If an experience is unbearable - if the stimulus is too great or the conflict associated with it seems irresolvable - it is repressed. It does not disappear, but continues to act on the unconscious and manifest itself in dreams and symptoms. Repression does not cease until a person learns to understand the arousing or anxiety-producing events through a coherent narrative. Certain events, however, are always repressed, first and foremost the primal scene and the castration complex.
Treatment in analysis is concerned with helping patients, through free association, to remember the repressed childhood events that led to their neurosis or perversion. These must be consciously repeated and worked through with the analyst.
"She had once again been insisting that Frau K. only loved her father because he was 'ein vermögender Mann' ['a man of means']. Certain details of the way in which she expressed herself led me to see that behind this phrase its opposite lay concealed, namely, that her father was 'ein unvermögender Mann' ['a man without means']. This could only be meant in a sexual sense - that her father, as a man, was without means, was impotent." Dora finds these thoughts improper and represses them. They are represented by the opposite word, which has a very different and more innocuous meaning.