Repression, Suppression, Subjugation, Oppression
In psychological theory, repression is an unconscious ego defense mechanism. It is used by the psyche to keep unwanted thoughts and feelings from emerging into conscious awareness. In psychosocial theory, suppression (although not a defense mechanism) is the conscious, intentional exclusion of unacceptable thoughts or desires. In social conflict theory, the terms repression, suppression, subjugation, and oppression are often loosely applied; however, all describe the imposition of control.
Repression refers to the prevention of expression or advancement. It is the use of restrictive policies by authoritarian governments to stifle political dissent. It is the ‘glass ceiling’ (exclusion of upper management roles from women) as a form of sexist repression. Repression uses just enough force to maintain control. It is an obstacle, erected for containment.
Suppression is before-the-fact forceful prevention; it is the preemptive putting down of potential sources of dissent or heresy by power or authority.
Subjugation is the aggressive, reactionary forcing of obedience of an entity in order to benefit from or exploit its strengths. It is the forcible, ongoing action of subduing and holding a powerful entity in submission.
Oppression is aggressive domination through tyranny. It is the process of control through unjust use of cruel or violent force.
In simplest possible terms, repression is holding down; suppression is putting down; subjugation is forcing down, and oppression is beating down.
Ideal power and authority is representative; it supports and encourages free expression of ideas, citizen assembly, the development of political power, and human flourishing.