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Repressed memories anyone?

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by North Star, Jan 1, 2014.

  1. North Star

    North Star Beloved Grand Eagle

    First - HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope your new year brings new strength and health. :cat:

    And now for my question…I've heard Dr. Sarno refer to some of his patients having repressed memories that come flooding back years later. And I think I've heard a few of you mention dealing with this too.

    I can't quite get my mind around it though. The book, "Mistakes Were Made But Not By Me" convinced me that "repressed memories" are based on junk science. (Ie, the 40-year-old woman suddenly remembers Uncle John molested her when she was 3.) The authors contend that in true abuse the problem is for victims trying NOT to remember, so traumatic are the events. It's a well researched book.

    Please, please, please….don't be offended if you feel you're one who had repressed memories spring to the surface. I'm trying to sort through this apparently conflicting information. I'm learning along with everyone else here. But I am wondering about this especially since the reservoir of rage dwells in the subconscious.

    I have some extremely painful events in my past that will forever be seared in my memory so I just don't get how something could be repressed. Especially after reading that book.

    What are your thoughts and experiences?
    Markus and Eric "Herbie" Watson like this.
  2. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    North Star, I think we experience events today that can trigger our memories of past repressed emotions.

    One example I've had is that my parents divorced when I was about seven and that started a series of
    feelings of loss and abandonment. Mom married another man, that only lasted a year, and then she
    and my birth father remarried. He died ten years later during my late teens, and she quickly married one
    of his brothers who was a mental case full of anger. I felt like a yoyo.

    I must have repressed all those emotions for years and always found friends to whom I felt like
    I was part of their family. They seemed like a couple with kids who would never divorce, but they did
    a few years ago and I think that triggered my boyhood repressed emotions to do with divorce.

    There are any number of triggers that can help us uncover our past repressed emotions.
    "A reservoir of rage" can dwell in everyone's subconscious. We may not think there is,
    but journaling can help us to discover what caused the rage. I believe our unconscious really
    is helping us by giving us pain so we learn what are the hidden emotions causing it.
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  3. North Star

    North Star Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hey Walt, First…I am so sorry for the pain that you had to deal with growing up! Yoyo living is no fun…especially for a young boy.

    I totally agree about the repressed emotions. But what I was wondering about were repressed MEMORIES. I think it was back in the 80s or so, this was the rage. Adult women were accusing their dads of molesting them because of therapy sessions that pulled memories of alleged abuse to the surface. It was devastating to some families as it became a "he said, she said" battle. Some dads were incarcerated. A few women later recanted but the damage was already done to the man's reputation.

    I had a friend who believed she had repressed memories of childhood sexual abut but reading that book caused her draw the conclusion that her "memory" was actually imagination and some confabulations.

    There was that story too of a man who shared his vivid recollections of surviving the Holocaust only to have his entire story dismantled. That guy was even on a speaking circuit and wrote a story detailing his horrendous - but fictitious - account in a death camp during WWII. So there's a lot of intricacies our mind can weave. Experts concluded that this man meant no malice but that he had confabulated the whole thing.

    I hope that clarifies my question!
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  4. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thanks, that did clarify your question. I don't think I had any repressed MEMORIES.
    But the examples you give are scary. People can imagine they were victims and that can give them TMS pain.

    I'll look up repressed memories on the Internet and see if I can find anything about it.

    I have forgiven my mother and father for causing my yo-yo childhood, and was able to do that mainly
    by putting myself in their shoes... they were trying their best to rear three kids during the Great Depression
    when jobs were scarce or nonexistent. The financial stresses led to divorce. I wonder if parents realize
    how damaging that is to their children so they find a way to resolve their marital problems.

    I've remained a bachelor but have felt good about having encouraged several couples, friends of mine,
    to find ways to stay together. They did and were grateful to me.

    There is a wonderful movie from about 1942 called VACATION FROM MARRIAGE, a British film with
    Robert Donat and Deborah Kerr set during World War II when they came close to divorce but the war
    sent him to the army and her to a women's army corps, and the separation led them back together.
    Every couple contemplating divorce ought to see it. It won an Oscar for best original story.
    It's on DVD from Netflix.
  5. North Star

    North Star Beloved Grand Eagle

    Walt, You'll find this book I referenced very interesting. I think that may have been where I heard the story about the faux WWII Holocaust surviver. (One big take away for me with that book is just how fragile and vulnerable our memories are.) And yes, either real or imagined, memories/our minds create realities.

