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Stephanie Mejia

Writing on Memory 146MW

Prof. Chubb
March 14, 2016
A comparison of Repression between S. Freud and J. J. Freyd
Sigmund Freud and Jennifer J. Freyd can be seen to share similar fundamental
characteristics of repression. Like the self, the ego attempts to protect its autonomy by
repressing that which can harm it. Although the definition of what harms one is different for
Freud and Freyd, the constitutional claim that there are objects to repress is what joins these
two theorists. In addition, Freud and Freyd identify causal factors along with motivators for
repression. The three traits previously accounted- objects, causes and motivators- can be
expressed as a necessary function mechanized by the self/ego (the mind) for its survival. In
essence, repressionforbothFreudandFreydinvolvesthemindidentifyingathreatening
Sigmund Freud and Jennifer Freyd share similarities when they explain repression as a
necessity that is activated for the function of survival. Freud identifies this process as resistance;
the following excerpt from An Outline of Psycho-Analysis introduces the idea of this functional
use, According to our hypothesis it is the egos task to meet the demands raised by its three

dependent relations- to reality, to the id and to the super-ego-and nevertheless at the same time to
preserve its own organization and maintain its own autonomy (p 49). Equally, if a young boy
experiences a sexual desire for his mother- such as the want to grope his mothers breasts or
buttocks- and the father reprimands the child for his intended behavior, the mind will then
instinctively suppress the urge to engage in that act again for the sake of maintaining a healthy
relationship with reality, or in this instance the childs father. Repression is the very organic
and natural resistance of information, which in turn cues one to identify it as a function.
Furthermore, Freuds causation of repression- which is a reprimand, a shameful desire
rebuked, or an inappropriate action pointed out by a parent/adult- expands deeper into the
objective of repression; in this case, the object of repression being the sexual desire or sexual
idealization of the mother to the child. On page 36, Freud tells us that the young and feeble
ego put[s] back into to the unconscious state some of the material it had already taken in, so that
these, having been rejected, could leave trace only in the id. In consideration of its origin we
speak of the latter portion of the id as the repressed. The ego, which is attempting to function
normally, represses material it has already taken in, or to specify the ids shameful desires.
This repression of material is done tactfully, placing the urge/want into a portion of the mind
that the ego will not have access to. It is the id that taunts the ego, and this excerpt brings one to
see that the ego uses repression as a function to preserve the mind from the ids unconstitutional
wants. Jennifer Freyd, too, makes the distinction of repression being a function of the mind.
Repression is activated by pain, including the pain of detecting betrayal, [motivating] changes
in behavior to promote survival. [And] sometimes the pain-motivated changes in behavior would
be too dangerous; thus, pain and the information that prompts it sometimes need to be
suppressed (p 129). Freyd distinctly identifies repression as a tool for survival. A tool that

removes the detected betrayal, or the knowledge there of, in order to allow the child to
continue benefiting off of the perpetrator. In addition, Freyd strengthens the existence of
repression as a function when she states if betrayal by a trusted caregiver is key to predicting
amnesia for abuse, attachment is key to understanding why amnesia is adaptive in instance of
such betrayals (p 69). In order for a memory to be repressed in the first place it must be
motivated to function or activate. Case in point, basic human instinct causes the child to
repress knowledge of betrayal (the memory) in order to preserve the attachment to the
To continue the analysis of repression between Freud and Freyd, the similarities and
differences of objects and causes for each theorist must be clearly established. Beginning with
Freyd and her exploration of causes of repression, she explains that the traumas that are
most likely to be forgotten are not necessarily the most painful, terrifying, or overwhelming ones
(although they may have those qualities), but the traumas in which betrayal is a fundamental
component. This proposition points to the central role of social relationships in traumas that are
forgotten (p 62-63). When one is caused harm, particularly by an important figure in ones life,
in order to maintain the relationship with the malefactor one must remove the knowledge of this
harm from consciousness. In other words, what causes the activation of repression, for Freyd,
is betrayal and not necessarily the magnitude nor type of betrayal. With this, the object of
repression is demonstrated as the knowledge or the memory of said betrayal. Equivalently, Freud
alludes to causes and objects of repression when he states [t]he necessary preconditions of the
pathological states under discussion can only be a relative or absolute weakening of the ego
which makes the fulfillment of its tasks impossible. The severest demand on the ego is probably
the keeping down of the instinctual claims of the id, to accomplish which it is obliged to

