Question: How can uncovering repressed traumatic memories benefit a person?
Answer: Our neurological and psychological systems have natural mechanisms to suppress and forget a traumatic situation to thereby avoid unbearable mental pain. Our body also goes into coma or faints when there is too much physical pain. These are mechanisms for survival which may give temporary relief but do not solve the problem. It is like ignoring a disease, a debt, or a house on fire. You can try to forget, but forgetting the disease, debt, or fire does not solve the problem at hand. Similarly, people may take to drinking or drug use to relieve themselves of stressful situations. While alcohol and drug use provide temporarily relief, they do not eliminate the cause of stress.
Rather, by uncovering, recognizing, and dissolving your traumatic experience, you resolve the issue at the root. This will give you renewed energy for your life’s work. Keeping traumatic experiences repressed requires tremendous mental energy. A person cannot experience the goodness of life; he cannot bloom in his life; his intelligence does not function properly. One thus afflicted may not be able to make beneficial life decisions.
Question: Why do some memories become repressed and others not? What purpose might repression serve?
Answer: As said above, the purpose of repression is to relieve you from the immediate suffering. The traumas that one cannot assimilate or digest, tend to be repressed. The ones that you can tolerate or digest are not repressed. Not everything is repressed. Repression is a survival mechanism. Although it may not be a solution, it still brings some relief when one does not have the ability to deal with the situation. It is like a child that feels afraid at night and hides underneath a sheet to feel safe.
Question: How would I know if I have repressed memories/trauma?
Answer: One indication is that you may be not making good decisions in life under certain specific conditions. You may have fear, feelings of insecurity, codependent behavior etc. under such circumstances. Some people have phobias or other idiosyncrasies. There may be even physical ailments, such a skin rashes, constipation, or IBS (Irritated Bowel Syndrome) due to repressed memories.
Question: Some persons say that they “blacked out” and don’t remember inflicting violence (rape, murder, etc.) on a victim. The perpetrators return to normal consciousness after the violent act. What is going on here? Assuming that the offender is speaking truthfully, is it repressed memory or is there demoniac possession taking place?
Answer:When a person is driven by very strong emotions, he or she may act mechanically or impulsively, without conscious awareness. Then the person may not remember the act. Remembrance is possible when an act is done with awareness. The memory of acts done without conscious awareness is stored in the chitta, but it is not easy to pull such memories into the mind. We do many things in our daily lives without conscious awareness and may not remember them. For example, a person walking on the road, absorbed in deep thought, plucks a flower, then throws it away. He may not even remember that he plucked the flower.
It takes a lot of beating before you can come to your senses. And that is the grace of God that he will keep on beating you and smashing you until you understand. He will not leave you until you understand – whether it takes one life, two lives, three lives, it doesn’t matter. That is His compassion.
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