The mind is beyond sophisticated, but a little misguided. When events are too upsetting, it deposits the painful memory or feeling in a place that won’t disturb daily functioning, the “dreaded” unconscious.

Sounds great, right? If you don’t know it’s there, how can it bother you?

Wrong! The hidden memory can still send out subliminal signals that can cause nightmares, panic attacks, depression, anxiety etc. The symptoms are often so disturbing that you finally call your doctor who prescribes sleeping pills, tranquilizers or antidepressants so you’ll feel better. For a while, you do! Then it all creeps back.

“I’d like to refer you to a psychiatrist,” your doctor says.

“A shrink!” you say, more than a little insulted. I’m not crazy!

One tough, Italian guy, Joe Belmont, a 1st year medical student, who just happens to be the hero in my novel, Chasing Backwards, is in an even worse predicament. Whoever killed his mother and uncle are now trying to kill him, and the only way he can save himself and his girlfriend is to find a way into his own unconscious. The key to the whole mystery lies in his past, and Joe has no idea what lies buried in his own mind.

So unlike Joe, who has only days and himself to solve the problem, you can schedule a consultation with a psychiatrist or a therapist like a normal person. By now you recognize that it’s not just some intellectual or philosophical need. You’re sick and tired of feeling miserable and are ready to do what it takes. Figuring out what’s hidden in your unconscious is not psychobabble, as Joe in is his pre-psychological-minded days called the whole process. Psychotherapy is a treatment that can help make the unconscious problem conscious. Once you know what’s really going on, because now it’s out there for you to examine, you get the opportunity to deal with the issue and really feel better.

Please feel free to leave any comments and observations. If you were able to figure out what happened in your past, how did you do it? Did Joe Belmont’s experience mirror any of your own? Did understanding your own unconscious help you to have a better life?

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6 thoughts on “CHILDHOOD TRAUMA – WHAT IF YOU CAN’T REMEMBER WHAT HAPPENED? by Art Smukler, author & psychiatrist

  1. i don`t know if this is the right spot to leave the message. i am asking if there is a way to remember your childhood through hypnosis or something lie that. i am 52 years old and cannot remember anything under maybe 12 years old, nothing about my family, i have things that happen today and i start bawling. like applause or a sad story. i think i was sexually assaulted but i don`t know why i think that, i think it was my father but only because we have not got along all of my teenage and adult life,


    1. Hi. Sorry I haven’t responded sooner. Remembering the past is not easy. One way might be to start a dream log. Write down your dreams as soon as you have them, even if they’re in the middle of the night. Look for patterns and themes. Ask relatives or family friends what they remember about your early years. And, if you have continued uncomfortable symptoms, seek out a good therapist. I don’t have much experience with hypnosis so I can’t really comment on it. Best Wishes


  2. This is a really great post! It’s so important to understand our pasts and how they shape who we become. I think psychotherapy is a beautiful alternative to psychotropic medication when the problem is rooted in experiences and memories and not so much in some biochemical defect in the brain.


  3. I don’t know if I would call Joe Belmont a “tough” Italian. I went to high school with some tough Italians and we stayed clear of them! They were tough!! Also, Joe didn’t have repressed memory…he had no idea what went on in his mother’s life. So I must respectfully disagree. Am I wrong?


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