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The Neural Basis for Repression

Those famous for saying there is no “scientific evidence” supporting repression or recovered memory are finding it ever harder to maintain that position. As indicated in the previous post, several courts have rejected Dr. Harrison Pope’s extreme position. Add to that the evidence from a study published last year based on magnetic resonance imaging that concluded:

This pattern of results fits exactly to the psychodynamic theories of repression as a mechanism for avoiding conscious access to conflict-related material. One relevant future project will be to test the effects of individually-designed stimuli, e.g. derived from psychotherapy or operationalized psychodynamic diagnostics (OPD). Furthermore,  it will be interesting to apply this paradigm to clinical  populations whose psychopathology is assumed to depend on repression, for example patients with conversion disorders or dissociative pseudo-seizures. Possibly, brain activation patterns during this paradigm may point towards relevant unresolved conflicts – reminiscent of the initial ideas of C.G. Jung, and in line with previous research in the emerging new field of ‘‘Neuro-Psychoanalysis.’’’

Schmeing et. al., “Can the Neural Basis of Repression be Studied in the MRI Scanner? New Insights from Two Free Association Paradigms,” PLOS ONE (April 2013), vol. 8, Issue 4 (e62358), pp. 56–58.

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