A suppressed memory occurs when a situation is associated with a high level of trauma or stress, and the memory of the entire situation is unconsciously blocked so that the person has no memory of it at all. Even though the memory affects that person on a conscious level, they have no ability to recall the specific memory.

Everyone has experienced suppressed memory to a certain degree. To understand more about suppressed memory, you need to understand how trauma works. Trauma is merely a state of mental and emotional distress caused by an experience. Even the best parent on earth couldn’t raise a child in a way that the child will experience no trauma at all. Even the smallest disappointment can create trauma within a child. 

When someone experiences an event that is emotionally traumatizing, sometimes we have no way to integrate the event in our conscious life. For the sake of our emotional survival, the person often entirely suppresses the memory. The memory is then dissociated from the self and stored in a fragmented way. A memory involves senses, such a sound, taste, smell, sight, and emotion. When a situation is particularly traumatizing, the sensory aspects of the memory are often stored separately. For example, the mind suppresses the images associated with the memory deeper than the emotions associated with the memory. Therefore, people who recover suppressed memories often perceive them or begin to remember them in fragments, which is why it can be so confusing to go through the process of recovering them.

It serves the mind to dissociate when it experiences something traumatic. A dissociative state is a psychological state when someone separates from an experience. This dissociation is a defense mechanism or coping mechanism that enables us to avoid unpleasant experiences. There are mild and severe forms of it. Dissociation can be seen on a spectrum the same way that trauma can. Any kind of dissociation creates a split within the person, between her conscious self and her subconscious self. If dissociation happens frequently, we will have many splits within ourselves.

By dissociating from an experience, you push it out of your awareness so you don’t have to endure the pain or discomfort of the feelings associated with the event. The mind prioritizes survival, not just physical survival, but also mental and emotional survival.

As you work with your inner-child and do shadow work you will understand how traumatizing certain experiences were in your past and just how much of your current life has been shaped by those experiences. By doing this process you can integrate your past and become free and empowered.