Repressed negative childhood memories refer to the unconscious act of pushing distressing or traumatic experiences from early life into the recesses of the mind. This psychological defense mechanism allows individuals to cope with overwhelming emotions, thoughts, or situations that may otherwise be difficult to process and face. Repression serves to protect the individual from the pain and distress associated with these negative memories.
Causes of repressed negative childhood memories may include various traumatic or highly stressful events, such as:
- Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
- Witnessing violence or being exposed to an unsafe environment
- The sudden loss of a loved one or the breakup of the family
- Experiencing natural disasters, accidents, or life-threatening situations
- Bullying or social isolation
- Neglect or abandonment by caregivers
When negative childhood memories are repressed, they can still influence an individual’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors without their conscious awareness. People who have repressed negative memories may experience:
- Anxiety, depression, or mood swings
- Unexplained physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomachaches
- Relationship problems or difficulty forming close bonds with others
- Trust issues or difficulty expressing emotions
- Low self-esteem or feelings of worthlessness
- Intrusive thoughts, nightmares, or flashbacks related to the traumatic events
In some cases, repressed memories may resurface later in life, often triggered by a situation, event, or sensory input reminiscent of the original trauma. This can lead to an increased awareness of the unresolved emotions and may require professional help to process and integrate these memories. Psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), or psychodynamic therapy, can help individuals explore, process, and ultimately heal from the effects of repressed negative childhood memories.
If you experienced a traumatic event as a child, your brain may have suppressed unfavorable memories, resulting in unexpected situational and emotional issues in adulthood. If they’ve blocked out the pain of their upbringing, they may be anxious or fear abandonment and it can be especially painful if they don’t understand why. Even if you are not a survivor of abuse, it is critical to recognize the signs of repression.
Often, those experiencing challenges think that they are “just wired to be that way“. Well, these are just a few of the signs that there is an underlying cause to what is going on – plus, that once we have found the problematic root, we can actually do something about it! Here are some signs you might be repressing childhood memories:
- You Have Strong Reactions To Certain People
- Specific Places Or Situations Freak You Out
- It’s Difficult For You To Control Your Emotions
- Keeping A Job Has Always Been Difficult
- You’ve Always Struggled With Fears Of Abandonment
- Friends Often Say You’re “Acting Like A Child”
- You Have A Tendency To Self-Sabotage
- Friends Have Called You “Impulsive” On More Than One Occasion
- You Often Feel Emotionally Exhausted
- You Always Feel Anxious
- You Seem To Have Issues With Anger Management
Some clinicians believe that children understand trauma differently than adults and respond differently to it. Others believe that childhood trauma can cause memory problems. These experts believe that dissociation can explain a memory that was forgotten and then recalled. Dissociation implies that memory is not actually lost, but is unavailable for retrieval for a period of time before it can be recovered. In other words, it is in memory storage but cannot be accessed for some time. According to some therapists, serious child sexual abuse has a particularly high risk of causing memory problems such as dissociation or delayed memory. Many traumatologists believe that dissociation is a person’s way of protecting themselves from painful memories. Many academics, on the other hand, believe that such an idea has little or no empirical support.
The memories of some stressful circumstances such as prolonged childhood maltreatment — are so severe that they can’t be accessed consciously. Subdued memories can, in the long run, lead to serious psychological difficulties. How and where the brain stores these traumatic memories have been identified by scientists, along with a method for retrieving them. A new treatment for people with suppressed traumatic memories could result from the findings.
There are several types of childhood trauma that a child can suffer from 10 different sorts of unfavorable childhood events.
- Physical / sexual abuse
- Verbal abuse
- Abuse of Women
- Neglect, both physical and emotional
- Experiences of family members
- Alcoholic or Addicted Parent(s)
- Domestic Violence Victims
- There is someone in the family that has mental illness
- Divorce, abandonment, or death of a parent
- Someone in your family is in jail.
Memory loss is one of the side effects of childhood trauma. So if you were abused by your caregivers, you may completely forget about that time in your life, or at least diminish the recollections. The tendency to remember only the pleasant experiences in your life and not the bad ones is common among childhood trauma survivors.