Repressed memories are a protective measure the mind uses when something traumatic happens, such as childhood abuse.  As an example, a child is sexually abused at five years old, but almost immediately, she pushes the memory of what just happened to the very back of her mind, and forgets about it.  Then one day when she is an adult, something happens that brings that memory to the forefront of her mind.  It could be as simple as a look from someone that is similar to her abuser, a scent that reminds her of the abuser, or hearing a story similar to what she had experienced.


The theory of repressed memories is often not accepted by the psychiatric community, as well as many lay persons.  It does sound rather far fetched, unless you have personally experienced a repressed memory for yourself.  Repressed memories also explain why many abuse victims have “blank spots” when remembering their childhood.  They have hidden their memories of terrible events so deeply in their mind, they basically lose periods of time in their past.

Many therapists who do believe in repressed memories try to bring their clients’ hidden memories to the forefront of their mind.  The process is called RMT – Recovered Memory Therapy.  Techniques used to bring these memories forward are hypnosis, free association, relaxation techniques, drawing and more.  Personally, I do not believe this is a good idea.  I have experienced my own repressed memories, and I find it best to allow the memories to come to remembrance in their own time.  Forcing the memories to come back can mean facing them before you are able to cope, which makes the healing process much more difficult, if not impossible.  Sometimes when memories are faced too early, they go back to that dark place of hiding again, only to come out later when you are more able to handle them.  On the other hand, not forcing the memories, and allowing them to return in their own time, is much better.  When I have done this, I was better prepared to face my demons, and heal.

Another thing you need to know about repressed memories is not only do some people not believe in them, you may doubt yourself.  It can be extremely hard to accept the traumatic events of your past, which is why your mind hid that terrible event in the first place.  The events may seem so unbelievable, you have a hard time believing that they actually happened to you.  I encourage you to trust yourself!  You will know the truth in your heart – listen to that instinct, that little voice, gut feeling or whatever you want to call it.  Human beings have instincts for a reason, and they are always right!

Naturally, everyone’s experience with repressed memories is different, depending on their personalities and the events in their lives.  Your experiences will be different than my own.  However, I do hope this article will help give you some help and insight on what you are facing.