01 Feb I’m a Psychotherapist Who Specializes in Unlocking Repressed Memories
My name is Doctor Elizabeth Hayes. I’m a psychotherapist who specializes in the unlocking of repressed memories. A repressed memory for those of you who may not know is a rare psychological phenomenon in which memories of traumatic events may be stored in the unconscious mind and blocked from normal conscious recall.
In simple terms the human mind can sometimes hide away memories of trauma or abuse, giving them the illusion as if the event never happened. Some theorists claim this is a defense mechanism developed in the cases of young children who could probably not be able to mentally cope with the trauma from the experience. At first glance, this may not seem to be much of a concern, what you can’t remember can’t hurt you, right?
For some people, this may be the case, but in others they find themselves responding to mental triggers, smells, sounds or phrases with no prior knowledge as to why they are having these experiences. For others, they may unknowingly stumble across the memory in their sleep. Have you ever had a dream that seemed so vivid and real yet upon awakening you think back to it, unable to recall when in your life the scenario happened? What you simply dismissed as a strange dream could have very well been a repressed memory unwittingly stumbled upon in your subconscious. It’s weird, I know but bear with me.
I find the phenomenon fascinating. Which is why I choose to specialize in this area of psychology in my studies and practices. Periodically from time to time, I am visited by patients from all over the country who believe they have experienced this phenomenon. After being referred to me by their therapist who suspects their patents may have repressed memories from their childhood. It is then up to me to “unlock” these memories. Only after using social cues and making notes on their reactions to certain smells, sounds, and pictures can I estimate wherein their lifetime the repressed memory takes place. This is a slow process that can take up to a year before we even identify the timeframe of this memory.
Once the right time frame of the repressed memory is discovered, commonly between the ages of 4 to 12. I bring in what I call the “Dream Screen”. A device invented by the National Center for Neural Applications lent to me by the University of Illinois. The appropriately nicknamed “Dream Screen” is a device that measures brain activity while you sleep. This data can be plugged into an algorithm that reconstructs your memory so that it can be played back in a recording.
Subjects are first put into a stage of sleep called Hyponagoia. This is a semi-lucid stage of sleep that takes place at the moment between sleep and wakefulness so that I can communicate with them as I watch their memory unfold on the screen, live as if I, myself were living the memory. While walking the subject through the memory for the first time it is up to me to coax the subject through the entire memory, asking the right questions, pointing out the hidden details all while making a conscious effort into not leading the subject too much as to incidentally plant false memories into their subconscious. This is an incredibly delicate procedure and requires absolute concentration on my behalf. Something I have only been able to achieve after years of experience and practice.
This entire process can take up to an entire month to complete, but the results are always worth it. Some patients were able to recover memories they lost years ago and finally be able to come to terms with the past and put years of not knowing to rest. Other times missing evidence from crimes and horrific injustices such as rape, torture and child abuse were able to be reported in the court of law so that the victim could finally get the justice they deserved.
It is for moments like these that I continue to do what I do. was only after viewing my most recent subjects results that I ended up having more questions than answers. Questions I’d never imagine asking myself. Questions, in hindsight even I would much rather be left unanswered.
The subject, Hugo was a 26-year-old male from Eden, New York. He was initially referred to me by his family therapist after identifying gaps in his memories and recalling a strange reoccurring dream he had no memories of in his childhood. The subject appeared healthy both mentally and psychically. Aside from the obvious signs of sleep depravation he was in great shape for someone of his age. During our initial interviews, he was able to recall memories from as far back as 1995, when the subject was only 2 years old. These memories were recorded and replayed to his living relatives and confirmed as being legit memories. This is very impressive and gave me high hopes for this being a quick and easy case. All there was left to do was find the key.
I asked the subject if he could recall any forms of abuse during his childhood years either from the hands of a family member, friend or stranger. “No, nothing like that”. He replied with a forced smile on his face. “Do you recall ever witnessing a traumatic event such as a traumatic accident, or a murder take place’? I asked him curiously. “Nothing as long as watching reality TV doesn’t count”. He remarked comically. I forced a smile at the bad joke and continued. “Tell me about those dreams you have been having”? I asked him with genuine curiosity.
