and the person is left with this feeling that something untoward has occurred but cannot exactly put a finger on it. On the third theory, it insists that not a memory is actually forgotten. Instead the mind resorts to a barrier in which the difficult experience is locked.

            On further discussion it has been found that victims of trauma whose minds and free will resort to memory repression are more likely to psychologically disturbed than those who completely forgot about the event, as well as those who still remember. These people are more often than not left with the feeling that something troubling has occurred in the early part of their life. Thus, they are left constantly bothered until anxiety builds up (Ursano, 2003).

            Analyzing the journal further, it may be found that the victims of abuse or those who underwent traumatic experiences have a natural way of coping. The mind is so powerful that there discovered three ways in which a memory is distorted for the sake of the person who experienced it. In the first case, the mind does not forget yet it makes room for acceptance, making the experience feel lighter. On the second resort of the mind, the memory is completely clouded. And on the third part, the memory is blurred and repressed in order for the individual to move on from the experience.

            When it comes to recovering these memories, the journal indicates that those people whose memories of the past were repressed have a harder time recollecting and piecing them together. While the victims have this feeling of having undergone a terrible experience they cannot completely recall the event truly happening. This is how memory repression affects the functions of the mind. Thus, the tendency is for the victim to create her own memory of the past. There is the tendency to draft a different past, one that will  answer some anxiety questions and fill up the void left by repression.


            Studying the work by Ursano, it may be found that the mind is so powerful that in instances where a person needs to move from experience to another, it resorts to three ways, forgetting, not forgetting, and repression. However, among the three  repression seems to be the one with the most adverse effects. These being, the person being more prone to psychological disturbances like anxiety and depression. The person is also prone to drafting a new memory out of the clouded one which the repression has caused the person to remember. This points that memory repression affects the process by which the mind works naturally. Since in a way it is also a natural process the next question to be answered now is how to counter this natural process and allow for the clearance of all repressed memories in a person’s mind.


Ursano, R. (2003). Remembering Trauma. New England Journal of Medicine. 349, 1877-1880

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