• Sweden edition
 
Swedish research proves Sigmund Freud right

Swedish research proves Sigmund Freud right

Published: 04 Jul 2011 12:16 GMT+02:00
Updated: 04 Jul 2011 12:16 GMT+02:00

Sigmund Freud's theory that people can intentionally learn to forget certain memories is proven accurate more than 100 years later, after researchers from a Swedish university make headway in the study of the mind.

According to new research from Lund University, in southern sweden, it is possible to control and even deliberately forget memories.

This new knowledge could be life-changing for patients suffering from depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.

“(Freud) was right in that there is a particular way we can control our memory,” Psychology researcher Gerd Thomas Waldhauser told The Local.

The idea that humans can control their memories erupted in controversy within the field ever since the great Freud argued it in the early 1900s.

Freud's theory was based on major assumptions while new theories, better theories, emerged related to childhood memory supression and memory development.

“He had no experimental evidence and at that time there was a big debate going on about the reconstruction of repressed memories not always being correct,” Waldhauser said.

"In our laboratory, we can now show that intentional attempts to forget, or suppress particular information or experiences can indeed lead to later forgetting."

The major breakthrough is finding that the brain uses the same area for inhibition of memory as it does for inhibition in motor skill response.

"It's quite important to have established this link. It hasn't been done before, it hasn't been known," said Waldhauser, who added that his findings resulted from very controlled experiments with results tough to explain otherwise.

Using word association and the electroencephalogram (EEG), a sophisticated brain imaging technique, Waldhauser proved that the same area of the brain which controls motor impulses and selective attention is activated when a person attempts to forget something.

For example, if a person sees a flower pot falling from the table, they will reflexively catch it; however, if it is a falling cactus, they will choose not to catch it.

"This link means that people can actually train themselves to forget memories that are too overwhelming or intrusive just like they can train themselves how to physically react," said Waldhauser, who has worked with various theories and experiments related to this find for six years.

The experiment involved hours of word association work, asking participants to learn random material such as "car is to banana". Once thoroughly learned, they were told to no longer remember certain word pairings while retaining others through repititious testing.

"We found that the words we asked subjects to forget, such as banana, were remembered less or forgotten more than words we did not ask them to supress," explained Waldhauser to The Local.

Although he said more research is needed regarding the long-term outcome of forgetting traumatic memories, such as the physiological effects, the Lund researcher already suggests a few clinical benefits of such a find.

"It might be a helpful intervention tool in the short term for people dealing with depression or post-traumatic stress. It can help them gain back control of their memories," Waldhauser said.

People suffering from depression might be helped by learning to forget certain aspects that keep them spinning in a vicious cycle of negative thinking patterns, thus helping them break the circle.

The same idea can be applied to post-traumatic stress syndrome patients who are so overwhelmed with traumatic memories that it interrupts their daily living.

Waldhauser told The Local that thus far his research has been positively received amongst his global peers.

Karen Holst (kholstmedia@gmail.com)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

19:38 July 4, 2011 by zeero
How come simple things that everyone know about always need a lot of money and confirmation in SE.. mmm...
07:45 July 5, 2011 by karex
@zeero That's not because it's Sweden, that's because it's science and that's how you satisfy scientific requirements.
08:46 July 5, 2011 by J. L. Belmar
They just discovered the luke warm water, the hole for the doughnuts, the black thread and the cups for leftys. All with our taxes.

By the way, Mrs. Karen Holst, in English, when you write the name of a country, you write it with a capital letter at the beginning. So, it is not "in southern sweden", but "in southern Sweden". Got it? Your article is a very bad mixture of the inverted pyramid technique for writing news. I wonder where The Local finds its staff.
09:00 July 5, 2011 by Rick Methven
@J L Belmar

Criticism of the the author of this post on her writing from one who is incapable of stringing together a sentence that is understandable or grammatically correct.

Pot calling the kettle?
10:59 July 5, 2011 by Max Reaver
this kind of research is a waste of tax payers' money
12:24 July 5, 2011 by salalah
This experiment would have been fun to watch..

"Do you remember a banana?"

-Nooooo????
12:09 July 6, 2011 by cogito
@Rick # 4

Some posters write in their second or third language.

The author of the article, on the other hand, calls herself a journalist. Therefore some familiarity with grammar and punctuation is to be expected.

Surely even you are capable of understanding that posters who do not have English as their first language are not required to write perfect English in an informal discussion.

And since you are such a linguistic perfectionist, shall I list the dozens of examples of your own illiterate posts?

Several of your howlers are much worse than the poster you are bashing.

Pots, kettles....
18:31 July 6, 2011 by T Mann
@ J. L. Belmar (Professor Higgins perhaps).

As you lecture people on writing in English, I'd love to see how you write in Swedish!

