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Daniel Wegner: The Art and Science of Thought Suppression

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Dr. Daniel M. Wegner (Harvard University) presents The Art and Science of Thought Suppression, the plenary address at the 8th annual ACBS World Conference.

Dr. Wagner asks, how can we suppress an unwanted thought? And explores why thought suppression is difficult—and what can make it easy. Suppression can be difficult because the mental mechanisms involved include a search for the very thing we don’t want to think—and this ironically increases our sensitivity to the thought and promotes its return. Suppression can be easier, however, when we sidestep such ironic monitoring. Successful indirect strategies can be found in relaxation and body awareness, self-disclosure and social relationships, and practice in avoiding direct suppression. Scientific studies of thought suppression can inform the art of thought suppression in everyday life.

[Video and text source: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy You Tube channel]