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J Pers Soc Psychol. 1998 Nov;75(5):1264-72.

The immunological effects of thought suppression.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Science, University of Auckland, New Zealand.


Individuals often suppress emotional thoughts, particularly thoughts that arouse negative emotions, as a way of regulating mood and reducing distress. However, recent work has highlighted the complexities and unexpected cognitive and physiological effects of thought suppression. In a study designed to examine the short-term immunological effects of thought suppression, participants wrote about either emotional or nonemotional topics with or without thought suppression. Blood was drawn before and after each experimental session on 3 consecutive days. Results showed a significant increase in circulating total lymphocytes and CD4 (helper) T lymphocyte levels in the emotional writing groups. Thought suppression resulted in a significant decrease in CD3 T lymphocyte levels. The implications of the results for the role of the expression and suppression of emotion in health are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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