    It takes great maturity and wisdom for an adult to look back on their growing up years to be able to empathize and forgive ones parents. When my husband was in counseling a while ago, his anger toward his parents came up. The counselor encouraged him that with work, he would be able to appreciate his parents in a new way…but on an adult to adult basis, NOT a child to adult. This has been a challenge for him to walk out as his parents are still a source of conflict in our lives. (And a huge reason why we must move sooner than later out of the area.)

    My parents were talking about divorce but my dad's sudden death at the age of 52 took care of that. I had left the house by then but I know it would have still be devastating.

    That movies sounds like fun….I love old movies! Especially WWII movies. I grew up watching them with mom who was a movie buff. Happy memories!
    Markus likes this.
  6. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    North Star,
    I am glad that you brought up this question as it's one I've had too. I don't have any light to shed on it, as I've only experienced repressed emotions, not memories. Like you, I remember things all too well, though I had stopped feeling anything about them a long time ago.

    I'll be interested in seeing what others have to say on the subject.

    Happy New Year!
    North Star likes this.
  7. Eric "Herbie" Watson

    Eric "Herbie" Watson Beloved Grand Eagle

    Its not repressed if you remember it. It could be current pressures for sure or being surpressed and that's not good and that could make you have stress which can cause pain too. Its all about accepting life as is -- Its more about how to move on and love life knowing the hand you've been dealt in life and being able to cope and be free from the burden of despair ya know. I remember watching the video by Dr. John E Sarno MD and he talks about it -- the unconscious in the current time gives us more pressure and so we can work to acknowledge what were doing wrong by understanding the kid side of our brain and soothing that part and then the grown up side of our brain and soothing that part since we have three parts to our brain right.

    The id will always be mad and angry or loving and happy and the super -ego will always be controlling and pushy or we will learn how to get along with both the id and super ego thus giving our inner ego, a break and that helps us feel better and heal faster.

    Sarno, Steve and others talk a lot about current pressures being usually the main thing we have to get a grip on.
    Bless You
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2014
  8. North Star

    North Star Beloved Grand Eagle

    Herbie, Yes…it's not repressed if you remember it. But one could say they did "repress" the memory (not the emotions…the memory) for so long before the memory was "recovered". (I think that's the vernacular I've heard.)

    More than anything I was surprised to hear Dr. Sarno refer a patient who had repressed a memory for many years and then moved forward in her healing after it was brought to light. I think there IS a huge difference between emotions vs. memories. I just wonder how much the good doctor has seen that dynamic and the mechanism used to trigger a recollection with a patient. (Ie, hypnosis? A particular therapy modality?)

    Mind you, I'm not on a witch hunt searching for repressed memories with myself (God knows I have enough to work on!)….just curious after hearing Sarno referencing it. And maybe…wondering if I did hear it out of context because of the controversy surrounding the concept of suppressed memories.
  9. Lily Rose

    Lily Rose Beloved Grand Eagle

    When we were living in Alaska, I began to finally organize some perpetually packed boxes I had carried around forever. I knew they were papers from my earlier years, but figured most was saved pictures torn from teen magazines and various such things.

    Instead, I found journals. There is much I do remember, and wish I didn't. There is also a period of 9+ weeks of living with my biological father when I was 17 that is mostly 'gone'. A state-appointed counselor said those memories would likely not come back (I don't know what he based this on).

    These journals ..... they told me just how much I had pushed into the void. I had written so much with such care, as though I were writing my last words, over those long, painful years. Finding them, reading my then-neat handwriting ... I couldn't bear it. I just couldn't. During the next burn-day, my husband (without ever reading any of the words), cast those papers into the flames. I never ever wanted anyone to know that information about me. Ever.

    Shortly after the burning of those papers, the memories began to dim again. What I remember now is not the exact content, but that there was content. I remember the journals themselves, but most of what was in them has slipped away again.

    In my initial post of Broken Child, those memories are enough. They are the outline of my memories.

    North Star ... your question reminded me of these journals. This caused my thoughts to segue into the post by Dear Lianne and her handwriting offer. My handwriting since finding those journals has significantly deteriorated. I barely hand-write at all. It is deeply uncomfortable, if not outright painful.

    Repressed memories, indeed. But they weren't 'remembered' by talking to a therapist. They were my own words, by my own hands. A chronicle of my daily life.

    I do not need to remember them. I simply need to make peace with the emotions of those memories. It is those buried emotions that damage us. Not necessarily the event itself.

    The mind is very powerful, as you've said. Suggestion is also very powerful. I would not trust anyone to ever 'regress' me. In that state of being, it is too easy to create memories that are not real. Like you, I question this form of therapy.

