After reading this article you will learn about the relationship between Repression and Dissociation.
Repression means putting an ungratified desire or motive out of mind because of its painful character and driving it to the level of the Unconscious. It is partly voluntary suppression, but mainly unconscious.
Generally, repression is regarded as unconscious and distinguished from inhibition which is conscious suppression. Not only present painful tendencies are repressed, but also memories of painful incidents of the past are repressed.
Freud regards the ‘the Ego instincts’, ‘the Ego’, ‘the censor’, or ‘the Super-Ego’ as the repressing force. McDougall regards the sentiment of self-regard, the core of personality, or some other affective force of personality as the repressing force.
Dissociation is disintegration of a personality into two or more independent streams of consciousness. Janet regards dissociation as the fundamental feature of neurotic disorders. Some psychologists treat of repression and dissociation as though the two terms were synonymous. But they are distinct from each other. Amnesia is an expression of dissociation. It is loss of memory.
When a hypnotic patient cannot move a limb, it may be said to be due to the loss of memory of the function. Irene nursed her mother during a long period of sickness, who at last died in her arms. Shortly after her death, Irene suddenly fell into somnambulism in which she ignored the surrounding objects or misinterpreted all sense-impressions and re-enacted the scene of her mother’s death.
The sleep-like condition came to an end suddenly, but was later repeated in a very familiar form on many occasions. She could not remember anything when she awoke from somnambulism’s. She developed amnesia of those periods and had a functional amnesia. She had dissociation of her personality. Amnesia is loss of memory.
Dissociation is different from repression. Dissociation occurs suddenly, while repression occurs gradually during a long period of time. Conflict continues in repression. But in dissociation no signs of conflict are found. In dissociation there is complete loss of memory. It is expressed in automatic activity.
The dissociated activity may express a complex which is not merely repressed, but completely dissociated. In some cases repression may maintain dissociation and prevent recovery from it. Sometimes a patient hugs sickness and is loath to recover from it.
Sometimes a patient is relieved of one symptom of dissociation and develops another by autosuggestion. Some-time a patient shows resistance to the relief of symptom.