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LightSeed.com > Self-Empowerment Center > Articles > Memory Repression and Healing

Memory Repression and Healing

by Bobbi Gay

Our bodies remember all we have experienced. Encoded in the very tissue of our physicality is a record of all that we have been unable to fully experience and integrate. In this instance integrate means finding some meaning or peace with an issue or memory. This wouldn't be a concern if it were as simple as that. The holding of this blocked emotion has its cost. Chronic pain and tension states signal that something needs to be addressed. Poor self-esteem can result because in part self-esteem is based on being in good contact with the facts of one's life. Somewhere there is a sense of something being wrong and people often translate this experience into something like, " I feel bad therefore I must be bad."

There can be other symptoms such as fatigue and depression, confusion and mood swings. There can be very real physical pain such as headaches, backaches and stomach and bowel problems. Medical experts now acknowledge the role of emotions in disease formation. This isn't the only cost; there is a more subtle often-unrecognized effect. Encoded with each trauma is a quickly formed belief. It is theorized that early in our human development when man found himself in a desperate life threatening experience, he had to remember in great detail what that saber-toothed tiger looked like and the relevant survival based information. Quickly and uncritically encoded would be a belief such as "Tiger bad." This type of belief would not be language dependent, the mere sight of a similar animal would trigger a release of brain chemicals resulting in adrenaline being released in order to aid fight or flight. This means the system can encode infant experiences which are preverbal in nature. For purposes of this discussion it is important to note that this survival-based information would then be relayed to other tribal members... ex. "Don't go near the river." It is now known that post traumatic stress syndrome is much more likely to occur in cases when the story doesn't get told. Our caveman will receive respect and honor from the tribe for his dangerous escape. This ability to tell the story and receive validation is today known as deprogramming and is sometimes offered after natural disasters such as earthquakes and also in cases such as mass murder. How does our caveman's experience relate to modern life. A classic example would be childhood sexual abuse. All of the negativity of the experience gets encoded in the body. It is theorized that the mechanism for this involves three separate parts of the brain and finally the adrenal system. All the information conveyed by the five senses gets encoded. In experiential emotional release work people re-encounter the trauma in full sensory detail. They can quite literally smell the abuser's cologne twenty, thirty, or even forty years hence. The implications of this will be discussed later. For now it's important to note that a belief is also encoded. This is usually something like, "Men hurt me," or " Touch is bad." The child grows up and seeks a love relationship. A woman for example may be holding a belief such as "Men hurt me," outside of awareness. When her mate accidentally offends her she sees it as proof of her unconscious premise. She is not at liberty to reframe it by saying, "This wasn't personal." It is as if she has men-hurt-me glasses on. Her perception of what is happening to her and around her is distorted. Now she tries to make love to her mate. Her unconscious belief that touch is bad gets activated and she contracts from his touch, or perhaps she feels controlled by it. The next day at work her new boss walks in and his appearance or controlling behavior is reminiscent of her abuser. Her body will start producing small amounts of adrenaline in response to the trigger. This will be experienced by her as stress. Her attitude toward her new boss might confound her. Why does he irk me so? She wonders. She may not be aware of the associations going on at an unconscious level.

One reason why sexual abuse is so damaging is because of the shame and secrecy that surrounds this issue in patriarchal cultures. Victims find themselves unable to share their experience and be validated. Cultural attitudes make it impossible to deprogram and thus find release and integration. The emotional energy has nowhere to go and winds up contained in the body/energy system of the victim. This often creates a hidden belief such as " I am helpless." This very belief makes healing difficult because self is not at the center of life. Life appears to be happening to... rather than generated from. A heavy dose of shame buries the experience deeper. This same phenomenon can be observed in the post-Vietnam war era. Returning warriors in the past times recounted their experiences over and over. This resulted in affirmation from tribal members who stayed behind. The warrior got deprogrammed in the bargain. The war in Vietnam became stigmatized and veterans faced hostility and indifference. The result was rampant post traumatic stress syndrome. The problem of trapped energy exists regardless of whether or not repression occurs. The challenge to healing is complicated by repression.



  1. Working effectively with emotions was the single most freeing part of my own journey. For this reason I have studied emotions for thirteen years now. I've put a lot of love into the tape set called Understanding Your Emotions This is meant to be a user's Guide for the Emotions.

  2. Asking yourself, "What must I be believing in order to feel this way?" is enormously helpful. Sometimes the realization that you are carrying an outdated belief is all that is needed to create positive change. For help in shifting belief patterns please see the article entitled, Process for Shifting Limiting Beliefs.

  3. Begin to notice the sensations within your body that characterize emotions. Name the feeling. This is a simple intervention that bridges back to emotional health.

  4. The book entitled Emotional Clearing : Releasing Negative Feelings and Awakening Unconditional Happiness by John Ruskan is a helpful introduction to working effectively with emotion. In Association with Amazon.com

  5. The book entitled Conscious Breathing : Breathwork for Health, Stress Release, and Personal Mastery by Gay Hendricks gives profoundly helpful advice and guidance for using the breath to release as well as rebalance. Many will find it easier and get more value from the audio tape. In Association with Amazon.com

  6. Our Acorn Solution called Emergency Blend will support any deep releasing process. It removes shock from the energy field, and body. Then Emergency Blend helps you to rebalance. Add2cart

  7. Working with shame is some of the most difficult work I know of. For working with shame I would recommend Shame Less Blend.Add2cart I feel it's important to know that shame is one of the emotions that really tends to heighten before release. For this reason good support is sometimes needed. Shame is not only very painful, but it causes blind spots that interfere with self acceptance, insights and integration. If you work with shame and feel the need for a little help please consider using the phone services on this site. I have a lot of experience in helping people ease through this most difficult process. For a better understanding of how systemmically shame diminishes life we suggest reading Healing the Shame That Binds You by John Bradshaw. In Association with Amazon.com

  8. Grief tends to cause a loss of vitality and connection to life. Our Acorn Solution called Grief Relief Blend will begin to lift it right out. The description we provide will help you to work effectively with this process. For me in my life grief was a big one for that reason I know that the person in grief often needs tenderness and so for that reason my phone services might be advisible and very comforting. Add2cart

  9. For those working with the toxic emotions produced by sexual violation I strongly recommend Reach for the Rainbow : Advanced Healing for Survivors of Sexual Abuse by Lynne D. Finney. In Association with Amazon.com

  10. Sometimes working intensively with strong emotions can be ungrounding. We can feel rocked at the core and nervous and accident prone. In such cases I recommend Grounding Blend, even if you don't purchase the product please read the description of the blend for helpful information. Add2cart

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