The quick answer is yes, we really do repress painful memories. Not all bad memories are repressed. People still remember things like someone close to them passing away or abuse during childhood. However, there are certain painful memories our brains allow us to forget on a conscious level. It is our body’s way of protecting us and our feelings from really painful experiences that could cause emotional distress to remember. There are individuals who went through serious trauma but the brain locks it away so the person is unaware on a conscious level.