The author defines repression as an active process of making some part of the mental content inaccessible to memory. He believes it to be harmful when it has negative effects on one's adaptation to his environment. He states that although it is a common practice to tell patients to not think of unpleasant memories it is rarely beneficial to voluntarily banish these thoughts. He discusses cases of war neurosis, and the part taken by repression in each of them. He concludes that facing painful memories and thoughts should be encouraged and patients should be helped after "cessation of repression" for improvement in treatment.
This case report concerns a 31 year old man who suffered from a fear of enclosed places. During treatment for this claustrophobia the man recovered a memory from age 4 involving being trapped in a dark enclosed space. Subsequent information provided by the man's parents provided some degree of confirmation of his recovered memory. The man's claustrophobia subsided after recovering the childhood memory. An interesting aspect of the case is that prior attempts to recover a memory of a sexual nature (due to therapist suggestion) were not successful, suggesting the man was not unduly suggestible.