Psychodynamics, Suppression, and Repression


Psychodynamics,Suppression, and Repression


Thetopic is about psychodynamics as described by Freud. According tohim, psychodynamics is a topic that describes how the human mind isfull of competing forces that lead to rise in conflict. The concernof psychodynamics is the conflict created between the structures ofpersonality named as the id, ego, and the superego. The threestructures work together to form human behavior.

Themain points

Theid operates on the pleasure principle and its motivations are impulsedriven, unconscious, and involuntary(Anderson,2001).Primitive and instinctive behaviors are included in this aspect ofpersonality. The most important thing in this personality structureis to avoid pain at all costs and obtain pleasure immediately. Theego part of personality structure operates on reality principle andseeks to intervene between the conflicts of the id and those of thesuperego. The ego delays the satisfaction of id’s selfish desires,until a realistic need satisfying object that is acceptable by thesociety or the public is found. An action`s benefits and costs areweighed first, before a decision is reached on which desires towithhold (Bargh &amp Chartrand, 1999).Motivations at this part of personality structure are partiallyunconscious and partly conscious.

Accordingto Freud (1915a), the superego operates on the moral principle. It isbasically what is socially acceptable by the public, parents, and thesociety as a whole. This is a person’s sense of what is wrong orright. Thus, it operates in a way that unacceptable desires by the idare suppressed and makes the ego to act upon realistic principlesthat are acceptable by the public. Therefore, good ego strength iscapable of managing all these pressures created by conflictingforces. Thus, a balance between the three structures of personalityis vital for a healthy personality. The views of psychoanalyststoday, argue that mental conflict has become an inevitable constant,since fears, values, motives, thoughts, goals, and emotions haveproved to be never at peace.

Accordingto Freud’s description of psychoanalysis, repression was thecentral concept. Repression involves forgetting an experience orinformation in an unintentional, unconscious, and automatic way(Reeve, 2009).When the id expresses selfish and demanding, ideas, thoughts, wishes,and desires, the ego as a result acts to oppose or delay thesedesires leading to repression. A person experiences anxiety oncethese unconscious impulses try to emerge to the surface.Consequently, the unconscious mind is pushed to repression by theresultant anxiety. The concept of repression has a limitation of notbeing able to be studied empirically thus a need to study suppression(Taylor &amp Shuttleworth, 1998).

Suppressioninvolves removal of a thought in way that is intentional, deliberate,and conscious. Since it is very difficult to stop a thought, once athought emerges, people try to suppress it. Suppression is verydifficult in thoughts that are externally generated and it most ofthe time fails due to the rebound effect. When unwanted thoughtsenter a person’s consciousness, his or her thinking haltsautomatically (Webster 1995). This is because such thoughts precedean unwanted behavior. Therefore, the unwanted thoughts linger in theconsciousness and people act by suppressing it. Suppression can actfor a few minutes or seconds but the possibility of it popping upagain is very high. Continued suppression over time leads to thoughtobsession. Studies show that unconscious thoughts that are brought toconsciousness are easily forgotten.


Oneof the criticisms of psychodynamics is that it simplifies thebehavior of humans to the mind’s mechanics. The explanation of aperson’s behavior by use of conflicts between the structures ofpersonality and childhood experiences reflects that Freud did nottake into consideration other aspects that influence behaviors.Second, the aspects of repression and suppression as discussed byFreud can be sometimes very difficult to falsify. His views that allmen possess homosexual tendencies that are repressed cannot bedisproved. Also, we also found that how difficult it is to suppress athought in reality.

Third,the explanation of Freud about how the id, ego, and superegoinfluences personality shows that people do not have free will of howto behave. According to Taylor et al., (1998), their behaviors aredetermined by the conflict between these structures of personalitythat we do not have a choice about or that which we cannot change.People change their behaviors when given the opportunity to or arewilling to. This explanation gives an impression that a person cannotbe held responsible for his or her unacceptable behavior. In hiswork, Freud used suppression and repression interchangeably thuscreating a contradiction (Webster, 1995).


Insummary, this topic helps us to understand the forces that might bebehind people’s behavior. Repression is important as it protectsindividuals against dangerous and unacceptable thoughts when the egois not that strong to deal with various challenges. For example, anemployee may be forced to play a role of a good hardworking worker toplease his or her demanding and harsh employer, thus repress hisinternal anger. Although repression and suppression has a benefit,there negative aspects that can lead to damage, conflict, andtension. Being not aware of our repressed thoughts can harm uspsychologically and physically. Suppressed and repressed emotions aredifficult to express thus, difficult to resolve. Unresolved emotionscan lead to conflict that can in turn lead to depression,psychological disorders, and mental disorders.

Themeans to deal with repression and suppression is developself-awareness and self-acceptance. This is to view the reality theway it is and accept that various thoughts, emotions, and feelingsoccurs within our mind, and find effective ways of dealing with them.


Anderson,M. C. (2001). Active forgetting: Evidence for Functional Inhibitionas a Source of Memory Failure. Journalof Aggression, Maltreatment, and Trauma,25, 300-306.

Bargh,J. A. &amp Chartrand, T. L. (1999). The Unbearable Automaticity ofbeing. American Psychologist,54, 462–479.

Freud,S. (1915a). Repression. In StandardEdition(Vol. 14, pp. 143–158).

Reeve,J. (2009).UnderstandingMotivation and Emotion (5thed.). United States of America. John Wiley &amp Sons, Inc.

Taylor,J. B., &amp Shuttleworth, S. (Ed.) (1998). EmbodiedSelves: An Anthology of Psychological Texts 1830–1890.Oxford, England: Clarendon Press.

Webster,R. (1995). WhyFreud was wrong: Sin, science, and psychoanalysis.London: HarperCollins.