His smile was quickly replaced by a look of concern as he unconsciously stole a glance over his shoulder then back to me. “Well… Uh,” He stuttered. “It started happening last year.” He said as he took a casual sip of water from his table as he continued. I noticed a slight tremor in his hand as he placed the glass back onto the table. “I’ve been having this dream I’m in a field at the old family farm”. “How do you know it was that particular location”? I asked. “According to your file, you moved several times during your childhood”. “I would recognize those blue skies and open farmland anywhere.” He said. “My mother would complain all the time about wanting to move back to the city, but my father claimed that the open country air would do us kids some good”. “What else do you remember”? I asked patiently. “I remember standing in an open field walking toward something.”
“Go on” I coaxed him. He sat there for a moment in silence, becoming visibly tense. “Then things get weird”. He said nervously “I’m all of a sudden in a dark room I’ve never seen before, and someone else is there”. “Do you remember who this person is”? I asked him. “No, no I don’t,” He said. “If I can be one hundred percent honest, I don’t remember anything else that happened”. He leaned back in his chair closing his eyes as if trying hard to remember. “How old were you when you lived on that family farm,” I asked him. “nine to ten years old” He replied more confidently. I lived with my grandparents at the time, it was only for about a year or so.” “Anything else you can remember about your time there that you think could be related to this dream,” I asked
“I don’t know”, the patient admitted. “That’s where my memory begins to get a little foggy. All I know is that hours, even days after having the dream, I just can’t shake this feeling of dread. No matter how much I try I just can’t calm my nerves after that dream”. I took a few notes and stood to my feet. Well, I guess the only way we are going to find out is through phase two. I moved the cart over to where the patient was sitting and began to prep the “Dream Screen”.
After leaning the subject’s seat back into a prone position, I administered the sedative to ease him into his semi-lucid state. After placing the electrodes to his temple and forehead I slipped on a pair of headphones onto the patient so that I could communicate with him from the observation room.
After guiding the patient through verbal cues and building the scenario I began to see the first sign of images on the screen. The memory started dark at first, but what began to look like an open wheat field came into view. I began to take in the sights. Blue skies, white clouds, the sway of the golden wheat blowing in the wind and what appeared to be a small country home in the distance. “OK, now tell me. Where are you standing right now”? I asked the subject. “The Farm” The subject mumbled, “The one I grew up on”. As he spoke I took in the surroundings as they began to become clearer as the subject began to remember.
“Now tell me who else was with you”? I prodded. “My… my friend… no …. cousin… Kaity”. The subject said. “Good, you’re doing great”! I said encouragingly as a figure appeared walking next to the subject in his memory. “Now describe your cousin, what did she look like”? “Dirty blond hair, brown eyes, freckles on her nose.” The subject said confidently as Kaity came into view, exactly how he described her. She looked to be around 8 years old. “Come on Huey,” Kate said excitedly! “Can you see it? The old farmhouse, we are almost there!”
“Can you tell me about this old farmhouse”? I asked the subject? “Yeah. It was an old abandoned house built on my grandfather’s property. It was built before my family bought the property, we lived just a few acres away from it” He mumbled quietly. “Kate and I wanted to check it out, we were planning on making it into a new clubhouse” I spotted a small smile on the subjects face from the window of the observation room as he began to remember. “We had a backpack full of stuff, action figures, comic books, a couple of snickers bars.” He said quietly. “We were driven out of our old clubhouse in the hayloft after a family of raccoons moved in”.
Now describe the old farmhouse to me. “I asked him as the blurry image of the house began to come into contrast. “Two stories, peeling dark blue paint, thatched roof, an old tire swing in the tree out front.” He told me. The image now became clear as the farmhouse came fully into view. Down to every detail he described it in. “Come on Huey” Kate beckoned “Let’s see what’s inside.
As she walked to the front door the subject’s eyes darted to a window on the top floor. A figure quickly moved out of view that appeared to be watching them. “Wait, I blurted. “Who was that”? The subject’s eyebrows furrowed in confusion. “I don’t remember, he said after a long pause”.
I let it go and let the subject continue. “Ok now, what happened after you went inside of the farmhouse? What did you find inside”? I asked. “Umm… Nothing”. The subject said slowly. “It was cleaned out. No people, no furniture, not even a single scrap of litter.” The dream suddenly grew darker as the subject now appeared in a small dimly lit room. Light pooled out from the creases in between the boarded-up windows. “Isn’t this great”? Kate said excitedly. “We can have campouts, we can have picnics, we can even invite our friends over and-” Her voice was cut off as a low creak sounded from upstairs.
