The purpose of this paper is to discuss theories of the origin of ruminative thought. We begin by providing a working definition of rumination, separating rumination from other forms of cognitive activity and distinguishing ruminations from ordinary memories. Then, we review what we believe are the major categories of theory that attempt to account for the existence and nature of rumination. These include theories of traumatization, incompleteness, nondisclosure, and thought suppression. Ruminations may originate for a number of reasons, but it seems they may continue because of our attempts to control them. Evidence from studies on thought suppression suggests that the suppression of unwanted thoughts may in fact fuel the very emotions and thoughts we are trying to avoid. Thought suppression may set up a state in which we not only increase the amount we think about an unwanted thought, but potentially also sharpen our emotional reaction to those thoughts.
Journal of Applied Social Psychology – Wiley
Published: Jul 1, 1995
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