Thought Suppression

1st Edition

Authors: Eric Rassin
Print ISBN: 9780444549358
eBook ISBN: 9780080461182
Imprint: Elsevier Science
Published Date: 20th October 2005
Page Count: 208
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Is it possible to ban unwanted thoughts from consciousness? According to the literature on thought suppression, the answer is no. In the 1980s, Wegner and colleges demonstrated that the average person cannot prevent a trivial thought like that of a polar bear from entering consciousness approximately seven times in a five minute period. This experimental finding was followed by a substantial number of replications. This book provides an up-to-date overview of the thought suppression literature. First, similarities and differences between suppression, repression, and dissociation are discussed. Methodological issues are then considered. Finally, the clinical applications of the thought suppression literature are discussed. Although there are numerous conditions to which the phenomenon of suppression can be applied, obsession and traumatic recollection are the main applications. In addition to offering an overview of the literature, this book links the thought suppression paradigm to other research fields, such as directed forgetting and repressive coping. Furthermore, it discusses the phenomenon of thought suppression in the light of broader theories such as the cognitive theory of obsession, and the ego depletion hypothesis. Clinical implications and directions for future research are offered.


Thought Suppression is relevant to students and researchers in clinical, cognitive, or social psychology, and psychiatry. It will also appeal to psychotherapists and mental health workers.

Table of Contents

Preface. Introduction. The Thought Suppression Paradigm. Suppression, Repression, and Dissociation. Measuring Intrusions and Suppression. Possible Research Artefacts. Individual Differences and Successful Suppression. Thought Suppression and Obsession. Thought Suppression and Trauma. Thought Suppression and Miscellaneous Targets. Conclusion. References. Author Index. Subject Index.


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Elsevier Science
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About the Author

Eric Rassin

Affiliations and Expertise

Erasmus University, Rotterdam, Netherlands


"Dr. Rassin provides a sophisticated review and analysis of the state-of-the-science relating to thought suppression. The interesting and important topics addressed include: delineating suppression from related concepts, such as repression and dissociation; a critical discussion of methodology; the relevance of thought suppression across clinical disorders, with a focus on obsessions and trauma; and a novel theoretical analysis of the findings reviewed. This is a comprehensive, balanced and scientifically rigorous account that provides the reader a unique and fresh perspective on the field." -Allison G. Harvey, University of California, Berkeley, USA