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mnemic symbol

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In psychoanalysis, a hysterical symptom arising from a memory of a trauma or a conflict that has been repressed. In a key passage in an article on ‘The Neuro-Psychoses of Defence’ (1894), Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) described it as follows: ‘By this means the ego succeeds in freeing itself from the contradiction; but instead, it has burdened itself with a mnemic symbol which finds a lodgement in consciousness, like a sort of parasite, either in the form of an unresolvable motor innervation or as a constantly recurring hallucinatory sensation’ (Standard Edition, III, pp. 45–61, at p. 49).

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