By the way, Professor: It is LUKEWARM and not luke warm !!! (Luke is only used as a noun: name or evangelist - or adjective meaning evangelistic).
15:35 July 8, 2011 by jglammi
This was not Freud's theory.
16:27 July 8, 2011 by Ron Pavellas
Now I have to forget all these comments.
09:59 July 19, 2011 by Akane
interesting
06:50 July 26, 2011 by Da Goat
Bugger I have forgotten what I was gonna write!
Today's headlines
Florida 'mystery knight' dies in Sweden
Michael Boatwright (R) and Medieval knight re-enactors.

Florida 'mystery knight' dies in Sweden

The "motel mystery" American who baffled US authorities by only speaking Swedish when he woke up from a coma last year has passed away, Swedish media reported on Wednesday. READ () »

Swedes open coffin of 850-year-old king
Photo: Bertil Ericson/TT

Swedes open coffin of 850-year-old king

UPDATED: Scientists pried open the 850-year-old casket of King Erik the Holy on Wednesday, hoping to find out more about the king, his crown, and his eating habits. READ () »

TeliaSonera announces first-quarter profit drop
TeliaSonera CEO Johan Dennelind. File photo: TT

TeliaSonera announces first-quarter profit drop

Stockholm-listed telecom operator TeliaSonera on Wednesday said profits had fallen in the first quarter, but hoped offering customers more data solutions in the future would turn things around. READ () »

'Imperfect EU better than revolting nationalism'
Fredrik Reinfeldt. File photo: TT

'Imperfect EU better than revolting nationalism'

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt on Wednesday urged young voters to head to the European parliamentary polls on May 25th "to cure the European disease of nationalism". READ () »

Ericsson quarterly profit defies sluggish sales
Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg at the first quarter press conference. Photo: TT

Ericsson quarterly profit defies sluggish sales

Swedish telecom giant Ericsson on Wednesday announced a drop in sales but posted a sharp rise in first-quarter profit, which nonetheless fell shy of analyst predictions. READ () »

Fatal Norrköping brawl
Four brothers held as cops fear brawl reprisals
Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Four brothers held as cops fear brawl reprisals

Swedish police fear that several people involved in a brawl in eastern Sweden on Monday night may be seeking revenge after two brothers were shot dead. READ () »

Sponsored Article
Beautiful pearls of southeast Sweden
The town of Västervik.

Beautiful pearls of southeast Sweden

Ask a Swede, and they are likely to say that their favourite holiday spot is in the southeast of Sweden. Eastern Småland and Öland offer a smörgåsbord of all the things dearest to the Swedes - from the beloved children's book author Astrid Lindgren to deep forests, long sandy beaches, perfect spots for that all-important 'fika', and a surprising amount of space, peace and quiet. READ () »

Weekend weather to bring summer warmth
Swedes enjoy hot dogs and cherry blossoms in Stockholm's Kungsträdgården. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Weekend weather to bring summer warmth

The sun is set to stick around and temperatures could climb into the twenties over the weekend, Swedish meteorologists said on Wednesday READ () »

'Day-care rapist' admits molesting eight kids

'Day-care rapist' admits molesting eight kids

A 21-year-old man confessed on Wednesday to sex crimes against eight children at a day care where he was working as an intern. READ () »

Swedish cops nab man for having big muscles
An unrelated bodybuilder. File photo: Ann Törnkvist

Swedish cops nab man for having big muscles

Police in Sweden's south who hauled a muscular man in for steroid testing have had their knuckles rapped, after it was ruled that big biceps cannot be grounds for narcotics suspicions. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Features
Sponsored: South-eastern Sweden offers Öland beaches and more
Gallery
Swedish underwear shop puts staff in front of the camera
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The Local's Property of the Week - Täby
Sponsored: India+Sweden Week - India Unlimited
Features
Sponsored: India+Sweden Week - A film, food, and finance feast
National
University applications rocket to record high
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 18-20
TT
Society
Kids in Victorian garb mark Swedish Easter
Shutterstock
National
Swedish MP ordered chemtrail probe
Society
Swedish supermarket Ica pulls contested Easter commercial off air
Kungahuset
Society
Swedish royals set baptism date for princess
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 16
Politics
Who's the prime minister's heir?
Advertisement:
Alfie Atkins
Society
Are children's books the key to families integrating in Sweden?
National
'Sweden Dem protests cater to party's martyr image'
National
'Swedish research grants were fantastic, but now it's like Australia'
Society
Only in Sweden: The ten problems you'd never encounter elsewhere
National
Swedes stopped to take my picture, but didn't look me in the eyes
Business & Money
A swipe of the hand replaced cash and cards in Lund
YouTube
Features
Video: Oliver Gee finds out how to embrace The Swedish Hug
TT
National
Abba duo hints at reunion
Private
National
Flash mobs hug it out across Sweden
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 11-13
TT
Politics
Swedes to give six-hour workday a go
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
Why a bachelor's degree is no longer enough
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Blog Update: The Diplomatic Dispatch

28 October 15:16

The Green Growth Group Summit »

"Today on the 28 October in Brussels, a large group of key EU Ministers and business people, including UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey, and Swedish Environment Minister Lena Ek, will meet to discuss green growth. They all have a stake in resolving a challenge which, although it is crucial..." READ »

712
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com