Hidden Complications of Thought Suppression

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Hidden Complications of Thought Suppression

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Title: Hidden Complications of Thought Suppression
Author: Najmi, Sadia; Wegner, Daniel M.

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Citation: Najmi, Sadia and Daniel M. Wegner. 2009. Hidden complications of thought suppression. International Journal of Cognitive Therapy 2(3): 210-223.
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Abstract: Although the suppression of thoughts may seem to be an effective solution, this strategy can lead to an exacerbation of the very thought that one is attempting to suppress. This ironic effect is the most obvious unwanted outcome of suppression and has now been investigated empirically for more than two decades. However, the fact that suppression is an effortful process implies that, even when suppression does not lead to an ironic rebound of the unwanted thought, it puts an insidious cognitive load on the individual attempting to suppress. Moreover, whether or not suppression leads to an exacerbation of the unwanted thought, it is rarely successful, and hence adds to the individual's distress. In this article we describe the phenomenon of suppression and consider how it might complicate a range of emotional disorders. Taken together, studies on thought suppression in psychopathology present a more nuanced picture now than was emerging in the early years of its investigation. Some evidence is consistent with the idea that the counterproductive effects of suppression are causally implicated in the disorder, but for the most part a more parsimonious conclusion is that thought suppression acts as a complication of the disorder. In certain disorders, suppression complicates the disorder by leading to an ironic rebound of the unwanted thoughts. In all disorders, the cost of undertaking suppression is a persistent cognitive load, which, in turn undermines the ability to suppress, and hence sets off a cycle of failed expectations and distress.
Published Version: doi:10.1521/ijct.2009.2.3.210
Terms of Use: This article is made available under the terms and conditions applicable to Open Access Policy Articles, as set forth at http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:dash.current.terms-of-use#OAP
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:9961303

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  • FAS Scholarly Articles [7103]
    Peer reviewed scholarly articles from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences of Harvard University
 
 

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