Psychological Self-Help

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So, in summary, it seems that some people suffer miserably
because they have repressed and can't remember horrible life
experiences and some other people have miserable lives because they
can't forget their awful experiences--they are upset by constantly
remembering bad memories. Misery can certainly be caused in many
ways. However, there are many people who cope with life pretty well
even though they can, when they want to, remember well their terrible
life experiences. And, there are probably happy, well-adjusted people
who have partly or totally repressed awful occurrences. Clearly, we
psychologists and psychiatrists know relatively little about these
happy-in-spite-of-bad-experiences phenomenon because these well
adjusted people are unlikely to seek treatment. So, how can we stop
bad memories? 
Relevant to all this is some recent research about "Suppressing
Unwanted Memories by Executive Control." in Nature (March 15, 2001)
by an Oregon psychologist, Michael Anderson. The research involved
first learning pairs of words, then seeing if trying to forget or "repress"
the words resulted in subsequently remembering fewer of the
repressed words. The more often the subjects tried to repress words,
the fewer of these words were remembered. In other words, trying to
keep a memory out of consciousness (Freud's suppression) seems to
facilitate forgetting or repression. However, since most therapy tries to
reverse this process and decrease the repression of emotionally
disturbing events, there seems to be some doubt about when
remembering is healthy and when forgetting is beneficial. 
Isn't it likely that many people have had... and remember... a bad
experience, but they just don't think much about it or it becomes an
available memory that seldom comes to mind? 
Of course, forgetting paired words, as in Anderson's study, is a
long way from forgetting that you were abused or molested by a
relative as a child or that your mother became psychotic when you
were seven. The Anderson experiment shows, however, that in some
circumstances we can intentionally increase our forgetting and
repression. This is of particular interest because children abused by a
trusted caretaker are more prone to forget the abuse than children
who are abused by a stranger. Why? We don't know, maybe because,
as in Anderson's study, the more reminders you see of some event but
refuse to think about it or dwell on it, the more likely it is to be
forgotten. Naturally, you would see more reminders of a close relative
or family friend than of a stranger, so you get more practice at
controlling the memory of the bad experience. (On the other hand, the
experience of being abused by a person you know well vs. a stranger
will surely arouse different emotions and intensities. Those different
feelings may also crucially influence the degree of repression.) 
There is more discussion of the role of thoughts in determining our
feelings in Faulty Perceptions. As mentioned there, research has
shown that persons who continued to suffer intense prolonged stress
following a serious trauma had many more intrusive disturbing
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