Repression vs Suppression
Repression and suppression are terms that are often used by psychologists, to refer to defense mechanisms that human beings use to counter negative or unwanted feelings from their consciousness. Both the concepts are frequently used and confuse many students of psychology as to whether they are one and the same because of their obvious similarities. However, despite similarities, there are differences that will be highlighted in this article.
What is Repression?
Repression is a method of keeping out undesired, negative feelings and emotions from consciousness. There are traumatic incidents in the lives of some individuals that they want to forget at any cost. However, repression is not something that a person makes use of in a conscious manner. It happens at a subconscious level, and it is our anxiety to be rid of unpleasant thoughts that plays an important role in pushing these memories deep inside our mind. It has to be remembered that repressed thoughts and emotions are not removed from our psychological system; it is just that these thoughts do not come to the conscious level. There is a problem though; these feelings find a way to be manifested usually in the form of personality traits and sometimes dangerously in the form of psychotic and criminal behavior.
Psychologists feel that though repression is a good defense mechanism and helps to keep undesired feelings and emotions under check by not allowing them to come up to the level of consciousness, it can be a big obstacle to get to the real cause of one’s anxiety. Many term it as evasion, a way to get away from problems that we faced in the past.
What is Suppression?
Sometimes we choose to push the undesired feelings and emotions deliberately down the layers of consciousness to be able to concentrate on the job at hand. We know about a thought or a feeling but choose not to dwell over it. When we do not express or think about negative emotions, we are able to concentrate on our daily affairs in a much better manner. This is a defense mechanism that is believed to be at work all the time to allow us to work at our potential by not losing our energies and concentration because of negative thoughts and emotions. During suppression, we are in control and do it willingly and voluntarily.
In real life, it is common to be disturbed by negative thoughts and feelings but suppression as a defense mechanism allows one to remove these emotions from consciousness for the time being.
What is the difference between Repression and Suppression?
There are traumatic events in the lives of individuals that are psychologically scarring for them. Similarly, there are negative feelings and emotions that are very disturbing and can cause lots of anxiety for people. Psychologists talk of two terms suppression and repression that are used as a defense mechanism by people to get rid of these unwanted feelings and emotions.
While suppression is a conscious, willful and voluntary way of removing unwanted feelings and emotions from the consciousness, repression refers to unconscious pushing down of negative feelings inside the layers of sub consciousness.
Repression is also called evasion or flight from reality to escape disturbing thoughts and emotions.