How Can Memory Repression Affect Your Teen?

Repressed memories are memories that we have unconsciously forget about due to their association with stress or trauma. Technically they are still there, buried deep in our memory, but for whatever reason we have blocked them. Some memories will stay repressed forever, but it’s not as easy to hide from others.

Memory repression can only be studied to an extent by scientific researchers. For ethical reasons, scientists studying memory loss and repression don’t subject their clinical patients to trauma before or during the experiment. Therefore, it is difficult to get a solid read on what happens to the memories of trauma victims.

A common cause of memory repression in children and youth is a traumatic event. Memories of sexual or physical abuse are often repressed by victims because they don’t want to believe that it ever happened to them. If someone has repressed memories, it can mean that the victim never dealt with the trauma, never told anyone it happened and is therefore suffering mentally or physically from it.


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Many practitioners believe that repressed memories can be recovered through therapy. Victims often remember at least part of their trauma, and the repressed memories can come up through discussion of the trigger incident. There isn’t a set list of signs or symptoms to look out for when it comes to past traumatic events since trauma is a very personalized experience.

When choosing a therapist with who you can discuss these memories, find someone you feel comfortable with, who is unbiased towards your story and remains unbiased, who listens and does not dismiss anything you tell them and who doesn’t try to reshape your understanding of what childhood abuse or trauma is.

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