Hi class,

These terms are not simple, and a lot of work has been done on them. Don’t think that my summaries are all there is to know…seek out more information on your own.


Discourse (as conceived by Michel Foucault (1926-1984)): is written and spoken communication. Often this term is used to specify a particular language type or field of knowledge, such as the discourse of science or legal discourse. More specifically, discourse is the sequence of signs that make up a language, the context of the conversations about the language, the conversations that take place within the language, the conversations about how the language works, and the external conversations that touch on the boundaries of a specific language. It is helpful to note that discourse alters a person’s perceptions and it is tied to power and exclusion. For example, in psychology, the definitions of sanity, normality, and mental health become the sources for how people perceive human behavior, even if these definitions change over time or vary across national borders. If a person seems to fit a definition of insanity, that person can be excluded from society and stigmatized. In this way, discourse can be seen as helping to define a person’s perception of reality.


Repression: First it is important to note that current theories of psychology place doubt on the existence of repression. Second, this term was made famous by Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), who thought this concept was the cornerstone of psychoanalysis. To Freud, repression was the mechanism that directed one’s desires for pleasure into hiding by subduing them in the unconscious. Freud wanted his patients to work to remember the repressed memories and move past this defense mechanism.