“What? What was that”? Kate said nervously. “Probably another family of raccoons. I heard Kate say as the subject’s eyes trailed to the top of the stairs”. “Wait, I remember now,” the subject said shakily”. “Who was it”? I asked cautiously. “No, not who.” The subject said with genuine fear in his voice. “Oh god, It… It was…” His voice trailed off as a figure appeared from the top of the stairs. I leaned in close trying my best to make out the figure standing at the top of the stairs. “Stay with me” I coaxed the subject. “Describe what you saw inside of that farmhouse.” The subject didn’t say anything, his facial features remained taunt but his lips quivered.
My eyes went back to the screen as the humanoid figure began to walk down the stairs. “Huey?” Kates soft voice said nervously. “Who is-“? The figure suddenly dropped onto all fours and dashed down the stairs with alarming speed. “Teeth” the subject shouted “White-eyes, pale skin”. The figure suddenly stopped, inches away from the subject’s face.
My heart began to race as the image cleared up, as the subject began to remember. Most of what I could make out of the face of the figure was only what was visible in the small slivers of light from the boarded-up windows. Pale skin, gleaming white teeth, and brown receded gums from a mouth who’s lips were pulled so far back they almost appeared to not exist. Its eyes were also rolled so far back that the pupils and irises were not even visible, showing only the whites of its eyes. Its nose was nothing but two slits as it breathed heavily only inches away from the little boy’s face. The being wore no clothes and appeared to be human, yet showed no discernible signs of gender.
For a long time, I watched in complete shock as the figure appeared unmoving, the slits where the nose should have been flaring with every breath. Its teeth began to click as if in curiosity as movement was spotted from behind the being. “Katie, no!” The subject screamed in unison with the child in the dream. Kate stood behind the figure and swung a two by four at the being’s head. The creature spun around with lightning speed catching the little girl’s wrist in his hands and lashed out with the other slicing a clean cut into the child’s stomach with its clawed hand.
Kate fell onto her back, hands covering the open wound and began to whimper terrified subdued sobs as the creature slowly crawled on top of her, its face now inches from hers. “Leave her alone”, the subject screamed once again in unison with his younger self as he made his way forward, arms outstretched as if to push the creature off his cousin. The creature once again moved with blinding speed knocking the young boy across the room with a mule kick to land roughly against the opposite wall. The creature once again drew its attention back to the young girl lying beneath it. It slowly leaned forward, its mouth only inches away from the young girl’s ear. It then stopped and a hissing whisper could be heard from the creature’s mouth. Kate looked up in confusion as the creature then broke into a sprint, dashing out the open door faster than any living creature I’ve seen anything move in my entire life.
The screen went dark as an alarm went off in the observation room. The subject began to shake violently as if in a seizure. I ran forward and quickly shut down the machine and removed the electrodes from the subject’s head. “Kaity no, leave her alone”. The subject cried as the trashing became less violent and he slowly drifted into unconsciousness.
I will be honest with you, this was not the first time I have seen this creature while using the dream screen. The first time I dismissed it as simply a pseudo-memory. Sometimes a subject subconscious would replace the person who caused the trauma with a childhood fear, like the monster in their closet, or a creature from a horror movie that scared them as a kid creating a pseudo memory.
The second time I saw it, I knew It was so more than that. Several times before I have seen this thing locked deep into a subject’s locked memories as if its appearance itself was so horrifying that the human brain automatically retracted the memory into the deepest parts of the subject’s memories as to keep them from going insane. Each subject completely different, unrelated with no discernable trends or patterns in physical appearance, mental health or age.
I do not know who or what this thing is but, but I have dedicated my entire career to finding out what this creature is. Every case only leads to dead ends but this case was different. Never in any of my past subjects’ memories have I heard this creature speak. Even in my most recent report, I could not make out what exactly was said.
Earlier this month, I have contacted the most recent subjects’ cousin from his memory, Kate. After much convincing on my behalf I talked her into visiting my office in Washington DC, to have her memories examined. The now fully grown Kate was also experiencing similar dreams as the most previous subject prior to our first meeting. Her resulting memory once unlocked ran parallel to that of her cousins. She also bore an old scar on her stomach in the same place the creature scratched her in the memory, proving its legitimacy.
The only difference between that of Kate’s memory was the creature’s voice was now clear as day.
I will never forget the words I heard from Kate’s memory. The sound of the creatures hissing voice still fresh in my mind what I heard what it say to that little girl almost 17 years ago.
“Stop searching for me, Doctor Hayes.”