    I also do not believe the answer is simple .... any more than our issues are simple. Somewhere, in the midst of memories and emotions, there are threads of Truth.

    In the end, what matters is not what has happened to us, but what we become, because of these things ....

    with grace and gratitude,
    North Star likes this.
  10. Anne Walker

    Anne Walker Beloved Grand Eagle

    This is an interesting topic. Many years ago I was helping my ex-husband clean leaves from the gutter on our house. He got out a ladder and was raking leaves off the roof. I climbed up to help him but just as I started to get on the roof, I suddenly became very afraid. He thought it would be best if I overcame my fear and offered his hand and encouragement. I told him I did not know why, but there was no way I was getting on the roof. He was gently trying to pull me up and I can't explain exactly what happened except that I had an emotional meltdown, I fell to pieces. I climbed down the ladder, crying and screaming, and it took me a while to recover. My ex husband thought it was strange and I did too. Several years later my older brother was visiting and my mother invited us to come and speak with her therapist. At this meeting my brother brought up a memory he had out of the blue. He is four years older and he said that when I was about two years old he put me out on the roof one day(we had an attic playroom with a window looking out over our roof). He said I was crying and he thought it was amusing at the time but looking back now he realizes it was cruel. I still have no recollection of the incident, but it is a vivid illustration to me of how past experiences can unconsciously inform how we respond to life and situations. I do not have any trouble going on roofs now so somehow this awareness has released me from whatever phobia I had.
    North Star and Ellen like this.
  11. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    North Star,

    Anne's post has led me to wonder about this: I remember you discussing that you were in a car accident, but have no memories of it. I don't remember you saying what age you were when it happened. But could those memories be repressed? Are memories from when we were very young, as in Anne's post above, repressed or are we just not able to access them because they happened prior to having language to articulate them into memories?
    North Star likes this.
  12. North Star

    North Star Beloved Grand Eagle

    Lily Rose, you bring some important thoughts to this discussion. I am glad that my notebooks of years gone by have long been burned. I've been journalling for as long as I can. I'm remember. And I'm so with you on the "regression therapy" approach. Our minds are so vulnerable to suggestion…just like we're learning with TMS healing.

    On a side note, I am wondering how much the incidence of stroke is going to increase given the MASSIVE campaign that has been launched for stroke awareness. Everyday, I see a billboard, get a flyer in the mail, hear a radio/tv spot reminding me of the symptoms of stroke. Of course, they will attribute the rise in the reported number of strokes as a testimony to the power of education. Ahhhh….the power of suggestion and how it weaves our realities.

    Anne, how interesting about the roof experience. I was reading somewhere about how our intuition is shaped by experiences. I believe this to be so but I also believe that we are also spiritual beings and all too often, we are out of touch with the wisdom that surrounds us in abundance.

    I know as a child, I always hated getting a kiss from one of my brothers. Years later, I learned he has been molesting my older sisters.

    Ellen, I think the car accident I was in may have been what set me wondering about repressed memories. (In spite of that book that convinced about their shaky basis.) I was 17 when that happened…and I had a pretty severe head trauma…fractured skull and concussion. But like Anne's experience over the roof, I wonder if the event was stamped into my brain, albeit scrambled beyond cognition.

    I sure appreciate you all and these wonderful discussions!
    Msunn likes this.
  13. Gigalos

    Gigalos Beloved Grand Eagle

    Some non-convergent thoughts...

    So three things might happen: 1) You 'remember' the emotion, not the event (like Anne). This serves you in most cases, as it is part of learning what to do and what not to do in order to survive, although
    in some cases it won't serve you (like Anne, she developed an unnecessary fear) 2) You remember the event, without (all) the emotions (like the woman Sarno describes in his book, his example of the rare event
    in which Rage is coming to the conscious). 3) You remember both. Like having had a (near-)accident and all the emotions that were present. My father is a good example. He was driving in his car and something that happened on the road made him remember a near accident he had when he was a child and the fear he felt.

    I think the purpose of creating memories is that our mind needs to structure information. When you have watched Mind Games on Discovery, you'll know we are all masters at creating false memories.
    The memories, either correct or false, can serve us right to develop automatic reactions that increase our chances for survival. But as we all know here, they can also create unnecessary reactions that do us more harm than good. Anne's story is a great example.

