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Rycroft, C. (1953). The Psychoanalytic Quarterly 21, 1952; No. 3: Herbert I. Harris. 'Repression and the Electroencephalogram.'. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 34:356.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: The Psychoanalytic Quarterly 21, 1952; No. 3: Herbert I. Harris. 'Repression and the Electroencephalogram.'

(1953). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 34:356

The Psychoanalytic Quarterly 21, 1952; No. 3: Herbert I. Harris. 'Repression and the Electroencephalogram.'

Charles Rycroft

In a tantalizingly short communication Harris speculates on a possible relationship between repression and the inhibition and suppression of Alpha rhythms that occurs when the EEG subject is stimulated by light, sound, or touch, or engages in problem-solving. Repression and suppression and inhibition have in common the fact that they are all concerned with preventing the outflow of some form of energy. 'Is it possible, ' Harris asks, 'that the suppression of Alpha rhythm by incoming stimuli is a predecessor or simple component of the process of repression? If so, is the suppression of Alpha rhythm by problem-solving even more like repression? For in problem-solving, stimuli which are thought to originate in one area of the brain apparently suppress "A" rhythm activity in another area.' Such an idea leads to the possibility of establishing a neurophysiological division of the brain into conscious and unconscious parts. Several workers have found that a large amount of Alpha rhythm is found with greater frequency in passive and receptive subjects, i.e. in individuals with a rich phantasy life, than in active and independent subjects. This suggests that regular Alpha rhythm is more closely allied to unconscious brain activity, while the Beta rhythm obtained when the brain is solving problems is to be correlated with conscious cortical activity.

Study of the way in which external stimuli may suppress energy involved in unconscious brain activity may help in the understanding of the economic aspects of repression, since it would seem that the energy in external stimuli may be used defensively to help repress primitive impulses. Examples of such a process may be seen in various defensive manoeuvres of patients in analysis. Finally Harris would appear to suggest that the use of energy from the environment rather than from within is an essential characteristic of repression.

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Article Citation

Rycroft, C. (1953). The Psychoanalytic Quarterly 21, 1952; No. 3. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 34:356

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