Freud strikes again.
I’ve noticed an increasing fascination with Freud once again, especially in neuropsychology. For instance, the eminent neuroscientist V. S. Ramachandran goes out on uncharacteristically theoretical and non-testable limbs to discuss possible neuroscientific evidences for Freud’s theory in the two books of his that I have. It seems that the work of Freud waxes and wanes in its influence, but now there is some solid evidence behind some of his theories. Some of the more abstract and controversial components of his theory–psychosexual stages, for instance–remain untested, but a growing body of evidence exists for repression of unwanted memories and their role in our mental health. As part of my paper on psychosis that I’ve been writing, I’ve come across an article that’s written in accessible language and details the neural mechanisms underlying repression of unwanted memories. This paper, published in the journal, Current Directions in Psychological Science, outlines the basic way our brain suppresses memories, and how variations in that method can lead to distress.
The need to keep unwanted thoughts out of our life to maintain mental health has great intuitive appeal, but it has not gone unchallenged. New neuroscientific research is establishing a hard basis for how this works, and the very fact that it does. Unfortunately, we may have to tame our unconscious after all.