    To use her story further, she might not have needed the memory to get rid of her unnecessary fear for climbing a roof. It can serve you incredibly well to be able to connect the dots and start breaking the cycle, but I think it is evenly well possible to simply accept that something unknown from the past, actual or made up (it is real for the mind), might set this off. Poking in the past might only give extreme frustration, as many dots will be impossible to connect. Learning what your automatic reactions are and how to change them in the present is what is key to improve.

    Animals often have similar reactions by simply seeing or even smelling a situation in which they experienced something that triggered a survival mechanism. Ceasar Milan simply reprograms the animal by re-experiencing the situation and teaching their mind that a survival mechanism is no longer necessary. He doesn't sit down with them to share their story in dog-language.

    For us humans, it may seem more difficult. We become side tracked by memories or we feel there must be some memories that are the source of our reaction. I think people who just accept that there simply may be memories that are connected to certain emotions are the quicker healers. The people who keep poking in the past to find them are the slower healers. I am somewhere in between :)

    That said, like in Sarno's example, sometimes it can serve us well to find the event from our past that set things off. Being able to connect a whole cloud of loose points (memories, emotions, situations) can help us in getting a clear picture of what the core reaction inside us is that is responsible for any symptoms. Our mind goes into survival mode when we connect them and start re-experiencing, once they are connected and it sees there is no longer a need to stay in survival mode, symptoms may start to die down.

    When I go back to the example of my father having had a near accident... he only lost his sudden fear of driving when the doctor said that is was this prime reaction to a past event that made him fearful. Very Sarno'ish. Educate the patient and the reaction will stop. He would probably also have lost his fear without the exact memory. A good physician could have told him that the fear was due to an experience from the past he might not remember. I bet the outcome would have been the same.

    As I said, no conclusion, please add any thoughts..

    PS to add to North Star's reply:
    In our western society we feed each other with so much 'fear' information, that we keep developing survival mechanisms that for the great majority of us are simply unnecessary. We spend more and more time being in survival mode, which keeps our systems in an unhealthy state. One example I got from Uni in a class called 'environment-philosophy'. When the first trains were introduced, people got sick riding them, because the rumour was that you could die from going that fast. People actually had bloody noses or fainted from the tension. This is a great example of unnecessary information creating reactions that do not serve us well.
  14. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thanks, Gigalos, for that post about people thinking that the speed of trains would make them sick.
    We can fall for misinformation so easily.

    I read that humorist James Thurber's mother was afraid of electricity when it was first bought into
    her house. She kept every wall outlet plugged in with a lamp or something because she thought if
    it was not plugged in, electricity would "leak out" and "get her."
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  15. Gigalos

    Gigalos Beloved Grand Eagle

    :) nice example, Walt.

    Another one, although more an example of disinformation that I created myself :)
    I remember as a small child in a water park, I didn't dare to ride the enormous water slide. It was going around the complete pool, being at least a hundred meters long, even going through walls to areas I couldn't see.... I had mistakenly interpreted the large tubes that made up the ventilation system for being the water slide, which actually was at most some 15 meters long...
    North Star likes this.
  16. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Your entire post is brilliant and very helpful, but I'll just respond to the above for now.

    I think I'll go back and watch Cesar Milan as there is much wisdom there.

    It seems that many of our discussions on the forum end up on the question of how much do we need to uncover of our repressed emotions, and to what degree of specificity, for healing to occur. It seems that some people just need to make the connection that 'repressed emotions' are the source of their physical symptoms without requiring any greater specificity. Perhaps that could be true for all of us, but when we don't acquire a quick 100 % cure, we assume, incorrectly, that it is due to a need for more specificity. Maybe what we really need is to strengthen our belief in the connection itself. For those of us who are very analytical by nature, the way we attempt to do that is through becoming more specific--converging many 'dots' to use your analogy. I know that is what my journaling attempts to do. But I'm finding that all roads lead to the same basic underlying issues, and now that I've uncovered these, I'm wondering if my efforts aren't best spent elsewhere--like in real action out in the world, rather than being so much in my head. :eek:
  17. North Star

    North Star Beloved Grand Eagle

    More great conversation! Gigalos, your post was brilliant! I am a huge Cesar Milan fan, btw. So much wisdom there.

    Walt, I just read a short book on Nikola Tesla that was fascinating. Edison and his backers really had it in for Tesla when his alternating current showed more $$$$ potential and usability than the direct current that Edison ushered in. So Edison's backer (led by JP Morgan), launched a fear campaign on the perils of alternating current. History is FULL of examples of how those desiring power use fear as their weapon of choice.

