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The Human memory is a defence from trauma through removal – by Antonio Giordano

Updated: Jun 21, 2023

The Human memory  is a defence from trauma through removal – by Antonio Giordano

Antonio Giordano – The human mind has a psychological defence mechanism called “repression”, which leads to forget, over the years, the most traumatic and painful episodes of life. According to Freud, repression is an involuntary defence mechanism by which a subject rejects memories, images and impulses associated with trauma, which are "dangerous" for overall personal balance and post-traumatic life. In psychoanalytic theory, these mechanisms constitute a series of processes that "do not surface to consciousness" and are not rationally controllable.

In place of the "erased memory" remains a spectrum of anxiety which can be pathological in different ways depending on the subject and his/her ability to react to trauma. An accident, an accidental fall, a particularly invasive and traumatic surgery, childbirth are all events that trigger the removal of physical pain, mitigate it in the memory, as in fact the human nature tend to defend itself from trauma by "forgetting".

Similarly, in other areas other than hospitalization and treatment, the human mind usually makes extensive use of this necessary defence mechanism, for example in serious and personal mourning or in the event of breaking of a particularly intense love bond, as it happens in divorces or separations.

These intuitions arise from studies of Freud and his daughter Anna, and then confirmed by a study of the University of Oregon, which published an article in Nature last March 15 supporting Freud's intuition. The experiment carried out at the university is very clear in its simplicity, but it turned out extremely effective. Two groups of students were shown "pairs of words" asking the first group to remember the word associated with the first, while the second group, separately, was asked to avoid the memorization effort. Well, while the first group was able to remember the related words, without stress, the second group subjected to pressure was not able to do so. This clearly provides the scientific basis for Freud's theories of repression. Nature is perfect: what we are not able to manage makes us "forget".

The removal of adverse events is unconsciously the basis of our serenity, mental health and happiness, which according to the great Totò is found precisely in those "moments of forgetfulness.

Professor Antonio Giordano, M.D., Ph.D., is the creator and head of the Sbarro Health Research Organization, located at Temple University's College of Science and Technology in Philadelphia. Stay connected with him through his various social media platforms, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram, to receive the latest updates.

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