Sunday, September 18, 2016
Sybil asked about the words suppression and repression. Both are based on a Latin verb that meant to press, to weigh down, to stifle. The word compression shares the same root.
Based on the tone of her email, I think that Sybil was considering both words in their psychological sense. From that perspective, suppression is the conscious act of stifling unacceptable thoughts, memories or desires, while repression is the unconscious act of stifling unacceptable thoughts, memories or desires.
Both words have other meanings, too. Originally, suppression meant to keep an individual or an entire community in a state of subjection. It is also an act of censorship. Keeping a secret is another element. In medicine, it once meant to check the flow of bodily fluids.
Repression also originally referred to keeping an individual or an entire community in a state of impotence. Stamping out an idea or action antithetical to authority is another meaning. Another action involves blocking natural growth or development.
So both words overlap in meaning in several areas.
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