Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Suppression and Repression

Suppression vs Repression

In psychology, there are terminologies that science students should familiarize themselves with. Oftentimes, these terminologies are so humongous that you already forget what it means and what kind of examples to give just to explain a particular word for people who are not adept with science.

These words at first must be well explained because at the middle of some concepts and lessons students will encounter these words. And for them to avoid scratching their heads, they should already be familiar with these terminologies. Two of the terminologies used in psychology and its concepts are the words “suppression” and “repression.”

To quickly differentiate the two words, “suppression” is “forgetting one’s thoughts and memories consciously.” For example, a woman was being raped by a stranger one cold night. After a few years, someone asked the woman if she had such an experience. She replied, “No,” even though there is. That is suppression. She is suppressing her bad thought consciously. Another example is when you asked someone who failed his major licensure exam. If he or she told you that they cannot remember about it, they are consciously suppressing their bad memory. Suppression of thoughts and memories are often related with bad and traumatic memories which are painful to that person.

Regarding repression, it is the concept of forgetting one’s feeling unconsciously. For example, when we were asked at what age we talked and walked, we can reply, “I do not know.” This is because we were unconscious during those times. We were still young. We are not aware that we have them or know them. Another example of repression is when a child was being abused physically, but she cannot remember a thing. However, she has difficulty relating and trusting others, thus there is difficulty in forming relationships.

Suppression and repression are categorized under defense mechanisms which people use in order for them to cope with a stimulus that can harm them. By using these two defense mechanisms, they are able to protect their image or their identity by having a choice of saying no. These two words can explain why some people choose to say no and not comment when there is an issue. It is not that they are guilty but, rather, they just want to face these questions in a different manner of defense.


1.Suppression is consciously forgetting an idea, an incident or an experience while repression is unconsciously forgetting an idea, an incident, or an experience.
2.Suppression and repression are defense mechanisms that we use at times of an incident in which we just want to forget or we do not want to talk about it.

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  1. “That is suppression. She is suppressing her bad thought unconsciously.” This line should say consciously, not unconsciously, makes the definition very confusing as it contradicts itself.

  2. Agreed with Matt’s comment. Hope it gets changed soon

  3. What if you have repression but you didn’t want to forget? Is that possible? Or is it just the brain’s defense for you, and even if you want to try to remember, your brain thinks it’s harmful to you?

    Also, I am not quite understanding suppression… Do you know it happened and just stop talking about it then eventually forget? Do you just stop talking about it so that it’s like it never happened? Do you say ‘I want to forget now’ and then eventually, you do forget?

    Thank you so much for this article!

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