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Stewart, H.F., Jr (1962). Repression: Experimental Studies Since 1943. Psychoanal. Rev., 49A(1):93-99.
  

(1962). Psychoanalytic Review, 49A(1):93-99

Repression: Experimental Studies Since 1943

Horace F. Stewart, Jr

According to Freud5 there are two types of repression. There is primal (archaic) repression whose purpose is the denial of entrance into consciousness of some archaic ideas attached to instinctual strivings which are unacceptable to the ego. This type of repression is commonly attributed to childhood, and as such is not generally accessible to the experimental laboratory. The second type of repression is that of after-expulsion, the dissociation or removal from consciousness of anxiety laden material. This second type of repression is that of after-expulsion, the dissociation or removal from consciousness of anxiety laden material. This second type of repression is more accessible to the psychological laboratory. It should be remembered that repression may be either partial or complete. Repression is more than mere forgetting, in the usual sense, in that repressed material is active and requires a constant exertion of energy by the ego to keep the repressed material from consciousness.

Sears15 has reviewed the literature for objective evidence concerning psychoanalytic concepts. The purpose of the present study is to bring together the experimental work done on one psychoanalytic concept, that of repression. Using Sears' survey as a point of departure, twenty-one studies and criticisms of studies have been found.

The logical point of departure for this review is with the conclusions drawn by Sears. His concluding summary concerning repression is as follows:

There is little to be concluded from the experimental study of repression. In general, it is possible to demonstrate that, with the required conditions crudely established, recall of either real-life or experimentally induced experiences follows the expectations suggested by repression theory. But the non-analytic data offer no refinement of the theory, no addition of relevant new variables, no streamlined techniques that promise eventual solution of the problems posed by Freud.

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