maintain large expenditures of energy on anticathexes (p 49). For Freud, the objects of
repression are classified as the desires of the id that are disapproved by the ego, and this object
is also identified by the ego as a threat or a desire that is impossible for the self to accomplish
without being put into a vulnerable plight. Ergo, the causal factor for repression is the moment
in which the ego must re-direct the ids desires back to the id in order to secure safety or avoid
danger. These circumstances equate the selfs functional need for repression because it ensures
or grants survival which is being risked by the ids acquisitive wants or objects.
Lastly, for Freud and Freyd, objects that arise from a situation (a cause) and have been
identified as being harmful or threatening to the self are motivators of repression; this
motivation then leads to the affirmation that repression is a function for the urgency of
survival. Surely enough, both Freud and Freyd contribute to the premise of repression as a
motivated function established by the mind. To begin, Freud demonstrates this approach when he
proposes that
No human individual is spared such traumatic experiences; none escapes
the repressions to which they give rise. These questionable reactions on the part of
the ego may perhaps be indispensable for the attainment of another aim which is
set for the same period of life; in the space of a few years the little primitive
creature must turn into a civilized human being; he must pass through an
immensely long stretch of human cultural development in an almost uncannily
abbreviated form. This is made possible by hereditary disposition; but it can
almost never be achieved without the additional help of the upbringing, of
parental influence, which, as a prosecutor of the ego, restricts the egos activity by

prohibition and punishments, and encourages or compels the setting-up of

repressions. (p 66)
Freud combines the egos need for social affiliation along with the molding that parental
reprimands have on the egos interpretation of what wants and behaviors are acceptable. The
interaction of these developed schemas is what motivates the ego to pin-point the objects within
a situation that would cause harm, which is then followed by the repression of the desires for
these objects. In Freuds view, these objects are typically sexual in nature. In order to maintain
these social bonds and alliances, the ego is mandated by the super-ego (solidified parental
discouragements and encouragements) to deviate away and repress the ids compulsions.
Comparatively, Freyd illustrates the use of repression as a motivator in the maintenance of
relationships when she states that emphasis is on the need to avoid the externalized,
functional consequence of reducing attachment behavior in necessary relationships. I propose
that the conflict is between knowing about a betrayal in the external world and maintaining a
necessary system of belief in order to guide adaptive behavior (p 25). The proposed adaptive
behaviors is the act of repressing knowledge of betrayal by a caregiver. The selfs reliance on
the caregiver motivates a ploy of memories of treason out of consciousness in order to continue
benefiting off of the relationship. Naturally, the self can be reduced into a state of turmoil when
its source of survival is causing discomfort and confusion; thereupon, the object and the
situation that caused this object to stem- for Freyd, the object being the knowledge of betrayal
and the cause being a deception by a provider- motivates the mind to repress the memory in
order to continue acceptance of benefits from the perpetrator. This links to Freuds motivation of
repression in the sense that the self is motivated to salvage the social bonds which it depends
upon. Thus, the motivation to repress serves as a function for the continuance of a normal life.

At last, repression consists of the self identifying an object to repress, a cause that
brings about the object, and the alerted self feeling motivated to repress said object for the sake
of survival. Although distinct in idiosyncrasies, both Freud and Freyd aver the idea of
repression, its activation via objects and causes, and its use as a function for survival. They
both also classify repression as a task prompted by the self, again as a survival mechanism.
The connections between Freud and Freyd allow one to recognize that forgotten objects can be
identifying as repressed if the purposes is survival, no matter what the object maybe.