SCREEN MEMORY (Cover Memory)


A consciously acceptable memory unwittingly used to cover or screen out an associated experience which would be painful or unacceptable if called to mind.The term is used primarily in psychoanalysis for the tendency of the patient to recall trivial and innocuous childhood incidents in order to keep from revealing more significant events. It is one of the many kinds of “resistance” encountered by the therapist. A patient might recall and describe in detail everything that happened in a barn or basement except the guilty sexual activity in which he was involved. Or he might concentrate on the happy incidents that occurred in school in order to screen out the fact that he was actually rejected by his classmates. This process occurs on an unconscious level and is regarded as a form of repression.Advantages and benefits derived from neurotic or other illness. Among these gains are sympathy, personal service, extra attention, financial disability benefits, and domination over others.The patient does not consciously and deliberately seek these benefits, although he may enjoy them when they occur. Unlike primary gains, they are not the original source of the illness; that is, the patient does not become sick in order to obtain these advantages. Rather, they are the result of being ill, and for this reason Freud termed them “secondary” or “epinosic,” which means “on, or over, disease.”Nevertheless, the line between primary and secondary gains is often hard to draw, and there is little doubt that in some cases a dim anticipation of the “strategic value” of symptoms may have something to do with their formation. This probably occurs most often in hysterical, or conversion, reactions. An example might be the worker who has a particularly tough boss, a “pain in the neck.” In time this man develops a severe neck pain, presumably from the heavy work, and has to be transferred to a lighter job. He does not deliberately plan to have the pain; rather, he unconsciously develops the symptom primarily as a result of the burden of resentment he is carrying— yet at the same time he may also have had a “secondary,” half-unconscious hope that he might develop some kind of disability which would necessitate the transfer.In psychoanalytic theory this term is applied to mental activity which is characteristic of the ego and guided by reality. It includes all the thought processes that enable us to meet the demands of the environment, such as systematic thinking, logic, scientific method, and problem-solving.Secondary process thinking contrasts with primary process thinking, which is dominated by the id and its instinctual drives, and consists mainly of wishes and fantasies entertained without regard to objective reality. According to the theory, the ego is the component of the psyche, or mental apparatus, that exerts control over the instinctual drives arising from the id, deciding whether its demands should be satisfied, postponed, or suppressed. It also enables the individual to adapt to the demands of the external world in a way that will avoid danger and achieve self- preservation. In carrying out both of these functions, it utilizes the secondary process—that is, intelligence, judgment, reality testing, and foresight: “After considering the present state of things and weighing up earlier experiences, [the secondary process] endeavors by means of experimental actions to calculate the consequences of the proposed line of conduct."

Cite this page: N., Sam M.S., "SCREEN MEMORY (Cover Memory)," in, November 28, 2018, (accessed October 6, 2022).


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here