Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) popularized the concept of repression as a hypothetical psychological mechanism. In Freud's view, persisting memories of traumatic experiences are so psychologically damaging that we somehow shuttle them into an area of the mind that is walled off from conscious awareness.

Freud himself was neither clear nor consistent about the repression mechanism, but by the mid-1980s, neoFreudian definitions of repression began to converge. This more modern use of the notion of repression is built on several important assumptions. First, there is the idea that the buried memory is protected from the kind of decay ordinary memories usually suffer with the passing of time. In other words, repressed memories go into some kind of mental stasis, retaining their vividness, emotion, detail, and accuracy. Such ...

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