    This has been a long day for me as I've been sick on the couch all day. I caught a horrendous cold (I don't often get sick) and it has had me waylaid for a few days now. So my head has been more full of congestion than dot connecting today. LOL Thankfully, I seem to be on the mend now. Yay!
    Msunn likes this.
  18. Anne Walker

    Anne Walker Beloved Grand Eagle

    Okay, lots of random thoughts as I read all of your posts. First off, when we refer to our memories I think most of us are probably thinking about our conscious memories. We, of course, have a whole world of unconscious memories and also physical, neurological memories. My specific example about the fear of climbing on the roof was a clear case of how a particular phobia was created. I am sure I could have overcome this phobia without discovering the source. Since I don't have much occasion to climb on roofs, I effortlessly realized an instantaneous cure when my brother revealed the cause. I was for many years terrified of flying. I have no idea if there was an actual memory related to this fear or not. I don't think so. One overseas flight to Europe I decided to give into the fear and imagine the worst. Each time the turbulence scared me, I imaged the plane crashing. I used all of my acting training to allow myself to be in that moment. I faced my end, I said good-bye to my loved ones, I felt remorse for my life cut short and all that I wanted to live for. I did this for many hours. This was over fifteen years ago and I have not been afraid of flying since. I live with all kinds of fear and I have not been able to apply this technique to many of my fears, my fear of dizziness for instance, but I am at least aware of the possibility of giving into a fear to take away its power. I have been working with a somatic experiencing therapist the last few months and it has been very interesting. It is based on the work of Peter Levine and his work on how to recover from trauma. In the wild, animals experience trauma and are alert for impending danger. But they also have a natural way for their nervous system to experience the trauma completely and move on. We do as well. But sometimes we have to retrain ourselves to not get in the way of what our bodies know how to do naturally. Anger is one of the more interesting and powerful examples of an emotion that we tend to mentally stop ourselves from playing out fully in its physical form. We do this for all kinds of reasons. In my case, it was not safe to be angry. So when I was angry, I would talk myself out of it. I am working really hard right now to learn how to be angry. Not just acknowledging that I am angry, but allowing myself to feel it physically, to connect with it. Growl, write, swear into my pillow...whatever it takes to express it without just crying and turning it in on myself. I don't know if any of this makes sense but it is what I am working on at the moment. I know I am in pain, I am stressed, my nervous system is bound in a tight ball. I am always on the alert, poised for the next disaster.... My therapist says it is unrealistic to think in terms of just relaxing. I have successfully had panic attacks drinking a Mai Tai on a Carribean Cruise! You can't just relax with a nervous system this exhausted and tense! Whether I inherited this anxiety or developed it through a traumatic upbringing or a combination of both may be impossible to answer. But I do feel that I am heading in the right direction. I have felt so afraid and bad in my body for so long that it is difficult to believe and have faith that it can be different. But I know in my heart that it is possible.
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  19. North Star

    North Star Beloved Grand Eagle

    Anne, I had to read your post a few times…it really resonated with me. Especially about your nervous system being bound in a tight ball. One thing I've really hated about myself is how badly I startle when someone thinks it's amusing to jump out at me. ("SURPRISE!" :wideyed:) I nearly jump out of my skin. I think my daily meditation has been helping with this…at the very minimum I am FAR more aware of the tension that I pack in my body.

    I wish there were short cuts with this stuff. Like you I have felt so afraid and bad in my body for a long time too… But I'll keep baby stepping because continuing on the fear path just isn't an option.

    Thank you for sharing with such candor. I really appreciate it.
    Anne Walker likes this.
  20. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    I would be startled too if anyone laid a 'SURPRISE!" on me. That's kid stuff.
    I also hate getting a phone call from someone who says 'GUESS WHO?"
    I may not have heard their voice for years and am supposed to instantly know who the caller is?
    Sometimes they make you guess... playing games.
    I'm too busy for that crap. I don't even envy people who have that much time on their hands
    to play phone games. I like being busy.

    I guess we just have to put up with SURPRISE and GUESS WHO?
    My first reaction is to want to scream at them but then I just try to take it in stride.

    Just don't spend any time on fear... being afraid of anything is a waste of time.

    I made a new year's resolution today to get my home office and its desk in order.
    I have a good manila folder file and just need to stop being buried in notes I take all the time.
    I have to put the notes in the appropriate manila folders.

    I've learned never to stack notes and letters or anything paper. File it right away in
    appropriate manila folders and I know where everything is. The folders go in
    stand-up metal desktop holders or the file cabinet.

    Keeping things organized helps to achieve peace of mind so the mind is free for meditation
    and relaxation.

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