To suppress, or not to suppress? That is repression: Controlling intrusive thoughts in addictive behaviour

Antony Moss, James Erskine, Ian Albery, James Allen, George Georgiou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Research to understand how individuals cope with intrusive negative or threatening thoughts suggests a variety of different cognitive strategies aimed at thought control. In this review, two of these strategies – thought suppression and repressive coping – are discussed in the context of addictive behaviour. Thought suppression involves conscious, volitional attempts to expel a thought from awareness, whereas repressive coping, which involves the avoidance of thoughts without the corresponding conscious intention, appears to be a far more automated process. Whilst there has been an emerging body of research exploring the role of thought suppres- sion in addictive behaviour, there remains a dearth of research which has considered the role of repressive coping in the development of, and recovery from, addiction. Based on a review of the literature, and a discussion of the supposed mechanisms which underpin these strategies for exercising mental control, a conceptual model is proposed which posits a potential common mechanism. This model makes a number of predictions which require exploration in future research to fully understand the cognitive strategies utilised by individuals to control intrusive thoughts related to their addictive behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-70
JournalAddictive Behaviors
Early online date22 Jan 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2015


  • Alcohol
  • Mindfulness
  • Repressive Coping
  • Smoking
  • thought suppression


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